Thursday, August 29, 2013

Event Announcement - International Food Challenge - A joint effort of Shobhana and Sara

International Food Challenge is evolved out of similar interests, passion in exploring all the cuisine from all over the world. As a result, we, Saras of Sara's Yummy Bites and Shobana of Kitchen Secrets and Snippet have teamed up to welcome  foodies , our talented food bloggers  to join in this mission to learn , explore the world cuisine  along with the heritage every country possess  and get to know some ideas what every country has to offer with respect to food . Come foodies, let’s all join our hands in this journey of crossing many virtual boundaries in the quest of finding new food, fresh tastes  from  around the globe  through this event  IFC .

How it works:

The host and the founders  are the one’s  who will go through the cuisine of the given month and they will narrow down the results to 3 top most recipes.  In  the beginning of every month, say on 1st, the host of the given month will let out all the three recipes  in detail along with the link and the members have to select the one they like and should submit the challenge on the said date, which is 30/31st of every month.

The best presented dish gets the privilege of being the cover picture of our Facebook page for the whole month along with their copyrights. How cool is that !!

Do u have the urge to learn the world cuisine as simple as that, u want to try some new dish one at a time,  then, what’s stopping you foodies, come join us  let’s form a  group and let’s get started.. Yay !!!

Join our FB group HERE to get in touch with the event as well as for the latest updates..

Monday, August 26, 2013

Rava Laddoo

No festivities are complete without sweets. So celebrate this Krishna Jayanthi with these really simple and easy to make laddoos. Prepared with commonly available ingredients, they are hit with kids and adults.         


Makes about 15 laddoos
What you’ll need
  1. Rava/ Sooji – 1 cup
  2. Sugar – 1 cup
  3. Cardamom – 4
  4. Ghee/Clarified Butter- ¼ cup, melted
  5. Cashewnuts – 6 or 7, broken into small pieces
  6. Raisins – 10 to 15

  1. Heat a kadai with a little ghee, roast the cashewnuts until brown, then add the raisins and fry till they plump up. Transfer into a wide bowl.
  2. In the same kadai, add the rava/sooji and fry on medium heat, stirring continuously until light brown. Allow to cool.
  3. Grind the roasted rava. Grind according the amount of coarseness required. You can make a fine powder or leave it slightly coarse. Transfer into the bowl
  4. Powder the sugar and caradamom and transfer into the same bowl.
  5. Mix the cashews, raisins, powdered sooji, and sugar well.
  6. Add the ghee to this and mix well.
  7. Shape into small balls and set aside.
  8. Store in airtight containers.


If you are not able to form balls, add a tbsp or so of milk. But adding milk will reduce the shelf life.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Vella Cheedai

Among the cheedais, the uppu cheedai is the notorious one, known for bursting. But vella cheedais are no less. They don't usually burst, but many a times, the vella cheedais just disintegrate as soon as they are added to the hot oil. The reasons for this is mainly the jaggery. The amount of jaggery used should be just right and also no paagu or jaggery syrup consistency is required. The jaggery should dissolve completely and just start boiling. The amount of water is also of importance. Too much water also may lead to disintegration of cheedais.
The method I have given here is how my mother and MIL make and it never fails. My Mother in Law has been making cheedais this ways many years now and each and everytime they turn out perfect. So don't shy away from this delicious snack. 

What you’ll need
  1. Rice Flour – 1 cup (Refer Uppu Cheedai) 
  2. Urad Dal Flour – ½ tbsp (Refer Uppu Cheedai)
  3. Jaggery - 3/4 cup
  4. Butter – ½ tbsp
  5. Coconut – 2 tbsp
  6. Sesame Seeds – ½ tbsp
  7. Green Cardamom – 2 to 3
  8. Oil to deep fry

