Jul 23, 2014

Luscious Plum Panna cotta–A plum assignment!


The countdown to the first ever Indian Food Bloggers’ Meet has begun. The organisers are busy on their toes looking into every detail. The participants? They are busy as well, cooking up storms in their kitchens and all over the internet! Oh yes, I am going to the event too. After racking my recalcitrant grey cells for several days, and after trying out several recipes in my head, some actually in the kitchen, I’ve finally gathered courage to pitch for the lovely prize announced by KitchenAid, India.

Plums, glorious plums!

‘Cook with plums and blog about it, it’s that easy’, coaxed the organisers. Is it really? When you are setting yourself up against some of the most talented, creative cooks in the country, even an easy task can seem daunting. Still, I can always try, can’t I?

Succulent, lush plums, cooked with aromatic star anise, turned wicked and hot with a generous dash of chilli, caressed and enfolded into a milk-cream mixture and patiently allowed to set into a panna cotta. As if this was not sublime enough, a rich, buttery, crisp, orange lace cookie that holds the silky smooth, gently quivering panna cotta in its fold. This marriage of the crisp and the soft brought together with a drizzle of plum compote! What would you say?

Here is what you need to make this heavenly dessert.

For the plum compote


  1. Ripe plums – 250 gms, weighed after deseeding
  2. Sugar – 125 gms
  3. Star anise – 2 arms of a star anise pod
  4. Kashmiri chilli powder – 1 level tsp


  1. Wash, pat dry and stone the plums. For this, cut into half close to the seed on either side of the seed and remove seed. Retain skin+pulp.
  2. Place them in a heavy bottomed saucepan, add the sugar and star anise, set to a medium flame and keep stirring. After  4-5 minutes, when the plums get cooked and the skins peel off, keep removing as much skin as possible with a fork. Continue stirring the mixture to avoid charring.
  3. When the pulp looks well cooked (about 8 minutes), add the chilli powder, mix in well and remove from fire. Once cooled,remove the star anise, run the pulp in a blender, sieve through a metal sieve and reserve the smooth compote.

For the Panna cotta


  1. Milk – 1 cup
  2. Fresh cream – 1/2 cup (I used Amul)
  3. Sugar – 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp extra if needed
  4. Agar agar – 8 gms
  5. Fresh water – 1cup +1/2 cup if needed
  6. Plum compote – 1/2 cup (Reserve the rest of prepared compote)


  1. Boil the milk in a saucepan, dissolve sugar in it and keep warm.
  2. Chop up the agar-agar strands, place in 1 cup water in a small saucepan, and bring to boil over low flame. Keep stirring continuously. When most of the strands have dissolved, pour through a metal sieve into the saucepan with milk. Return the un-dissolved strands of agar agar to the small saucepan add 1/4 cup extra water and boil again over low flame. Repeat the sieving into the milk once it is dissolved. Discard any leftover strands after this step.
  3. Warm the cream carefully, stirring all the time. When bubbles appear around the corners, pour the cream into the milk mixture, bring the milk saucepan to boil. Stir, stir, until the liquid is homogenous.
  4. Switch off flame, blend in 1/2 cup of prepared plum compote. Use a whisk if needed, make sure the compote and the milk are fully blended.
  5. Grease 4-5 molds (each approx. 120 ml), with a light flavourless oil. Pour the prepared panna cotta into these molds, tap the molds sharply to avoid air bubbles and set in refrigerator for at least 2 hours. I set them overnight.

Orange lace cookies embracing the smooth panna cotta

For the Orange Lace Cookie (Recipe adapted from Pastry Pal)


  1. APF – 85 gms
  2. Granulated Sugar – 225 gms
  3. Orange Juice – 120 ml
  4. Melted butter – 100 ml


  1. Powder the sugar in a mixer to a fine powder. Once it is fine, add the measured flour to the mixer jar and run both together so that they blend well.
  2. Remove to a mixing bowl. Add the orange juice and whisk thoroughly until well combined.
  3. Now add the melted butter and keep whisking till you get a smooth batter. Leave in the refrigerator overnight.
  4. The next day, when you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 180 C.
  5. Line a baking try with Silpat. If you do not have a Silpat mat, grease the baking tray ‘very generously’ with butter. You can make these cookies in batches, so use any size tray you have.
  6. Drop ‘only’ half teaspoonfuls of batter onto the tray leaving large gaps between each cookie batter. Bake for 5 minutes at 180 C, then reduce temperature to 170 C and bake again for 5 minutes. Watch out in the last 2 minutes. The edges should get golden and the middle should look orange-gold in hue.
  7. Remove tray from oven, let the cookie cool for a minute. Then ease it out gently with a metal spatula, drape over a rolling pin or katori if you want a bent shape. Else, remove to a platter to cool in a single layer. Store in an air tight box until needed.

