Jan 29, 2014 5 comments:

Cardamom Almond Cookies ( No Egg )

From long time Cardamom Cookies are on my list to bake. This week end was a crazy deployment weekend at work, and our team's hard work paid off with the successful release. There is no better reason than this for me to make this treat to celebrate with the team. The recipe is very simple and made with less ingredients, and it is eggless ( so fuss free). Just mix the dry ingredients and knead it along with soft butter. No extra kitchen gadgets are required. As this is fuss free recipe, I strongly suggest to involve your Kids in mixing Dry ingredients while making dough rounds etc, and see yourself how they will take pride while eating these cookies!

Cardamom is vital in this recipe so don't cut on it and enjoy the flavor of cardamom in these cookies and that will make you hook on to it. These cookies sound little similar to our Indian Nankatai (tea time biscuits), though ingredients and measures are almost same except the Almonds, but the preparation is little variant. But both cookies solve the same purpose and that is, 'Best Companions for Tea Time'...! I have adapted this recipe from Edible Garden but made several variations to suit my needs for these cookies. Here is my version, check it out!
Cardamom Almond Cookies
adapted from: Edible Garden

All Purpose Flour - 1 cup
Sugar - 1/2 cup
salt - 1/8 tsp  ( a pinch, I have used Kosher salt)
Almonds - 1/4 cup ( or sliced almonds)
Cardamom - 6 pods
Unsalted Butter - 1/2 cup ( 1 stick) (softened)
Milk - 1 Tbsp ( Optional) ( as needed for kneading)

*yields: 2 dozen cookies

Preparatory Steps:
  • Melt the butter in microwave and keep it as softened state at room temperature
  • Remove the cardamom seeds from pods and grind it into coarse powder. In the same jar add white sugar and grind it along with sugar into powder.
  • Grind Almonds roughly so that they are chopped into small pieces. ( if you are using sliced almonds this step is not necessary)
  1. Pre heat Oven to 350 F/ 180C. Prepare a Cookie Baking Sheet with parchment paper inside.
  2. Mix APF, salt, powdered sugar and cardamom mixture, sliced almonds in a medium bowl, mix it well and keep it aside.
  3. Add soft butter to the flour mix and knead until it becomes like a soft dough. Use milk in between as needed while kneading the dough to get the soft consistency.
  4. Once the dough is ready, make it into 24 equal partitions. make them rounds in between your palms and flatten them little bit and arrange them on the cookie sheet with equal distance apart.
  5. Bake them for 18 minutes or until they turn into slightly brown. Remove them from oven and leave them on the cookie sheet for 2 more minutes. Then take them out and store them in air-tight container. 

Look at the Soft Dough Consistency!

First Batch (12 cookies) are set to go in Oven

After 18 min, Right out of the Oven, Hmmmmm Crunchy and Cardamommy!
  • You can replace APF with Wheat Flour ( Atta flour ) for another variation.
  • Soft Dough is the key for the successful turnover of these cookies.
  • Don't be tempted to using more milk than 1 Tbsp, soften butter and kneading should do the trick for soft dough consistency.
  • The cardamom and almond flavor is amazing in these cookies and it will make you hooked on to it.
  • These are little crunchy in nature hence will be good companion for Coffee / Tea. 

Take care until we meet here again!

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Jan 26, 2014 5 comments:

Cabbage Diet Soup ( Spicy Makeover)

I was worried whether I will be able to post this Wonderful Soup recipe before this winter is gone. Finally it is happening now! After Heavy Holidays Eating I always make this Cabbage Soup that helps with Tummy Cleansing. Some of you may aware that Cabbage Soup is popular on the Fad Diet Plan that aids in Quick Weight Loss in Week. If you are not aware of this Check out all the facts about Cabbage Diet Soup here.
The whole concept of this Soup Diet is You have to eat certain Vegetables and Fruits along with this Cabbage Soup for 7 days and that guarantees at least 5 pounds (or more) loss in a week. Basically Cabbage extracts all the water in your body and cleans it which results in shedding some pounds.

Does Cabbage Soup Diet Work?
Yes It does. But this is only for short term results, not a long-term diet plan. Once you start eating normally you will gain those pounds back. I have done this once and It worked for me. When I was trying to shed baby pounds ( from my second baby), I was determined to loose some weight. I have started with this Diet Soup and I lost 5 pounds in a week, that helped to motivate and stick to the plan, after a week I was eating normally but included exercise in my daily routine which helped me not to gain those pounds back.
When you have a wedding to attend or when you have to get into that dress to show-off curves or when a trip to Beach or Vacation planned around the weekend, then this diet will help you to shed pounds quickly.

