Thursday, March 31, 2011

Guest Hosting - Breakfast Club #10 - The Theme is..

Breakfast Club is a wonderful event started by Helen of Fuss Free Flavours, which I am guest hosting for this month. I would like to thank Helen for giving me an opportunity to host this event and I am overjoyed. 

Breakfast Club: Because breakfast should be more interesting
than tea & toast or coffee & cereal.
I had always been a breakfast person and never skip it. It is the most important

Awards Time... again!!

More Awards... Yay!! 
Ammu Mohan from Rasi's Veg bites awarded me with Cute Little Chef Award.. Wow.. I am so happy and excited.
Valar of Valar's Kitchen passed me this award.

I was also given the One Lovely Blog Award from Mythreyi from Yum! Yum! Yum!, Reshmi of Easy Cook, Deepa Praveen from of Sketches, South Indian Home,

Egg Curry with Coconut Milk

I made this egg curry to pair with my Idiappam recipe (you can click on the link to view the recipe), but it almeans can be had with roti with steamed rice.
This is a best combination with the idiappam and that is how people in Kerala eat.
You can always combine it with potato in the curry, because potato will taste great when cooked with coconut curry and egg.

2 Egg (the number of eggs can be increased according to the people going to eat)
1 big Onion sliced
3-4 pods of Garlic sliced
1/2 inch Ginger sliced thin
2-3 Green Chilies slit
1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
1/4 cup Coriander powder
1 tsp Cumin powder
1 cup Coconut Milk powder
Salt to taste
1 tsp Oil
1/2 tsp Mustard seeds
1 sprig Curry leaves
Note: Can you potato (I didn't use it because I was running out of potatoes at home! :-))

1. In a pan boil eggs with salt and water just enough until the eggs are immersed in the water for about 15-20 mins. Peel and half it and keep it aside.
2. In a kadai or deep sauce pan, add oil, when it's hot add mustard seeds and when it's starts to sputter add curry leaves and ginger.
3. Saute the ginger until it turns light brown, now add garlic and saute it until it turns slight brown.
4. Add onions, salt and green chili, saute it until the onions turn translucent.
5. Now add the turmeric powder, coriander powder and cumin powder and add enough water and cook it until a boil then add the coconut milk, eggs and simmer it for about 3-4 mins.
6. Serve this coconut egg curry with Idiappam or steamed rice or roti.

Go Back To Idiappam Recipe.
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Egg Masala

Red Rice (Chemba) and Ragi Idiappam

Shoj likes idiappam a lot, we had it sometime back in his friends place for breakfast, from that day I was thinking about trying it. I looked into my kitchen storage closet and saw his Chemba puttu podi packet. It's a kind of red rice variety, which normally is a staple rice in Kerala. We can make puttu (steamed rice cake) out of this flour, another staple breakfast recipe of Kerala. The color and texture of it is similar to Ragi powder, so I thought of mixing both and make Idiappam.

1 cup Chemba puttu powder (or rice flour)
1 cup Ragi powder
1/4 cup Grated Coconut
1 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Cardamom powder
1 1/2 cup water

1. In a bowl add ragi powder, chemba powder, salt and cardamom powder and mix well.
2. In the meantime boil water.
3. Add half of the hot water and mix well with a spoon. Now add water little by little and keep mixing to form a dough like chapati dough.
4. Keep it aside for about 10 mins.

5. You can use either one of the idiappam makers as shown above. I used the one which is in the gun shape.

6. Take a bowl of cold water and dip your hands into it. Now take a big lemon size of the dough and make a cylindrical shape to insert into the idiappam maker. Close the lid.
7. Another idea is that you can make this idiappam in idli shapes or as I did.
8. To make idli shapes you have to use a idli cooker and idli plates.
9. But I used pressure cooker in which I filled with little water and place the Chinese steamer as shown above.
10. Place a wet kitchen tissue on top (Note: Kitchen towel is used so that the idiappam does not stick to the steamer plate which will make it easier to clean without any mess), sprinkle with coconut and gun the idiappma maker so that the idiappam falls and keep it going around the steamer.
11. After it's half filled add another layer of coconut and then again gun the idiappam.
12. Now close the cooker and steam it for about 15 mins.
13. Off the stove and let it stand for about 5 mins. Then open the cooker and remove the steamer with the idiappam holding the handle and you can just lift the idiappam to a serving plate or you can hold a plate on top of the steamer and flip it upside down and if will fall off easily to the plate with the paper towel. Now you can lift the paper powel and flip again so that the top of the idiappam is faced up.
13. Serve this warm with Egg Curry in Coconut Milk. (click on the link for the recipe) or sprinkle some sugar, kids will love this recipe.

