Thursday, September 30, 2010


I appreciate the whole roti-sabzi-dal-chaawal routine. A lot. My mom and mom-in-law are firm advocates of this routine, day and night. But there are times when I don't think I can stand to eat (or for that matter cook) routine food. Either I don't have the energy to make an elaborate meal, or I simply don't feel like eating the regular food. Those are the days I just want to run to my friendly neighborhood pizza place for dinner. However, the Catch-22 here is that I am also a little excessively (my husband says obsessively) concerned with the nutritional value of the meals I prepare and consume. So no go!! At such times I fall back on traditional one pot-one pan meals. When Nupur announced BB8, I decided to post three such recipes. As it were, I had the pictures handy from the last week when I had cooked these three dinners.

CHAPTER 1: Monday-night-boredom Handvo.

Inspired from here.

My Version of Handvo

The batter:

2 cups handvo flour- easily available at Indian grocery stores.

1/2 cup dahi- sour yogurt

Just enough warm (not hot!!) water to make a thick batter. The batter should not drip like dosa batter.

Mix the three and keep in a warm place to ferment overnight. In colder weather, preheat the oven at 250 F for 15-20 mins, then leave it overnight. If you're doing this in the daytime, you can repeat this step every 2 hours.

Handvo batter does not typically rise like idli batter, it just gets a slightly sour smell (if that). So stick to the 8 hour fermentation, even if you think the batter is not ready.

To be added to the batter:

1 small dudhi (bottle gourd): grated
1 small zucchini: grated
3 green chillies, 1 inch piece of ginger and about 20 coriander leaves to be ground to a paste.
1 level tsp baking soda
salt to taste

Preheat the oven at 350 F while you prepare the

Heat 2 tbsps oil
Add a pinch of asafoetida (hing),
A tsp of mustard seeds
10 chopped curry leaves (kadi patta)

Mix the batter with the veggies and the tempering thoroughly. Take an oven safe pan (I prefer the glass Pyrex ones because they allow the top crust to get brown without burning the bottom).

For the first time, I used parchment paper while baking it. Not only did the handvo not stick, but I had to grease the dish with a lot less oil. I lined it with parchment paper on all sides, not just the bottom.

Last but not the least, generously sprinkle the assembly with white sesame seeds before baking it in the oven. Bake it at 350 F. Depending on your oven, it should be ready in 30-40 mins. Eat hot with green chutney, ketchup (sos), and a hot cuppa tea.

I apologise for the pathetic pictures, but my hungry husband devoured the handvo before I could take any decent pictures.

Handvo has carbs, veggies and proteins in it. So it's my first recipe for BB8.

CHAPTER 2: Way-to-hubby's heart methi theplas

Inspired from here with valuable inputs from my MIL, and of course, my own tweak to the recipe.


My husband loves methi theplas. When I first got married, I was regaled with stories of my mom-in-law's legendary theplas. My father-in-law, his friends, my husband, his friends, and not to mention extended family, everyone supplied me with stories of her melt-in-the-mouth theplas. As a result, for the first year of my marriage I did not make theplas. I'm one of those people who absolutely hates the phrase "this is not how it tastes when my mom makes it" , especially when I have spent 3 hours in the kitchen making it. And I was very sure I would never be able to live upto the legendary theplas she makes (which by the way, truth be told, are really melt in the mouth, no kidding).

As time passed, I began to get a bit thick skinned towards such comments. And after my first India trip, with help from my MIL, I tried her theplas. They turned out OK, except for one thing- I can't bear to put the amount of oil (called mon in gujrati, moyen in hindi) she uses in making the atta. So I had to come up with something to reduce the oil, and keep the softness of the theplas. I came across this recipe while browsing one day. I was thrilled that it used only 1 tbsp oil for the dough. The theplas turned out good, except that they did not remain soft for long. Hmm. Then one day I reviewed both recipes. My MIL usually puts curd (yogurt, dahi) in her theplas when she makes them for me to bring back. They stay fresh that way. So the next time I made methi theplas, I used about 1 tbsp oil per cup of wheat flour, and kneaded the dough entirely with curd. and kept my fingers crossed. The following recipe now gives me theplas that taste fairly above average and are definitely very soft (melt-in-the-mouth-with-a-little-effort).

