Cook's Hideout: June 2015

June 26, 2015

Mango Pulihora with Brown Rice (Mamidikaya Pulihora)

Pulihora or puliyodarai is a popular rice based dish in South India. It is tangy and spicy and can be made in several different ways. Today's pulihora is one such variation using brown rice and raw mango. I already have 2 versions of Mamidiakaya Pulihora here and here.
Good quality raw mangoes are in the market now and I try to buy at least a couple every time I'm at the Indian grocery. I love making mango dal and quick chutnies with them.
Mamidikaya Pulihora
I saw this recipe on a Telugu cooking show and have made it a number of times already. I have started to use brown rice more than regular rice these days and this recipe was perfect with it. Using brown rice adds much needed nutrients and also nice nuttiness to the dish.

Eggless Date & Walnut Cake

Blogging Marathon# 53: Week 4/ Day 3
Theme: Bookmarked Recipes -- Veena's Veg Nation
Dish: Eggless Date & Walnut Cake
For the final day of this month's blogging marathon, I picked this yummy looking Eggless Dates Cake from Veena's blog. I recently bought a bag of seedless dates from Costco and have been snacking on them almost everyday. So when I saw this recipe, I knew it would be perfect to use some of the dates.
Date & Nut Cake
This cake is eggless and can be made with just a few basic ingredients. If you are using dates with seeds, then the dates need to be soaked in milk overnight to help in removing the seeds. I used seedless dates, so just warmed it in the microwave to make them a little soft.

June 25, 2015

Saravana Bhavan Sambar

Blogging Marathon# 53: Week 4/ Day 2
Theme: Bookmarked Recipes -- Veena's Veg Nation
Dish: Saravana Bhavan Sambar
For the 2nd day of cooking from Veena's space, I made this perfect Saravana Bhavan sambar. Saravana bhavan is a popular restaurant in Chennai and this sambar replicates the one served there.
Saravan Bhavan Sambar
I've never been to this restaurant in India, but heard a lot about it. So we went to their Edison location in NJ, but lets just say the experience is nothing to talk about. The food was 'meh' and the service was 'blah' :-) But I want to visit the restaurant in Chennai some time. Hopefully that day will come sooner than later.

June 24, 2015

Iyengar Bakery Khara Bread (Spicy Indian flavored Bread)

Blogging Marathon# 53: Week 4/ Day 1
Theme: Bookmarked Recipes -- Veena's Veg Nation
Dish: Iyengar Bakery Khara Bread
We are starting the final week of Blogging Marathon for this month today and I'm paired with Veena and for the next 3 days I'm going to post 3 dishes from Veena's blog. Veena blogs at Veena's Veg Nation and she has an awesome collection of recipes both traditional Indian and International. She is an amazing baker, I have quite a few of her breads and other baked goodies bookmarked, hopefully I'll get to bake them some time soon.
Indian flavored Bread
For the first day, I made this Iyengar Bakery style spicy Khara Bread. This bread has delicious Indian flavors with cumin seeds, onions, mint and cilantro. Make it as spicy as you want with green chilies. I kept it mild because my kids are too big on spicy food.

June 21, 2015

Vegetarian Recipe Ideas for Summer

All Summer Recipes:

June 19, 2015

Jicama-Avocado Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette

I love trying new vegetables and the latest one I tried is Jicama (spelled as hi-ka-mma). Actually I bought it couple of times before, but I was hesitant to use them right away and by the time I was ready, they rotted :-( So this time, I made sure I had a recipe ready and I made it right away.
Jicama also known as Mexican yam or Mexican turnip is an edible tuberous root of a native Mexican vine. I was surprised that it is from a bean family because it almost looks like it belongs to the potato family. Another interesting thing is that the remainder of the jicama plant (except for the root) is poisonous.
Avocado-Jicama Salad
Out side of a jicama is yellow and papery and needs to be peeled. Inside is crispy and resembles raw potato or pear. It tastes a little like apple but is not not sweet -- like a bland apple. It is usually eaten raw in salads and sometimes cooked in soups and stir-fried dishes.