Quick Banana Bread Pudding

I had this stale Italian bread sitting inside my fridge for about a week, so thought of using this up into a new, but interesting recipe. Saturday morning, nice and sunny outside....those beautiful sun rays sparkled an idea into my mind, of making bread pudding. This is how I used up both my bread and the banana.When I was ready to post this recipe to my blog, I just typed stale bread on to Google. I saw this interesting site telling about "10 smart ways to reuse stale bread". I am adding a link to that site, thought may be it will be useful to you all and for me too to refer later to make other things with a stale bread.

1 long Stale Italian Bread (you can use any stale bread which is bit dried without any moisture)
2 ripe bananas
2 +1 tbsp Brown sugar
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 Dried Cherries, Berries and Raisins
1 pinch Salt

1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. Cut the bread into bite size cubes and place it in a bowl.
3. In a small bowl add 1 pinch salt, 2 tbsp brown sugar and bananas and mash it. (It does not matter if there are chunks of banana)
4. Now mix both the banana and bread so that all the banana is well coated.
5. Now add the dried fruits and mix well and shift these ingredients to a baking dish or casserole.
6. Sprinkle 1 tbsp brown sugar on top.
7. Cover the baking dish with aluminium foil and bake it for about 30 mins.
8. Now remove the foil and bake it again for about 5-8 mins or until the top is crispy and brown.
9. Serve this warm as it is for breakfast or as a dessert with some whipped cream or ice cream of your choice.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Fenugreek Coriander Thokku

Fenugreek Coriander Thokku/Chutney is a rare and lovely combination of two of my favorite greens. This is again one of my grandma's recipes, and can't go wrong anytime. It is a great item to prepare when we have time and preserve for future use. It tastes great with hot steamed rice or a great side dish for chapathi or a tangy-savory spread for breads. Definitely won't let you down when you are

Fish Curry with Yogurt and Dijon Mustard

Today I am thinking of fish curry which is completely different. I didn't want to make the usual curry, but did want to try some different ingredients which are similar in taste, so I replaced coconut with yogurt and fenugreek powder with Dijon Mustard. Guess what, it tasted so good and game me a heads up for trying this new recipe. So thought of sharing it with you all, try and let me know how you liked it.

3 Cat Fish fillets cut into medium size peieces
1 Red Onion chopped
1 tomato chopped
1/2 tsp Ginger-Garlic paste
1 sprig Curry leaves
2 tbsp Yogurt
1 tbsp Dijon Mustard
1 tbsp Tomato paste
1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
1 tsp Paprika powder
1 tsp Chili powder
1 tbsp Coriander powder
1/4 tsp Cumin powder
1/4 tsp Black Pepper powder
1 tsp Tamarind paste
1/4 tsp Mustard seeds
Salt to taste
1 tsp Oil

1. In a deep bottom pan add oil, when it's hot add mustard seeds and when they start to sputter, add curry leaves and ginger-garlic paste. Saute it until it turns brown.
2. Add onions and saute it until it becomes translucent.
3. Add all the spice powders except yogurt, dijon and tomato paste until the raw smell of the masala is gone.
4. Now add yogurt, dijon mustard and tomato paste and mix well with the spices. Cook it for about a min.
5. Now add the tomatoes, mix well. Cover and cook for 2-3 mins.
6. Now add enough water, salt and tamarind paste, cover and bring it a boil.
7. Now add the fish and keep the lid half covered and cook it for about 15-20 mins on medium flame or until the fish is cooked.
8. Serve this with steamed rice or appam or dosa.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tap Into Your Spice Rack

Susan Pachikara (COPYRIGHT 2011)

I moved around in my twenties and spent the decade adapting to different kitchens. The high point was a galley way with sublimely stained wooden cupboards. More often, I occupied new construction where cabinet doors slouched on loosey-goosey hinges. My spice jars accompanied me into every new space offering a sense of order and a continuity linked my childhood. Like other Indian-Americans, spices form the cornerstone of my cooking. Over the years, I've also learned how they play a vital role in regulating my diet.