My recipe for happy husband....errr..... Methi Theplas:

Makes about 30 large theplas

3 cups wheat flour
salt to taste
3-4 tbsp white sesame seeds
1 tbsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp asafoetida(hing)
2 cups finely chopped methi
(If fresh methi is not available, use 7-8 tbsp of kasuri methi, soaked for 3 hours before making the atta).
3-4 tbsp oil
3 green chillies+1 inch piece of ginger+a handful of coriander leaves+6 cloves garlic: to be ground to a paste.
Enough yogurt to make atta(dough), which should be softer than that for rotis.
Oil for frying (read roasting) the theplas.

According to my MIL the sequence of addition of ingredients is very important.
Take the wheat flour. Add the sesame seeds, salt, turmeric, hing and the chopped methi. Mix well. Next add the oil and the masala paste. Mix well, till the flour looks uniform. Then add the yogurt little by little until the dough becomes soft. It should be softer than the dough for chapatis.

Next heat up the tawa, and start rolling the theplas. For really soft theplas, they should be rolled as thin as the dough will allow. Place the rolled thepla on the tawa. Once it gets a couple of brown spots, turn it immediately.

Let it roast for a couple of mins, then oil the side of the thepla that's facing you. Flip it towards the tawa and back up again. Let the other side finish cooking, then flip the thepla for a final time. Once it's browned nicely, take it off the tawa. It's like making parathas, I just described the sequence for anyone who is new to cooking.

The finished theplas looked like this, and they tasted really good. They are still not melt-in-the-mouth like my MIL's, but they're good enough for now.

Again, they taste perfect with tea, chundo and gujarati sambhar (methio masalo).

The theplas have Flour(carbs), Methi(veggies) and Yogurt( protein). It is my second recipe for BB8.

CHAPTER 3: Friday night pan pizza for two:

My pizza craving is sometimes ridiculous. Last Friday, this craving happened to strike at the same time I was itching to bake. I found this recipe for a pizza base I could use.

I pretty much followed the recipe to a T, except that I kneaded by hand, and I had to add more water to get it right. Also I halved it to make one 12 inch pizza.


This sauce is a staple I use for pastas. It really doesn't have any logic or precedent, but it works very well.

2 medium tomatoes
4 cloves garlic
1 medium onion chopped
1-2 tbsp tomato kethcup
8-10 leaves of spinach
3 inch piece of paneer/ cottage cheese (it gives the same consistency to the sauce as ricotta cheese)
1 tbsp oil
salt to taste

Saute the onions in the oil. Blend the rest of the ingredients and add it to the sauteed onions. Allow to thicken.


Preheat the oven at 500F while assembling the pizza. (I used a cast iron skillet I have, as opposed to a pizza stone that I couldn't find anywhere. I heated the skillet in the oven too, while I assembled the pizza). Roll out the base, cover it with sauce, top it with vegetables of your choice. I used peppers, onions, tomatoes, olives. To half the pizza I added a cheese blend I had handy, to the other half I added grated paneer (cottage cheese). I slid the whole assembly from my baking sheet onto the cast iron skillet. The recommended thing to do is to use a pizza peel to assemble the pizza and transfer it. (BE VERY CAREFUL, THE SKILLET GETS HOT, AND I NEEDED AN EXTRA PAIR OF HANDS FOR THIS STEP).
I topped it with dry Italian seasoning and popped it into the oven.

Bake the pizza for approximately 10 mins at 500 F. I like a crisp crust, so I baked a little longer. The pizza was awesome, and surprisingly the paneer topping half got devoured before the cheesy half.

The pizza has all the major foodgroups, so as the final chapter of my trilogy, it goes to BB8.

And so on and so forth until next time.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Garlic Breadsticks

I don't have a bread maker, so I never really tried making bread at home. While browsing randomly through allrecipes one day, I came across this recipe of garlic bread sticks. It looked pretty easy, and one of the reviewers said that even though she didn't use a bread maker, the breadsticks turned out pretty good. So I gave it a shot, and surprisingly, they turned out really tasty. The only problem I had was the crumbly surface texture. But even though they looked all dehydrated, they were surprisingly soft. Well, I think I have the recipe all right, now I have to work on beautifying it a little. Maybe next time.

Like most new recipes I try, I used the exact proportion of ingredients listed, and made no changes except tweaking it to make it by hand. So I am just going to post the recipe link, and a step by step picture tutorial for the way I made it, by hand, rather than the bread maker.

1) Mix the water, sugar and yeast and let it stand for about 10 mins, until it has bubbles on it's surface.

