Saturday, March 25, 2017



Having lived in Gujarat for a few years, I developed a liking for their cuisine. Elsewhere in this blog, you will find recipes for Gujartai Kadhi, Khandvi, and Rava Dhokla.

Sambhariya Masala is commonly used in Gujarati cuisine, for example vegetables like lady's finger (bhindi) or potatoes are stuffed with this masala. This stuffing is made with coconut gratings, coriander leaves, peanuts, sesame seeds and spices. It also has a hint of sweetness through the jaggery or sugar used.

For best results for making today's dish, please ensure that the lady's fingers are tender. You can use sugar instead of jaggery but I have preferred to use jaggery.

Today's recipe is adapted from Bhindi Sambhariya from one of my favourite cookery experts, the late Tarlaji Dalal.

  • Bhindi/ Lady's Fingers, 250 gms
  • Hing (Asafoetida), a generous pinch
  • Oil, 1-2 tbsps
For The Sambhariya Masala: 
  • Freshly grated Coconut, 3 tbsp
  • Fresh Coriander Leaves, finely chopped, 3-4 tbsp
  • Roasted Peanuts, de-skinned and coarsely powdered, 2 tbsp  
  • Jaggery, grated, 1 tbsp
  • Ginger Green Chilli Paste, 1 and 1/2 tsp
  • Coriander Powder, 1 and 1/2 tsp
  • Cumin Powder, 1 tsp
  • Garam Masala, a pinch
  • Haldi ( Turmeric) Powder, 1/4 tsp
  • Til ( Sesame seeds) 1/2 tbsp
  • Salt, to taste
  • Oil, 1/2 tbsp
  • Lime Juice, 1 tbsp

Wash the tender lady's fingers and pat them dry. 
Snip off the two ends of the lady's fingers and slit each of them length-wise and keep aside.
In a bowl, mix well together all the ingredients listed under For The Stuffing. 
Take each of the slit bhindis and gently fill them with the stuffing as seen in the picture alongside.

Heat oil in a wide thick bottomed kadhai.
When it gets hot, add the hing and saute for a few seconds
Place the stuffed bhindis in the kadhai and cook over medium/low flame till they are nearly done
Next, flip the bhindis so that they are evenly cooked on both sides
Serve hot as a side dish with rice or with rotis

Tuesday, March 21, 2017



When I was a child one of my favourite Indian sweets was Badam Halwa, so rich and sweet, made with almonds which were not so commonly available then. We didn't have this frequently but relished it whenever we had this as a treat! There are many ways to make Badam Halwa. While almonds, ghee and sugar are constants, some use milk, others use condensed milk, and some use neither to make this sweet.

Remembering those days, I have made this today to celebrate the 4th anniversary of my blog, "Cooking With Shobana." Here's the link to the Facebook Page where you get links to all the blog posts.

By the grace of God, and the encouragement of my family, friends and well-wishers, this blog continues to grow year after year. It has today over 1,000,000 page views. My sincere thanks to all of you!

  •  Badam ( Almonds), 1/2 cup * I used California almonds
  • Ghee, (Clarified Butter), 1/3 cup * I used home made ghee
  • Sugar, 1/2 cup, or to taste
  • Kesar (Saffron) , 8-10 strands
  • Warm Milk, 1-2 tsp * to soak the saffron strands
  • Cardamom Powder,  1/2 tsp (optional) 
  • Pista, a few pieces, for garnish

The first step is to blanch the almonds which means to remove the outer skin. Soak the almonds in boiling hot water and keep them for half an hour or so. You can also microwave them to blanch them faster. Once they are blanched, drain away the excess water and remove the outer skin of the almonds. 

Take 1-2 tsp of warm milk in a bowl and drop the saffron strands in them and keep them soaked for about 15 minutes.

In a mixer jar, grind together the blanched almonds along with 1/3 cup of water to get a paste of rava/ sooji consistency. Make sure the paste does not become too fine. To get the right consistency, do not add all the water at one time. Grind the almonds, using the pulse mode in the mixer, adding water little by little.

Heat a thick-bottomed kadhai and when it gets hot, on medium/low flame add the almond paste. Keep stirring continuously on low flame and cook the almond paste.  After a few minutes when the almonds give off an aroma, add 1/2 cup of sugar and keep stirring on low flame till the sugar gets fully dissolved in the almond paste.

