Monday, November 30, 2009

Winterizing Your Plumbing and Home to Prevent Water Damage

Even in areas like Maryland, Delaware and Southeastern Pennsylvania that have relatively mild winters, sudden snow or ice storms can do major damage to your property if you’re not prepared. Your plumbing system is especially vulnerable to sudden freezes and cold snaps. Fortunately, a little pre-season preparation can save you a lot of plumbing headaches later in the winter. Here are some fast and easy tips that you can do now to prevent potentially thousands of dollars worth of water damage later.

First thing you should do is identify all areas in and around your home that are most likely to freeze. This includes parts of your home's plumbing system that are located in an unheated crawl space, a basement or an exterior wall with little insulation. Also check outside pipes and hoses. Look for any signs of leaks or damage. If you see any, fix them now. are the most likely to freeze.

If you have had problems with frozen pipes that have frozen in the past or think a pipe is vulnerable to freezing, insulate them. The easiest and cheapest way to prevent a frozen pipe is to use foam insulation tubes on pipes exposed to cold climates. These insulation tubes are inexpensive and easy to install; just measure your pipes to get the correct size. You can also use heat tape to prevent freezing in pipes that have already been insulated. Heat tape is attached to the pipe and gives off a slight heat when plugged in. It is easy to install and can be found in most hardware stores.

To prevent pipes from freezing never turn off the heat in your home. Broken water pipes can cause thousands of dollars in repairs and water damage clean-up and keeping your heat on, even at a low setting, will keep pipes warm enough to prevent freezing and bursting.

During the winter season, try not to let your plumbing lines be idle for too long; instead, periodically run water through each of your major fixtures. You can also leave a sink faucet on a fast drip to keep water flowing through your pipes, as moving water doesn’t have a chance to pool and freeze. Even a little water flow can significantly warm up pipes or melt/loosen any ice that may be starting to accumulate.

Be sure to drain and shut off any unused supply or drain lines, pipes, toilets, water heaters and fixtures, especially if they will be exposed to cold temperatures.

Drain and shut off water from outdoor hoses, sprinkler systems, and swimming pools. Remove and drain any external hoses; Store them inside the house or garage, when possible, to protect them from the cold.

Besides your plumbing, here are some other potential water damage threats you should also prepare for over the winter:

One of the most important considerations before the first snowflake ever hits the ground is to make sure your home’s roof is in good shape. If you notice any water spots or leaks inside your house have a professional come inspect the structure for problem areas. Even small leaks or gaps can mean big trouble during a major storm or when winter snow starts to melt. Make necessary repairs before cold weather sets in to prevent costly damage.

It’s also important to keep snow and ice off your roof. Your best bet is to hire someone to do this for you, as it can be very dangerous work. You might even consider installing a roof heater system that will melt snow and ice on your roof, preventing it from accumulating. There are also chemicals available at many hardward stores that you can toss onto a snowy or icy roof that can stimulate melting.

Ice dams are a major concern for many homeowners. Ice dams form when attic spaces are insufficiently insulated, making them warm in the winter; this warmth melts snow on your roof. The snow melts and refreezes over and over again, piling on layers of ice until a dam is formed. These can become so heavy that they can rip gutters, soffits and trim away from the side of your house. Make sure your attic is properly insulated—it should be cold in the winter and warm in the summer. Proper attic insulation will also increase your home’s energy efficiency and can save you money on utility bills.

Clean your gutters thoroughly before the first snowfall of the season. Get rid of leaves and debris that can clog gutters and storm drains, which increase the chances of an ice dam forming on your roof.

If you are physically able to do your own snow removal, consider purchasing a snow blower. While expensive, they will make short work of clearing driveways and sidewalks. If you can’t buy a snow removal machine, invest in an ergonomic snow shovel to ease strain on your back and arms. If physical limitations prevent you from shoveling, think about hiring a contractor to plow your driveway or asking a neighbor to clear your sidewalks. Regular snow removal will prevent damage to your driveway and walkways, and will make your home safer for your family and guests.