2) Slowly sieve the flour in, I did it one cup at a time. Add all the remaining ingredients, except the butter(I didn't use it even in the end), and mix to make a smooth dough. Grease another bowl and transfer the dough. Cover with a moist cloth and keep it for about an hour.

3) After an hour, the dough has doubled.

4) Divide the dough into 20 portions, shape it into breadsticks, and keep in a bake safe tray. The breadsticks will look anorexically thin, but don't worry, they will fluff up. Leave for an hour, covered with a moist cloth.

5) The breadsticks have doubled in size. They're ready for baking. Bake the breadsticks in a preheated oven at 350F for 15-20 mins.

6) The breadsticks are ready to be eaten with soup, salad, dips, or just hot out of the oven with a smattering of butter.

Have fun baking... you just need the enthusiasm, not a really expensive bread maker!!!

Muhammara and Tabbouleh

As usual I have been taking very random pictures of whatever I cook, and not posting the recipes. So when the deadline for Nupur's BB6 came up, I decided to bring two dips to the pot luck. I got the recipes from a blog called Desert Candy, written by Mercedes. I found her blog one day while randomly looking for a Mediterranean food blog, and so far her recipes have turned out pretty good!!!

I have made the Muhammara about 3 times after finding her recipe, and it has always turned out finger-licking good (at least that's what my guests say!!!!). I never change the proportion of the ingredients, or the way she makes it, so I'm posting a link to her recipe along with pictures of the finished product.

Tabbouleh is another refreshing, light, salad-like dip?? that goes well with pita (or any other kind of bread). The mixture of greens, the tangy flavor of tomatoes, and the sourness of the lime makes it a very refreshing summer salad. It is really easy to make, except for the patience required to chop the different kinds of leaves. We had these dips with fresh homemade garlic breadsticks, and we loved every bit of our meal. Here's the link for the tabbouleh recipe along with the pictures!! Enjoy!!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Italian Style Pesto Sanwiches

Summer is here and the middle of the week farmer's market is the perfect way to restock my fridge for a couple of days before the weekend grocery shopping trip. Our town's farmer's market is on Thursday afternoon. Though not very big, it has sufficient fresh produce to make me giddy with excitement. One of the vendors sells breads and cheese. The breads look fresh and taste divine. Last week I got a semolina loaf which I polished off with butter and farm fresh Apricot spread. This week I bought an olive bread loaf, to make sandwiches. Along with the bread I bought a couple of small cucumbers, a box of grape tomatoes and a big bunch of basil. I made Italian style sub sandwiches with pesto as the chutney.

The inspiration for the sandwiches is from this recipe. I had a lot of basil, so I made a big batch of pesto and froze it in small single serve dabbas, using this recipe I got from One Hot Stove.

This recipe is inspired from another blog, so I'm sending it to Blog Bites 5: Sandwiches and Wraps

Italian Style Pesto Sandwiches

1 loaf of olive bread
12-15 grape tomatoes halved
1 cucumber peeled and sliced
1 potato peeled and sliced
1/2 sliced white onion
1/2 sliced bell pepper
2-3 tbsp pesto
Some cheese- I used the pepper jack cheese I had handy.

My stove had the entire evening off, I made everything in the oven.

Toss the cherry tomatoes, the onions and the bell peppers in a bowl with olive oil, oregano and thyme. Spread them out and bake them for 30 mins at 350 F or until slightly brown.

Next do the same for the potato and cucumber slices. The thinner the potato slices the better they will bake.

The Assembly

Halve the bread both horizontally and vertically. Add cheese to one side of each half as per taste. Bake it for about 5 mins till the cheese starts melting a little.
On the other half spread the pesto. Assemble the sandwich, adding veggies, salt and pepper.

Though I'd love to steal the credit, the star of the dinner was the bread. It was soft, delicious, and had a ton of olives. Here's to a summer full of fresh produce from the farmer's market.

And so on and so forth until next time.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Mixed vegetable parathas

So here I am with a new post. I have got into this dreadful habit of taking pictures of everything I cook, and not write about it for ages thereafter. I made these parathas about 10 days back. They're a recipe from my MIL. I'm not sure this a Gujarati recipe, but it is definitely healthy and delicious. They're easy to make and a favourite around our house. These parathas are very quick, the recipe does not require too much processing, boiling, chopping, precooking, just a lot of peeling and grating.
These parathas are my ticket out of guilt-land, when I'm too lazy to cook anything elaborate, because, as I said earlier, they're nutricious and delicious and take very little time to make.

