Mushroom Masala

Mushroom - 1 pound or 1/2 kg
Large onion - 1
Tomato - 1 1/2
Ginger garlic paste  - 1 tspn
Curry powder - 1/4 tspn
Chilli powder - 1/2 tspn
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tspn
Hand full of almond or cashew ground to paste.

Chop the mushrooms, onion & tomatoes. In a kadai heat some oil & add ginger garlic paste. Saute the onions & tomatoes along with 1/2 a teaspoon of salt till the tomatoes gets mushy. Add all the powders & saute till the oil separates. Now, add the mushrooms & saute it for some more time. Mushroom usually gives out lot of water so cook it with lid open until 3/4 of the water evaporates. When 3/4th of the water is evaporated, add the ground paste & mix it in the masala. Leave the stove on, till the masala gets dry. Garnish it with fresh coriander leaves & serve hot.

Ginger garlic paste(preservative free)

Ginger and Garlic is an essential ingredient in Indian cooking. I normally purchase them in a nearby Produce where they usually sell it in bulk (2-3 pounds). It would go stale if we didn't use them up within a month. So I came up with the idea of freezing it by converting it into a paste to make it last longer & fresher. The main advantage of this over store bought bottled ginger-garlic paste is the lack of preservatives on this one.The frozen paste as I mentioned lasts longer & also retains the freshness. I have been using this method for over a year & have not run into any issues so far. You may also freeze them directly without making them into a paste. This way you can take them out & grate them onto your dishes directly whenever you like. However, to me, paste seems to be a more convenient approach than direct freezing. Below is the method for paste making & freezing.

1. Peel the skin from ginger or garlic whichever paste you are planning to make.
2. Grind the peeled ginger or garlic into a fine paste.
3.  Fill about 1/4th size of a freezer bag. Over filling will make the job tougher to break the ginger paste when needed. Garlic is usually pliable,so it doesn't matter even if you make the garlic sheet a little thicker.Ginger paste gets harder like ice when frozen. Simply add the paste 1/4 or less than the bag size.
4. Take out the air & seal the bag. Spread the paste into an even, thin layer  of sheet & freeze the paste by laying it flat in the freezer.
5. Whenever you need the paste, just break the quantity you need for cooking & put the remaining in the freezer.

Idli Milagai Podi

Podi refers to dry powder in Tamil. Idli podi is usually eaten with Idli or Dosai (Please look out for my Idli recipe in the coming weeks). Idli podi is more like an instant mix & is an excellent alternative when full blown sides like Samabars cannot be prepared. Idli podi is also packed with proteins since it is made from different type of pulses. Just mix the Podi with sesame oil & voila! you are ready to eat with your delicious Idlis or Dosas. Here goes the recipe...

Channa Dhal - 1/4 cup
Urad Dhal - 1/4 cup
Toor Dhal - 1/2 cup
Red chillies - 3/4 cup
Curry leaves - 1/4 cup
Salt - 1 tspn
Sesame seeds- 4 tspn (optional)
Asafoteida - 2 piece or 1 tspn

Dry roast all the ingredients separately. When it cools down grind them into a coarse powder. It is not necessary to roast the salt. Instead of roasting, I tried to oven roast them. It was an experiment to save time. It came out well.The method for oven roasting is as follows..

 Spread the dhal in 3 different cookie sheets & put it in the oven at 300 degrees for 7-13 minutes till the dhal turns light brown. Make sure it's not over browned. Since different dhal roasts at different time, open the oven time to time and take out whichever turns light brown first. For red chillies, curry leaves and sesame seeds you can roast them in a pan. It doesn't take much time. If you prefer roasting them in oven, set the oven at 200 degrees and follow the same procedure as for dhal. So within 30 minutes all the ingredients will be ready to grind without spending much time near the stove. It will be roasted while doing something else. Another advantage of oven roasting the chillies is, it doesn't give out as much fumes as doing the other way. This podi will  last for 2-3 months. If you are planning to keep it for long time, opt out the sesame seeds. It goes rancid in few months when roasted and ground to powder.