  1. Dry Roast the rice flour on medium flame stirring continuously for 3 to 4 minutes, without changing its color.
  2. Sieve the rice flour and keep aside.
  3. Now sieve the urad dal flour as well.
  4. Add the powdered jaggery in a Kadai and dissolve it in 1/2 cup of water.
  5. Let the jaggery syrup start boiling. Remove from heat. No need to make any paagu.
  6. In a wide bowl, add the rice flour, urad dal flour, coconut pieces, sesame seeds, crushed cardamom and butter. Mix well.
  7. Now add the jaggery syrup and knead into a smooth dough. Add extra water only if required. The dough should be tight but at the same time you should be able to roll out balls from it.
  8. Now pinch out balls, a little bigger than for uppu cheedai, don’t make it too big, else the inside won’t cook properly. The balls need not be very smooth.
  9. Rest the prepared balls on a newspaper for minimum 15 minutes.
  10. Heat oil to deep fry, once the oil is hot, turn the heat to low and add 4 to 5 cheedais in a batch.
  11. Fry on medium flame until dark brown. Drain on tissues. Cool and transfer to airtight container.

  1. The vella cheedais will be slightly cracked. They are indication of a perfectly done cheedai.
  2. Sieving both flours after roasting is very important.
  3. Don’t add more jaggery than mentioned, the cheedais may disintegrate.
  4. Don’t add too much water while dissolving the jaggery. Also, while making dough, add extra water only if required.
  5. You can cut coconut into small pieces and add, but I just added grated coconut.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Uppu Cheedai/Seedai

Hearing or even thinking about Cheedais may scare many people. I too was very scared of making them. Many a times, when my mother made cheedais, they have exploded, with the oil splattering all over the kitchen. Such experiences can’t be forgotten and so, venturing into making cheedais was never on my list. But even after many episodes of bursting, my mother never gave up on making them and now she is an expert in making them.

So with all her help and encouragement, I also decided to try my hand at taming these monsters. And voila, I got them perfect, the very first time itself. And have been making it this way for some time now.

Cheedais are small fried balls of rice flour and urad flour. They can be either savory or sweet. These are prepared specially on the festival of Janmashtami.

I have given some tips on how to avoid the cheedais from bursting. Do read them very carefully and give them a try.

What you'll need
  1. Rice Flour – 1 cup (see notes)
  2. Urad Dal Powder – ½ tbsp (see notes)
  3. Grated Coconut – 2 tbsp
  4. Butter – ½ tbsp
  5. Whole Black Pepper – ½ tsp
  6. Cumin Seeds – ½ tsp
  7. Salt to taste
  8. Oil to deep fry

  1. Grind the coconut, cumin seeds, and black pepper without adding any water. It is enough if they are crushed coarsely. It need not be ground to a smooth paste.
  2. Dry roast the rice flour 3 to 4 minutes without changing the color of the flour.
  3. Sieve the rice flour twice.
  4. Also sieve the urad dal flour twice.
  5. In a wide bowl, add the sieved rice flour, urad dal flour, crushed coconut – cumin – black pepper, butter and salt.
  6. Mix everything well with hands, now add water little at a time and gather into a dough like chapathi dough. You should be able to form balls easily.
  7. Now, pinch out tiny balls and form balls. Don’t make very smooth and tight balls. Just pinch out dough and form a rough ball.
  8. Place the rice flour balls on a news paper and leave it for minimum 15 minutes, so that all excess moisture is absorbed.
  9. Heat oil for deep frying in a Kadai, once the oil is hot, lower the flame completely, then add the prepared rice flour balls carefully.
  10. After adding the balls, keep the flame in medium and fry until golden brown.
  11. Drain on a tissue paper and cool.
  12. Transfer into an air tight container.

To make Rice Flour
  1. Wash a cup of rice and soak it for 2 to 3 hours. Drain it well and spread on a dry it shade for 10 minutes, so that all the excess moisture is absorbed, but the rice should still retain some moisture. It should not be completely dry. If the rice is completely dry, then when you powder, you will not get a fine powder.
  2. Powder the rice in a mixie or get in powdered in the mill.
  3. Sieve this rice flour. Now the flour is ready to use.
  4. If storing the flour for long periods, then spread the flour on a newspaper and leave it to dry for a day or two.

To make Urad Dal Flour
  1. Dry roast 2 tbsp of Urad dal until a nice smell comes, take care not to change the color.
  2. Powder in a mixie, sieve and store.