Mixed Vegetable Parathas:

Two cups wheat flour.
1 grated carrot
1/2 grated beetroot(medium sized)
1 cup grated cabbage
1/2 grated pepper(capsicum, medium sized)
1 tsp ginger-green chili-coriander paste(optional)
A pinch of turmeric
Salt to taste

Add the turmeric powder to the dry atta and mix well. Add the grated vegetables, the ginger-coriander-green chili paste and salt to this, and mix slowly. The salt will cause the veggies to ooze water, so water is not required for this dough. Knead until the dough is firm. This time around, the veggies gave out more water than required, so I ended up having a very soft dough, and though rolling was a nightmare the parathas were very soft.

As soon as the dough is ready, start making the parathas, otherwise the vegetables will keep oozing water. Bake them like regular parathas, serve hot with chutney and raita.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Handva uttapams.

I'm a gujju ben through and through. Gujarati food is very healthy in terms of the variety of vegetables and pulses in the recipes. The flip side is the food sometimes has a lot of oil and spices. I've been married for two years, and while I cook regular gujju food, I'm always trying to substitute ingredients and cooking methods to make it healthy. My blood pressure tends to be a little on the higher side (marginally), so I try my hardest to cook with less oil and minimum salt.

Handvo is one of my hubby's favourite foods, as it is mine. The problem with traditional handvo is baking soda and a lot of oil. Baking soda by itself is high in sodium, and it absorbs a lot of oil. But handvo without baking soda would just turn out extremely hard and chewy. So I came up with a modified version of this recipe from Mitho Limdo, Instead of making handvo cakes, I made handva uttapams. Also, this time I took the easy option of ready handvo atta available at all grocery stores, because I was short on time, otherwise the proportions given in the Mitho Limdo recipe work well too.

My recipe:

For the handva batter:

1cup handvo atta (Available at all Indian grocery stores)
1 cup of sour yogurt
Mix the two thoroughly and let the batter ferment for at least 8-10 hours or overnight. In cold weather, preheat the oven at 250 F for 15-20 mins and then leave it for overnight fermentation. If you're doing this in the daytime, you can repeat this step every 2 hours.

For the handva uttapam

1 cup grated doodhi.( A variety of vegetables can be added like zucchini, corn, peas etc., my husband prefers only doodhi).

In my recipe, you can keep the doodhi water because the uttapam batter can use the water.

Sugar to taste

Salt to taste

1 tsp grated ginger
2-3 chilies and 1 tbsp coriander leaves, ground to a paste.

juice from 1 lime/lemon

Mix all these together into the batter and prepare for tempering (tadka)

For the tempering:

3 tbsp oil

hing or asafoetida

mustard seeds

Kadhi patta- 7-8 leaves chopped coarsely
Heat the oil, add a pinch of hing and mustard seeds. When they begin to splutter, add the kadhi patta and pour the tempering into the batter. Mix well.

Heat a dosa pan/tava. Add a ladle full of the batter and spray some cooking oil. Sprinkle some white sesame (til) seeds on the batter. Let one side get golden brown, then flip it and cook the other side. The cooking must be done on a low to medium flame, otherwise it won't cook on the inside.

Serve hot with green chutney.

Here is the finished product.

I have to work on my photography skills, it's my first post, I'm sure the pics will get better. Also need to work on the post layout.

I'm sending this recipe to Nupur's Blog Bites # 3.

And so on and so forth until next time.

My first post

This is my first time writing a blog of any kind. I dabble in writing from time to time, but I have never written anything on a blog before. As a matter of fact, I was not too aware of food blogs. It started with a phone call from one of my friends, D. D was very excited that she had found a recipe that recreated the Mumbai street pav bhaji very close. It was on a blog 'One Hot Stove'. Before that, I pretty much always looked up Sanjeev Kapoor or Tarla Dalal recipes online. after that, I started reading recipes from food blogs. The recipes came with stories that were fun to read and easy to relate to. It was very encouraging to see regular people making food that turned out very celebrity-chef-like.

I started following blog events on different blog sites. Last month I came across Blog Bites # 3 on Nupur's 'One Hot Stove'. I felt like participating, and one of the prerequisites was that I had to have a food blog. The prospect of writing a blog is daunting, and a food blog... I think I cook just about average. But I want to be a part of this world too, so these are my first baby steps into the world of food blogs.