Note: I am not a Diet Nutrition specialist. I am sharing these facts based on my personal experience and this may not suit for all body types based on their metabolic rate. Just give it a try and see if this suits for you or not.

Apart from the Diet Plan and all, this Cabbage Soup does taste good, but the recipe that mentions on this Diet Plan makes it little bland, hence I have blended some spices and gave it  a Make Over to give some zest to it. After all the Diet Soup doesn't have to be bland and boring. This soup happens occasionally in my kitchen, not as a Diet Soup but mostly when body needs Cleansing. Here is the recipe, Njoy!

Onion - 1 medium
Oil - 1 Tbsp
Tomato - 1  (Cluster)
Bell Pepper - 1 (Optional)
Green Peas - 1/2 cup
Carrot - 2
Cabbage - 1/2 head
Celery -  1 cup ( chopped)
salt - 1 tsp
Cilantro - 2 Tbsp
Maggie Masala - 1 tsp ( or Small Bullion)
Water - 8 cups ( or 4 cups water + 4 cups Vegetable Broth low sodium

Make Over Ingredients:
Red Chili - 1
Garlic - 5 cloves
Black Peppercorns - 2 tsp
Coriander Powder - 1/2 tsp


  1. Take a medium stock-pot and keep it on the stove. Add Oil when the pot is hot. Add crushed red chili flakes, minced garlic and crushed black pepper corns. Add chopped onions and saute for 1 minute.
  2. Add Chopped Carrot, Celery, Bell Pepper, Green Peas and saute for 5 min until vegetables becomes tender.
  3. Now add chopped cabbage and mix with rest of the vegetables for 2 min. 
  4. Add Chopped Tomato Cubes and simmer for 4 min until the veggies come together. 
  5. Now add salt, coriander powder and maggie masala ( or Bullion  if using). Mix everything well. 
  6. Add Veg Broth + Water to the pot and mix it well, taste and adjust the seasonings and cover the lid and let it simmer for 15 or 20 minutes. 
  7. After 20 minutes check the tenderness and taste of vegetables. If all the vegetables cooked properly switch off the stove ( if not simmer for 5 more minutes) and serve into bowls and serve warm along with crushed black pepper on top and some croutons on the side. 

Enjoy the taste of this Soup with this Spicy Makeover and if you can stick to it for 7 days, you can taste the results of your weight loss too!

  • If you don't know what is Maggi Masala, No Big Deal; replace with any Southern Spice Soup Mix, that will do!
  • I have only added 1 tsp salt as I have used Veg Broth ( which will have some sodium) and Soup Masala also will have some salt. If you are not using Broth you may have to increase the salt. Go easy on sodium in this recipe, that's the prime thing that aids for weight loss.
  • Do not rely on this for long term results. If you do this diet more than 7 days, you body will loose nutrients and you will become weak which can spoil your health!
  • You can add variety of vegetables, but make sure they are not starchy

Eat Healthy and Have a Happy Start!

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Jan 17, 2014 5 comments:

Brownie Bites

I am always fascinated by the Petite Brownies from Sugar Bowl Bakery that are available at Costco. The petite shape is not only cute but a cut to calories with out compromising on the taste and texture of brownie. These are the actual inspiration behind today's recipe which I named them as Brownie Bites. in other words mastering the brownie in a cute little miniature cup cake holders, which avoids the pain in cut and serve and you will get your own individual piece. Hence these are good for Potlucks or Team meetings at work or good for a snack pack in Kid's Lunch boxes. Here is the recipe, Check it out!

Don't forget to check it out at the bottom How I made a Birthday Message Presentation for my 7 year old who is crazy for Brownies!

Brownie Bites
Usually I am not biggie on buying decorative things that are throw away  for example Cup Cake Liners, but one day when I am browsing at Macy's these cute pastle colored mini Cup Cake liners caught my eye and couldn't resist buying them. Then it self I knew this is happening in my kitchen! I should say now I am very happy with my buy!