Tips to avoid bursting of cheedai.
  1. Make sure to sieve the rice flour and urad dal flour very well.
  2. While making balls, do not make very tight and smooth balls.
  3. Make sure to leave the prepared rice flour balls on the newspaper for at least 15 minutes, leaving it a little longer will do no harm.
  4. Don’t add more than the mentioned amount of Urad dal flour and coconut. If added more, it will not result in crispy and crunchy cheedais.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Puran Poli/Boli

The festival season has begun, with Aavaniavittam, being the first one in the list. Followed by Krishna Jayanthi, Pillayar Chathurthi so on and so forth. Festivals spell sweets. Not that you really need a reason or festival to satisfy cravings. 

Today, I am sharing the recipe of Puran Poli. This is known by various names across the country and there are many different versions too. The Traditional Palakkadan Version is called Upputu. The outer covering is made completely out of All purpose flour/ maida and oodles of oil goes into the dough. The filling is usually made of lentils and coconut. It is usually flattened on banana leaves and transferred to the hot griddle.

The recipe I am sharing today is not the traditional Palakkad recipe, but a more evolved one. It tastes equally delicious with lesser of fat. Also you can make this version on your kitchen counter top with the help of a rolling pin. So do try this version and let me know how you liked it.

What you'll need
For the outer covering
  1. Wheat Flour – 1 cup
  2. All Purpose Flour – 1 cup
  3. Salt – a pinch
  4. Oil – 3 tbsp
  5. Turmeric Powder – a pinch
  6. Water as required

For the filling (poornam)
  1. Channa Dal/ Bengal Gram Dal- 1 cup
  2. Powdered Jaggery – 1 heaped cup
  3. Cardamom – 4 to 5
  4. Ghee/Clarified Butter – 1 tbsp

  1. In a wide bowl, add the wheat flour and all purpose flour, add salt, turmeric powder, and about 2 tbsp of oil. Mix well and then start kneading by adding water little at a time.
  2. Knead for 3 to 4 minutes. The dough should be soft, pliable non sticky. Add the remaining oil and knead again for another 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Cover and rest the dough for at least 30 minutes.
  4. For the filling, heat a kadai and dry roast the channa dal for 3 to 4 minutes.
  5. Add enough water and pressure cook the dal until soft and mushy.
  6. After the cooker cools, drain the water from the dal if any, mash the dal very well.
  7. Heat a kadai, add the jaggery and ¼ cup of water. Let the jaggery dissolve completely, then strain for impurities.
  8. Pour the jaggery water back into the kadai and heat on medium flame for 3 to 4 minutes or till the syrup reaches one string consistency.
  9. Now add the mashed dal into the sryrup and mix well.
  10. Add the ghee and mix until the mixture starts leaving the sides of the kadai.
  11. Add the cardamom powder and mix.
  12. Let this mixture cool.
  13. Make small balls out of this mixture and keep ready.
  14. To make the poli, make balls, the same size as the filling (poornam).
  15. Roll out into a small disk. Place the poornam in the middle and bring the edges together to completely cover the filling. Remove any excess dough.
  16. Gently flatten the filled ball. Dust with flour and roll out to a flat disk.
  17. Place the poli on a medium hot tava.
  18. Flip over after about a minute, drizzle with ghee.
  19. Flip over again and drizzle with little more ghee. Cook till brown spots appear.
  20. Remove and repeat the process with the remaining dough.

  1. I have used wheat flour and APF in equal ratio. You can make the outer covering completely with APF or with Wheat flour also.
  2. Kneading the dough into a soft, non sticky dough is important to get soft polis.
  3. Resting the dough for minimum 30 minutes is also important.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Speculaas - Spiced Dutch Cookies / Windmill Cookies

I was really excited to see that Speculaas was one of the cookies chosen for this month’s Baking Partner’s Challenge. Ever since we moved to Amsterdam, I’ve been hearing and seeing these cookies in most of the supermarkets and wanted to give them a try at home. So here was my chance.

Speculaas or Speculoos are spiced biscuits that were traditionally baked for Sinterclass or St. Nicholas Feast, but are now available year round. These are also sometimes referred to as Windmill cookies, because of the special moulds from which they are cut out. These moulds are called speculaasplanks. They usually have an imprint of windmills or other figurines. These spiced cookies are nice and crunchy not like regular cookies that are crumbly.