Related Articles from Horizon Services:

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Parrupu Podi - Mixed Lentil Powder/Daal Powder

Me and My Son are going to india, for one month, yipee!!!!!  My much awaited vacation!!! But poor hubby, though he can manage well in the kitchen, i m doing my best to make his work easier.

Paruppu podi/Mixed Lentil powder comes handy in these times.

Tuvar daal/pigeon pea - 1 cup
Kadalai paruppu/Gram dal/Chana dal - 3/4 cup
Black Pepper/Milagu - 3 tbsp
Round Red Chillie - 15-20 nos.
Dry Ginger Powder - 1.5 tbsp
Curry Leaves - one tight fist
Hing - 1 tsp
Salt to taste

Dry Roast Tuvar dal, Gram Dal , curry leaves and Red Chillies separately. Grind the roasted ingredients and the rest together to a fine powder. Store in a Air Tight Container.

Tastes Great with Hot Rice and Ghee.

Pineapple Orange Juice

IMG_0181 copy

Pineapple & Orange both are good source of  Vitamin C. Pineapple is enriched with vitamins, Minerals, Fibers help in maintaining ideal weight and balanced Nutrition.This is one of my favorite combination.Instead of sugar i used honey because sugar will destroy the vitamins in juice.


Pineapple pieces -1 cup
Honey   2-3 tsp
Water - 2 cups
Ice cubes- 4-5  

Preparation Method:

1. Blend all together in a blender to a smooth mixture.
2. Strain the juice.
3. Serve the juice chilled.

IMG_0180 copy

I am sending this Sanghi  Fall In Love(FIL)- Fruits


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Ashoka Halwa /Moong Dal Halwa

 I was watching a travel show in a Malayalam channel. The hostess takes the viewers through a culinary journey. In one episode, the recipe was Ashoka halwa and the cooking episode is shot at a normal house and cooked by the lady of that house. That aunty mentioned it was famous in Thiruvaiyar/Tanjore area. And its also called as Thiruvaiyar Halwa similar to the halwa of Tirunelveli. Ashoka halwa is made using moong dal and its lot simpler to make. Watching the episode, I was tempted to make it immediately and made a mental note of the ingredients and measurements. I have made it long time back and the recipe was missing in my book. The aunty who made it was mostly eyeballing the measurements. Considering her age, she must be quite experienced in making it and she doesn't need cups and spoons as we swear by. The hostess tried to get across the measurements partially in weight and cups.

This is how I went about doing it.

Moon dal - 1/2 cup

Sugar - 1 1/2 cups

Maida - 1/4 cup

Wheat flour -1/4 cup

Ghee- 1/2 cup

Caradamom powder - 1 tspn

Red food color - a pinch

Cashew nuts - 10 nos

Dry roast the moong dal till light brown. I usually roast the dal before storing them. Wash and pressure cook in 1 1/2 cups of water for 2 whistles. Mash the cooked dal well. There will not be excess water in the cooked dal.

Heat a kadai with a tablespoon of ghee. Roast cashewnuts to golden brown. Drain them and roast both maida and wheat flour separately for few minutes. Keep them aside. In the same kadai, mix cooked and mashed dal and sugar. Heat the mixture. When it starts bubbling, slowly stir in both the flours and a pinch of red color. Add ghee at intervals. When the whole mixture comes together and starts leaving the sides, remove from fire. Add roasted cashewnuts and cardamom and give a good stir. 
This halwa is not very sweet and with comparitively less amount of ghee used, its not dripping with ghee kind.