Ragi Rolls

This blog post is in response to Madhuram's JFI for Ragi event. This event was a big wake up call for me since I have not done anything new with ragi for a looooong time. The last dish that I tried with ragi if my memory serves right was ragi dosa. However, I did not want to repeat that same dish for this event. Therefore, as always, I consulted with my assistant (my husband ;-)) and came out with this idea of preparing Ragi Rolls more on the same lines of other veggie wraps. Sounds yummy, isn't it? This dish can be served as an appetizer or as a main course. Here goes the recipe...Enjoy!


For Wrap

  • Wheat flour - 2 cups
  • Ragi flour - 1 cup
  • Garam masala - a pinch
  • Chilli powder - 1/4 tspn
  • Methi leaves - 1/4 tspn
  • Salt - to taste

For filling

  • Julienne cut carrot - 2
  • Julienne cut cabbage - 2 leaves
  • Julienne cut onion - 1
  • Crushed black pepper - 1/4 tspn

For Sauce (Tomato Chutney)

  • Diced medium Onion - 1
  • Tomato - 1
  • Red chillies - 2
  • Tamarind paste - 1/4 tspn
  • Jaggery - 1/4 tspn
  • Sesame oil - 5 tspn
  • Asafoetida (aka Hing, Perungayam), curry leaves, mustard and urad dal for seasoning
  • Salt to taste


Sauce - Tomato Chutney

  1. Saute onion, tomato and red chillies with sesame oil until onions become soft. Let it cool for few minutes.
  2. Grind the above mix to a fine paste.
  3. Heat oil in a pan and add the seasoning mix & let it splutter.
  4. Mix the ground paste along with tamarind, jaggery and salt & continue heating for few more minutes.


  1. Heat some oil in a pan and add the veggies given for filling.
  2. Saute them for 5 minutes with the pan open
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste.Veggie should be crunchy & not over cooked.


  1. Mix all the ingredients given for wrap and make a dough with a consistency similar to Chapati dough.
  2. Roll the dough into thin wraps using a rolling pin.
  3. Place the rolled dough in a pan & heat them on either side for couple of minutes similar to chapatis.

Ragi Rolls

  1. Spread the sauce (Tomato Chutney) on to the wrap.
  2. Add a thin layer of the filling on top of the sauce.
  3. Roll the wrap as tightly as possible.
You may serve the roll as is or you may cut them into smaller pieces (similar to sushi rolls) & insert a tooth pick for easy serving.

Pictures of my decorated cake

Following are the pictures of some of the cakes that I made over time.
I will post the decoration & cake making recipes later. Enjoy the pictures for now...





Curry masala powder

  • 1/4 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom seeds
  • 1 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cloves
  • 1/2 Star Anises
  • 1/4 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1/4 inch cinnamon stick  
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder or cayenne powder
  • 1/4 tablespoon curry leaf powder  
  • 1/2 teaspoons turmeric powder
  • 1/4 mace (Jathipatri in Tamil & Jawitri in Hindi)
  • 1/2 tspn Kalpaasi


Dry roast all the ingredients except for the powders & grind them together. Mix the powdered ingredients with the ground mix when it cools down & store in an air tight container. Homemade curry powder is more stronger in flavor & fresher than store bought masala. A little masala goes a long way. Use 1/4 tspn of homemade curry powder to masalas along with chilli powder to enhance the flavor.

Pav Bhaji



Pressure cook all the veggies except peas with little water. Heat some oil or butter in a pan & saute ginger garlic paste, chopped onions & tomatoes until they become soft. Add the pav bhaji masala , salt & peas to the mix. Saute them all until the oil separates. Mash the cooked veggies & add it to the sauteed mix. Adjust salt & spices to your taste. Let it simmer for sometime. Garnish with chopped onion, coriander leaves, some butter & a piece of lemon. Serve it with Pav (bread) toasted with butter. You can make your own fresh homemade Pav(Bread) by following the recipe in this link.

Pav bhaji masala powder

  • 50 grams red chili
  • 50 grams coriander seeds
  • 25 grams cumin seeds
  • 25 grams black pepper
  • 25 grams cinnamon
  • 25 grams clove
  • 4-5 black cardamom
  • 25 grams dry mango powder
  • 10 grams fennel seeds
  • 1 tbsp. turmeric powder

Roast all the ingredients separately. When cooled, grind them. Sift them and mix dry mango powder & turmeric powder and fill them in an air tight container.