I tried to find the special moulds in and around where I live but couldn’t find it. They were available online but were quite pricey, so I just decided to use some bottle lids to cut out the cookies. The whole house was fragrant with the aroma of the spices.
I pretty much followed the given recipe, except for a few changes. I substituted the eggs with milk and omitted the molasses. Now to the recipe:

What you'll need
  1. All Purpose Flour – 1 ¾ cup
  2. Butter – ½ cup
  3. White Sugar – ¼ cup
  4. Brown Sugar – ¾ cup
  5. Baking Soda – ¼ tsp
  6. Salt – ½ tsp
  7. Speculaas Spice Mix – 1.5 tsp
  8. Milk – 3 to 4 tbsp
  9. Vanilla Extract – 1 tsp

  1. In a wide bowl, add the butter, sugar, salt, spice mix and baking soda and mix well until well incorporated.
  2. Now add the flour, milk and vanilla essence and mix until all the dry flour is combined well.
  3. Bring everything together into a ball and tightly wrap it with a cling wrap. Refrigerate for atleast minutes or even overnight. I rested the dough for 4 hours.
  4. Preheat the oven at 375 F.
  5. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into ¼ inch thick disks and cut out cookies of desired shapes.
  6. Place the cut cookies on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and bake for 8 to 10 minutes or till the outer edges of the cookies start browning. Do not over bake the cookies as they may turn very hard.
  7. Remove and cool over wire rack. Store in airtight containers.

  1. I used readymade spice mix as it was easily available. If you can’t find the spice mix, prepare your own fresh spice mix using the following spices:

2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper

Monday, August 12, 2013

Moru Keerai/ Spinach in Coconut Yogurt Sauce

I buy spinach every week and end up making either Keerai Molagootal or Masiyal. In one of my general talks with my grandmother, I came to know about his dish Moru keerai, which is almost a forgotten recipe in our household. I tried it once and it was an immediate with my family. I have been making this almost every other week now. I really don't know why, I didn't try this earlier. It is a nice variation to the regular moru kootan. It pairs well with steamed rice and any thoran or a spicy stir fry.

Serves - 3 to 4
What you'll need
  1. Spinach – 1 bunch
  2. Coconut – ½ cup, scraped coconut
  3. Thick Sour Curds – 1 cup
  4. Dried Red Chilly – 3 to 4
  5. Fenugreek Seeds – ¼ tsp
  6. Salt to taste

For tempering
  1. Oil – 1 tsp
  2. Mustard Seeds – ½ tsp
  3. Dried Red Chilly – 1

  1. Wash and roughly chop the spinach.
  2. Add it to a vessel and cook covered for 3 to 4 minutes or until the cooked. Do not cook for a long time.
  3. Transfer to a plate and cool and grind to paste without adding any water.
  4. In the meanwhile, heat a small frying pan with ½ tsp oil, roast fenugreek seeds and dried red chillies.
  5. Grind the coconut, roasted fenugreek and red chillies using half the curd to smooth paste.
  6. Transfer the ground coconut paste to a vessel. Also add the spinach puree and salt to taste.
  7. Add the remaining curd, and about ½ cup of water. Mix well and simmer till the mixture starts frothing. Do not boil. Adjust consistency by adding more water if required.
  8. Heat a small frying pan with oil and temper with mustard seeds and dried red chilly.
  9. Serve moru Keerai with steamed rice and pair it up with a thoran of your choice.

  1. You can substitute fenugreek seeds and red chillies with only green chillies while grinding along with coconut. Add fenugreek seeds while tempering.
  2. Spinach cooks very fast, so do keep it on heat for a long time, else it will lose its green color.
  3. If using any other variety of greens like Mula keerai, Arai keerai etc, chop finely add a little water and cook covered for a little longer.

Thursday, August 8, 2013


Akkaravadisal is a traditional Iyengar speciality. It is very similar to Chakkarai Pongal, but with some differences which makes it very tasty. It is of semi solid consistency and the rice and dal are cooked completely in milk which gives this dish a very rich and creamy taste.

Traditionally, the rice and dal are slow cooked, with milk until soft and mushy and is then simmered in jaggery syrup. But I have used the pressure cooker here, to make it faster. Also, some people make this with sugar instead of jaggery. I have tried both variations and the sugar one also tastes very yum. Here I have shared this recipe with jaggery.