Roasted Strawberry Ice Cream (3 Ingredient Recipe and No Ice Cream Maker required)

Blogging Marathon# 53: Week 3/ Day 3
Theme: 3 Ingredient Recipes
Dish: Roasted Strawberry Ice Cream
For the final day of this week's marathon, I made this amazing 3-ingredient Roasted Strawberry Ice cream that needs no ice cream maker. I did a happy dance when I found this recipe while looking for 3 ingredient dishes. I had all the ingredients on hand and it just sounded too good not to try right away.
Roasted Strawberry Ice Cream
I already have 2 strawberry ice cream recipes on the blog -- one with strawberry puree and the other with condensed milk, orange liquer etc. If you click on the links and see, you'll notice that the first one looks a little icy whereas the second one is quite creamy. The second recipe is very easy to make -- just mix all the ingredients and then churn in the ice cream maker.

June 18, 2015

3 Ingredient Marinara Sauce

Blogging Marathon# 53: Week 3/ Day 2
Theme: 3 Ingredient Recipes
Dish: Marinara Sauce
As I was wondering what to make for Day 2 of '3-ingredient recipes', I got the recipe for this marinara sauce in my inbox from Everyday Food. Knowing my kids love for pasta, I knew I had to try this recipe right away.
3 Ingredient Marinara Sauce
I always keep store bought pasta sauce in the pantry, but there are occasions when I run out of my stock and this recipe is comes in very handy.

June 17, 2015

Jonna Rawa Idli (Jowar Idli) with Coconut-Almond Chutney

Blogging Marathon# 53: Week 3/ Day 1
Theme: 3 Ingredient Recipes
Dish: Jonna Rawa Idli with Coconut-Almond Chutney
My theme for this week is quite interesting, it is '3-Ingredient Recipes'. Valli sure knows how to get our brain cells to working. We had done 5-Ingredient recipes in one of the previous BMs, but this 3 ingredient theme sure took some thinking and some googling to finalize the 3 dishes.
Jonna Rawa Idli (Jowar Idli) with Coconut-Almond Chutney
Today's 3 ingredient recipe is a South Indian staple breakfast but made with a healthier and nutritious ingredient swap. Idli rawa is replaced with a whole grain jonna/ jowar rawa.

June 15, 2015

Patnam Pakodi (City Style Onion Fritter) for Indian Cooking Challenge

For this month's Indian Cooking Challenge, Valli picked Patnam Pakodi. Patnam means City in Telugu and so this pakoda literally means 'city fritter' hence the title 'city style onion fritter' :-)
Patnam Pakodi
This recipe is from Padma's grandmother and it was once a popular snack in Tamil Nadu. The recipe that Padma shared used rice flour as the base along with a little bit of besan or chickpea flour. But unfortunately I ran of rice flour but had some brown rice flour in the fridge. I didn't want to take a risk with making the pakodis with that, so I googled and found a slightly different version of the same patnam pakodi using besan or chickpea flour on Vahchef site.
Patnam Pakodi
This recipe is very similar to onion pakora or ullipaya pakodi, the only exception being that the pakodis are shaped as balls instead of random shapes. They are golden and crispy on the outside and are soft inside. Addition of grated ginger gives a nice flavor to this snack. They are perfect with a cup of tes/ chai on a rainy afternoon like today :-)
Patnam Pakodi
So here's my version of patnam pakodi made with chickpea flour.

Recipe from Vah Chef & Padma.
Besan/ Chickpea Flour - 2cups
Rice flour - ½cup
Baking powder - ¼tsp
Red Chili powder - 1tsp (adjust per taste)
Ghee - 1tbsp
Salt - to taste
Onion -1 large, thinly sliced
Green Chilies - 1~2, finely chopped
Ginger - 1" piece, finely grated
Curry leaves - 8~10, finely chopped
Cilantro - 3tbsp, finely chopped
Cashews - 2tbsp, soaked in water


  • Soak cashews in water for 10~15 minutes. Drain and keep ready.
  • In a small mixing bowl, combine the onions, green chilies, curry leaves and cilantro. Mix well and set aside for a few minutes.
  • In another mixing bowl, combine besan, rice flour, baking powder and salt. Add the ghee and rub it into the flour, either by using your fingers or a fork, until the mixture becomes crumbly.
  • Add the onions, soaked cashews to the besan mixture and mix well. Add water, very little at a time, until the mixture comes together into a stiff dough.
  • Heat oil for deep frying.
  • Meanwhile, divide the pakoda dough into small lemon size balls and roll them gently between the palms. Don't put too much pressure while rolling -- that will make the pakoda dense, so be gently when making the pakoda.
  • When the oil is hot enough, slide a few pakoda and fry them on medium flame until golden on all sides.
  • Remove onto a paper lined plate and serve hot with ketchup.