Don't we look pretty?

To Assemble the Dessert

  1. When you are ready to serve, pour the reserved plum compote into a small saucepan, add 2 tbsp fresh water, bring to boil. Mix well and remove from fire.
  2. Place 1 or 2 orange lace cookies in a serving plate.
  3. Dip a knife in hot water. Wipe and run through the edges of the set panna cotta bowl. Loosen only the edges carefully. Invert over the waiting cookie.
  4. Drizzle the plum compote over the panna cotta and serve immediately. The delicate lacy crisp cookie embraces the smooth panna cotta resulting in gustatory ecstasy! Some desserts are best experienced to be believed!

Hot Plum Panna cotta served with Orange Lace cookie and plum compote

A marriage made in dessert heaven! Enjoy.

Jul 19, 2014

My Bircher Muesli


We first sampled Bircher Muesli a couple of years ago at  Hong Kong Sky City, Marriott. Vacationing at Hong Kong, we were tucking into the amazing breakfast spread (which is a lot to say for vegetarians.)  My interest was sparked at the sight of very cute jars of muesli sitting on a bed of crushed ice. I enjoy hot muesli by pouring steaming skim milk over muesli, but this? On crushed ice? After confirming with the wait staff that it had all vegetarian ingredients (you never know, after all, even congee there has bacon in it) we tentatively sampled one jar, and boy, fell in love with it. My son declared, “Mom, we have been wasting life by not having this wonderful breakfast dish”.

I researched into it’s origin, and discovered that Bircher muesli was first developed by a Swiss doctor, Dr. Bircher – Brenner. First used for patients, the recipe has become hugely popular in Switzerland and Germany. It is traditionally made by soaking rolled oats in yoghurt/curd along with grated apple, apple juice and left overnight in the fridge. The next morning, it is enjoyed for breakfast along with choice of toppings such as roasted nuts, or more fresh fruit. With it’s easy make-ahead prep, versatile choice of toppings, and deliciousness in every spoonful, it’s not difficult to love Bircher Muesli.

But wait, what’s a recipe without customisation? I am a big fan of eating local, buying seasonal. So the muesli had to be localised and include seasonal fruit too. The apple had to give way to mango, the fruit of the season.The Bircher muesli became muesli parfait. Another ingredient, popped amaranth just begged to go in too. Some easily available dry fruits and nuts completed the meal-in-a-jar. Local ingredients, global flavours! Good morning muesli

So I set about soaking oats in skim milk yoghurt. I also soaked some pitted dates and raisins in honey in a separate bowl and left them to rest in the fridge overnight. The next morning, I chopped up some mangoes, toasted a few almonds and walnuts. Now I was ready to assemble. The layering of the ‘breakfast-parfait’ began with a few spoons of the soaked oats. On this, I piled some chopped mangoes, then came the turn of another star ingredient, popped amaranth. A few drizzles of honey and then the turn of the oats again. The soaked dates+raisins went in next followed by some more chopped mangoes and popped amaranth. The parfait was finished off with nuts and another drizzle of honey. There, so simple. It took 5 minutes to assemble two servings. A most delicious, filling, uber healthy breakfast ready. Needless to say it was demolished as quickly as it was assembled.

While you can play around with ingredients and serving size, I am giving the ingredients and measures I followed. Feel free to play around the main theme and come up with a combination that your family loves.

Preparation time –15 minutes+8 hours soaking time, Cooking Time –3 minutes, Serves – 2

Allergy Information

  • Does NOT contain egg, soya, peanuts, corn, milk.
  • Contains yoghurt, some gluten from oats.

You Need

Cookware –2 mixing bowls, chopping board, knife, small saucepan,300-400 ml jars to assemble the meal.