This Tanjore special is joining the WYF: Speciality food  hosted by EC

Small Home Improvements Can Produce Big Energy Savings

Green initiatives for new home construction or renovations are great for the environment, but aren’t always financially feasible for many Americans. Thankfully, there are tons of inexpensive solutions to help reduce your energy dependence, increase your home’s energy efficiency, and save yourself some money along the way. Here are some extremely quick and easy things that you can do RIGHT NOW to start saving energy and money.
  • Start from the Outside In: Inspect your home for drafts or air leaks around windows and doors. While replacing or adding insulation is always a good idea, a more cost effective quick fix is to weather-strip or caulk around windows and doors. Weather-stripping costs around $10 for almost two dozen feet.
  • Dial Down, Dial Up: Turning down your thermostat just a few degrees in the winter not only uses less energy, but can also save 1-3% on your utility bill. If your home has air conditioning, the reverse is true for summer months. That’s a potential annual savings of nearly 10%!
  • Snuggle Up: There are people who actually prefer to sleep in cold rooms, but for the rest of us it’s worth it to invest in some heavy blankets or a down comforter (you can find a decent queen size one for around $100) and lower the temperature in your home at night.
  • Let the Sun Shine In: Open curtains on south-facing windows to create passive solar heat in winter and use natural light instead of lamps whenever possible.
  • Let the Sun Shine Out: Close blinds and drapes in the summer to keep out the sun’s powerful rays and reduce the load on your home’s air conditioner.
  • Be a Fan of Fans: Ceiling, box or desktop fans, used instead of central air or a room AC, can provide relief from the heat without breaking the bank. You can get a good fan for about $5 at most hardware or discount stores.
  • Go Acoustic and Unplug: Few people realize that even when not turned on or in use, many devices continue to draw power as long as they’re connected to an electrical outlet. Unplug anything that’s not being used—toaster, coffee maker, cell phone chargers—and use power strips or a surge protector for things like computers and home theater equipment.
  • Give Old Bulbs the Boot: Switching to energy efficient compact florescent bulbs—you know, those weird looking spiral things—can help you save money and reduce energy consumption. The average florescent bulb lasts longer than a traditional, doesn’t get as hot, and burns exactly the same as a standard bulb. A single compact bulb can save about $35 over its lifetime; changing every bulb in your house could save you thousands. Plus, they just look a lot cooler.
  • Get Out of Hot Water: Running your water heater can eat up more than 20% of your total utility bill, but for every 10 degrees you turn down the heat you can save 3-5%. 130 degrees is optimal for cost and energy efficiency—hot enough to clean and kill bacteria, but cool enough to prevent scalding.

More Energy Efficiency Information from Horizon Services:

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Professional Kitchen Design for DIY Homeowners

I was just cruising the Web and stopped by Susan Serra's blog, The Kitchen Designer to see what she was up to...

The post I link to is about the questions our clients don't ask that can get everyone into trouble when it comes to executing our designs (Where the rubber meets the road). Like every post on Susan's site, the concept was well presented and discussed, with a number of comments.

One reader, Victoria, asks in Comments: "Are there kitchen designers that can work with DIY homeowners?"

I'm going to answer Victoria here. Hopefully she will find my post.

During past "good times" many kitchen design pros might have brushed off a DIY project if they worked for a full-service (installing) kitchen design showroom. However, nowadays I think even the fanciest showrooms would be happy to get the work.

There has never been any reason to assume that a non-installing kitchen design showroom's designers would treat DIYers any differently than any other client.

Everybody else would be happy for the work too. These are difficult times for the kitchen and bath industry; and every job, no matter how small, gets our complete and undivided attention.;-P


Besan Ka Chilla from TT for T & T

Planning breakfast is a big deal for me. Bread, cornfalkes or other cereals doesn't qualify for breakfast at home. It has to be the Dosa, idli kind. Hope you got the idea. I am not the kind who has the dosa/idly batter stocked up in the fridge at any time. I grind for idli/dosa only once in 10 days. I get bored of dosa and idly very soon. When there is no batter for any kind of dosa (appam/set dosa etc), instant breakfast comes handy. On one such day, I didn't have many of the ingredients needed to whip up an instant breakfast like rava,semiya, rice flour etc. I remembered about the Besan Ka Chilla at Tongue Ticklers. All you need is besan flour and some spices to flavor it up. No fermentation required.

Harini has soaked bengal gram dal and made a batter of it. As I said, I was looking for an instant option, I used the bengal gram flour.

You need

Bengal gram flour/besan - 2 cups

Red chilli powder - 1/2 tspn

Grated ginger, coconut and finely chopped onions - a tblspn of each

Salt to taste

Water to prepare the batter


Mix all the dry ingredients together and add water. Whisk well to get a lump free batter. The consistency should be similar to the usual dosa.