June 13, 2015

Rose Shrikhand (Gulab Shrikand)

It's officially summer like in our neck of woods. My son has another week to go before his summer vacation starts -- he can't wait for this week to pass. I'm already worried on how to keep him busy without having to turn on the tv for the whole day. Also bored kids get hungry frequently, so it's better to keep him busy with something that interests him and hopefully we'll survive the summer.
Rose Shrikhand (Gulab Shrikand)
Sorry, I digressed. Coming back to the Rose shrikhand. This is a perfect summer dessert, light, sweet and refreshing. Shrikhand/ Shrikand is a yogurt based dessert and it is traditionally flavored with saffron, cardamom and nuts.

June 12, 2015

Salted Caramel Popcorn

Blogging Marathon# 53: Week 2/ Day 2
Theme: Movie Night Snacks
Dish: Salted Caramel Popcorn
I have never been a fan of popcorn, especially the ones sold at the movies or even the microwave variety. Growing up my parents didn't want us to eat outside food, so they never bought us anything when we went to the movies. So I never associated going to movies with popcorn or food. I continue to do that with my kids too. My older one never asked for it, lets see what the little one does.
Salted Caramel Popcorn
I had a really bad popcorn when one of my friends bought a big tub of it and it was just so terrible that it ended my already non-existent relation with movie popcorn. Good thing with most of the non-Indian movies is that they are short and even before you realize you want to munch on something the movie is over. But Indian movies force you to buy snacks to kill time and money.

June 11, 2015

Curry Puffs/ Veg Puffs (made with Puff Pastry)

Blogging Marathon# 53: Week 2/ Day 2
Theme: Movie Night Snacks
Dish: Curry Puffs/ Veg Puffs
Curry puffs or veg puffs used to be my favorite bakery item during school and college days. Egg puff was also ordered very frequently. After coming to the US, I learnt that they can be easily made at home using frozen puff pastry.
Curry Puffs/ Veg Puffs
So for Day 2 of 'Movie night snacks', I made us some curry puffs and served them with good old ketchup :-) We watched a movie too while eating the snack, but now I don't remember the name of the movie. I used to have real good memory and knowledge of films when I was in India. But now, all the movies seem the same and I get confused between the actors. Also we've lost patience and interest in watching the long Indian movies. So most of the movie, read songs and fights, are seen in fast forward.

June 10, 2015

7 Layer Mexican Dip

Blogging Marathon# 53: Week 2/ Day 1
Theme: Movie Night Snacks
Dish: 7 Layer Mexican dip
My theme for this week's blogging marathon is 'Snacks for Movie Night'. Family movie nights have become rare with my husband's crazy travel schedule but we try and catch up once in a while. I'm not big on snacks, I rather eat a full meal and I'm happy. But the kids and the husband love snacks. So for the next 3 days, I'm going to share some make ahead or quick to make snacks that are great for a movie night (or for any night or party for that matter).
7 Layer Mexican Dip
First up is a Mexican layer dip. It has 7 layers with gaucamole, refried beans, salsa, sour cream, shredded cheese, olives and scallions. If you are up for it, you can make some of the layers at home, or if you are like me, just buy some good quality guacamole, refried beans and salsa.

June 09, 2015

Mofo gasy or Madagascar Yeasted Pancakes for #Food of the World

We are visiting Madagascar this month for #Food of the World event. Madagascar is an island country in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Southeast Africa. The Malagasy cuisine is influenced by Southeast Asian, Indian, Chinese and European migrants who have settled on the island. Rice is the staple food and is eaten at almost all of the meals.
Mofo gasy or Madagascar Yeasted Pancakes
It was quite a challenge to find authentic vegetarian recipes from this Island country. There were quite a few versions of coconut rice that I could have tried but didn't feel like making just rice :-)