  1. Quick cooking oats – 4 tbsp
  2. Skim milk yoghurt – 400 ml ( 2 cups)
  3. Skinned and chopped mango – 1/2 cup
  4. Popped amaranth – 3-4 tbsp
  5. Dates – 6-8
  6. Golden raisins – 12
  7. Almonds – 6
  8. Walnuts – 2
  9. Honey – 2 tbsp+2 tsp

To Assemble

  1. Mix the measured oats into the yoghurt, stir in well, cover and rest in refrigerator overnight. Also place the pitted dates and raisins with 2 tbsp honey in a small bowl, cover and store in refrigerator.
  2. I popped the amaranth at home from amaranth seeds. To pop, you add amaranth seeds to a super hot wok, a tsp at a time, stir gently and watch them seeds merrily popping and dancing in front of your eyes! You could use store bought popped amaranth or omit it entirely too. Or attempt popping at home if you get hold of amaranth seeds.
  3. Chop the mangoes and almonds, keep aside.
  4. Take the serving bowls, or jar or tall glass to assemble the parfait. Rinse well and wipe dry.
  5. Layer the soaked oats at the bottom, 2 tsp should suffice. Place the chopped fruit on the oats. Next, add the popped amaranth, about 1 tbsp would do. Place the soaked and plump dates+raisins mixture over this and cover again with a couple of tsp of soaked oats. A drizzle of honey, then fruit, popped amaranth and finally topped with toasted nuts follow. Finish off with a good drizzle of honey.
  6. Enjoy for breakfast, or assemble in ajar with screw top lid, and carry to work. Ideal for mid-morning or 4 p.m. hunger pangs.

Meal in a jar


Bircher Muesli Parfait

Jul 6, 2014

Using Leftovers–Veg Cutlets


This recipe is about leftover-makeover. Celebrating the nifty, resourceful cook, who I guess most of you are! What would you do when faced with small bowls of random curries in the fridge? Make parathas? Or some fried rice and toss in those veggies, perhaps? We made these cute cutlets last week.

Even if we discovered the combination quite by chance, it had a great balance of protein, tubers and vegetables thrown in. Our kids could not find any fault with the textures and flavours in this melange. After polishing off several of them at their post-school snack time, they asked for it at dinner too! It was then I realised we had a killer combo in hand. Quite versatile too, for they can be devoured as such, can be sandwiched between buttered bread and packed for school lunch, or get converted to burger patties, or get drenched in the very Indian ragda pattice.

After-school deliciousness

Since we made them with whatever was in the fridge, I am not sure as to how to record a recipe. Here is what we threw together -

Preparation time – 20 minutes + 8 hours soaking time, Cooking time – 40 minutes pressure cooking + 20 minutes, Serves – 4 - 6 

Allergy Information

  • Does NOT contain egg, dairy, lactose, corn, soya.
  • Can be made gluten free by substituting bread crumbs with rice flour or corn flour for dusting.

You Need

Cookware – Pressure cooker, electric mixer, colander, mixing bowl/basin, non-stick skillet / any other skillet.

  1. Boiled* and mashed potato -  1/2 cup
  2. Cooked* kala channa / Brown channa (Garbanzo beans)– 1/2 cup
  3. Raw plantain* –peeled, chopped and cooked till just done -  1/2 cup
  4. Beetroot* – peeled and boiled, 1/4 cup
  5. Onion – finely chopped – 3/4 cup
  6. Chopped Coriander leaves – 1/4 cup
  7. Chopped green chillies – 2 tbsp
  8. Garam masala / Pav bhaji masala / Chole masala – 1 heaped tbsp
  9. Salt – 1+1/4 tsp
  10. Bread crumbs – 3 - 4 tbsp ( Use rice flour or corn flour to make it gluten-free)
  11. Oil – for sautéing, about 2-3 tsp

