30 September 2006

WHB Special - Coriander chutney & Chutney sandwiches

Coriander chutney

Ask any Indian what their favourite herb is - more often than not the answer will be Cilantro. (Coriander as we call it here) The main reasons for this being availabilty, tradition and also the way it goes perfectly with most Indian flavours. The vibrant scent of coriander is what hits your olfactory senses the minute you enter any open air market in India.

Today, most Bombay supermarkets sell (ex-exotic) herbs like fresh basil, parsley, lemon balm at quite reasonable prices. I just picked up two packets of basil and one of lemonbalm. While I made this huge batch of Marinara sauce with tomatoes, mushrooms and basil, I'm yet to figure out what to do with the lemon balm. I did spike my morning tea with it though. Any other suggestions are welcome!

Back to my good old favourite - Coriander...While most posts in the past one year on WHB must have explained the benefits of this herb, I love it for the freshness it brings to any dish. A dash of chopped coriander can awaken the most dullest of dishes by infusing that touch of green and the smell of the garden. People who are not used to this herb on a regular basis do find it a tad strong - atleast so I've noticed.

The recipe I want to share with you on the occasion of WHB- Finale is something I've blogged about before. Coriander chutney is my all time favourite recipe and I'm yet to see a recipe with any other herb that can be as versatile as this. For people who haven't tried this one before, its simpler to make than a pesto and is totally fat-free. If you buy too much of coriander, when it's in season, a chutney is the best way to save the delicate herb.

Coriander chutney
Time taken - Under 10 minutes
Makes over 1 cup
Category - Spicy spread, accompaniment to Indian breads and snacks, Fat-free spread


3 cups chopped coriander leaves (Washed thoroughly and drained)
2 green chillies (Thai chillies or you can use Jalapenos)
4-5 cloves garlic
2 T dalia*
Pinch of turmeric powder
1 tsp salt
Juice of half a lemon
Pinch of sugar (optional)


1. Put all the ingredients except the lemon juice in a small grinder like the Sumeet chutney jar or in batches in a coffee grinder.
2. Add a few tbsp of water to grind to a very smooth paste.
3. Remove in a jar / bowl and squeeze the lemon juice on the top. This retains the fresh green colour. Check for salt.


1. *Dalia is a split lentil variety easily found in Indian stores. If you don't find this, you may use roasted peanuts, pine nuts or sunflower seeds)
2. This chutney will stay for 3-4 days if kept in a jar in the refrigerator.

10 things you can do with Coriander chutney

1. Use it as a spread on bread. It'll make you forget "I can't believe its not butter" or whatever the name is.
2. Use it to make Bhel puri - one of the bestest Bombay street foods
3. Mix it with regular hummus to make green hummus.
4. Mix it into yogurt to make a coriander flavoured yogurt dip for crudites.
5. Use it inbetween the layers of stuffings in a Muffaletta - a hollowed out bread which is stuffed with layers of ham and cheese and served with an olive salad. You could substitute the ham with veggies or chicken salami.
6. Spread it on a roti, stuff with vegetables to make a spicy frankie.
7. Use it as a base for toppings on salt crackers.
8. Use a thinned out chutney as a salad dressing.
9. Use it as a marinade for paneer, chicken or fish before you throw them on the grill to make tikkas.
10. Spread it on pizza bread. Top with tomatoes, beets, green and yellow peppers, olives and mushrooms to make a fusion Pizza.

Cucumber-Beetroot Chutney sandwiches

Chutney sandwiches are my all time favourite. If I have a jar of coriander chutney and some bread lying around, I never have to bother about cooking my next meal. I generally take two slices of whole grain / multigrain bread, cover them generously with chutney and load them up with a whole bunch of vegetables for a healthy eating option.

These sandwiches taste wonderful with some ketchup or even just like that. They make an excellent filler for a picnic basket or a tiffin box. As a kid, I remember eyeing my classmate's tiffin box with all envy when she used to get these for lunch. There is one thing to remember though - if you'll be eating this after a few hours, then it's best to line your slices with a thin coat of butter, table margarine or Olivio, so that the chutney wont make the bread soggy.