I'm a big fan of fat and sugar. (If they are combined in a cookie, even better.) But over time I've noticed how they stick to my bones. To cut back on these common flavor boosters, I have relied even more heavily on my spice rack. Spices contain minimal amounts of fat and makes my efforts to control calories incredibly tasty. Combine chickpeas with a pinch of coriander and cumin and I am perfectly happy to pass on the red meat. Saute a quartered pear with a quill of cinnamon and I forget about the milk chocolate hiding in a drawer.

Susan Pachikara (COPYRIGHT 2011)

Research shows that there are other dietary benefits to using spices. Apparently, the amount we eat is controlled by the brain's satiety center. The more aromatic a dish, the stronger the message the brain receives that we've had enough. Spices, which produce alluring tastes and smells, help to tell the brain when we're full. In addition, ginger, garlic, and fenugreek all lower the absorption of fat. Chili speeds up the rate at which fat gets burned. Spices also contain dietary antioxidants. A half teaspoon of cloves, for example, contains more antioxidants that a half cup of blueberries. Allspice, cinnamon, and saffron are also high in antioxidants.

The good news is that once you get hooked on spices, you won't get bored. Every culture incorporates them and the combinations used in India alone (at breakfast, lunch, and dinner) are endless.

Susan Pachikara (COPYRIGHT 2011)

Strawberry Apple Smoothie

Strawberry and banana is my favorite combination for a smoothie. I tried replacing apple for banana the other day and still loved it. This is not a rare combo. It is perfect for a healthy breakfast or for hunger pangs at 4 PM, which keeps you satisfied and going until dinner. 

Strawberries - 5 or 6, hulled 
Apple - 1/2 of a medium sized, peeled and chopped
Milk - 2/3 cup 

Apple Pickle

Making pickle with apple, may be sounds crazy but I am sure after tasting this I liked this pickle more than any other pickle and bet you that you too will feel the same.
I tasted this pickle in one of our friends place and loved this and wanted to try it, but didn't have the recipe. So came up with my own recipe, you know...knowing the ingredients which would go into a pickle you can easily make it. This pickle can be made instantly and served right away whenever you are planning to call guests with a full Indian menu. Though pickles are meant to be made with lots of oil, this recipe does not take much and guess what it's made with apple, so I can say that this is a pickle with a healthy touch.

1 large Granny Smith Apple/ any firm green apple cubed to small pieces
1 sprig Curry leaves
5 pods of garlic crushed
1/2 tsp Mustard seeds
1/4 tsp Asafoetida
1 Lemon - juice extracted
1 tbsp Chili powder
1/4 tsp Turmeric powder
1/4 tsp Fenugreek powder
Salt to taste
2 tsp Oil (mustard oil is best used for pickles)

1. In a kadai add oil, when it's hot add the mustard seeds and when it starts to sputter add curry leaves, asafoetida and garlic.
2. Saute the garlic for about a minute, simmer the flame to low and now add all the spice powders.
3. Now add the apple and salt and mix well so that all the masala is incorporated well.
4. Now off the flame and add lemon juice and mix well again.

5. Serve this pickle when it reaches room temperature with curd rice or with any combination of Indian food.

Healthy Foods Can Be Delicious

In this post I would like to emphasize more on healthy foods, which some people think it's not good for us or it's no not delicious.
I would like you all to view this video by clicking this link to see how this works: Here the doctor talks about Dark Chocolate and Wine - he says they are good for your heart, if if you don't believe check out this video.

OK, even now you don't believe, let me help you with some more information about these two wonderful foods.
First let me help you understanding WHAT and HOW of DARK CHOCOLATE.

(Click on this link of my post for Chocolate Chip Cookies for more information on Dark Chocolate)
As there are too many brands of dark chocolate sold in the market I would like to help you in selecting the best one. Below is the video the America's Test Kitchen, showing which one is the best.
So I guess now you will be looking for some dark chocolate out in the market. Now if you are worried about gaining weight because of eating chocolate, my answer would be an absolute NO... NO!, because eating dark chocolate will only help you loose weight and not gain. To prove that I would like to show you another video.
Finally I don't think you have any more doubts!. If you think you still have one, then please write to me or leave a comment and I will try my best to answer your question.

