Sunday, October 19, 2014

4 minute microwave Mysore Pak (Diwali 2014)

Mysore pak was one of moms favorites for Diwali.  She toiled hard for hours on the stove stirring the crazy boiling mix in a large deep pressure cooker so it wouldn't splatter all over the kitchen.  Adding ghee one spoonful at a time, hers was smoother and softer in texture melt in the mouth. Being lazy, I never tried ever.

The microwave mysore pak is slightly coarser, crispier and crunchier like the kind made for weddings.  For a first attempt, I was very pleased with the result.  The recipe was given to me by sis who tried it at a cousins place last Diwali.   Try for yourself!   You can't go wrong with all that sugar and ghee.

Make sure you maintain the proportion. 1:2:1::besan:sugar:ghee.


  • 1 cup - Besan(chick pea flour)
  • 2 cup - Sugar
  • 1 cup - ghee(clarified butter)
  • 2-3 tbsp - milk


  1. Measure out sugar and besan into a microwaveable container and mix well
  2. Add ghee and mix well
  3. Keep a greased plate ready to pour and cut the mysore pak when done
  4. One minute power high on microwave, remove and mix well
  5. One minute in microwave and mix well
  6. Add the milk and mix it well
  7. One more minute microwave high and mix well
  8. One last minute in the microwave...  It will have frothed
  9. Without stirring pour the hot mixture on the greased plate
  10. Use a sharp knife to cut while it is still hot
  11. Let it cool and enjoy yummy mysore pak

Hope you enjoyed my dysfunctional style of making mysorepak am not sure where the recipe came from to give due credit but thanks to whoever thought of making Mysore pak in the microwave.  My family is very happy with the unexpected treat.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Bombay Vegetable Sandwich (street food)

So many nostalgic moments linked to street food growing up in Bombay. My favorite, is of sitting on the Government Law College window ledge across from Churchgate railway station, and watching the sandwich walla busy making sandwiches to order. A steady flow of people waiting in line while others hurried past to catch their train. One by one, our classmates would arrive, a few of us from work, laughing and talking, cracking up at silly jokes, making up stories about the passersby and the crowds of people waiting to eat sandwiches always amazed us. Both the sandwich and sukha(dry) bhel vendor next to him had a thriving business.
Sandwich walla
(Picture courtesy - Radha N.)

The sandwich stall was very basic, a bamboo or wooden stand, with box that doubled as a table top. The simplicity was deceptive as it contained everything he needed to make the most delicious sandwich. I'm seriously drooling at the thought of an Amul butter (maska), coriander chutney, vegetables sandwich with layers of red onion, tomato, cucumber, potato, and the exotic and very red beetroot, salt and pepper, all arranged to perfection and cut into bite sized pieces. With a swipe of his hand he would transfer the cut sandwich to a paper plate. Top it with a well known brand of tomato ketchup or an orange colored home brand. A good meal, and all it cost was Rs. 2 or 3, very affordable to students and the general public.  It was a filling and sumptuous meal.

Street food had a charm of its own, we could savor a variety of food and cuisines on our college allowances and minimal salaries during those early career days. We worked hard, studied hard and partied plenty, enjoying life without responsibilities and worries, our parents and friends to fall back on.. Enough of the nostalgia... Here goes the Bombay sandwich, perfect addition to my dysfunctional cooking or should I say 'Non' cooking style.. :)

Ingredients for the sandwich:
  1. 2 or 3 slices of bread (wheat, multi-grain, rye or white)
  2. Soft butter or margarine(optional) as required
  3. 1-2 thin slices of cheese (could be Mozzarella, Swiss, cheddar, pepper jack .... ) 
  4. 1 tsp or more of green coriander chutney(I buy the Nirav brand which stays good refrigerated for months, homemade chutney with coriander, green Thai chilli, peanuts ground smooth with salt to taste.. works great too)
  5. 2-4 slices of tomato(Larger they are, the less slices you need)
  6. 2-4 slices of onions
  7. 8-10 slices of cucumbers(English, Persian or the pickle variety)
  8. 3-4 thin slices of boiled/steamed potatoes(optional)
  9. 3-4 thin slices of boiled/steamed beetroot(optional)
  10. Salt and black pepper shaker

  1. Use the same plate you plan to serve in, it should be large enough for the bread to lie flat
  2. Take 2 slices of bread and spread a thin layer of butter on the inner side
  3. Over it spread a layer of green coriander chutney
  4. Place a slice, chutney side up on the plate.
  5. Add a layer of sliced cheese of any variety 
  6. Add layers of vegetables starting with the tomatoes, followed by a light shake of salt and pepper over the vegetable
  7. Layer on, with cucumbers, onions, potato, beet,.. salt and pepper, added to taste
  8. Top with final layer of tomato
  9. Place the second slice of bread with chutney side facing down
  10. Now for the best part.. The sandwich needs to be cut to bite sized pieces. Hold the sandwich down with the span of your palm and using a sharp paring knife (same kind used to slice the onions and tomatoes). make three or four cuts on the wider side and two or three cuts across.
Notes: It sounds very simple, but the trick lies in the lightness of your hand with the salt and pepper shakes and the thin cuts on the vegetables. I sometimes add spinach or lettuce instead of cucumbers or onions for the crunch, or make it a simple cheese and tomato sandwich. I like cheese since it adds some protein content.

If you don't have coriander chutney on hand, use black pepper with a heavier hand. You can add mayo or mustard or ketchup or whatever you fancy. This is one dish, you have to own, to make it delicious.

