Thursday, March 21, 2019



There are some dates that stay firmly planted in your memory. March 21 is one such for me! I am so pleased to share that this blog completes 6 years today. It was on March 21, 2013 that I posted my first dish.

It is with quiet satisfaction that I see that since then there have been 677 posts which have received over 2.5 million hits. The Facebook Page for Cooking With Shobana has over 16,000 likes and the blog continues to feature in the Top 100 Indian Food Blogs and Websites.

I am grateful to God, and to you, my family and friends for your encouragement and support over the years.

To celebrate the occasion, today I have made a sweet dish called Moong Dal Halwa, which is popular all over India. This is the Instant version which is easier to make. It has been adapted from Instant Moong Dal Halwa by one of my favourite cookery experts, Nisha Madhulikaji.

  • Moong Dal, (Yellow Split Gram), 1 cup
  • Sugar, 1 heaped cup 
  • Ghee, 1/2 cup, 
  • Full Cream Milk, 1/2 litre + additional 1 cup (optional-instead of water) 
  • Cashews, chopped, 10-15
  • Almonds, finely chopped, 10-15
  • Raisins, 1 tbsp
  • Pistachios, 10-15
  • Powdered Green Cardamom, from 6-7 pods


Heat a little ghee in a pan and add the cashewnuts, almonds, and raisins. Roast them for a few minutes and keep aside.
Peel and powder the Green Cardamom and keep aside
Clean the moong dal, removing the powder if any
In a thick-bottomed pan, dry roast the moong dal for about 5 minutes on medium flame stirring continuously till it gives off a good aroma and turns a golden brown
Ensure that the moong dal doesn't get burnt
Transfer to a plate and allow the roasted moong dal to cool
In a mixer jar, grind the roasted moong dal in pulse mode to a coarse powder. Keep aside
Heat 4 tbsp of ghee in the pan and on medium heat roast the coarsely ground moong dal for about 5 minutes till it gives off a good aroma and turns a golden brown
Lower the flame and add 500 ml milk and keep stirring so that no lumps are formed
Add another 1 cup of milk (or water) and cook on medium flame stirring continuously till it forms a thick mass
Next add the sugar and some of the roasted dry fruits (keeping aside some for garnish) and cook for some more time as the sugar added leaves water
Add the remaining ghee and keep stirring till it gets well blended and more thick
Add the powdered cardamom and cook the halwa for 1-2 minutes more
Transfer to a plate and garnish with the remaining roasted dry fruits and pistachios

Tuesday, March 19, 2019



The Mission District is considered one of the most interesting localities in San Francisco, California having been established hundreds of years ago. Avril Tours has this interesting initiative for those interested in local culture and food. In the course of this conducted tour, we walk about the district for a few hours stopping at select restaurants to sample their speciality cuisine.

My husband and I signed up for one of these tours during our recent trip to San Francisco. Our group that day comprised 3 journalists from France, their tour guide, their interpreter, and the two of us. We were fortunate to have a young lady called Margherita, who was enthusiastic and efficient, as our guide from Avril for this walking tour.

The meeting place, or shall I say rendezvous as there were French people with us, was the iconic Womens' Building in the Mission District. One can't possibly miss this because of the many colourful murals painted on its walls.

We introduced ourselves, spoke of the kinds of food we liked and were briefed about the tour. Then we set off for our first port of call, Craftsman and Wolves for the first of the appetizers. We had the Carrot and Chocolate Muffin paired with Dry Cider while the others had the Rebel Within, a cheese and sausage muffin. Margherita explained the origins of the restaurant and told us about Chef William Werner and his creations.

We then dropped in at Mission Cheese for the second appetizer. This chic cheese cafe is famous for serving and selling only cheese made in the United States. We were surprised to know that so many different types of cheese were made in the US. We were asked to guess the cheese as we tasted the samples along with locally brewed ale. Of all the cheeses that we sampled, we liked the Gouda the most.

For the main course or entree we went to Gracias Madre, well known for being the first Mexican vegan restaurant. Here we loved the Quesadilla with Cheese and Sweet Potatoes which was truly delicious.

Dessert was the Salted Caramel Ice Cream, considered one of the top five desserts in America at the famous Bi Rite Creamery in Dolores Park. This was awesome!!

Overall, it was a most enjoyable tour where we tasted what for us was a variety of new dishes.
Fortunately, the weather gods were kind to us that day. It did not rain at all for the duration of our tour  which made it easy for us to walk from one restaurant to the other.

If you are visiting San Francisco, you may like to add this tour to your plans. For details of the tour, do contact Avital Tours. I am sure you will enjoy the experience.

