Tuesday, January 21, 2020



Ivy Gourd, called Kovakkai in Tamil, is a commonly available vegetable in India. It is known as Tindora in Hindi, Tendle in my mother tongue, Konkani, and Thondekayi in Kannada. According to this article in Lybrate, Ivy Gourd has many properties that are good for our health.

Elsewhere in this blog, you will find recipes with ivy gourd such as Tendle Talasani from our Konkani cuisine, Thondekayi Yennegayi from North Karnataka, and Tindora Masala from North India.

Today's recipe is from Tamilnadu and is called Kovakkai Kootu. We enjoyed this as a side dish with lunch. This has been adapted from Ivy Gourd Kootu by Mrs. Ragini in VahChef.

  • Kovakkai ( Ivy Gourd), 10-12 or about 150 grams
  • Moong Dal, 1/2 cup
  • Salt, to taste
  • Turmeric Powder, 1/4 tsp
  • Coriander Leaves, finely chopped, for garnish
 For the Masala:
  • Coconut Gratings, 1/4 cup
  • Green Chillies, 2
  • Ginger, 1/2" to 3/4 " piece
  • Cumin Seeds, 1/2 tsp
For Seasoning;
  • Mustards Seeds, 1/2 tsp
  • Urad Dal, 1/2 tsp
  • Red Chillies, 2, broken into halves
  •  Curry Leaves, a sprig
  • Oil , 1 tbsp

Wash the ivy gourds and snip off both the ends
Cut them into roundels of about the same size. They should not be too thin.
Wash and soak the moong dal in adequate water for about half an hour. Then discard the water.
In a small mixer jar, grind together the coconut gratings, green chillies, ginger, and cumin seeds to a smooth paste adding just the required amount of water. Keep aside.

In a thick-bottomed kadhai, heat 1 tbsp oil and on medium heat add the mustard seeds, when they splutter add the urad dal and sauté till it changes color then add the broken red chillies and curry leaves and sauté for about half a minute
Next, add the kovakkai roundels, turmeric powder and fry on medium heat for 2-3 minutes till the kovakkai becomes slightly golden
To this, add the soaked moong dal, salt, and a little water and cook covered for about 5 minutes or till till both the kovakkai and the moong dal get cooked 
Now, add the ground paste prepared earlier to the cooked moong dal and kovakkai, mix well and bring to a boil
Allow it to simmer for 1-2 minutes
Lastly, garnish with finely chopped coriander leaves.

Thursday, January 16, 2020



Happy New Year, dear readers! I am back after a break of about six weeks. Yesterday was an auspicious day for us in india. We celebrated the festival of Pongal/Sankranti. Yesterday, is also significant as being the start of the harvesting season.

Like in every Hindu home where Makar Sankranti/Pongal is celebrated, I made a sweet too. This one is from Tamilnadu and is called Pasi Paruppu Payasam. It gets it's name from "Pasi Paruppu" being the name for Moong Dal ( yellow lentils) in English. "Payasam" is a sweet dish somewhat like "kheer" made in North India.

  • Pasi Paruppu or Moong Dal, 1/2 cup
  • Jaggery, grated, 3/4 cup, or to taste 
  • Thin Coconut Milk, 1/2 cup
  • Thick Coconut Milk, 1 cup
  • Ghee, 1 and 1/2 tbsp to 2 tbsp
  • Cashewnuts, 10-12, broken into halves
  • Raisins, 1 tbsp
  • Cardamom Powder, 1/2 tsp 


First, we will extract the coconut milk if you are making it from scratch
Grate 1 full medium-sized coconut
In a mixer, grind the coconut gratings along with a cup of water for a few minutes at high speed
Filter the ground mixture using a damp muslin cloth or a strainer and press the mixture till all the coconut milk is collected . This is the thick coconut milk. Keep aside.
Next, return the coconut pulp to the mixer and blend again with another cup of water and repeat the straining process to extract the thin coconut milk. Keep aside.
The pulp that remains can be discarded,

Obviously, the above steps are not required if you are using store bought canned Coconut Milk