You can even get your kids to assemble these sandwiches.

What you need to make 4 triangles-
4 slices of bread
Coriander chutney
Olivio or butter
Slices of thin slices of cucumber and raw beetroot
Salt, pepper & chat masala

Spread a thick layer of chutney on 2 of the slices and a thin layer of Olivio on 2 other slices.
Layer up the sliced veggies on the buttered slice. Sprinkle some salt, pepper and chat masala. Cover it with the chutney slice and cut diagonally through the center to make two triangles.
Repeat the same with the other two slices.

1. White bread will taste superb but go with whole grain for a healthier option.
2. Other vegetables that will taste good in this sandwich are sliced boiled potatoes, sliced onions, sliced tomatoes, sliced jalapenos etc.
3. Chat masala is readily available in most Indian grocery stores in small boxes. I also remember seeing a blogger's recipe for the same, but can't trace it at present.

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29 September 2006

WBB# 5 round-up and announcement for WBB#6

Patterns on the sand

Finally, I've managed to push myself hard enough to post the round-up of WBB#5 and reveal the new rules for the Weekend Breakfast Blogging game.

WBB turns monthly instead of fortnightly. Three main reasons -
  • Fortnighly was too confusing for most. Which fortnight?
  • Gives me more time with the round-ups
  • Now on, WBB will be based on themes- making it once a month, gives you more time to think of innovative stuff which others will learn from. This is mainly an idea-sharing platform. While we all have our favourites, events are a good learning experience. If you racked your brains to find out the best way to bake with whole wheat flour, then others can save time by just following your method. Get my point?

The theme for WBB# 6 is : A twist in the plate

Take any popular recipe either from a recipe book, internet recipe resource or a fellow blogger's recipe and do your own twist on it. By twist, I mean a real good one. Not like substituting baking soda for baking powder or green chillis with red chillis. I don't know if this is very good an example, but take it for starters: Podi Idli with Mushrooms and Onions

I still don't have anything in mind too. But I believe it should be fun. Your twist should have made quite a difference to the original. Common my cook sisters and brothers, put on your hats and think out of it!

You have all the freedom to steam, saute, fry or bake - so the options are pretty much endless.

The regular details:

  • Do write a line or so about the original recipe in your post.
  • Send in your entries to me at saffrontrail@gmail.com by 29th of October (Sunday) which gives over a month's time.
  • Your mail must have the URL of your blog and the permalink of the recipe.

WBB# 5 Round-Up

Off the skillet

Banana pancakesCauli parathas

aapam currydidir dosai

Banana Pancakes - Laura, Laura Rebecca's Kitchen

A quick run through the ingredients tells me I have them all at home. With me spending this weekend, home alone and probably a gal pal for company, I don't think there much coming in the way between me and these pancakes.

Cauliflower Paratha - Sushma, Recipe Source

Sushma gives step by step instructions to make cauliflower stuffed bread. Instead of eating the rotis with cauliflower subzi, this would be a fun and practical way, especially on road journneys. Especially so, if you don't have eateries like 'Happy da dhaba' on the way!

Aapam with potato curry - Maheshwari, Beyond the Usual

Yeasty rice flour crepes with potatoes, they make them with toddy too...I'm gonna taste the latter when I go to Kerala..

Didir dosa - Vaishali, Happy Burp

She's been on a pantry emptying spree and how! If you've never made dosa before, this is the one for you. Just go for it!

Oven Fresh...

Banana nut muffinsBruschetta
carrot loaf
FrittataPumpkin raisin muffins

Banana Nut muffins - Priya, Akshayapaatram

The soft-toy lover baked muffins for the first time and can we hear her scream YAHOO? She crossed two bloggers' recipes and came up with this fantastic bunch of muffins

Bruschetta with egg mayonnaise - Pam , Posie's Place

Slices of fresh bread are smothered in olive oil and grilled in the oven. A simple topping like chopped boiled egg with light mayo makes it so homely and so appealing.

