27 March 2006

Vibrant green curry

I'm forever looking for fast and faster ways to cook tasty, healthy food. As much as I love to cook, I don't like to slave in the kitchen. Nor do I like to take shortcuts to taste like adding dollops of oil / butter to my recipes.

One such really fast recipe, and equally healthy is the green curry that I cooked up last Sunday.


10-12 Medium sized mushrooms- wiped clean

1/2 cup frozen green peas

8-10 leaves of spinach

Small bunch of coriander leaves

6-7 Mint leaves

2 green chillies

1/2 cup curd

One medium sized onion

4-5 pods of garlic-peeled

1/2 inch piece ginger

Salt to taste

Wash all greens thoroughly. Add all ingredients except mushroom and peas to a mixer, and grind to a smooth paste. Paste will be thick and green.

In a pan, take a tsp of oil. Saute the mushrooms and peas with a pinch of salt until mushrooms are soft. Add the ground paste and a little water to adjust the consistency of the curry.

Let it boil for 2 mins. Do not cover the pan while boiling so as to retain the vibrant green color of the curry. Serve hot with chapatis or steamed rice.


Stir a tbsp of fresh cream into the curry after removing it from flame for a rich creamy taste. This recipe is rich in Iron.

To convert it into a low carb recipe, you could use only Mushrooms and omit the peas.

25 March 2006

Patties from leftover rice

Rice is one of the items that
gets leftover most of the
times because one can never
estimate exactly as to how much to make in the first place. But that's no problem at all. A whole book can be written on what to do with it! You can make delicious curd rice the next morning, or phodni bhaath- which means tempered rice in Marathi. Add some veggies and sauces and have fried rice ready.

So whats the surprise here? Well i decided to do something different with the leftover rice, so that it doesnt look like rice anymore...

So thats how Surp"rice" patties were made with the surplus rice!

-2 cups leftover rice- refrigerated overnight
-1 cup grated green papaya ( I used this because i had half a papaya lying around, you can use any such veggie like bottle gourd, or a carrot-just make sure it's not something that will ooze too much liquid)
-Finely chopped green chillies 1-2-depending on the spiciness
-Pinch of turmeric powder
-Few springs of chopped coriander leaves
-2 tbsp of gram flour -besan
-Salt to taste

Mix all the above ingredients in a bowl. The mixture should not be too soft, or else the patties wont retain their shape. To harden it, add some more gramflour.

Shape into ovals / rounds. Grease a non-stick pan with a tspn of oil, and place the patties. Cook till golden brown and crisp on the outside, on both sides.

This should take around 5-7 minutes per side on a slow flame.

Serve with chutney / tomato ketchup.


Roll a chapati / tortilla around the flatttened patties, for a kabab roll.

French Onion Soup

Wonderfully aromatic and a great depth of taste, this soup is a delight on a cold evening. Loads of onions in the soup, served with a loaf of warm toasted garlic bread, would readily make it a meal by itself

4 large onions- thinly sliced
6 large pods of garlic- peeled and chopped very fine
1 tsp Butter / Margarine
½ tsp sugar
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
Salt to taste
1 tsp pepper powder
Vegetable / chicken stock ( optional)
Grated cheese ( preferably mozzarella) to garnish if desired

Place a large pot to heat. Place the butter / Nutralite margarine in a large pot. Throw in the garlic and sliced onions with a bit of sugar. Sugar helps caramelize the onions, ie browns them as they are cooking. Keep the flame on SIM and let the onions become dark brown, taking care to stir them around occasionally to prevent burning.
Once onions turn dark brown, which will take around 15 min on a low flame, add 6 cups of water or stock. Vegetable / chicken stock gives a further depth of flavour and a slow cooked taste to the soup. However, water is a convenient alternative, without much compromise in taste.
Let the soup come to a boil. Add the dark soy sauce and salt to taste. You may add a mixture of 1 tbsp wheat flour dissolved in water, to the soup, if you want to thicken it. Allow it to boil for another 5 minutes.
Serve the soup piping hot in bowls, garnished with pepper and grated cheese.


Traditionally French onion soup, is served with slices of toasted bread covered with grated cheese, that are floated over the soup and baked for a few minutes in a hot oven, to melt the cheese.

You could serve the warm bread by the side too !

18 March 2006

Healthy date pancakes

Breakfast / Dessert / Healthy lunch box for kids


One cup whole wheat flour
3 tbsp grated jaggery
2 cups thin sour buttermilk
1/4 tsp baking soda / baking powder
2 tbsp grated coconut - fresh / dehydrated
Pinch of cinnamon powder
2 tbsp sliced seedless dates
2 tbsp raisins ( optional)
Pinch of salt
Oil / Butter for cooking

Add all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Slowly add the buttermilk with constant stirring to avoid lumps. The consistency of the batter should be such that it sticks to the back of the ladle after mixing.

Grease a non stick pan with few drops of vegetable oil / butter. Once pan is hot, add a couple of tbsps of batter and spread into pancake. Cook on both sides till golden brown using a little oil/ butter.

This makes about 6-7 depending on the size of the pancakes.


This is high in fibre due to whole wheat flour and dates, rich in iron from jaggery and dates. Excellent for kids who refuse to eat chapatis, and tasty nutrition for pregnant women.

If you don't have cinnamon powder on hand, by all means use cardamom powder or fresh grated nutmeg for that divine aroma and taste.