Pav for Pav Bhaji

All purpose flour or Maida - 7 cups
Dry yeast - 7 grams or 1 package
Warm water - 3 1/2 cups
Sugar - 2 tspn
Salt - 1 3/4 tspn
Butter - 7 tspn
Milk - 3 tspn

Dissolve the dry yeast in warm water along with sugar & leave it in a warm place for 10 minutes. The water should be lukewarm & not too hot. Hot water will kill the yeast. Sugar is needed to make the yeast active. After 10 minutes the yeast mixture will look frothy.

Now add the salt & flour. Mix them together & knead them well for 10 minutes. Kneading helps the gluten to form. Gluten is a protein which gives the dough its elasticity & it helps to hold the air while baking. The dough may be sticky, but don't bother about it. The extra moisture helps to get softer bread.  Finally mix the melted butter & finish the kneading.

Transfer the dough to a bowl & cover it with a lid. Let it sit for an hour or till the dough doubles in size. After the dough doubles in size take it out & punch it down to release the air. Spread some butter in a cookie sheet & dust it with some flour. Make the dough into equal sized balls. The dough may be too sticky to make a ball. Take a glob of dough & roll it over some dry flour as you do for chappathi. Do not knead it with the flour. Arrange the balls in the cookie sheet such as the sides of the balls touches each other.

Cover it with a wet towel or plastic sheet & leave for another hour. After an hour the balls will be doubled in size. Now brush some milk over the balls. Preheat the oven to 375 degree & bake the bread for about 20 to 30 minutes. After 20 minutes take it out from oven & insert a tooth pick into it. If  the dough sticks to the toothpick, put it back in the oven for some more time. If the toothpick comes out clean then the bread is ready to take out of the oven.

Enjoy the bread with subji or the vegetables. Bhaji recipe is available here.

Chettinad Eggplant Masala

1. Eggplant - 2 pounds
2. Onion - 1 nos
3. Tomato - 1 nos
4. Coconut - 4.tspn
5. Fennel seeds - 1/2 tspn
6. Red chillies - 4 nos
7. Garlic - 2 nos
8. Roasted split gram dhal - 1 tspn
9. Black pepper - 1/4 tspn

Grind the ingredients from number 4 to number 9 above into a fine paste and set aside. Dice the eggplant, onion & tomato into cubes. Heat some oil in a pan & season it with 1/2 inch cinnamon stick & some curry leaves. Add the onions & tomatoes & saute it till the tomatoes get mushy.You can add some salt to fasten the process. Add the eggplants & saute it for 5 more minutes. Mix in the ground paste along with some turmeric powder.

Cover the pan with a lid & cook till the eggplants are 3/4th cooked. Open the lid & let all the water in the masala dry out. Remaining one fourth cooking will be done in this process. Turn off the stove & garnish it with coriander leaves.

          You can add diced potatoes along with eggplant. Since the vegetables cook time varies add the potatoes first & let it cook for some time, then goes the eggplant & the ground paste. This dish goes well with any type of rice.

Pepper chicken

Chicken - 1 pound or 1/2 kg
Big red onion  - 1 diced
Tomato - 1 diced
Green chilli - 2 finely chopped
Ginger garlic paste - 2 tspn
Ground black pepper - 2.tspn
Curry leaves

Heat 2-3 tspn of oil in a pan. Since chicken will give out lots of oil, you don't need to add a lot. Add curry leaves, ginger garlic paste, green chilli & diced red onion in the same order. Saute till the onions turn translucent. Now add the chopped tomatoes along with some salt & turmeric powder. When the tomato turns mushy add the cleaned chicken. Saute it till the raw smell goes off. Add pepper powder & cook it till all the water in the chicken evaporates & the chicken gets fully cooked. Adjust salt & pepper according to your taste. You don't need to pressure cook the chicken.

