Namaste says Santa & a double treat!!!

Warning: This is going to be a long read, so please stock up your coffee & cookies…..

Santa greeted me first by saying Namaste, when I visited him in 2009 in Rovaniemi (Finland), Santa’s official address. The Santa park has it’s own post office from where you can post greetings to your loved ones sitting anywhere in the world. Rovaniemi is the land of reindeer and yes I got to try out reindeer meat with wild berries and I know I sound like a carnivore now….
This Christmas, I’m  remembering my wonderful holiday and would like to share some of my happy times!

That’s ME with Santa
Reindeer meat served with wild berries
All smiles with Lapish hospitality
No…wait! I’m not done yet….

I would also like to share with you a double treat of  sweets that I made from sesame seeds that I received from iherb, for being  selected as one of the winners among ten  in  SOS Challenge in the month of October, hosted by Diet, Dessert & Dogs and Affairs of Living.
I’m heading home for this holiday season to Bangalore and looking forward to some travelling and exploring new recipes.Since it’s Christmas time and you would want to gift some cookies, cakes or nibbles and I have come up with two easy to make recipes that would be easy to pack and can last up to a week even without refrigerating. So here it goes…

Sesame Chikki (Til ke Chikki)
4cups of sugar
1cup hulled sesame seeds
1tsp lemon juice
2tsp cardamon powder

Heat sugar in a pan and just when it’s melted and before it’s crystallizes, add lime.Once the sugar is fully melted, add sesame seeds, cardamon powder and turn of the gas. Mix well. Grease back of a plate or tray and spread the prepared mixture while hot. Allow it to set for an hour. After an hour, you will be
able to break the pieces easily. Break them into desired sizes and store them in an air tight container. I got about 30-35 medium sized pieces.

Sesame & Chocolate Balls
2cups hulled sesame seeds
1cup dessicated coconut
4tbs butter/ghee
1/2 cup honey
2tsp cardamon powder
1tbs raisins
1tbs cashew
50gms dark chocolate

Mix all the dry ingredients except for the chocolate in a bowl and mix well. Make small balls and keep them aside. Melt the chocolate in a bowl (microwave it) and dip the balls one by one, until it is fully covered with chocolate. I prefer to have a thin layer of chocolate rather than thick one. Allow it to dry and refrigerate for an hour. Store them in airtight containers either at room temperature for a week or refrigerate until they can last. I got about 25 pieces.

My tastebuds: I’ve had sesame chikki before and they are not my favourites. Sesame & Chocolates balls has been tried out  for the first time with the intention to clear my  fridge before I head start out on my travel. This recipe seems to have become an instant hit with me and hubby.

Wish you all Merry Christmas!!!

Sesame & Chocolate balls is my submission to this month’s Monthly Mingle – Chocolate Extravaganza hosted by Ria’s Collection and What’s for lunch, Honey?


Some Smoothie?

It’s winter and would you like to have some….
I think Smoothie of any fruit or flavour is one drink which can be consumed in all seasons; the best part is that you can  even drink it at room temperature. This is my third post this month with strawberries and some how I don’t seem to get enough of them this winter.I seem to enjoy them more in the morning and it does make my day 🙂

1 cup pumpkin purée (boiled & blended to a fine paste)
2 cups strawberries
1cup vanilla or plain yogurt
1tsp cinnamon powder
2tbs sugar (add more if you like yours sweeter)
some cinnamon powder for dusting & strawberry for garnish

Blend all the ingredients in a blender with some ice if you prefer. I like my strawberries to be huge chunks of pieces; you can blend them however you like.Serve cold or at room temperature in individual glasses, garnished with some strawberries and dusted cinnamon powder.Serves 2.

My tastebuds: Pumpkin gives it a nice smooth texture and I like the mix of pumpkin, strawberry and cinnamon.

This is my submission to this month’s Healing Foods – Winter Squash (pumpkin), hosted  by the taste space and Siri’s Corner.


Feed a child and save hunger!

(source: akshayapatra.org)

My family has been a member of Iskcon temple for more than 10 years. As a kid I remember sitting in the huge meditation hall in Bangalore and listening to the soothing chants. Even at the age of 14-15 years old; I would be transformed into a divine space and would feel internally at peace. I will not deny the fact that it was also their prasad that  used to make me come back for more….
During our darshin to the temple; one of the Iskcon representative came up to my Father and requested him to take some time off and explain to him about their new programme called mid-day meals for school children(that was the time when it first started in Bangalore). My father heard him out completely (now you have their website to tell you what exactly they are doing) and decided to contribute. Since then my father has been contributing in the name of the entire family.

Mid-day meals today feed 120million children and is still growing.The food is prepared in extreme hygiene condition; with centralized and decentralized kitchen (cooking activity takes place in an area close to school and the best part is that the women who cook are cooking for their own children).They have two menu set in for South Indian meal – consisting of rice, sambar and curd and North Indian meal – consisting of roti, sabji and rice.For more information on decentralized kitchen click on the video below.

You must be wondering how will your contribution/donation help….
– avoid classroom hunger,
– increase school enrolment,
– increase school attendance
– improve socialization among castes
– address malnutrition &
– empower women through employment
 (Source: akshayapatra.org)

Let us all take part and contribute in helping the children.

(source: akshayapatra.org)

What do you do with leftover cooked rajma (kidney beans) water?

It’s winter and all you want is a  nice hot bowl of soup or rasam.Why not make some hot and spicy rasam with the left over rajma water. It has a nice thick consistency; good enough to use it for soups and rasam.
Why not make some hot rasam for this winter!The Indian spices and the tangy tamarind taste can really help your senses open out….