So, this Aadi velli, please the Goddess, with this divine prasadam.

Serves -  4 to 5
What you’ll need
  1. Raw Rice – ¾ cup
  2. Split Yellow dal/Pasi Paruppu – ¼ cup
  3. Jaggery – 1 ¾ cup
  4. Milk – 4 cup + 2 tbsp
  5. Saffron – few strands
  6. Green Cardamom – 4
  7. Cashewnuts – 10, broken into small pieces
  8. Raisins – 10 to 15
  9. Clarified Butter/Ghee – ¼ cup + 1 tbsp

  1. Soak the saffron in 2 tbsp of warm milk.
  2. Dry roast the dal, until a nice aroma comes out, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Wash the dal and rice in two to three exchanges of water, drain and keep aside.
  4. Add the washed rice and dal into a pressure cooker with 4 cups of milk and cook for 3 whistles and then simmer for 3 to 4 minutes. The rice and dal should be cooked until soft and mushy.
  5. In the meanwhile, add the powdered jaggery to a pan with ¼ cup water and heat on low flame till jaggery is dissolved completely.
  6. Let this come to a boil, keeping on low flame.
  7. Once the cooker has cooled, open transfer the contents into a Kadai, add the soaked saffron and stir for 2 minutes on low flame, next add the jaggery syrup and mix for well, without any lumps.
  8. Now add the 1/4 cup of ghee and mix well. Simmer for 3 to 4 minutes.
  9. Remove from heat.
  10. Heat a small frying pan with remaining ghee and fry the cashewnuts and raisins.
  11. Add this to the akkaravadisal.
  12. Add crushed cardamom, mix well.

Serve warm.

  1. The consistency of this is semi solid. In case, akkaravadisal becomes thick on cooling you can add warm milk and mix.
  2. You can increase the quantity of ghee upto ½ cup.
  3.  You can also add a pinch of pacha karpooram. I did not add, though.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Kanchipuram Idli

Kanchipuram Idlis or Kudalai Idlis are idlis that are mildly spiced with pepper, cumin and dry ginger. These are traditionally steamed in "Donnai" or Lotus Leaf Cups. These leaves lend a special fragrance and aroma to the idlis. But don't worry if you can't find one, steam them like regular idlis in your idli moulds or even in deep flat dish and cut them into pieces. These should be served immediately else they become slightly hard on cooling. Read notes.

This is my mother's recipe who in turn learnt it from one of her close friends. These idlis were a hit with my kids, as they were mildly spiced, they had just plain without any side dish. And we enjoyed with some sambar and molagai podi.

Makes about 24 idlies
What you'll need
  1. Raw Rice – 2 cup* (see notes)
  2. Urad Dal – 1 cup
  3. Black Pepper – 1 tsp
  4. Cumin Seeds – 1 tsp
  5. Dry Ginger Powder – ½ tsp
  6. Ghee/Melted Butter – 1 tbsp
  7. Salt to taste

  1. Soak the rice and dal for 3 to 4 hours.
  2. In the Mixie jar or add the black pepper and cumin seeds and add the rice and urad dal little by little and grind to idli batter consistency by adding water.
  3. Allow this to ferment for 8 to 24 hours, depending on the place and weather conditions. It took 24 hours for me. The batter should rise well just like idli batter.
  4. Before making the idlis, add the dry ginger powder and ghee/butter and mix well.
  5. Grease idli mould, pour a ladle of batter in each groove.
  6. Steam for 10 to 12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  7. Serve immediately with chutney and sambar.

  1. Instead of 2 cup raw rice you can use 1 cup raw rice and 1 cup idli rice.
  2. Proper fermentation is very important to get soft idlies
  3. You could add a pinch of baking soda to get softer idlis.
  4. Also, since these are made of raw rice, you have to eat them immediately as they become hard on cooling.
  5. You could use grated fresh ginger, if you don’t have dry ginger powder.
  6. These idlis are traditionally steamed in Donnais, but you can steam them in regular idli moulds or even in deep plates (thalam) or cooker pathram. Add about 3 to 4 ladles of batter and steam for a longer time.

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