Heat a skillet. When moderately hot, take a ladle of the batter and spread it like dosa. Don't make it too thin. Slightly thicker dosa gives a nice texture to it. Flip and cook the other side too. Serve with chutney or molagapodi. I served with onion chutney.

For onion chutney

Onions - 2 medium sized

Red chilly - 2 nos

Chana dal - 1 tblspn

Grated coconut - 2 tblspn

Tamarind - a small bit


Oil- 1 tblspn

Roast chana dal and red chilly in a tablespoon of oil. Remove and saute the onion in the remaining oil. When cool, grind all the ingredients together. Add water to get the desired consistency.

The measurements for the chutney are indicative. Little more or less will not do any harm. I always eyeball the measurements and in turn the chutney tastes different each time. You can even add few sprigs of curry leaves or coriander or mint too.

Check Harini's has kids friendly version  of the chilla here.
This is off to T&T hosted by Raaga, an event started by Zlamushka, where the spot light is on Tongue Ticklers this month.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Chilled Durian Cheesecake

It's a big day of my other half and it's always a headache of thinking what type of birthday cake for him is the best as you might have the same feeling like me hope to give the best to our life partner, right?! Since he likes durian a lot and I still have a box of frozen durian, why not make a durian cake or durian cheesecake for him. Thinking along the way, if you did follow my blog you'll know that I've just made a durian cake and durian cheesecake not long ago. So, it's not a good idea to do the same for him which is nothing special anymore.

Time is limited, I don't really have much time to think somemore as his birthday is just around the corner. Ended up, I make durian cheesecake again, but with a Non-Baked version sandwich with plain spongy cake. I followed a sponge cake recipe from a video clip and luckily it turn out really good. If you did try my chocolate spongy cake before, you will know this lady. Again, I'm very satisfy with her recipe.
For the cheese filling, I'm very particular with chilled cheesecake, as too much gelatin will cause the cake like jelly type. I'm really looking for a soft, light and melt in-the-mouth texture but not jelly cake. So, really have to be cautious about the portion of gelatin added in.
I was quite nervous when he was taking the first bite of this durian cheesecake, guess what? It's so obviously show the satisfaction from his face. I couldn't believe it and I quickly tried the first bite too and it's really something I was looking for. It's soft, light and super tasty for us and couldn't feel the gelatin texture. As I added less gelatin in the batter, the cake couldn't stay at room temperature for too long but it set and stand nicely in the fridge. I'm really glad that the cheesecake turn out very well. When he is happy, I'm happy too!

Ingredients for the plain sponge cake:
(Please follow the video clip)
140g plain flour
4 eggs
30g milk
180g sugar
4g salt
30g oil

Ingredients for durian cream cheese filling:
350g cream cheese
60g caster sugar
250g durian flesh
350 whipping cream
1 tablespoon gelatin
3 tablespoon water

For the filling, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Stir in durian flesh until well combine. Now, get ready for others ingredients. Melt gelatin powder with water over simmering water until the gelatin dissolve. Whip the cream until thicken but not over whipped. Stir in 4 teaspoon of gelatin into cheese mixture until well combine then fold in the whipped cream. Keep the remaining gelatin for the toppings. Place a slice of sponge cake into 8 inches lose bottom baking tray. Spread in half of the durian cheese mixture. Place another layer of sponge cake on top. Spread half of the remaining cheese mixture on top and chilled in the fridge. Mix together the remaining gelatin and cheese mixture and put into a piping bag. Place in the fridge for about 30 minutes until it slightly set (the time depends on how cool the fridge is, so watch it and try to squeeze out a little to test whether it could form any pattern). Pipe out any pattern you like onto the cake and chilled in the fridge for over night. Enjoy!

Aminatou Haidar

The story of Aminatou Haidar just recently come to our attention. We hope you will take a moment and see what is happening with her right now. This message came from Sairica Rose who we are working with on our upcoming series about girls around the world.