For dessert one can make it richer by drizzling honey over warm pancakes or dusting powdered sugar. Serve it with a scoop of vanilla icecream or a blob of sweetened whipped cream for that added jazz!

15 March 2006

How to make yogurt ?

Yogurt can be used to make dips, buttermilk ( Lassi / Chaas ), in gravies, side dishes like raitas, salad dressings... The list is endless. It's good to have a bowl of fresh yogurt in the refrigerator at all times!

Take 2 cups of boiled and cooled milk, or you may choose to heat up pasteurized milk until warm-hot in the microwave. Take a tsp of yogurt and mix it evenly in the warm milk and keep the mixture in an area free of air drafts. You could generally do this at night and leave the milk to sit out overnight.
Generally the transition from milk to yogurt takes about 5-6 hours, and even longer in colder climes. During cold weather, you can keep the vessel in the oven with the light on. The heat from the light hastens the procedure.


Add a small piece of green chilli slit at the center to the milk at the time of curdling to get really thick curds. Don’t know how it works, but it surely does!

Masala Mor - Mildly spiced buttermilk for hot summers

My morning glass of chaas

Nothing like a glass of cool buttermilk to have with breakfast, or with a heavy weekend lunch, or just about anytime, especially if you live in a place like Bombay which has 3 seasons and all summer.

Though we do occasionally resort to opening a tetra pack of Masti Chaas (Amul), these days, I make a big pot of chaas first thing in the morning and keep it to cool in the fridge. Anytime we want something cooling, a glass of chilled masala mor (Mor is buttermilk in Tamil) is never far from hand.

I have heard of methods that make buttermilk by adding vinegar to milk and so on. In India, every family used to have a tradition of 'setting' dahi / thayir (yogurt) from milk every day, but this tradition is fast declining due to the convenience of store bought yogurt. Traditionally, in my grandmom's house, she would collect the creamy layer that was the top layer of yogurt made from whole milk, into a glass jar, every morning. This jar was kept in the fridge. When it became half full, she would add some lukewarm water to the jar, to make it 3/4th full and screw the lid tightly. The jar would be hand shaken for 5 minutes or so until the butter separated out on the top. This would be emptied into a bowl with some cold water, where the butter could be easily scooped up into a ball with the fingers and transferred to another bowl. The leftover liquid was the 'buttermilk'.

Since we don't get into the merry hassles of butter making (to help our sedentary lifestyles), we make buttermilk in a much simpler fashion. Take one part yogurt to 4-5 parts water, less or more water depending on how thick you want it to be.

Spices can be added depending on the mood. Just some crushed mint leaves and chaat masala is one of my favourites. The other being toasting a pinch of hing (asafoetida) and some mustard seeds in a spot of ghee, tossing the spluttered seeds into the buttermilk with some salt. I'm sharing with you below, the traditional Tamil way of preparing masala buttermilk.

Recipe for Masala Mor
Makes 4 small glasses
Recipe can be easily scaled up
Category - Indian summer drink, Coolant, Digestive drink
Serve along with any Indian meal

1. In a large bowl, whisk together one cup thick yogurt (preferably homemade or Greek at the most) with 5 cups water. Keep aside.

2. In a mortar, mash together a small bit of fresh ginger root, one small green chilli and some fresh coriander leaves with some sea salt or rock salt. Add this coarse paste to the buttermilk.

3. In a small saucepan, heat 1 tsp oil or ghee, and add 1/2 tsp mustard seeds, a few curry leaves and a pinch of asafoetida. Stir till the seeds splutter and transfer it into the buttermilk bowl.

4. Mix everything well. Check for salt. Serve chilled.

12 March 2006

About me

Hello! Welcome to my little nook on the world wide web where I open the doors of my kitchen to you. Sitting on our virtual table, over a cup of tea (or filter coffee) I share with you my food stories, recipes, some my own, some from my family and some from friends.

I started this blog on 12 March, 2006, very hesitantly, as an online diary of the stuff I cook, just so this highly impulsive cook in me can keep a record of what went into a dish she liked, in case I was asked to make it again.

A little background about me
By qualification, I'm a medical doctor and nutritionist (which is why you will find that most of the food I write about, is good for you and me). I've been writing on nutrition, health and food for over 5 years now - for magazines, newspapers and other publications. I've recently started writing for BBC Good Food since its launch in India.

As a child, I wasn't allowed much near the cooking range, except may be as an older kid to make a cup of tea for my grandparents. I started cooking only after my medical college when we were posted for rural internship and we had to cook ourselves if we had to eat something edible. And then one thing led to the other and my passion for cooking took a lead over many other hobbies and interests. A year's stay in US in 2005, exposed me to 24 hour Food TV, global cuisines and of course, the joys of baking.

A little more personal
I'm married to a foodie, who'll happily taste everything I cook (umm...except may be some members of the gourd family) and I'm mom to a three year old son, who turned out to possess gourmet tastes ever since he started eating solids.

This blog was born in Bombay (Mumbai, India), moved to Hyderabad for a while and I currently live in Bangalore. I try and grow some vegetables and herbs in my terrace garden, many of which find a mention in my present posts. 

Over the years, Saffron Trail has got a fair share of press and mentions. Some of them are listed here.

If you want to get in touch with me, check the Contact Me page or send me a line on the email id below. And, thank you for visiting my blog.

[Updated on 13 March, 2012]

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