Banana nut muffins - Shaheen, Malabar Spice

Bananas flavoured with cinnamon and nutmeg, you can't go wrong there Steamed ( or cooked) to perfection

Golden goodness frittata - Ashwini, Food for thought

Cross veggies, eggs and herbs with an oven and what you get is this Golden goodness frittata. It's the 'phoren' version of our omlette. Did you know Parsis have their own thick omlette called Akoori?

Carrot Loaf - Krithika, Manpasand

Wholewheat flour and carrots aka- a healthy start to your day.

Pumpkin raisin muffins - Prema, My cookbook

Hearty muffins made with pumpkins. Meeta's FMR event with Pumpkins sent everyone scurrying after pumpkins well before Halloween :)

Steamed (cooked) to perfection

polenta idliskhaman dhoklaGhugni

stuffed idlisrava idlis

Polenta Idlis - Vaishali, Happy Burp

V gives us a double burp with dosas as well as idlis. WAIT! Don't start yawning at the mention of idlis! Bet you'd never have tried making idlis with cornmeal.

Instant Dhokla - Yours truly

Healthy yet very tasty, the power of gram flour revs up your engines for the day (Now don't you start thinking of something else! )

Ghugni - SP, Chatpat food

This recipe with a musical name has its origins in the East of India. Made with dried yellow peas, it comes across as a versatile dish.

Stuffed Idlis - Shilpa, Aayi's recipes

What do you get when you cross an idli with a masala dosa? Check Shilpa's recipe to find out. Potatoes are the friendiest of veggies, as in they get along well with anything else. I must try this one out soon!

Rava Idli - Jayashree, Veggie Delight

If you are tired of running after MTR Rava Idli packs in the grocery store, try this one from the scratch. Contrary to what we think it's quite a simple one.

From the waffle iron

Asha from Foodie's Hope sent in her Pumpkin waffles after I'd just posted the round up. Pumpkin and cinnamon in waffles does sound like a very aromatic combination. If you have a waffle iron, this one is a must try. For those who don't have a waffle iron (like yours truly), making pancakes with this batter sounds like a great idea!

(Too many problems with blogger while doing this round up taking me over 3 hours. Sorry if you see any problems in publishing.)

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27 September 2006

Instant Khaman Dhokla (Steamed gram flour cake)

Pic updated on 6 March, 2008

khaman dhokla

Instant Khaman Dhokla
Time taken - 40 minutes including standing and steaming time
Serves - 2
Type - Healthy snack, steamed food, Low Glycaemic index, Diabetic friendly

ready to eat

Khaman Dhokla is a steamed savoury cake made from gram flour. It is a traditional Gujarati snack, typically a tea time treat. Typically, chana dal (split Bengal gram) is soaked, ground with spices and fermented. The fermented batter is then steamed, cut into bite sized pieces and garnished with tempered mustard seeds and coriander.

Though I do indulge in the long version at times, to suit my last minute cooking - this instant version comes very handy.

Chana dal or gram flour is a food with a low glycaemic index and therefore extremely good for diabetics and those on a GI diet. Besides, it has all the goodness of lentils - protein and fibre. Lentils are the food of the week on my column at Chennai Online.

Here's the recipe for Instant Khaman Dhokla. I found it at this very resourceful site called Gel's Kitchen.


1 cup gram flour
Pinch of turmeric powder
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp citric acid crystals or juice of one whole lemon
1 tsp salt
1 cup water
1 tsp soda bicarb
Oil for greasing and tempering

For tadka:
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp sesame seeds
Few curry leaves

For garnish:
Finely chopped coriander


ingredients Prepared batter

Batter poured in plate ready for steamingSteamed dhokla

1. Mix the flour, turmeric, salt, sugar and citric acid crystals in a bowl with a cup of water. With a whisk mix them together into a smooth paste.

Let this stand for 10 minutes. Meanwhile set up the steamer. You can use a large pot. Place an empty bowl in it as a stand on which to keep the plate. Grease a deep 'thali' that will fit into the pot easily leaving some space around. You need a lid to cover the pot tightly. You can tie the lid in a kitchen towel so that it will absorb the steam and not let water droplets fall into the batter while steaming.