To Assemble

  1. Peel, rinse and chop onion, green chillies, and the coriander leaves as finely as possible. Set aside in a colander.
  2. *To save time, you can place the soaked channa in a container topped by another with all the other veggies (add 1/2 tsp salt to the vegetables to avoid getting mushed up) and cook in the same pressure cooker. I normally pressure cook the channa on a low flame for 20 minutes after the cooker’s first whistle. We want a just cooked texture without being mushy.
  3. After the pressure has released, drain all the cooking water into another bowl, place all the cooked contents in a mixer, pulse until coarsely mashed.
  4. Take a mixing bowl. Transfer the contents of the mixer into it. Also add the chopped onions, chillies, green coriander, add 1/2 tsp salt, the masala powder you are using, bring them all together using your fingers. It should feel like a moist coarse mixture (not paste), but should not ooze water or extra fluid. Shape balls into flat cutlets
  5. Make lemon sized balls, flatten slightly using your palm, dredge in bread crumbs and set aside. You can keep these in the fridge for half an hour to stabilise the texture. (Or prepare ahead till this stage, store them in a suitable air-tight container in the freezer. Thaw and fry as many as needed each time.)Dredge in bread crumbs
  6. Heat a skillet, season the skillet with a few drops of oil, place as many cutlets as the surface of the skillet holds, and fry over high heat first and medium flame later on both sides till well browned.Shallow fry both sides in skillet
  7. Remove to kitchen paper.
  8. Serve warm with mustard and tomato ketchup as accompaniments. Or make it into a sandwich filling. Or make thicker pattties, shallow fry on both sides and use to assemble burgers along with some onion, tomato rings and crisp lettuce. Whichever way you choose to gorge on it, you will find it delicious!

Hot cutlets - ready for snacking!

Jun 28, 2014

Magic under the stars


Childhood memories and family mealtimes are closely intertwined in my mind. My earliest memories of happy times are of those spent at my grandparents' place. Carefree days filled with play time, bonding with cousins, fun and games nonstop, and of course, meals shared with all in the family. My grandmother, a powerhouse who could create meals for the huge family with astounding ease - would effortlessly cook up giant pots of the most aromatic dishes and enjoyed serving them to her family. Nothing gave her more happiness than to see her food being polished off.

As a special treat to the young brigade, my grandma would lovingly mix cooked rice, soft thick curd, add a pinch of salt, some hing powder, and season with cracked mustard and curry leaves. Into this, she would fold in some grated carrot or pomegranate or green grapes depending on supplies at home. When in a generous mood, she would also add a dollop of butter to the rice mixture. I would run and chop up some fresh coriander leaves and mix in. The milky white of the rice, dotted with brown mustard, a splash of green from the herbs, interspersed with the hues of the fruits made a meal fit for the Gods.

The entire creamy goodness would then be transferred to a steel bowl and carried to the terrace. All the grandchildren would throng around her. There, under the clear summer starry skies, the magic would unfold. She would narrate tales of kings and kingdoms, of brave men who fought for their land, all the while filling each child’s cupped palm with a scoop of heavenly curd rice. We would never know when we ate, and how much. Even the most fussy child would join in and be fed happily thus. What a feast under the stars! Tummy and soul nourished, we would all retire to a good night’s sleep.

Another age, another bunch of kids. I wanted to recreate this magic for my children and their cousins too. The terrace was cleaned and mats spread out in readiness. I read up and armed myself with a couple of stories from the Panchatantra and Anderson’s fairy tales. The lush, smooth, rich curd rice was assembled. To this meal, I added a roasted baby potato curry. Who can resist golden brown baby potatoes, enhanced with a fragrant mint and garlic spice mix! This dish would be best cooked in this Grill & Drop Casserole. I would love to check if I can make a killer roast without having to use too much oil and not end up scorching them either. For a spicy accompaniment,  I would also carry some fried curd chillies in this Gourmet Bowl.

To make the meal visually arresting, and to help cast a spell on today’s children, I would serve this delectable meal in these Gourmet Cook and Store bowls. The clear bowl could show off the beautiful embellishments, the speckled red from the pomegranate and the tinge of green from the coriander in this delicious dish to good effect. The snug lid would help to carry it safely without spillage to the terrace.

A fitting finale to the meal would be some home made fruit and nut chocolates nestled in pretty paper cases, served in the elegant Variety Platter.

Did I forget to add? While I am at creating this magic, I would like to add to the ambience by lighting up a few of these lovely Tea Lights too.

My entry to ‘My Beautiful Food’ contest announced by Indiblogger and Borosil.  Round 1 – Alphabet Soup.

Per requirements for contest, I have attempted describing a perfect meal with words alone and without using any pictures.

Jun 21, 2014

Five minute Three Pepper Paneer Curry

Check-out Allergy Information.

Every parent with school-going kids has to face the morning or the night before with a very important question – what to pack in the school lunch box? What’s there in my pantry? Also, when you have to feed more than one kid, the agony is doubled, believe me!