Aminatou Haidar is a peaceful non-violent activist known as the Saharawi people's Gandhi. She is a former political prisoner, human rights defender and recipient of the 2009 Civil Courage Prize, for championing non-violent resistance and the 2008 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award.

Today, November 24th, 2009 marks Aminatou’s 10th day on hunger strike, confined to Lanzarote Airport in Spain’s Canary Islands after Morocco forcefully expelled her from her home in the Western Sahara Occupied Territories on November 14th.

She is in a wheelchair and doctors fear for her health as she suffers a stomach ulcer. Aminatou will not abandon her demonstration until the Moroccan and Spanish Governments allow her to return to her home in El Aaiun, the capital of the Saharawi Territories.

The Western Sahara was the last Spanish colony, under Franco. It was abandoned by Spain in 1975, as the dictator lay dying and simultaneously invaded by Morocco, violating United Nations resolutions and international law.

From that day to this, The Saharawi people have been waiting for a referendum on self-determination. They’ve been waiting for 24 years.

Aminatou has tirelessly, peacefully demonstrated for the return of this land to her people via referendum and the creation of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic.

Since 1975, the Saharawi people have lived with terror, torture and kidnappings in the occupied territories. In the 2000’s, secret prisons and torture houses and mass graves were discovered in the occupied territories, including El Aaiun. Hundreds more Saharawis have simply “disappeared.”

When Morocco invaded, Algeria allowed the Saharawis that fled into Tindouf. The Refugee Camp that stands there now is home to 150,000 refugees, separated from their family members by The Moroccan Wall.

This monstrous 2700km structure is the world’s longest wall after the Great Wall of China. It is heavily guarded by Moroccan troops and mines and has divided the Saharawi population for over 30 years. They live in two separate territories, in equally horrific conditions, united by their cause.

So how come we’ve never heard about all this?

Because nobody talks about it.

The Moroccan government is “sensitive” about letting journalists in; The UN has had a “ceasefire”, in effect (ineffectively) since 1991. Not surprisingly there’s been a strategic reluctance from France or Spain to ruffle Morocco’s feathers.

All Amanitou wants to do is go home and continue passively demonstrating for what she believes in. Please help her, and help us to help her by raising awareness and persuading the Spanish and Moroccan governments to let her go home to her family, her people and her cause.

“I am very grateful to all the kindness and affection signs. I am receiving calls and messages from all over the world. I believe firmly that the Saharawi peaceful struggle is a fair cause and, as Gandhi did. I have absolute faith in non-violence for a better world and for a real peace.”
–Aminatou Haidar November 22nd, 2009.

Mild Tomato Pulao

Toss basmathi rice with spices, onions, tomatoes and roasted cashews for an aromatic and delicious pulao! This recipe is similar to my Tomato and peas bath except that I have skipped 2-3 ingredients which makes  a big difference in the taste.

  1. Basmati Rice-1 cup
  2. Oil-3 tbsp
  3. Ghee-1 tbsp
  4. Cashews-12
  5. Shahi Jeera-1 tsp
  6. Cloves-4
  7. Cinnamon-2 inch stick
  8. Star anise-2
  9. Ginger-Garlic paste-1 tbsp
  10. Green chillies-2 slit into half(I have used red chillies here)
  11. Onion sliced-1 cup
  12. Salt
  13. Chilli powder-1/4 tsp
  14. Tomatoes chopped-1 (large)
  15. Coriander leaves-to garnish

Soak rice for 15 minutes in water. Drain, cook it with 11/2 or 13/4 cups(depends on the rice) of water. Set aside.
Heat oil and ghee in a wide pan. Add ingredients 4 to 8. Saute for 10 seconds. Then add ginger garlic paste, chillies, onions and fry till they turn golden brown. Sprinkle some salt. Add chilli powder and tomato.
Fry till it turns soft. It is optional to add 1 tsp of finely chopped mint leaves and fry for a couple of minutes.
Gently mix cooked rice with the veggies. Add salt.
Garnish with coriander leaves.
Serve with raitha/plain curd/chips.

Oh I found fresh, beautiful red chillies at Farmers market and used them to garnish(just for the sake of making the picture look more colorful).