Dry roast the moong dal till it becomes slightly golden in color and gives off a good aroma
Rinse the roasted moong dal and place it in a vessel and add to it 1 and 1/2 cups of water
Pressure cook the moong dal in the vessel for about 3-4 whistles or till it gets fully cooked
Once the pressure cooker cools, transfer the cooked moong dal to a pan and and mash it with the back of a ladle
Heat the pan and to this add 1/2 cup of thin coconut milk that you have prepared, grated jaggery and cardamom powder
Mix well and stir continuously on medium heat till the jaggery gets fully dissolved and well blended with the cooked moong dal and bring to a boil 
Now add the thick coconut milk, mix well and let it simmer on low flame for 1-2 minutes
(Do not overheat after adding the thick coconut milk as this could curdle)
Switch off the gas and keep the payasam aside
Heat the ghee in a tempering pan and on medium heat add the cashew nuts, broken into halves, and fry them till they become golden in color
Add the raisins and fry till the raisins swell up 
Lastly, add the roasted cashew nuts, raisins to the Pasi Paruppu Payasam  and serve it hot

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

A Wonderful Dinner at Zazies

A Wonderful Dinner at Zazies

In an earlier post I have described our brunch at Zazies, a French restaurant in the Cole Valley area of San Francisco.

A few days ago, I had the pleasure of going there once more- for dinner this time. We began the meal with drinks, chilled sparkling water for me and red wine in the form of Chateau Haut Sarthes Merlot for my husband Prem who manages this blog with me.

There was so much to choose from!

Each dish sounded more exotic than the other. Finally, we made our choices and had Ricotta Raviolis with wilted arugula, leeks, white wine and Parmesan. This tasted divine!!

We then had the delicious Poisson en Papillote ( Fish and Potatoes) made up of wild steelhead salmon with fingerling potatoes, wilted arugula leeks, and mussel cream.

As usual we chose to eat in the heated Garden Patio and enjoyed the warmth as we had a leisurely dinner while it was pretty cold outside.

So the next time you are in San Francisco, do make it a point to dine at Zazies. I can assure you it will be well worth the time and money spent.

Monday, November 25, 2019



Dear Readers,

It's that time of the year when my blog and I take a break!

You will find very few posts, if at all, for the next 6 weeks in this blog.

Shall resume active blogging in the middle of January 2020.

In saying bye for now, I take this opportunity to wish you and your families Happy Thanksgiving, a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.

Best regards,


Wednesday, November 20, 2019



Nellikai or Nellikayi is what gooseberries are called in Tamil and Kannada. We call them Aavalo in my mother tongue, Konkani. They are called Amla in Hindi. This happens to be the right season for gooseberries and we see them in plenty in the vegetable markets in Bengaluru where I live.

Elsewhere in this blog, you will find recipes with gooseberries such as Nellikayi Chitranna Nellikayi Thokku and our own Avale Kadi.

Rasam, as you know, is a popular accompaniment with rice in South India.  It is more watery than sambar and has a soup-like consistency. Rasams give off a nice aroma thanks to the spices that go into making them.

Recently, I tried out Nellikai Rasam adapted from the well-known cookery website Subbu's Kitchen  and we loved it with steaming hot rice.

  • Nellikai ( Gooseberry), 5 
  • Toor Dal, ( Split Pigeon Pea), 2 tbsp
  • Green Chilli, 1
  • Ginger, 1 and 1/2 " piece
  • Tomato, 1 
  • Black Peppercorns, 1and 1/2 tsp to 2 tsp
  • Cumin Seeds, 1 tsp
  • Asafoetida, 1/8 tsp
  • Turmeric Powder, 1/4 tsp
  • Coriander Leaves, finely chopped, for garnish
  • Salt, to taste
For Seasoning -
  • Mustard Seeds, 1 tsp
  • Red Chilli, broken into halves, 1
  • Curry Leaves, 8-10
  • Ghee, 2 tsp


Wash the toor dal and pressure cook it along with turmeric powder and 1 cup of water for 2-3 whistles or till done
One the cooker cools, remove the cooked dal, mash it and keep aside
Wash the gooseberries and de-seed them
In a small mixer jar, grind the black peppercorns and the cumin seeds to a powder and keep aside
In the same mixer jar, grind together the de-seeded gooseberries, green chili and ginger to a smooth paste adding just the required amount of water. Keep aside.
In a pan, heat the ghee and on medium heat add the mustard seeds and when they splutter add the broken red chili and the curry leaves and sauté for a few seconds
To this add the peppercorn-cumin powder, and the asafetida and sauté for a few seconds
Now add the chopped tomato and a little water and cook till the tomato becomes soft
Next add the ground gooseberry paste, along with turmeric powder, salt  and 1 cup of water
Mix well and bring to a boil
Lower the flame and let it simmer for 5 minutes
To this add the mashed dal, mix well and add water as required to get the right rasam consistency
Cook for a few minutes till a frothy layer forms on top of the rasam
Garnish with chopped coriander leaves
Serve the Nellikai Rasam with hot steamed rice along with ghee

Friday, November 15, 2019



Today's recipe Palak Zhunka is for an easy to make side dish made with Spinach ( "palak" in Hindi), Besan (Chickpea Flour) and spices. This type of side dish is called "Zhunka " in Maharashtra, Goa and the Northern part of Karnataka.