Conversion chart

Disclaimer: The following conversion chart is not my contribution. I got it from some other web site/blog & made some modifications to only include the frequently used ones. If you know the actual web or blog address for the source, please let me know & I will mention it here.

Cooking and Baking Abbreviations

teaspoon = tsp or t or tspn.
Tablespoon = Tbl. or Tbls. or T. or Tbsp. or tbspn.
Ounce = oz.
cup = c. or C.
gram = g or gm
kilogram = kg
milliliters = ml
liter = l

U.S. Equivalent
Baking Weights and Measures

Dash = 2-3 drops or less than 1/8 teaspoon
3 teaspoons = 1 Tablespoon
4 Tablespoons = 1/4 cup
5 1/3 Tablespoons = 1/3 cup (5 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon = 1/3 cup)
8 Tablespoons = 1/2 cup
10 2/3 Tablespoons = 2/3 cup
12 Tablespoons = 3/4 cup
16 Tablespoons = 1 cup
2 cups = 1 pint
4 cups = 1 quart
32 ounces = 1 quart
4 quarts= 1 gallon
16 oz. = 1 pound
32 oz. = 1 quart
1 oz. liquid = 2 Tablespoons
8 oz. liquid = 1 cup

Metric Equivalent Measures

3 teaspoons = 15 ml
4 tablespoons = 60 ml
5-1/3 tablespoons = 79 ml
8 tablespoons = 118 ml
16 tablespoons = 237 ml
1 fluid ounce = 30 ml
8 fluid ounces = 237 ml
16 fluid ounces = 473 ml
32 fluid ounces = 946 ml

1 cup butter or margarine = 237 g = 1/2 pound
1 cup eggs = 237 ml = 4-5 whole eggs or 8 egg whites or 12 egg yolks
1 cup all-purpose flour = 114 g

Metric Dry and Liquid Measures

.035 ounces = 1 gram
1 ounce = 28.35 grams
1 pound = 453.59 grams or .45 kilograms
2.21 pounds = 1 kilogram

1 teaspoon = 4.9 ml
1 tablespoon = 14.8 ml
1/2 cup = 118.3 ml
1 cup = 237 ml
1.06 quarts = 1000 ml or 1 liter

Common Cooking and Baking
Food Equivalents

1 pound = 3 medium= 1-1/3 cups mashed

Lemon Juice:

1 medium lemon = 2-3 Tablespoons juice
5-8 medium lemons = 1 cup

Orange Juice:

1 medium orange = 2-3 Tablespoons juice
3-4 medium oranges = 1 cup juice


1 pound = 3 cups,loosely packed

Eggs, Cheese, and Dairy


1 egg = 4 Tablespoons liquid
4-5 whole eggs = 1 cup
7-9 whites = 1 cup
12-14 yolks = 1 cup

6 eggs to a quart of milk = Perfect baked custard

Egg Whites:

8-10 large egg whites = 1 cup
12-14 large egg yolks = 1 cup

Cream, Heavy or whipping:
1 cup = 2 cups whipped cream


1 pound brown sugar = 2-1/2 cups
1 pound cube sugar = 96-160 cubes
1 pound granulated sugar = 2 cups
1 pound powdered sugar = 3-1/2 cups

Vegetable shortening, Margarine, or Butter:

1 stick = 1/2 cup
1 pound = 2 cups

Sugar cookie

All purpose flour - 2 cups
Powdered sugar - 1 1/4 cups
Baking powder -1/4 tspn
Crisco shortening - 1 stick or cup
Salt - a pinch
Desired essence - little bit

Mix together all the ingredients except the shortening. Microwave the shortening to warmth and make a dough with the mixed ingredients by adding the shortening little by little. The dough should hold everything together. It doesn't have to be soggy. Discard the excess shortening. Roll the dough to 1 inch thickness and make shapes with cookie cutter. Arrange the cookies 1 inch apart in a cookie sheet. Preheat the oven at 325 degrees and bake for 6-7 minutes.  Insert a toothpick and see if it comes out clean. If the dough  doesn't stick to the toothpick,  its the right time to take the cookies from the oven.Cookies might be soft when taken out of the oven. When it cools off it will get hard. Store it in an airtight container.