Another option is to fry the spices, onions and tomatoes till they turn soft and then cook this mixture and rice together in rice cooker till done. 

Whacky Vegan Chocolate Cake - Madhuram's Eggless Cooking

Thursday is my Baking Day. I jus love thursday, Weekends, will be waiting to bake something new.
Thanks to Madhuram's Eggless Cooking Blog, I too Bake Good.

This Weekend i tried this Whacky Choco Cake,Came out good. Followed Madhuji's recipe line by line. The only change i made was the sugar instead of 3/4 cup i made it 1/2 cup and added some walnuts thats it.

For Frosting i used Foster Clarks WonderWhip Powder. Plzzzz, bear with my Frosting, after all i m a Beginner. :)

Click here for the Whacky Vegan Chocolate Cake Recipe
I m posting just the pics.

Monday, November 23, 2009

White Burghol+Puran Payasam/Sweet - Microwave Version

Had Some Leftover Puran in my fridge. Didnt want to waste it. Tried something by mixing it with White Burghol.  Came out Good.
This is how i made it.

White burghol - 3 tbsp
ghee - 2 tsp
Puran - 1 cup
Milk - 1 cup

Roasted Cashewnuts for Garnishing

Take burghol and ghee in a Microwave safe Deep Bowl and Cook @ high for 2 minutes, Stir in between. Add 3 tbsp of milk and cook @ high for 3 minutes, stir in between. Add puran and 3 tbsp of milk and cook @ high for 2 minutes.  Take out and Mix well, add the remaining milk and cook @ high for 2 minutes, Add cashewnuts and cook @ high for a minute.

Thats it, Enjoy. Tasted like Akkaravadisal. I will say it is healthy in a way, It has White Burghol and Puran has Jaggery , Chana dal and only 2 tsp of ghee, sure it is healthy. :)

Coconut Rice and Award Time

Coconut Rice:

IMG_0155 copy

My Grandma will prepare all mixed rices(Kalavai sadam) during Kaanum Pongal(4th day of Pongal festival).But  i like to Eat only this rice in my childhood.Flavorful & Tasty one.I can remember in my college days my friend Hema will bring coconut rice along with Cauliflower kurma.We finish that full box with in a minute.It will goes well with pickle,pappad or Thuvaiyal.You can prepare this rice with Minimum ingredients available in ur kitchen. This is very good choice for lunch box. You can prepare this with in a minute if u have Shredded Coconut in hand.I added ginger,it will help for digestion.If u don't like u can avoid this.


Cooked rice - 1 cup
Shredded coconut- 1/2 cup

For seasoning:

Channa dal- 1/2 tsp
Urad dal -1/2 tsp
Mustard-1/2 tsp
Groundnuts- 5 tsp
Green chilli-4
Ginger-1/2 tsp (finely chopped )
Curry leaves
Cashews - 3 tsp (optional)
Salt- To taste

Preparation method:

1. Heat the pan with 2 tsp of oil,add all seasoning ingredients.
2. Saute till it turns golden brown.
3. Now add required salt & mix well.
4. Add cooked rice,mix slowly.
5. Serve along with pappad or ur choice of any gravy.
IMG_0151 copy

I am sending this Recipe to EFM - Variety rice series  conducted by  SriLekha

I am really Happy to share this news with my Blogger friends. Indian Cooking Blogs selected my blog for
Blog of the week   section. I am so happy.Thanks a lot those who Nominated my blog for this section.

Award Time:

Rohini    share this Awards with me.Thanks a lot Rohini.





Anncoo from Anncoo's Hobby   Pass this award to me.Thank you so much Anncoo.