Za'atar spiced Khobez/ Khobz (Arabic Flat bread) for #BreadBakers

For this month's #BreadBakers challenge, our host for the month Mireille picked 'Yeasted Flatbread' as the theme. I had this Khobez or Arabic flatbread bookmarked from 'The New Middle Eastern Vegetarian' cookbook by Sally Butcher.
Khobez or Khubz is the most common Arabic word for bread. It is also known as Aish in Egypt and Samoon in Iraq. It comes in different shapes and thicknesses -- make it small and oval and you've got pita bread. It is the same basic recipe or principle -- soft dough, which when toasted, puffs up to form a neat pocket.
Za'atar spiced Khobez/ Khobz
Za'atar is not traditionally added to the dough, but it definitely adds a lot of flavor and texture. I included the recipe for Zaatar at the end.

June 07, 2015

Coconut Flour Chocolate Muffins (Eggless, vegan, gluten free recipe)

I love picking up new ingredients when I go grocery shopping. Sometimes I know exactly what I want to do with them and sometimes I'm totally clueless but still buy it, hoping to figure things out later. One of the most latest of my impulse buys is Coconut flour.
Coconut Flour Chocolate Muffins (Eggless, vegan recipe)

Coconut flour is made of ground up, dried coconut meat and is completely gluten-free. It has more fiber than any other flour, making it especially filling and a great choice for those trying to lose weight. It is a protein powerhouse with 14gms of protein per 100gms of flour.

June 06, 2015

Cherry Tomato & Kale Pasta

I love cherry tomatoes and usually keep a pack of red or yellow cherry tomatoes in the fridge. They are so juicy and can be eaten just as is. They are great to add in salads, pastas and even on crostini.
Cherry Tomato & Kale Pasta
This recipe is from 'Meatless' cookbook by Martha Stewart Living. Cherry tomatoes are cooked till they burst and then stirred with pasta and kale. It is a very simple recipe with few ingredients and can be whipped up in less than 30 minutes, perfect for a busy weeknight.

June 05, 2015

Vegetarian Rice & Beans Burrito with Queso Sauce

Blogging Marathon# 53: Week 1/ Day 3
Theme: Tortilla based Dishes
Dish: Vegetarian Rice & Beans Burrito with Queso Sauce
For the last day of this week's marathon under 'Tortilla based dishes' theme, I made rice & beans filled burritos. We love Mexican food and I make it at least once a week. I always keep tortillas in stock for quick wraps, burritos or tacos.
Vegetarian Rice & Beans Burrito with Queso Sauce
Taco Bell happens to be our favorite fast food restaurant and before you start judging me let me tell you that is the only place where we get a decent choice of vegetarian options. Also they keep adding new items on to their menu unlike other fast food chains where we usually exhaust the dishes to try the first time we visit. Other Mexican fast food places we visit are Qdoba & Chipotle. So moral of the story is we love Mexican food and eat it quite frequently at home and outside.

June 04, 2015

Vegetarian Fajitas

Blogging Marathon# 53: Week 1/ Day 2
Theme: Tortilla based Dishes
Dish: Vegetarian Fajitas
Second day of tortilla based dishes and today I've some delicious vegetarian fajitas to share. Fajitas happen to be my favorite dish to order at Chili's restaurant. I've never made them at home even though they are quite simple to make.
Vegetarian Fajitas
Vegetarian fajitas are not on Chili's menu, but a nice waitress had it customized for me once and I got totally hooked. Every time I went to this Chili's location, I make sure to order their vegetarian fajitas.

June 03, 2015

Vegetarian Sincronizada (Quesadillas)

Blogging Marathon# 53: Week 1/ Day 1
Theme: Tortilla based Dishes
Dish: Sincronizada
We are starting a brand new edition of Blogging marathon today and my theme for this week is 'Tortilla based dishes'. Valli gave us a list of tortilla dishes to choose from to make our lives easy. Tortilla is nothing but the Spanish version of Indian rotis. They are soft and made with finely ground wheat flour or corn flour.
Vegetarian Sincronizada (Quesadillas)
So for the first day, I picked Sincronizada. The name seemed very complicated but making it is not complicated at all. Sincronizada is usually confused with Quesadilla, but they are considered are completely different dishes. Quesadilla is traditionally made with corn flour and is single folded. Whereas sincronizada is made with flour tortilla, has 'ham' as a mandatory ingredient and is usually made as a sandwich.


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