adapted from: The Perfect Pantry

Butter - 1 cup ( 2 sticks)
Coca Powder - 1/2 cup ( unsweetened)
Brown Sugar - 1 cup
White Sugar - 1/2 cup
Large Eggs - 3
All Purpose Flour - 1 cup
Vanilla Extract - 1 tsp
CupCake Liners - mini version ( i have used martha stewart brand)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line muffin pans with 15 paper baking cups and set aside.
  2. Mix the APF and Coca Powder in a medium bowl and set aside.
  3. Place the butter in a large microwave-safe bowl (I use an 8-cup glass measuring cup). Microwave on HIGH for 1-1/2 minutes, or until the butter is melted. 
  4. Add 3 eggs one at a time and beat it with a electric mixture until it is completely blended. Add 1 tsp of Vanilla extract and blend it one more time. 
  5. Then, add both sugars, and stir until well blended.  Add the dry flour mixture and stir with rubber or wood spatula until the batter is well combined.
  6. Use an ice cream scoop to fill the muffin cups 2/3 full. 
  7. Bake 22-25 minutes, until the tops are cracked and feel firm (the inside will still be moist).
  8. Remove from the oven and let the brownies sit in the muffin pan for 10 minutes. Then, remove to a wire rack, and cool completely.

Before they go in Oven

Out of the Oven with beautiful crack tops
Ta Daaaa, cute looking Brownie Bites are ready. I have made these for my son's Birthday who loves Brownies. As a surprise I have arranged them as his name, it took a while to guess what the message is, once he saw his name in those Brownies, he jumped up and excited. That made mama's mission accomplished which made to forget all the effort that she took in making them.

Abhi turned 7!
These can be stored at room temperature for up to 4 to 5 days ( if they last that long ;-) they will be done in a day in my family.)

Keep Smiling and Spread the Joy!

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Jan 16, 2014 2 comments:

Methi Murg ~ Chicken with FenuGreek Leaves

Happy Makara Sankranthi and Kanuma to you all! To be frank this year Sankaranti Festival didn't happen for us yet, I should say. Very Busy schedule at work and Sankranti Potluck has been postponed further, with that the signs of festival did not appear yet in my home. My daighter Anvi's class teacher ( Anvi goes to Indian based Montessori School here and her teachers are from Andhra state) sharing this experience with me today, when she asked Anvi 'How did you celebrate Pongal festival?' she replied 'I don't know what is that festival, we only celebrate Christmas!'. Though it sounds funny, i felt embarrassed at that moment and determined to spend more time with kids to explain our culture and traditions.  After coming home I showed them videos and pictures of How Pongal Festival gets celebrated in India,that's another story!  

Meti Murg
But i certainly don't want to disappoint my readers, and sharing a Chicken Dish here today for Kanuma festival, ( where some casts believe some type of meat dish should be eaten on this day).Today I will be sharing a Chicken Dish that is cooked with Herbs ( or greens) i.e Fenu Greek Leaves which is known as 'Methi' ( in Hindi). and also Murg in Hindi means Chicken. Now you can relate to the title much. Methi leaves on leafy green that has meat texture to and certain bitter taste to it, it doesn't sound good as it is but when you mix with some vegetables or meat dishes it enhances the flavor greatly. That's why combination of Methi is very famous in meat dishes like Methi Chicken or Methi Mutton. For Vegetarians Aloo Methi or Methi Dal would be good choice with this leafy green.  

This is a simple chicken curry where chicken gets marinated with yogurt and spices and gets cooked with Methi leaves and simmered on slow for longer time, which brings the best flavor from both Chicken and Methi. I know now, you are drooling, Here is the recipe, Njoy!

Chicken - 2 lb ( 1 kg) ( I always prefer chicken with bone for any curry type chicken dish)

Yogurt - 1 cup
Turmeric - 1 tsp
Coriander Powder - 1 tsp
Red Chili powder - 1 tsp
Ginger Garlic paste - 1 tsp
salt - 1 tsp

Onion - 1 medium
Methi leaves - 2 cup
Tomato - 1
Oil  - 1 Tbsp
Clove - 2
Cinnamon - 2 sticks
Cumin Seeds - 1 tsp
Garam Masala - 1 tsp
salt - 1 tsp

Preparatory Steps:
Clean the chicken 2 times and remove all the excess water. Take Yogurt in medium bowl and beat it until it becomes soft and creamy. Add turmeric powder, coriander powder, red chili powder, ginger garlic paste and mix it well. Add cleaned chicken to the bowl and mix it well until chicken is coated with marinade mix. Close the lid and leave it for at least 30 min in the fridge ( or overnight for tender chicken)

  1. Heat Oil in Kadai or non-stick pan. Add clove, cinnamon, cumin seeds. Once they start spluttering add chopped onions and saute them until they become transparent and become together. Add cleaned and chopped methi leaves to the pan and let it cook for 2 min. Now add chopped tomato to the kadai and simmer until tomato becomes juicy. add salt and 1/2 tsp garam masala to the kadai and mix it well.
  2. Now add marinated chicken to the Kadai and mix it well with methi and onion mixture. Close the lid and let it cook on medium heat for about 15 to 20 min. You will start noticing chicken becomes tender. Add remaining Garam Masala and reduce the heat and simmer on low for another 5 to 10 minutes. 
  3. Now you notice the curry becomes together, taste and adjust all the seasonings. Switch off the stove and Transfer it to Serving Bowl and Dish it out with some Jeera Rice or White Rice. 