Appreciation Awards

I  like pass to this award with some of my blogger friends


Sangeetha subhash 

Friends please collect ur Awards

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Honey Gooseberries- Indian gooseberries soaked in sugar-honey syrup

Gooseberries/Nellikkai/Amla are rich source of Vitamin C. The gooseberry from an integral part of various traditional home remedies and is an essential ingreident in most of the Ayurveda medicines. The gooseberry fruit contains as much as 20 times of vitamin C as that in an orange. Iron in the food is best absorbed when taken in combination of food containing Vitamin C. In that scenario, honey and gooseberries form a perfect pair.  I first saw gooseberries soaked in honey at Wayanad.   At first, I did not know that it was soaked in honey. When I saw similar jars at different tourist spots, I asked the cab driver and he enlightened me on that. I jusst bought two pieces to taste it. I loved it. From then on, I wanted to try it at home. But did not search for a recipe though. It was in the back of mind.  Later I found it in Meenakshi Ammal's Samaithupar Part II.

When I was preparing the post I googled to find the benefits of Goosberry to include as part of  the post. I found a recipe for honey berries. I felt it more healthy with out the addition of sugar and think these are the kind I had at Wayanad.

The gooseberry can be preserved using honey, and thus used throughout the year. Take required number of gooseberries and clean them in running water. Pierce the gooseberries using a sharp stainless steel edge at various spots. Now immerse these pierced gooseberries in a jar full of pure honey. Cover the mouth of the jar using fine white cloth and place the jar in sunlight for an hour for 15 days. 

A tablespoon each of fresh gooseberry juice and honey mixed together forms a very effective medicine for several ailments. Its regular use will promote vigor in the body within a few days. When fresh fruit is not available, dry powder can be mixed with honey.

For more info on gooseberries and how it can be used as home remedies, check here.

While writing the post, I am reminded of a popular Malayalam saying -
"Moothavar chollum muthunellikkayum Aadhyam Kayakkum, Pinne Mathurikkum "
(മൂത്തവര്‍ ചൊല്ലും മുതുനെല്ലിക്കയും ആദ്യം കയക്കും പിന്നെ മധുരിക്കും).
It translates as "Both elders's advice and goosebrries will taste bitter at first but will turn to be sweet later ". Have you tried drinking water after a bite of gooseberry. If not, try it. Then you will understand the meaning of the above.

Now on to  the recipe I followed.

You need

Gooseberries - 1 heaped cup

Sugar 3/4 cup

Water - 1/4 cup

Honey - 2 tblspn

Cardamom - apinch


Wash and dry the berries. Prick with a skewer/toothpick at few places on each berry.  Prepare sugar syrup. When the syrup is sticky, i.e. prior to one thread consistency, add the berries and turn well. The moisture released from the berries will make the syrup thin. Continue cooking till the syrup attains the one thread consistency. Add honey and cardamom powder. Cook for 2 minutes and remove from fire. Cool and store in dry glass jar.

Since the berries are also cooked, it gets soaked faster. You can eat the berries the next day itself. But as it ages, it gets more soft and tastes better with soaking. You drizzle the syrup on poories, rotis or bread too. The syrup tastes delicious with the juice of the gooseberries blended in.

Peanut-Sesame Powder/Verkadalai-Ellu Podi

I m an ardent fan of Aval Vikatan. Not only for the Good Articles, also for the Recipe Supplementary they give. :)
Peanut-Sesame powder/Verkadalai ellu podi recipe i took it from the supplementary issue. If you areTired of the normal paruppu podi and dosai milagai podi, try this, it taste good.

Verkadalai/Peanut/Groundnut - 1 cup (Skinless)
White Sesame Seeds - 1/4 cup
Kadalai paruppu/Gram Dal/chana Dal - 2 tsp
Red Chillies - 6-8nos.(if you want it less spicy, make it 3-4)
Salt to taste
Curry leaves - one tight fist
hing/asafoetida - a pinch

Dry roast Peanuts, chana dal and red chillies, curry leaves. Let it cool. Grind to them fine powder. The original recipe doesnt include chana dal, but i added a lil for that kara kara coarse taste.

Tastes Divine with Hot Rice and Appalams.
For Making Mixed Rice with this
Heat oil in a kadai, Splutter mustard seeds, add curry leaves, Add chana dal, add one green chillie. Pour this seasoning over rice and add peanut-sesame powder and mix well. Add salt if required.  Enjoy with Appalams or Chips

Puran Poli

Puran Poli can be easily associated with Maharashtra and is its most popular dish. It is made mostly during holi when the bonfire is lit.