Sunday, March 17, 2019



Raw/Green Bananas are known to be rich in fibre and potassium. They are often used in dishes made in the South Indian states of Kerala, Tamilnadu and Karnataka. In Malayalam and Tamil, raw/green bananas are called Vazhakka. In Kannada, they are known as Balekayi.

Being good for health, I make dishes using raw/green bananas from time to time. Elsewhere in this blog, you will find recipes for Vazhakkai Poriyal, Raw/Green Banana Roast, and our own Kele Koddel from Konkani cuisine.

This dish has been adapted from Vazhakka Mezhukkupuratti in the well known website Padhu's Kitchen.

  • Raw/Green Bananas, 2
  • Baby Onions, 10
  • Turmeric Powder, 1/4 tsp
  • Pepper Powder, 1/4 tsp
  • Garlic Cloves, 2
  • Byadgi Red Chillies, 2 
  • Coconut Oil, 2 tsp
  • Mustard Seeds, 1 tsp
  • Curry Leaves, a few

Wash, peel and cube the raw bananas. Soak them in water to avoid discolouration
Heat water in a pan, add the cubed raw bananas along with turmeric powder and salt
Cook the raw bananas till they get done taking care that they do not get overcooked as bananas get cooked quite fast
Drain the excess water and keep aside the cooked raw bananas

Peel the baby onions and garlic cloves
In a small mixer jar, coarsely grind the baby onions, garlic cloves and red chillies without adding any water. Keep aside

Heat coconut oil in a pan and on medium heat add the mustard seeds
When they splutter add the curry leaves and saute for a few seconds
Next add the onion-chilli-garlic paste prepared earlier
Mix well and saute till the baby onions become translucent and the raw smell goes

To this add the cooked bananas, pepper powder and salt as required
Cook on medium heat for a few minutes till the bananas get well blended with the spices
Switch off the gas and transfer the RawBanana Stir Fry to a serving bowl

Thursday, March 14, 2019



In the summer months, Drumsticks are one of the commonly available vegetables. In my house, we are all fond of drumsticks, which we call "Mashingasaang" in my mother tongue, Konkani. They are called Nuggekayi in Kannada, Muringakkai in Tamil, and Shevage in Marathi.

Elsewhere in this blog, you will find recipes for dishes made with drumsticks such as Potato & Drumsticks Upkari,  Drumstick Tomato Curry, and Drumsticks Pithla.

Today's recipe is for a dish from Andhra cuisine. It is called Iguru and is a thick gravy usually served as an accompaniment for hot rice. This is adapted from the YouTube Video for Drumsticks Igru by Subbu's Kitchen.

We enjoyed this dish and I hope you will like it as much as we did.

  • Drumsticks, 2
  • Onions, finely chopped, 2
  • Green Chillies, slit, 2
  • Turmeric Powder, 1/2 tsp
  • Tomatoes, finely chopped, 2
  • Chilli Powder, 1 tsp
  • Salt, to taste
  • Oil, 2 tbsp
To Grind To A Paste:-
  • Poppy Seeds, (Khus Khus), 1/4 cup
  • Coriander Seeds, 2 tsp
  • Cumin Seeds, 1 tsp
  • Garlic Cloves, 6

Wash and chop the drumsticks into 2 " pieces, peel them and keep aside. I prefer to peel them but you can use them without peeling them too.
In a mixer, grind together the poppy seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds and garlic cloves adding water a little by little to a smooth paste. Keep aside
Heat oil in a thick-bottomed pan and when it gets hot add the chopped onions and a little salt and saute for 4-5 minutes
Now add the drumstick pieces, slit green chillies and turmeric powder
Cover the pan and cook the drumsticks on low flame without adding any water ( the drumsticks and onions should get cooked in their own juices)
Stir occasionally and cook till the drumsticks get done
To this add the ground paste prepared earlier and mix well
Add the chilli powder, the finely chopped tomatoes, salt and mix well
Cook on medium flame till the tomatoes become soft and the raw smell of the ground paste goes
Cover and cook for another 10 minutes till the Iguru becomes thick
Add a little water to adjust the consistency 
Transfer to serving bowl and serve the Drumsticks Iguru with rice

Sunday, March 10, 2019



As you know, I was away on vacation to the United States for the last six weeks. During this period, I have tried to share some of our interesting dining experiences of different cuisines at various restaurants. You will appreciate it does take some time to get back into the groove once we are back home.

Since I happened to have frozen peas in stock, I decided to make this side dish which went very well with hot rotis. You could, of course, make this dish with fresh peas as well. The besan is used to add thickness to the gravy and it also adds to the flavour of the dish. This dish does not call for the use of onions or garlic so it may be welcomed by those who prefer Saatvik diets or for those who choose to skip onion and garlic on certain days.

I have adapted this recipe from Matar With Spicy Gravy by Manjula's Kitchen.

As frozen peas are available the year around, I am sure you will enjoy this versatile dish.