If my older one wants muesli for breakfast, the younger one fancies ‘Chocos’. The day the older one thinks of a sandwich for lunch, the younger one would like rice. If one feels like some thing sweet, the other wants a savoury treat right then! The Universe connives with my kids such that, they have exactly opposite moods at any time. At such times, nothing helps - not requests to adjust with each other, not promises to make it tomorrow, not threats, nothing! Trust me.

And, I have an hour to make breakfast for them, make acceptable (read different gourmet meals) lunches, pack them, fill their water bottles, make sure they have brushed, showered, prayed (yes, that is important in my home), combed, attired in mandatory school regalia!, find random books/papers/assignments/stationery that they have forgotten to stuff into their school bags, find their socks, salvage their shoes from the chasm between the shoe racks and the wall, and make sure they reach the school bus on time!

I know I am not alone. Most mothers/parents in my city and maybe, the world over, go through some variation of this vertigo-inducing routine in the morning! Well, after going through this rigmarole for more than 15 years, I have a few tricks up my sleeve. Some recipes which help me assemble quick, hearty, nourishing home-made lunches for my children.

This paneer curry is one such easy-peasy life saver on such insanity-causing weekday mornings!

If you have paneer ready, that is.

And coloured capsicum (bell peppers), and a couple of sauces.

It is versatile, easy to put together, can be used to partner with chapatis, filled into a sandwich, rolled into a kathi roll, or add pizzazz to some fried rice. Most important, when packed in a lunch box, it will come back home empty. Hopefully your child got to eat some of it Smile

Preparation Time – 10 minutes; Cooking time – 5 minutes; Serves – 4-5.


  • Does NOT contain egg, nuts, corn.
  • Has dairy and lactose. Can be made dairy- and lactose-free by substituting paneer with extra-firm tofu.
  • Has MSG. Not suitable for children below 2 years.

The 3 pepper paneer sandwich

You Need

Cookware – Cutting Board, Knife, Colander, 9” Diameter frying pan / Wok.


  1. Paneer (Or extra firm tofu) – 200 gm
  2. Green, red and yellow capsicum, chopped – 1/3 cup each
  3. Red Onion – 1 big, or measure 1 cup, finely diced
  4. Fresh coriander leaves (Cilantro), chopped fine – 1/4 cup
  5. Schezwan Sauce (any brand) -  2 tsp
  6. Tomato Ketchup – 3-4 tbsp
  7. Salt – a couple of pinches ( if needed)
  8. Any vegetable oil – 2 tsp
  9. Saunf ( fennel seeds) – 1 tbsp*
  10. Honey – 1 tsp OR Sugar – 2 pinches (Optional)

*Do not omit the saunf in this recipe. It adds a unique flavour to the dish.

To Assemble

  1. Rinse paneer or tofu in drinking water. Carefully place it in colander to drain. Then, you can choose to either dice the paneer (or Tofu) or roughly crumble it. I prefer to dice, as then, the diced vegetables and the paneer all look similarly proportioned.
  2. Rinse, and finely dice all the capsicum into the same size. Peel, rinse and finely dice the onion too. Happy day with happy veggies
  3. Set frying pan/wok on fire and heat the oil in it. Add saunf, let it sizzle and release its’ aroma. Inhale - the aroma of saunf
  4. Tip in the onion before the saunf browns. Sauté for a minute. Add a pinch of salt to speed things up.
  5. As soon as the onion looks pink,  tip in the diced capsicum, toss. Sauté for another two minutes.Veggies in a merry sizzle
  6. Now the sauces can go in. The sight of these liquids hitting the hot pan and then the aroma around – I’ll leave you to savour in your kitchen!
  7. A quick mix of the sauces and veggies, and now it is the turn of diced paneer followed by chopped coriander to hit the pan. Switch off flame, mix all contents well, taste and add more salt now if needed. Some paneer will get crumbled while mixing, that is fine. Add the (sugar /honey if you are using), now. Mix through, taste again to make sure the flavours satisfy your palate.*Tri-colour glory
  8. The 5 minute 3 pepper paneer curry is now ready. Use it as filling in whole wheat chapatis – spread 2 tbsp of curry per chapati, roll up, cover in foil and pack for lunch. Or, use as filling for sandwiches. it is a great accompaniment to Chinese fried rice too. Sandwiches in the making

* My family found the play of texture and flavour in this recipe to be very appealing! You could add more or less of the sauces, or add more seasonings as you prefer. Add red chilli paste instead of Shezwan sauce, omit the sugar, try the dish with any one type of capsicum – all these are variations you could try.