We make many dishes using spinach in India. For example, elsewhere in this blog you will find dishes as diverse as Palak Corn Subzi, Palak Parantha, and the famous Palak Paneer!

We enjoyed this Palak Zhunka with hot rotis.

  • Palak, (Spinach) , 1 large bunch or about 200 gms
  • Besan, (Chickpea Flour) 1 cup 
  • Large-sized Onion, 1
  • Green Chillies, 2
  • Garlic Cloves, 3
  • Turmeric Powder, 1/4 tsp
  • Chilli Powder, 1/4 to 1/2 tsp (optional)
  • Mustard Seeds, 1 tsp
  • Cumin Seeds, 1/2 tsp
  • Salt, to taste
  • Oil, 2 tbsp


Remove the palak leaves from their stalks and wash them in several changes of water
Chop the palak fine and keep aside
Chop the onion and finely chop the green chillies and garlic cloves
In a pan, dry roast the besan on medium heat for 3-4 minutes or till it gives off a good aroma. Keep aside. 
Heat oil in the same pan and on medium heat add the mustard seeds and when they splutter add the cumin seeds. When the cumin seeds sizzle, add the finely chopped garlic and sauté till it turns slightly golden brown 
To this, add the chopped onions and green chillies and sauté till the onions become translucent
Add the turmeric powder and chilli powder ( if being used) 
Next add the chopped palak and salt
Mix well and cook the palak till it is almost done. ( Please note that palak gets cooked very fast. Also that salt added to the palak will release water) 
Now mix in the dry roasted besan and sprinkle a little water
Cover and cook on medium flame till the besan gets cooked, stirring from time to time till it gets well blended with the palak
Switch off the gas and transfer the Palak Zhunka to a serving bowl
Serve hot as a side dish

Monday, November 11, 2019



Pumpkin is one of those vegetables that have inherent health benefits. This article in the prestigious WebMD site gives us details of the many health benefits provided by pumpkins. I was encouraged to use more of pumpkins in my preparations after reading this article.

Elsewhere in this blog, you will find recipes for dishes made with pumpkins such as Mathanga Pullinkari from Kerala, Red Pumpkin Soup, and Yellow Pumpkin Kootu.

Today's recipe is for a side dish made with pumpkin and sesame seeds commonly made in Tamilnadu. This has been adapted from Paringikai Ellu Kari or Pumpkin Sesame Curry by Kannamma Cooks.

We had this for lunch a couple of days ago and were very impressed with the taste. They have suggested the use of sesame oil but I made it with regular cooking oil.

  • Pumpkin, 400 gms
  • Cumin Seeds, 1/4 tsp
  • Byadgi Dry Red Chillies, 2
  • Curry Leaves, 1 sprig
  • Turmeric Powder, 1/4 tsp
  • Salt, to taste
  • Oil, 1 tbsp
For the Coconut Sesame Masala:-
  • Fresh Coconut Gratings, 1/4 cup
  • White Sesame Seeds, 2 tbsp
  • Byadgi Dry Red Chillies,  2
  • Cumin Seeds, 1/4 tsp


Wash, peel and cut the pumpkin into bite- sized pieces after discarding the core and the seeds. Keep aside.
Grind together the fresh coconut gratings, sesame seeds, dry red chillies, and cumin seeds, adding 1/2 cup of water to form a coarse paste. Keep this coconut sesame masala aside. 
Heat oil in a thick-bottomed pan and on medium heat add the cumin seeds and when they sizzle add the curry leaves and the pumpkin pieces
To this, add the turmeric powder, salt and 1/2 a cup of water
Cook covered on medium heat till the pumpkin gets done ( about 6-7 minutes)
As pumpkins get cooked fast, make sure they don't get overcooked
Now add the ground Coconut Sesame masala,  mix well and let it simmer for a few minutes
Serve hot with steamed rice