Keep stirring till the paste begins to thicken, cook uncovered on low flame for another 5-6 minutes. Now add the prepared saffron soaked in warm milk and mix it in completely to the almond paste.
We now begin to add the ghee in small quantities. Initially, add 2 tbsp of ghee, mix well and cook stirring continuously till the ghee is fully absorbed.

Then add another 2 tbsp of ghee and continue the same process till all the ghee has been used up.
By now the almond paste and ghee is well blended and thickens to form a halwa.
Continue to stir till the halwa leaves the sides of the kadhai.
Add the cardamom powder, if you are using this at this stage and mix it well.
Once you get the desired consistency, switch off the gas and transfer the halwa to a serving bowl or alternatively grease a plate and transfer the halwa. You can then spread the halwa and when it cools, cut the halwa into the desired shape.
Garnish the badam halwa with slivers of almonds or with pistas.
Your badam halwa is ready to be served.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017



Did you know we could use the commonly available curry leaves ( Kadi Patta in Hindi, Karibevu in Kannada and Karbev in Konkani) to make a raita? The recipe for this easy to make yet delicious raita ( a curd -based salad) was shared by my friend Sarojini Kini in a cooking group in which we are members.

I made this as an accompaniment for Nimbehannu Chitranna (Lime Rice) and it tasted just great. It would go well with Kayi Sasive Chitranna , and Maavinkayi Chitranna ( Raw Mango Rice ) as well.

  • Curry Leaves, 2 sprigs, or 15-20 leaves
  • Fresh Curds, 1 cup
  • Cumin Seeds ( Jeera), 1/2 tsp
  • Green Chilli, chopped, 1
  • Red Chilli, 1 (broken into two)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Oil, 1 and 1/2 to 2 tsp

Wash the curry leaves and pat them dry
In a bowl, add salt to the curds, whisk the curds and keep aside
Heat oil in a kadahi and when it gets hot add the cumin seeds
When they sizzle, add the chopped green chilli, broken red chilli and the curry leaves
Saute till curry leaves become crisp 
Allow them to cool and once they cool crush it to a coarse powder
Add this crushed powder to the curds, check for salt, and mix well
Serve the Curry Leaves Raita as an accompaniment to the main meal

Saturday, March 11, 2017



I have used products from Gits Food Products for many years now. I recall using their Instant Gulab Jamun Mix on many occasions when my children were much younger. I heard recently they have launched a new range of instant wholesome breakfast foods which include Brown Rice Idli, Brown Rice Dosa, Brown Rice Dhokla, Ragi Dosa, and Oats Idli.

I recently received a gift hamper from them of these products.

Instant mixes help you save time so if you are faced with a time crunch, these can come in handy for you. They help rustle up a breakfast in a short while without having to make the effort of preparing the batter etc.

Brown Rice is reputed to be rich in fiber, iron and vitamins. The mix also contains flax seeds which are good for health. They claim this pack makes 18 brown rice idlis of approx 30 grams each. I got about 12 , perhaps because my idli moulds are much bigger.

Overall, we were happy with the ease of making the brown rice idlis, they came out nice and fluffy and we enjoyed the taste too.


Mix the contents of the pack with 320 ml (approx 2 cups of 160 ml) of water and 1 tbsp of oil
Stir to a smooth batter
Lightly grease idli mould with oil
Stir batter gently and pour 2 tbsp batter into each mould
Place idli moulds inside the steaming vessel
Cover and cook on high steam for 10-15 minutes
If pressure cooker is used do not apply weight/whistle
Serve steamed hot fluffy side up idlis with Gits Instant sambhar or coconut chutney

Wednesday, March 8, 2017



I am fond of Maharashtrian cuisine to which we were first exposed when we lived in Pune. Elsewhere in this blog, you will find recipes for some favourites like Hirwi Mirchi Cha Thecha, Kothimbir Vadi, and Peanut & Garlic Chutney.

Pitla is an easy to make and popular side dish in Maharashtra which is primarily made of "besan" or gram flour. It is served with rice or with rotis. The pitla served with rice tends to be more watery while the one served with bhakri or jowar roti is far more thick. The consistency which is based on one's taste is determined by the amount of water that you would add.

Nowadays, I make pitla as an accompaniment for rotis that we have for dinner.