  • Frozen Green Peas, 2 cups
  • Medium-sized Tomatoes, finely chopped, 2, 
  • Cumin Seeds, (Jeera), 1/2 tsp
  • Asafoetida, (Hing), 1/8 tsp
  • Gram Flour, (Besan), 1 tbsp 
  • Coriander Powder, 2 tsp
  • Turmeric Powder, 1/4 tsp
  • Chilli Powder, 1/2 tsp
  • Ginger, grated, 1/2 tbsp
  • Green Chillies, finely chopped, 2 to 3
  • Kitchen King Masala, 1/4 tsp
  • Oil, 1 and 1/2 to 2 tbsp
  • Salt, to taste
  • Coriander Leaves, finely chopped for garnish


Heat oil in a thick-bottomed kadhai and on medium heat add the cumin seeds
When the cumin seeds sizzle, add the asafoetida and saute for a few seconds
Next add the besan and fry till it gives off a good aroma
To this add the grated ginger, green chillies, chilli powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, chopped tomatoes and salt to taste
The salt added will make the tomatoes leave water
Mix well and cook on medium flame for about 3 to 4 minutes till the tomatoes become soft
Now add the frozen green peas and 1 and 1/2 cups of water and bring it to a boil
Lower the flame and cook covered till the green peas get done ( about 5-6 minutes)
Add the Kitchen King Masala and mix well
Cook for 1-2 minutes more
Lastly, garnish with finely chopped coriander leaves
Transfer to serving bowl and serve hot with rotis or rice

Thursday, March 7, 2019



If you happen to walk down Cole in San Francisco's pleasant locality of Cole Valley on a Saturday morning around 8.30 a.m, you might find a queue of people waiting outside a restaurant. Locals are not surprised at the sight. They know that Zazie has no reservation for small parties for brunch, so it is a matter of first come first served. However, reservations are not required for the very limited space out on the sidewalk, perhaps 3-4 tables.

Most people in the know, reach in time to chalk up their names, the size of their party and their preferred spot in the restaurant on the board that appears for that purpose. We opted to have our weekend brunch at the heated garden patio which is a treat to be in on a cold day. 

We had heard much about Zazies and I must confess we were not disappointed. The food was fabulous. For the main course, we chose the La Mer Eggs Benedict which had the usual eggs along with hand picked California Dungeness crab, avacado and chives. This apart, we had for our brunch the French Toast Tahiti, pain de mie french toast stuffed with caramelized bananas and walnuts; and The Miracle Pancake.

The delicious food was accompanied by a splendid drink. We had the salt-crusted tomato-based Mimosa Cocktail which is made with equal portions of chilled sparkling wine and tomato juice.

This was without doubt, the best brunch we have had in a long, long time. So the next time I am here and see people queue up patiently outside Zazies ( the brunch on weekends is from 9.00 a.m. to 3 .00 p.m.), I would tell them, " Folks, believe me, it is well worth the wait!

Saturday, March 2, 2019



My husband and I are back home after being in the United States for the last six weeks. Some of you may have read my blog posts in the course of this trip on our dining experiences at the Duke's Waikiki, in Honolulu, Hawaii; at the Plaza Bistro in Sonoma, Ca; and at the Shizen Vegan Sushi Bar & Izakaya, San Francisco, Ca.

Since most of my friends are foodies, I plan to share more of our dining experiences over the next few posts in the  blog.

Today's post is about the lunch we enjoyed at Ambrosia India Bistro  in Monterey, California. Though we loved the different cuisines we tried during our travels, at the end of the day there is nothing like Indian food!

When we were in Monterey, Ca in the last part of our trip, we were wandering around the famous Cannery Row which has many restaurants designed to suit every palate. Suddenly, we saw this board for Ambrosia India Bistro and decided to give it a try as we hadn't had Indian food for sometime. At the entrance of the restaurant was this idol of Lord Ganesha which made us quite nostalgic for home!

As luck would have it, they had on that day an " Eat As Much as You Can" Buffet laid out. We were told that this lunch buffet is from 11.30 a.m. to 2.30 p.m. from Mondays to Fridays.

The buffet menu had a soup, starters like Hara Bhara Kabab, several vegetarian dishes like Aloo Gobhi and Tofu Masala, as also Tandoori Chicken, Butter Chicken and Fish Masala for the non-vegetarians. We liked the piping hot Butter Naans and Garlic Naans.

In addition were salads/raita, pappad, and several chutneys as the usual accompaniments. The dessert was rice pudding.

We were happy with our dining experience here. All the dishes we had were tasty and we appreciated the different dishes on offer. The service was extremely good and I found the staff to be polite and helpful, especially to those who did not know much about Indian cuisine.

I have no hesitation in recommending this restaurant to you.