3. After letting the batter stand for 10 minutes, add the soda bicarb into it. Mix it in by pulling at the batter with your fingers. The batter will get fluffy and soft, expanding in volume by almost 3 times [like beaten egg whites]

4. Pour this batter into the greased thali. You can sprinkle sesame seeds on the batter. (Optional)

5. Keep the thali into the pot, cover with towel covered lid and steam for 20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

6. Remove the thali from the pot and let cool for 5 minutes before cutting it into diamond / square pieces.

7. For tadka, heat one tsp of oil, put in the mustard seeds, sesame seeds and curry leaves. Once they splutter, turn it over the dhoklas.

Serve hot with tea.

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26 September 2006

Ambrosial Thalagam for my 100th post

This is my 100th blog post and that's all thanks to my fellow food-blogger friends and readers who have encouraged me, all along the way.
I've been promising to post the recipe of Chettinad Tomato Paruppu Pacchidi for a while, but then I wanted my 100th post to be something very traditional.
It is Thalagam. Please don't confuse it with a sambhar or a curry. It's neither. But one taste of this and the flavours will get etched in your taste buds forever. I actually made it for the first time last evening with no thoughts about posting this as my 100th. I just followed my craving, called up mom, told her I want to eat Thalagam NOW. Scribbling down the approximations dictated by mother, I set out in pursuit of that perfect taste.

If you are wondering what Thalagam is all about, this is what it is. A medley of vegetables cooked in a paste of roasted red chillies, sesame seeds, mustard seeds, split black gram and grated coconut. A swish of tamarind puree rounds up the bold flavours together. The result is a spicy, mildly sweet, tangy curry offset by the nutty taste of roasted sesame seeds. This almost belongs to the Sambhar family and yet not quite for two reasons. One, it is made on special occasions like Thiruvadirai festival to eat with a sweet floury dish and two, you don't add dal (cooked lentils) in this curry.

I managed to take pictures step-by-step this time. I hope that makes it much easier for you to try out this 'steeped-in-Tambram-tradition' recipe atleast once. Once is enough. After that the taste will pursue you for life, pursue you enough to make this often. I can promise that much.

Ambrosial Thalagam

2 cups of mixed vegetables (Traditionally yellow pumpkin, sweet potato, carrots, arbi)
1 tsp oil
1/2 cup thin tamarind extract obtained from medium lemon sized ball of tamarind
Salt to taste

For the spice paste:
4 dried red chillies
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 T udad dal (split black gram dal)
4-5 slices of fresh coconut
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds (Methi)
Roast these ingredients in a spot of oil for a minute or two and keep aside.
1 T sesame seeds- roast this separately as it browns much faster than the other ingredients.

Cooling the roasted ingredients before grinding to a paste

The essence of thalagam - spice paste

Cool the roasted ingredients. Put them in a coffee grinder or mixer and grind to a fine paste with 1/4 cup of water. Keep the paste aside.


1. In a non-stick pot, heat a tsp of oil. Throw in the vegetables. Saute for a minute. Add 1/2 cup of water to the pot and cover with lid. The vegetables will cook in 10 minutes or so.

Sauteeing the vegetables (I used these vegetables because I didn't have the traditional ones on hand. Unplanned cooking you see! )

2. Once the vegetables are cooked, add the ground spice paste and the tamarind extract. Put in the required amount of salt, about 1 1/2 tsp, a pinch of turmeric powder to the boiling thalagam.
3. Keep the flame on low, cover the pot with a lid, keep it at a slow simmer for 8-10 minutes so that the vegetables can soak up the flavours of the spices.
4. After 10 minutes, remove from flame and serve with steamed rice or broken wheat.


I added a small block of jaggery to the thalagam as I was missing the sweet tinge that pumpkin lends to it. Despite not using the traditional vegetables, the taste of this one came very close to what my taste buds remembered from the years.