Pick-me-up Sandwiches for anytime of the day

We are enjoying these filling, healthy and absolutely lip-smacking sandwiches at our home, in our lunch boxes and as after-school snacks too! Go ahead, make some for yourself, enjoy and let me know if you liked them.

Jun 11, 2014

No Guilt No Bake Mango Cheesecake


In an Indian summer, mangoes enter our lives in a big way. At our home, we never tire of eating mangoes, of any variety, shape or ripeness. Any mangoes that escape being devoured, find it’s way into special dishes.

If it were possible to make this fragrant fruit any more delicious, it has to be in the avatar of  this cheesecake! But wait, how about the guilt from the extra calories? The extra sugar, cream, and so on? Well, what if you could indulge in a ‘cheesecake’ without any cream or cheese or extra sugar? What if I told you this dessert is richer in protein and vitamins than fat or carbs? What if we have just discovered the best guilt-free dessert for quite some time to come? If you are interested, read on….

Without much ado, I want to share with all you lovely people, this simple, guilt free, low sugar, low fat, no bake, gelatine-free, mango cheesecake! An indulgence that is easy on your girth as well as on your wallet. Can be made with mango pulp when fresh in season or using canned mango pulp or home-frozen mango pulp when these divine fruits are not in season too. Totally invoking the spirit of summer, come and fall in love with mangoes all over again this season!

Summer Exotica

Preparation Time – 30 minutes+8 hours setting time; Cooking Time – 10 minutes; Serves – 4

Allergy Information – Does NOT contain egg, soya, peanuts, corn. Contains gluten. May have traces of lactose.

You Need

Cookware Mixer/Food Processor, Cheese cloth, String to tie, a vessel of approx. 1 litre capacity, Shot glasses/Glass Dessert bowls – 4-5, Sauce pans –2, Heat proof strainer – 1.


  1. Marie biscuits – 10-12
  2. Melted Butter – 20 gms (And the recipe said low fat! So Butter? Do read Notes Smile)
  3. Any ripe mango – 1 large or 2 small
  4. Skim milk yoghurt – 400 gms OR Skim milk Greek yoghurt – 250 gms
  5. Agar Agar strands – 10 gms
  6. Sugar – 2 tbsp (Optional)

No Bake No Gelatine Mango Cheesecake!

To Assemble

  1. Tie the cheesecloth around the mouth (use elastic band or string to secure) of the 1 litre vessel, pour the skim milk curd into the cloth, and leave the whole assembly inside the fridge* undisturbed for 4 hours. The whey water will drip from the yoghurt into the vessel, leaving thick cheesy curd in the cloth. Drink the whey water separately.
  2. Crush the biscuits in a mixer to a sandy  coarse powder. Drizzle the butter in,(easier in a food processor) pulse the mixer again until you find the mixture looking like wet sand.
  3. Rinse and wipe dry the shot glasses you will be using. Layer the biscuit base at the bottom  of the glass. Divide the mixture equally between the glasses and press with back of spoon to level this ‘cheesecake base’. Leave the glasses in the fridge until needed.
  4. To 1/2 cup of warm water, add agar agar and leave to soak in a sauce pan.
  5. Peel the mango, remove pulp and puree in the mixer. Place the pulp in a sauce pan over a medium flame, stir briskly until just hot.           
  6. Return the sauce pan with soaked agar –agar to heat, keep stirring briskly over a medium flame until it is fully dissolved. Add some water, a tbsp at a time if needed to dissolve the agar-agar well. Strain this hot liquid into the simmering mango puree, combine well, and switch off the flame.
  7. Mix 3/4th of the above mango liquid, with the cheesy curd and whip well in the mixer. Divide this mixture into the prepared shot glasses. Tap on countertop to level and leave in fridge to set for half an hour.
  8. After half an hour, warm up the 1/4th leftover mango puree+agar-agar mixture gently to loosen it, pour over as topping over the set curd, leave to set undisturbed in the fridge for at least 4 hours. Overnight would be a better idea!
  9. Enjoy chilled after a long, hot day!