You could add a slice or two of vegetables, meats, boiled eggs, whatever you like in a sandwich. I have tried avocado instead of potato; fresh mozzarella cheese (looks like eggs in the picture above) and  loved it.  If you have sandwich masala(available in the Desi Indian store) you can use it also. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Eggplant(Brinjal) Red Curry

Eggplant red curry with coconut milk, peanut butter, schezwan sauce

We all love eggplant (brinjal / baingan /..) at home and I try to make different types of sabzi's and gravy's but they are usually from India.
Last week, while browsing the web for a recipe using peanut butter, I stumbled upon this recipe from Archana's kitchen. Knowing how much my husband loved spicy red curry, I figured, why not give it a try. I had most of the ingredients but tweaked the measurements to our taste.
There was a can of coconut milk in the pantry, a bottle of low sodium less sugar peanut butter which no one liked and some store bought Schezwan sauce. I love using schezwan sauce to flavor stir-fry vegetables, noodles or fried rice.
Garlic is something I don't use in my cooking, it was very unusual to have fresh garlic at home.  We got some cleaned garlic pods at the Fresh Farms grocery store this past week, the better half had a brilliant idea of eating them raw.  He took a bite and that was it.
The chopped garlic gave a distinctive flavor to the curry, it was definitely the key ingredient as it integrated well with the spicy red sauce and made the eggplant very flavorful. 
So here goes, a simple and easy recipe that fits right into my dysfunctional cooking alley.

  • 1 large eggplant (baingan bartha variety). Cut into 1cm circular discs, make it a half circle and cut into thin segments like you would section a pie, so each piece has the skin at the end.
  • 6 or 7 cleaned pods of garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • 3-4 dry spicy red chilli peppers broken in half
  • 3-4 tbsp sesame oil
  • salt to taste
For the sauce
  • One 200ml can of coconut milk. If the coconut milk is too thick add 1/4 cup of water.
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter or 1 cup roasted peanuts ground smooth in a coffee grinder
  • 2-3 tbsp of Schezwan sauce, I used 'Ching's Secret' brand found in the Indian store.
  • 1/2 tsp grated jaggery / brown sugar or plain sugar, if needed

the brinjal is well cooked but not mushy
  1. Take sesame oil in a wok and warm for a minute 
  2. Add the halved red chilli peppers and the chopped garlic, saute for a minute
  3. Add the eggplant(baingan/brinjal) and stir well
  4. Cover and cook on low to medium heat stirring occasionally until done (should not be raw or mushed up). It takes about 7-8 minutes
  5. On low heat, add the blended sauce and stir well
  6. Increase the heat to medium, stirring continuously for 3-5 minutes until the sauce starts to boil slowly
  7. Switch off the heat and enjoy with some steamed rice
Enjoy yummy red curry
Hope you enjoy it as much as we did. My older daughter who will be heading out to university soon is very choosy about food and she absolutely loved it though it was spicy. you can decrease.

Notes: Use a hand whisk to blend the sauce and a heavy wok/pan with a heavy lid will generate some steam and keep the eggplant moist while cooking on a low to medium flame without making it mushy. The first time I used my light pan and the brinjal cooked very unevenly,.  I had to sprinkle water and it got mushy, it was very tasty though. :).   Next time I plan to try this curry recipe using stir fry vegetables instead of eggplant, I am pretty sure it will be delicious, too.  

Do try this recipe and let me know if you liked it.   Today, my daughter wanted the curry sweet so I added a few flakes of splenda and she loved it.  Whatever works.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Nei(Ghee) Payasam

Nei payasam takes me back to childhood and the Guruvayurappan temple in  Kerala, where it's served as prasadam(blessed food).  We arrived late and got to eat nei payasam prasadam on plantain leaves served by volunteers.  The temple was having a big celebration with elephants and drums and music.
It is also made for Bhagawati sevai puja, a religious function performed for the good of the family and the home.  This puja is performed annually by my sisters family.  I remember her mother-in-law making the decadent and delicious nei payasam in a huge metal urali(vessel/pan) placed over a kerosene stove.  The whole family taking turns to stir the payasam, it was a collaborative effort and the whole family came together to help. The mere thought has me drooling for some. 

Garnished with powdered cardamom(Elaichi)

Knowing how much I loved it, mom improvised the long, hard and time consuming recipe to a much simpler one.  So here goes, Nei payasam in my dysfunctional cooking style.

  •  3 to 4 tbsp - Ghee(nei)
  •  2 cups Jaggery(grate for easy melting)
  •  1 cup water (to melt jaggery)
  •  1 cup cooked basmati rice  (any variety, cooled and separated)
  •  1/4 cup golden raisins(kismish)
  •  1/4 cup broken cashews or slivered Almonds
  •  a pinch or two of elaichi (cardamom) powder 
  1. Heat the water and jaggery and bring it to a slow boil. Allow the jaggery to melt completely, stir continuously otherwise it will burn (2-4 minutes)
  2. Continue stirring on medium heat until it starts to thicken (4-5 minutes)
  3. In another pan (wok) heat 2-3 tbsp ghee and stir in the rice
  4. Stir fry for a couple of minutes
  5. Add in the jaggery and stir well
  6. Cook while stirring continuously until the ghee starts to glisten on the surface as seen in the picture (7-8 minutes)
  7. Heat a tbsp ghee in a small pan, first roast the raisins, remove them with a spoon and add to payasam
  8. Roast the cashew in the same ghee and add to payasam. 
  9. Top with the elaichi powder and mix well
  10. Enjoy delicious Nei payasam.  It is very rich so you can't eat a lot like sweet pongal.  it will stay good for a week or two in the refrigerator 
Served and ready to eat..

Notes: You could garnish with coconut slivers roasted in ghee and a pinch or two of dry ginger powder have seen mom use them on occasion.  I like the cashews and raisins to be soft and incorporated so I add them halfway in step 6 so they could also absorb some of the moisture.