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25 September 2006

Murud Janjira




Unusual fruits ! (Bats)


The sound of the sea, a hammock and a book - Bliss!

Flying away...

Vaishali was bang on in guessing. It was Murud Janjira indeed. 170 Kms from Bombay, an hours drive from the more popular Alibag. In fact she was so sure that she even asked me to go visit the vegetable market there. Since we were there for only 24 hours and because the sea was so inviting, we didn't think of going anyplace else. Don't the pictures say it all?

I'm glad my readers have liked the Chettinad Recipes' resource. I shall be updating it regularly with recipes found from various sources. As and when I try out something, I shall post it here too. Stay tuned for a slightly modified Chettinad Tomato Pacchidi ( Chettinad style lentils with tomatoes) and that will be my 100th blog post !


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22 September 2006

I'm off for the weekend & things you can look forward to

Am off to a beach for the weekend...Here are some pics of the place- (Courtesy: Google images). I'm sure the people from in and around Maharashtra will be able to take a guess! Wanna try?

Shall be back on Monday with some BEAUTIFUL pics of the seaside.

Meanwhile shall leave you with some recipes I've been collecting. It's a Chettinad recipe collection.

No, I'm not from Chettinad. But just one brush with that food left me longing for more. Sadly, there are no Chettinad joints in Bombay. So, the only way I can satisfy my yearning is to make it at home, with the aid of some authentic recipes from arusuvai.com. You can do that too if you could read Tamil.

I've been translating some of the vegetarian recipes and uploading on this blog- Chettinad Recipes. No frills there, just a translation of the recipe in Tamil into English. Yes ladies, I can read and write Tamil too :) Please feel free to peep in and try your own variations of those recipes. The chilli content in most of them is on the higher side, which you may need to tone down.

I tried making the Paruppu Tomato Pacchidi (a kind of tomato dal) today and the results were very good. You'll find the recipe on the other blog, but then I've a little modification, which I shall duly post.

Dinner was the Chettinad style Tur Dal with tomatoes and Dahi Bhindi from Tarla Dalal's Cooking with1 tsp oil. The bhindi turned out yummy without much of slaving. Shall post that too when I'm back.

Meanwhile, a big credit is due.

Saakshi, this one's for you!

This is to Saakshi of Healthy Home Cooking who's recipe for Bisi Bele Huli Anna was so accurate and authentic that everyone including my mom, dad and aunt were licking their fingers. I personally felt it was the best rice recipe I've ever made. All thanks to Saakshi for sharing this wonderful recipe. I had to make a few modifications like pressure cooking the rice and lentils and using lesser quantity of coriander seeds, but that was about it. Guys, if you have the remotest liking for South Indian food, this one is a must try.
I shall be posting the round up of WBB # 5 once I'm back, with the announcement of the theme and rules for WBB # 6. So, stay tuned !

21 September 2006

Parsi Dhansak - for FMR Pumpkin

Pumpkin is quite a staple in my parent's home, where it is used generously in Kootu (Gravied vegetables), Sambhar, Thalagam etc. Not being too fond of the vegetables on the sweeter side, pumpkin is usually not on my shopping list. Not unless I want to make Dhansak or Bisi Bele Huli Anna.

The pumpkin used in this is the golden variety (shown in picture) which is more nutritious and anti-oxidant rich compared to the white pumpkin. Whites are used in Avials- which is one of my hot favourites.

Parsis are members of the Zoroastrian community that migrated from Persia to India over 1000 years ago to escape religious persecution. Most of them concentrated in the state of Gujarat, adapting the local language and culture as their own. Their cuisine is a unique blend of the vegetarian Gujarati food and the meaty cuisine of Persia. Dhansak is one of their much-loved dishes, which is usually made with lentils, vegetables and meat into a spicy curry that is had with brown rice.

Vegetarian that I am, my dhansak is meatless but any meat eater would confirm that it is as tasty ( Atleast let me assume so! )

Dhansak is ready!

The list of ingredients is a bit lengthy, but except for a little prep work, you will find most of the stuff in your pantry, especially if you are an avid food blogger!