2cups rajma water
1tbs refined/ground oil
2 nos garlic cloves, crushed
2-3nos curry leaves
2tbs finely chopped onions
2tbs finely chopped tomatoes
1tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp pepper powder
1tsp jaggery powder
1tbs tamarind soaked in about 1/4 cup of warm water for 20minutes
salt to taste

Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds and curry leaves. Once the seeds and the leaves have popped and crackled, add onions and crushed garlic. After the onions have cooked and are soft, add tomatoes and cook until soft. Add rajma water, salt, jaggery,tamarind and let it boil for about 10 minutes. Garnish it with fresh cilantro and serve with rice or just drink it up! Serves 2.

My tastebuds: The rajma water adds a surprisingly different and a distinct flavour.

This is my submission to this month’s  MLLA #30, hosted by Mharo Rajasthan and The Well Seasoned Cook, to Complete my thali, hosted by Enveetu Kitchen and Joy of Cooking and to Souper Sundays hosted by Kahakai Kitchen.


I started my day with delicious Strawberry Pancakes

Like I said in my previous post, you will be seeing a lot more strawberry recipes this season. For starters, why not start the day with some delicious strawberry pancakes. I found this recipe on Chefinyou and instantly wanted to try them out.I do agree with DK’s recipe of strawberry pancake: Normal pancakes with some strawberry syrup drizzled on top! Naaah, not my thing at all! When I say Strawberry Pancake, I imagine biting into some berries inside my pancakes, not just outside and certainly not like a syrup alone! Wow! This really tempted me try the pancakes.
Chef Christian Faure, M.O.F (Master Craftsman of France), was recently in Mumbai and I happen to stumble upon a very handy tip for strawberries: he says that if strawberries are placed in the sun for 10 minutes; the warmth helps out to bring the flavour of the fruit. I haven’t tried it though but would love to hear from you if you noticed any change 🙂

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 egg whites
2tbs honey
1 cup milk
2cups strawberries
1/2tsp salt
1tsp baking powder
1tsp vanilla extract
2tbs butter
maple syrup/honey, powdered sugar & some strawberries to serve

Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl and keep it aside.
Take the wet ingredients in another bowl and mix well. Slice thin slices of strawberries.
Mix both the wet and the dry ingredients together slowly. Add the sliced strawberries and stir very gently.
Grease the skillet lightly, and drop about 1/4 cup of the mixture. Spread it lightly.You will see bubbles popping on the surface and will also see the edges done. It’s time for you to flip the pancakes with the help of a spatula and cook the other side as well.

Serve your hot pancakes with maple or honey or strawberry syrup, powdered sugar and some sliced or whole strawberries. I got about 4 pancakes.

My tastebuds: It definitely made my day and added a sweet fragrance to my morning.

This is my submission to Blog Bites 9:The Holiday Buffet, hosted by One Hot Stove.


Spinach, Strawberry & Ricotta Cheese Salad

Strawberries are in season!!!  I love strawberries for it’s sweet flavour and  it’s gorgeous colour .You will definitely be seeing a lot more posts from me this strawberry season.
Since they are very perishable, strawberries should not be washed until right before eating or using in a recipe. Do not remove their caps and stems until after you have gently washed the berries under cold running water and patted them dry. This will prevent them from absorbing excess water, which can degrade strawberries’ texture and flavour.
This salad is the easiest salad that I’ve ever tried and it’s not only tasty but also gorgeous looking too.

20 big sized leaves, washed, patted dry
20 pieces strawberries cut in halves (fresh or frozen)
 ricotta cheese for garnish (I used home-made)

for the dressing
2tbs olive oil
1tbs red wine vinegar
1tsp lime juice
2tbs honey
1tsp cinnamon powder
salt to taste

Mix all the ingredients for the dressing and refrigerate it for an hour before serving.
Break  spinach leaves into desired sizes and place them in a serving plate or a salad bowl. Arrange the strawberries and  ricotta cheese on the bed of spinach if using individual plates or just toss all of them together in a salad bowl. Drizzle it with the prepared dressing and serve at room temperature. Serves 2.

My tastebuds: It’s a great combination and the flavours blend in perfectly. A must try this strawberry season!

Tip: Dry cottage cheese may be substituted for ricotta, but the flavour will be milder and a bit saltier. You may wish to smooth the cottage cheese by putting it through a blender with 1tbs skim milk.

This is my submission to this week’s Souper Sundays, hosted by Kahakai Kitchen, to Gulten-Free Holiday, hosted by The Whole Gang, to this month’s Only Greens, hosted by Sara’s Corner and Foodelicious and to Hearth and Soul, hosted by Girlichef.


not so traditional Tomato & Onion Chutney

This recipe is adapted from my mom, who used to always make this and in no time my brother and I would finish it.This chutney can last for up to two days, on any travel journey even if it is not refrigerated .It has always been my favourite chutney and with very little effort, it can be a very good  accompaniment for any main dish.

2cups chopped tomatoes
2cups chopped onions
2tbs refined/groundnut/olive/mustard/sesame oil
4 pieces of green chillies, finely chopped,
1 inch ginger piece, finely chopped
1/2tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2tsp garam massala
salt to taste

Heat oil in a pan and add chopped onions and ginger. Add tomatoes and chillies, when the onions turn transparent.Add turmeric, coriander and 1/2 cup of water and cook on low flame for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, add salt and garam massala and cook for about 5 minutes, until all the ingredients are mixed well and all the water has been evaporated. Serve with parathas. I served mine with Raw Papaya Parathas.
The quantity specified here, serves 2. You can double it as per your requirement and refrigerate for 4-5 days. They taste better by the day 🙂

My tastebuds: surely a winner!

This is my submission to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by The Crispy Cook and Cook Almost Anything.