Enjoy Kanuma Festival with this 'Methi Murg' chicken dish.  In the previous 2 years I have posted Chicken Curry Andhra Style and Kadai Chicken recipes, check them out as well. 

If you want to venture another Spicy Andhra Chicken Dish Here is one more: Chicken Majestic

Have a Happy Festival Time with your families!

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Jan 13, 2014 6 comments:

Neti Jeedipappu Upma ~ Cashew nut Ghee Upma

As a kid I was a Upma hater, but then i didn't know that I can come up with these many Upma Varieties from my kitchen. As this is very easy to make and can happen quickly ( as quick as Under 15 min) and Abhi becoming fond of this healthy breakfast this wonderful South Indian Breakfast Upma is happening quite a few times in my kitchen. As I have tried several varieties already with veggies today this is a Special One with no veggies but Elegant and flavorful loaded with Cashew Nuts and Clarified Butter. As these two ingredients are expensive this is considered a Rich Breakfast to serve to please your Guests ( Thus this recipe makes you a Superb Host instantly ;-)) So Why late, Check it out, Be a Superb Host !

Ghee  - 2 tbsp ( Clarified Butter)
Red Chili - 2
Chana Dal - 1 tsp
Urad Dal - 1 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Mustard Seeds - 1/2 tsp
Curry Leaves - 5 to 6
Green Chili - 1
Ginger - 1/2 inch stick
Onion - 1/2 medium
Salt - 1 tsp
Cashew Nuts - 2 Tbsp ( Roughly Chopped)
Sooji Rava - 1 cup
water - 3 cups

  1. Heat 1 Tbsp of Ghee in the Non-stick Kadai. Once the Ghee is hot, add red chili, chana dal and urad dal. Once the lentils browned ( and roasted), add cumin seeds and mustard seeds, you will notice mustard seeds splattering, then add curry leaves. ( 5 min) 
  2. Add chopped Green Chili, Ginger and Onion to the Kadai. Add chopped Cashew Nuts to the kadai and let them saute with spices. Add 3 cups of water to the pan and add salt mix it together. Simmer for 5 min.
  3. Once the water gets boiled you need to start adding Sooji Rava in small quantities and mixing it at the same time to avoid to form lumps. You will notice Rava gets dissolved into water and cooked properly. Add remaining 1 Tbsp Ghee now to the Kadai and switch off the stove. 
Take it out form the stove and serve it in the plates along with some sugar on top or lime wedge on the side!

Keep Smiling, Be Happy and Spread the Joy!
Take Care until we meet here again...

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Jan 9, 2014 2 comments:

Paneer Pakora ( Indian Cottage Cheese Fritters) ~ Tea Time Snacks

It is so true that in the beginning I  am not fond of Paneer, in the past two years I have tried several variations with it and I started fallen in Love with it! The more varieties  you try with it the more you want to explore with this amazing protein filled Ingredient for Vegetarians. Today I have tried snack version out of it and it turn out be so delicious to match up with your Chai time instantly. Here is the recipe, Njoy!

Panner - 1/2 block ( or 250 g)
Besan ( Gram Flour) - 1 cup
Baking Soda - 1/2 tsp
salt - 1 tsp
red chili powder - 1/4 tsp
Coriander Powder - 1/4 tsp
Chat Masala - 1/4 tsp ( optional)
Cilantro or Mint - 1 tsp ( finely chopped)
Onion Rings and Lime - for Garnish and serving
Oil- for deep frying

  1. Take the Besan flour in a medium bowl and add all spices along with salt and baking powder. Mix all the dry ingredients well and keep it aside for 5 min. Now add water little by little to make it like a meidum consistency batter. Add chopped Cilantro or Herbs. Keep it aside for 10 min. 
  2. Chop the Paneer in thin slices ( like bite size squares, not cubes). Dip them in the batter until they are fully coated. Leave them there for 5 min. This will help the batter to be coated around all the corners. 
  3. Now heat the Oil in kadai and wait at least 5 min ( or 7 min), for it to be Hot and ready for deep trying.
  4. Now Carefully pick up the batter coated Panner Squares and drop them slowly into oil. Turn them over and let them cooked on both sides until they become Golden Color. We have to repeat this step in batches until you are done with all the paneer squares. 
  5. After frying take them out on to Paper Towls to remove excess oil from it. Once every thing is done arrange them on Platter and top with Onions Rings and Lime slices ( and Sprinkle some Coriander Powder) 