  • Besan (Gram Flour) , 1 cup
  • Water, 3 cups
  • Green Chillies, 5-6
  • Garlic Cloves, 4
  • Mustard Seeds, 1 tsp
  • Cumin Seeds, 1 tsp
  • Onion, chopped, 1
  • Oil, 1 tbsp
  • Turmeric Powder, 1/2 tsp
  • Salt, to taste
  • Coriander Leaves, chopped, for garnishing, 2 tbsp

Mix the besan with some of the water in a bowl. Take care that no lumps are formed. Keep aside.
In a small mixer jar, coarsely grind the green chillies and the garlic to make a paste. Keep aside
Heat oil in a kadhai and when it gets hot add mustard seeds, when they splutter add cumin seeds and when the cumin seeds sizzle add the chopped onion. Saute till the onion becomes translucent 
Add turmeric powder,  and the garlic and green chilli paste
Mix well and fry for a minute or two till the raw smell of the garlic goes
Now add the mixture of besan and water, add salt, mix well and cook covered on medium flame for about 5 minutes
As the mixture thickens, add the remaining water, a little by little to get the consistency you desire
Finally, garnish with chopped coriander leaves
Serve hot with rotis, bhakris etc

Saturday, March 4, 2017



This dish is popular amongst the Saraswat Brahmin community and I learnt this from a close friend years ago. There are different methods of making this as is the case with any dish. In one the groundnuts are boiled and added, while as here they are roasted and ground into the masala.

Since I like both capsicum and potatoes I became fond of this dish, which goes well both with rice and with chappatis.

  • Capsicum (Bell Pepper), large-sized, 3
  • Potato, 1
  • Coconut Gratings, 2 tbsp
  • Roasted Byadgi Red Chillies, 7
  • Tamarind, marble sized ball
  • Sesame seeds, 1 tbsp
  • Groundnuts, 2 tbsp
  • Urad Dal, 1 tbsp
  • Coriander Seeds, 1 tbsp
  • Jaggery, grated, 1 tbsp, or to taste
  • Mustard Seeds, 3/4 tsp
  • Curry Leaves, a few
  • Oil, 1 tbsp

Wash and de-seed the capsicums and cut them into bite-sized pieces
Wash, peel and cube the potato
In a little oil, roast the groundnuts, urad dal, sesame seeds and coriander seeds separately till they turn slightly golden brown
In a mixer, grind together coconut gratings, roasted red chillies, tamarind, roasted groundnuts, sesame seeds, urad dal and coriander seeds, adding just the required amount of water to a fine paste
Heat oil in a kadhai and when it gets hot add the mustard seeds, when they splutter add the curry leaves
Next add the cut capsicum pieces and the cubed potato
Add salt, mix, sprinkle a little water and cook covered over medium/low heat till they are nearly cooked
Ensure that the capsicum remains crunchy and does not get overcooked
Now add the ground paste and the grated jaggery, mix well and bring it to a boil
Cook on low flame till you get a semi-solid consistency
Serve hot as a side dish with rice or chappatis

Tuesday, February 28, 2017



You can't visit India and not go to Goa! Check out the many interesting options for places to see, things to do and goodies to eat detailed in the Goa Tourism site. You can't visit Goa and not hang out at Calangute beach! And, here's my can't go to Calangute Beach and not eat at Souza Lobo!! This restaurant which offers diners a wonderful view of the sea ( if you are lucky to get a table, that is) was established in 1932. It looks to me that they have successfully built and nurtured a reputation over 85 years, which is a long, long time in the restaurant business.

I must confess that we were pointed to Souza Lobo by recommendations in Trip Advisor. They have received fairly impressive ratings so we decided to make it our first option when we were looking for a place to lunch.

We started with Fresh Lime Soda, Pineapple Juice, and Strawberry Milk Shake which was most refreshing coming in as we did from the hot sun.

As we sipped on these, we ordered our starters which turned out to be incredibly tasty. We began with the conventional Fish Fingers which were delectable especially with the tartar sauce.

The next starter was a killer! The Goan Masala Fried Prawns were simply out of this world! They were so well marinated in the thick masala and served with a light salad and potato finger chips.  Highly recommended!

For the main course, we chose a filling Pomfret Curry served in an eye catching earthenware pot in which interestingly the ladle was made out of a coconut shell. To go with the Pomfret Curry, we had plain rice which made for an excellent combination.

Overall, we were delighted with the food and the service. No wonder travelers using Trip Advisor have rated Souza Lobo so highly. We would gladly endorse their recommendations with our own.

Food: 5/5
Service: 5/5

So, if you are in the Calangute area around meal time and wondering where to go, head straight for Souza Lobo!

Post and Pics by Prem Rao