Enjoy your guilt-free dessert


  • At 4-5 gms butter per serving, this dessert allows for an ‘acceptable’ fat content, within the RDA range for most people.
  • Using skim milk curd in this recipe ensures you consume less than 3 gms of fat, vs 25 gms if you were to use cream cheese! ( Read 8 minutes vs 1 hour of treadmill). Now is that good or what?
  • *Set the curd ‘to hang’ inside the fridge to avoid it getting sour.

Jun 3, 2014

Peerkangai chutney


I seem to be on a spree to cook with un-glamorous, un-restaurant-y, humble vegetables. Well, why not? Gourds are very easy on the wallet and the waist line, mostly neutral in flavour, lend body to various dishes, have varied nutritional benefits but are ignored despite all these.

Pic Courtesy - Sankalpfarms.com

No South Indian breakfast is complete without chutney. That inevitably means use of fresh coconut. On days when you do not have stock of fresh/frozen coconut, or want to limit it’s use in daily meals, you need some saviour to rescue the day’s chutney. Enter the star of today’s chutney - ridge gourd. I have used it in this recipe to benefit from the nutrients it offers, as much as a coconut-substitute.

  • Ridge gourd is high in moisture and crude fibre (good news for those with chronic constipation).
  • It is a very low calorie vegetable, so great to include in a weight loss diet. It adds plenty of bulk to a meal without adding significant calories! This means, you can eat a whole cupful of ridge gourd and add less than 20 calories to the meal!
  • Ridge Gourd has negligible Sodium and a fair source of Potassium. Hence it is useful for people with high blood pressure or certain kidney ailments where sodium is severely restricted.

Here is how I made the chutney. We used it to complement soft idlis for breakfast. It was spicy, tangy and declared ‘good’ by my family. Do try it out and let me know how you liked it. The quantity here serves 5-6. Halve to serve 2-3.The chutney can be refrigerated and used within 2 days.

Preparation Time – 15 minutes ; Cooking Time – 5-6 minutes ; Serves – 5 – 6

Allergy Information – Does NOT contain gluten, egg, soya, peanuts, corn, lactose.

You Need

 Cookware  -  A frying pan, mixer grinder or food processor


  1. Red Onion – 1 medium, or measure 1/2 cup after chopping
  2. Roma Tomatoes – 2 medium, or measure 3/4 cup chopped
  3. Ridge Gourd / Peerkangai – 1 big, or measure 1+1/2 cups sliced
  4. Green chilli – 4-5 cut into halves
  5. Chana dal – 2 tbsp
  6. Tamarind – 1/4 tsp*
  7. Salt – 1/2 tsp
  8. Oil – 1/2 tsp
  9. Coriander leaves – 6-7 stalks with leaves (optional)

For Seasoning -

  1. Oil - 1/4 tsp
  2. Mustard seeds – /4 tsp
  3. Hing Powder – a pinch

* Use Tamarind if tomatoes are not tart enough, or add a couple of extra tomatoes and avoid tamarind. You can even omit tamarind entirely if you do not prefer a sour-ish chutney

To Assemble

  1. Prepare the vegetables for frying. To begin,  wash, peel and chop onions. Next, wash peel and chop tomatoes and green chilli. Rinse the ridge gourd well, peel part of the rough skin at the ridges, while leaving some skin on the vegetable. Cut into thick slices.Fry all vegetables for chutney
  2. Heat a small wok / frying pan. Add the half tsp oil, let it heat up. Add the chana dal, fry over medium heat until golden brown. Add all the prepared vegetables, chilli, tamarind and salt. Toss well, (do not add any water), cover and simmer for 2–3 minutes or until you find the tomato skin has shrunk a little bit and the gourd seems to go slightly limp. If you are using  coriander leaves, add at this point, and switch off flame.
  3. Let it cool. Grind to a coarse paste. You will not need any water for grinding. After removing to a bowl, rinse out the mixer jug with a 1/4 cup of water and add to the chutney if you wish to dilute it. Chutney with Seasoning
  4. Heat oil for seasoning. Crackle mustard seeds, add hing powder and pour over the chutney.
  5. Serve as accompaniment to idli, dosa, or over plain steamed rice, as a sandwich spread or as dip for crudites too!

Soft Idlis with Spicy Chutney

Fresh breakfast for two!