Ta Daaa, Delicious Chai Time Companion Panner Pakora are ready now to please the Crowd! :-)

  • Don't cut the Paneer into too small pieces, that will extract lot oil while it's frying and makes it very oily which you don't want.
  • Chat masala is optional spice that is used here for extra kick and zest. You can just add Amchur powder or totally eliminate this spice to make it less spicy.
  • For any deep frying dishes Hot Oil is critical, be patient and wait until the Oil Hot before you drop anything into it, it doesn't hurt to test it out first with small quantities. ( believe me, this step is test for my patience, now you know why I don't venture a lot in making deep frying stuff)

Have fun until we meet here,

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Jan 2, 2014 4 comments:

Vegetable Pulao ( Step-by-Step)

Today I am back to Basics and posting a simple every day Vegetable Pulao recipe. When ever guests arrive this is the first one on the menu to make it special in my kitchen. Though this is really a simple dish, I am gonna share some Chef Secrets to make it perfect with the same consistency and great taste every time you make it. In my childhood making a Pulao or any masala rice dish is time consuming because of several vegetables cut up and cooking the rice up to perfection carefully. But in today's fancy food world, Mixed Veg Pulao can happen in minutes, Thanks to Frozen Mixed Veg and Electric Rice Cookers. :-)

Vegetable Pulao
Apart from Mixed Veg and Electric Rice cooker you need another critical ingredient to get the wonderful taste for your Pulao, and that is fresh Pulao Masala Spices ( masala dinusulu), you need to use the fresh one that is critical ( less than 1 year old can be considered fresh for these spices shelf time). These are very expensive to buy here in USA, most of the time I get these spices from India for the authentic variety.

I am listing here all the variety of spices, i use all of them in Pulao (and nothing else) that makes the rice fragrant, light and flavorful.
Pulao Spices

Okay, now you got the rough idea about key things and critical ingredients to make Vegetable Pulao, here is the pictorial trail with detail steps!

Basmati Rice - 3 Cups
Mixed Veg - 1 cup ( you can use variety of veggies Potato, Cauliflower, Beans, carrot etc)
Onion - 1/2
Green Chili - 3
Cilantro - 1 Tbsp
Butter - 1 Tbsp
Oil - 1 Tbsp
salt - 1 tsp
black pepper - 1/4 tsp
Water - 5 cups
Milk - 1/2 cup

Pulao Spices:
Cinnamon - 1 stick
Cardamom - 2
Clove - 2
Shawjeera - 1 tsp
Star Anice - 2
Marati Mogga - 1
Jaji Kaya - 1 ( broken)
Jappatri - 2 flakes
Pulao Leaf - 2


Heat the non-stick pan and add Butter to it. Once the butter melts add Oil to it. Add all the spices in order, Shajeera, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Clove, Anice, Marati Mogga, Jaji Kaya, Japatri.

Add thinly sliced onions and green chilies to the pan. saute them for 3 min. Add 1 Tbsp Cilantro and saute for 2 min.

Now Add frozen or mixed vegetables to the pan. Saute for 5 min and add salt and black pepper.

Add cleaned basmati rice to the pan and mix along with vegetables.

Add 1/2 up of milk to the pan and let it mix with Rice and vegetables.

Finally Add Bay Leaf and some more cilantro.

Add water to the Rice Cooker. Transfer the sauted and half cooked rice to the Electric Cooker. Mix it well, taste and adjust the salt if needed.Close the lid and let it cook until it comes to warm state.  Now Open the lid and fluff up the rice from top to bottom. Now your Yummy flavorful Every Day Pulao is ready.

Serve Vegetable Pulao with Onion Raita for the most taste out of it!

Here are the Chef Secrets Summarized:

  1. Use Fresh Pulao Spices
  2. Use good brand Basmati Rice ( I have used Tilda). You can try with aged Basmati Rice as well.
  3. Use Milk while cooking the rice ( this makes the Pulao more whiter and fluffy)
  4. Butter along with Oil adds good taste to Pulao and cooking the veggies properly
  5. Use Variety of Vegetables to make it more colorful and attractive.
  6. While mixing the rice do it gently so that the rice won't brake. Long Grain looking rice will be good in Pulao
Today I have used the Tilda Brand Basmati Rice. Hope these tips will be helpful to you!

will be back with another great recipe!
until then take care

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