I got this Recipe  from my Lil sister. She cooks good Maharastrian Food, Settled in bombay for the past 3 years, she has literally become a Maharastrian Woman. She talks Good Marathi too. I m here in Dubai for the past 5 years, i would have learned only 3 or 4 words in arabic, whereas she talks good marathi, like a marathi. Her Tamil, now-a-days is Marathish. Way 2 go girl!!!!

Now comes the recipe

For Poli
Wheat flour -  1 cup
All Purpose Flour/Maida - 1/2 cup
ghee - 2 tbsp
Salt to taste
Water - for making the dough.

Mix all the above ingredients, knead well and make a soft dough.

For Poli
Chana Dal/Gram Dal/Kadalai Parupu -  1 cup
Jaggery/Vellam - 3/4 cup
Ghee - 3 to 4 tbsp
Cardamom -  a pinch

Soak Chana Dal overnight, and pressure cook it until soft. Mash it well. Heat a Kadai Add Jaggery and Mashed Chana Dal, Mix well. Cook it on a low flame, Add Ghee little by little, When the Puran Starts leaving the sides and comes together(thirandu varum, i m not able to find a word for this), Add cardamom and take it off the flame.

Now Divide the dough to 10 Balls. Roll each ball in to a small disc, take a small ball of Puran(2 -3 tbsp), keep it in the center and close it using the sides of the dough and now roll slowly lightly to make a small disc.

Cook both sides using ghee on a hot tava.

Tasted Great. Since it has got wheat and maida, was very light on the tummy too.

If you save the excess water after boiling the chana dal.  To this,  add a clove of crushed garlic, 1 or  2 tsp of red chilli powder,  1 or 2 tbsp of mashed chana dal, and  Salt to taste. Season it with mustard seeds and curry leaves and Cook it until the rawness of the chilli powder goes. This Katachi Amti makes a great combo for puran poli.

Packing this Poli to RCI - Mumbai Event Hosted by Lakshmi Venkatesh of Kitchen Chronicles, Event Started by Lakshmi Krishnan of Veggie Cuisine

Friday, November 20, 2009

Mediterranean Goodness


Serves 6 to 8


1 medium spaghetti squash
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes, drained
1/4 cup sliced Kalamata olives
1/2 cup feta cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  

Cut spaghetti squash lengthwise and remove seeds.  Place cut sides face down on cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil.  Bake 30 minutes.

Heat oil in a large skillet on medium heat.  Add onion and garlic.  Saute until onion becomes tender. Stir in tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.   Add olives.   

Use a fork to remove the pulp from the squash.  Mix into sauteed vegetables. Garnish with feta.  

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mung Dal Dosa and Coriander Peanut Chutney

I just loved the texture of  Mung dosa- thick, spongy and soft! Imagine the taste when it is slathered with coriander peanut garlic chutney! Both make a perfect pair.

I found this recipe from a cookbook.
Mung Dal Dosa
Serves 3
Soak these in water for 2 hours:
Mung dal(yellow)-1/2 cup
Boiled rice or Sona masoori rice-1 cup
Fenugreek seeds-1 tsp

Other Ingredients:
Hing-1/4 tsp
Red chilli-1
Curry leaves
Green chilli chopped-1
Chopped ginger-1 tsp
Sour Yogurt-1/3 cup

After soaking the dal and rice, rinse and grind along with red chilli, salt and hing with some water to a coarse paste. The batter should be of dosa batter consistency-neither too thick nor too thin.
Add rest of the ingredients and mix well.
Heat a flat griddle. Spread some oil. When the griddle is hot, pour a ladle full of batter and spread it  in circular fashion. Drizzle oil around the corners. When one side turns golden brown, flip and cook the other side.

Coriander peanut chutney
Coriander leaves-a handful
Roasted unsalted peanuts-2 tbsp
Coconut-3 tbsp
Garlic(optional)-2 cloves
Red chillies-2
Tamarind-tiny piece

Grind all the ingredients to a smooth paste adding some water.