There are three parts to this recipe.
-Cooking the lentils
-Preparing the masala
-Cleaning and cutting the vegetables

Lentils required:

1/3 cup tur dal
1/3 cup masoor dal
1/3 cup moong dal

Mix the dals. Wash them thoroughly 3-4 times. Keep aside.


Use the golden variety. You will need around 200 gms of the same. Remove the skin with a heavy knife, scrape out the seeds. Chop the pumpkin into 1" cubes. Don't cut it any smaller, or they will get totally mashed with the dal on pressure cooking.

Pressue cook the dals with the pumpkin pieces for around 3 whistles.

Meanwhile prepare the masala and vegetables.

For dhansak masala:

6 cloves garlic
1" piece fresh ginger
6-7 red chillies
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1" cinnamon stick
2 green cardamoms
4 pepper corns

Saute the above ingredients other than ginger and garlic, on a low flame until fragrant, about a minute or two. Cool for a few minutes and grind to a fine paste along with ginger-garlic. You can add around 1/4 cup of water to assist in grinding. Keep the masala aside.


2 medium onions-sliced
2 tomatoes-chopped
1 small bunch methi (fenugreek) leaves- cleaned and chopped finely to make a loosely packed cup

Bringing together the masala and vegetables


Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a large pan. Fry the onion slices with a few grains of sugar (less than 1/8th tsp). Sugar makes the onions brown faster. Saute for 3-4 minutes till nicely browned.

Add the masala paste and saute for 3-4 minutes, until it emits a rich aroma.

Put in the chopped tomatoes, chopped fenugreek leaves. Saute for 3-4 minutes, until tomatoes are cooked and leaves have wilted.

At this stage, add the boiled dals and pumpkin. Add around 2 tsp of salt. Stir well and check for spices and salt. In case the tomatoes aren't sour enough, you can add a teaspoon of tamarind pulp.

Serve hot with plain rice or traditional Parsi Brown Rice.

Lap it up with rice

This recipe makes enough dhansak to serve 6 people. Even if you are just 2 at home, it is worth making and saving half of it for later. It tastes better after the flavours have sunk in for a day or so. It will keep for 2-3 days in the refrigerator, kept in a tightly sealed box.

The day I'd made this, we had a friend come in for dinner. He remarked that he was getting to eat dhansak after ages as the authentic recipe isn't really vegetarian and he was a vegetarian himself. In case you are a person who'd love to make the real meaty version, check out the link below for Authentic Parsi cuisine.

You will find many delicious Parsi Recipes here. Eggs, Potatoes and meat are their favourites though!

This is my submission for the FMR - Pumpkin hosted by multi-talented Meeta of What's for lunch honey?

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(Pumpkin image courtesy: Getty Images)

20 September 2006

Almost fat free Sweet Potato Chips

This is more of a tip than a recipe. A tip to make chips without frying. I got this idea from the blog 28 Cooks where there was a post on Microtato Chips. The taste of my favourite brand of chips (when I was in US) was Terra - thick chips made from starchy vegetables - potatoes, sweet potatoes, beetroot etc. These were definitely deep fried, but since then I've been wanting to make sweet potato chips at home.
The Indian sweet potatoes are almost white from inside unlike the orange coloured ones I've seen in US. These are starchy and dense and hardly sweet to taste.

To make these chips, all you need is a sweet potato, some seasoning and a microwave oven. Peel the vegetable. Slice it with a mandolin or as thin as you can manage with a knife.

Spray it with some oil / Coat it evenly with a teaspoon of oil. Add salt, red chilli powder and a bit of turmeric and mix it thoroughly into the slices.

Arrange it in a single layer on a microwave safe dish, and nuke at high for 5-6 minutes. The time taken depends on the power of your machine and thickness of slices.

Cool for a while and enjoy!

You can do the same with any of the starchy vegetables.

I also tried a salt and pepper combo and that worked fine too.

Ah! The fun of eating chips without the guilt is a wonderful experience. Do try and let me know!