Now lets go to the SARDINIAN WINE facts:
Popular Red Wines of Sardinia
Sardinia's Wine
Sardinia’s most well-known wines are Vermentino, Monica and Cannonau, but a wide range of grapes is grown across the island, including familiar international varieties such as Cabernet, and some lesser-known local varietals.  Many of the grapes grown in Sardinia are of Spanish origin, from when the island was ruled by Aragòn, while others were introduced by the subsequent Piemontese regime.  Several may be more familiar in their Spanish or French forms, for example Cannonau (Garnacha/Grenache).   
The Italian geographic/quality classification system, ranging from DOGC through DOC and IGT to Vino di Tavolo, is used in Sardinia - although the areas these are applied to are large and the link between a wine's classification and its quality is not always immediately obvious. 
Vermentino dominates Sardinia's whites in terms of volume and fame, and is the main grape in Gallura.  Vermentino di Gallura is the island’s only DOCG-classified wine, the grape concentrated by heat and drying winds;  varieties range from light and fresh through to golden, deeper and more complex, and there is also a frizzante lightly-sparkling version.   
Grapes grown on the island include:
Chardonnay:  In very limited quantities.  Is sometimes blended with Vermentino for sparkling wine.
Clairette:  Probably of French origin, this grape is used in Tuscan and Sardinian white blends.
Malvasia: Thought to be of Greek origin, Malvasia is among the most cultivated grapes in Italy. It comes in many varieties.
Malvasia di Sardegna:  Sardinian sub-variety used in apricot-scented white wines.
Moscatello:  Also known as Muscatel, it is a large-berried variety of Moscato.
Moscato Bianco:  Italian name for the French Muscat Blanc à Petit Grain, the oldest known variety of Muscat, and is also known as Moscato Canelli.
Müller-Thurgau:  German cross of Riesling and Sylvaner.
Nasco:  Native white grown in the Alghero and Cagliari areas, can be aged.
Nuragus:  An ancient grape of Phoenician origin, it makes good acidic, light white wines.
Pinot Bianco:  The Italian version of the French Pinot Blanc, this grape has been planted in Italy since the early 1800s.
Pinot Grigio:  Known in French as Pinot Gris, this is an extremely productive grape with highly variable characteristics.
Sauvignon:  Planted in limited quantities in Sardinia.
Semidano:  Light white found in the Cagliari area.
Sòmillon:  Though not widely used, it makes interesting blends when mixed with Sauvignon.
Torbato:  Another wine brought by the Spanish;  makes fresh, young whites, plus a Frizzante, widely grown in the Alghero area by producers such as Sella & Mosca.
Trebbiano:  There is a wide variety of Trebbiano grapes grown in Italy.  In Sardinia it’s usually blended, for example into some of the Isola dei Nuraghi IGT whites.
VERMENTINO:  Vermentino is the main grape of the north, producing some outstanding white wines - it thrives in Sardinia, helped by its resistance to heat and drought which means it grows well in coastal areas such as the windy, rocky Galluran region, where it is scented with the herbs of the macchia.  Styles vary;  some is light with well-balanced acid, some tends towards Chardonnay colour and flavours.  In the Arzachena/Cannigione area, the two quality local producers are Capichera and Surrau - they are widely available locally.
Vernaccia di Oristano:  Unfashionable and overshadowed by Vermentino, there is a very limited amount of Vernaccia grown, usually by small traditional producers, although more interest has been generated since a Vernaccia from Cabras won the gold medal at Vinitaly 2009 (Karmis 2008 di Contini di Cabras). 
A number of rosés are produced, for example from Alghero DOC grapes, although rosé is not a main focus for the island’s producers.

Monica and Cannonau are the most well-known grape varieties, used to produce wines ranging from everyday to extremely high quality.  Some are fairly heavy and full-bodied, a good combination with the traditional fairly heavy Sardinian food.  Cannonau in particular is believed to be a contributory factor to the very long average lifespan in some of the mountain villages, and research into this phenomenon continues.   The red grapes grown on the island include:
Barbera Sarda:  A rare variety.
Bovale Grande:  Also known as the Nieddera, it's used mainly for blending.
Bovale:   A deep red variety, probably of Spanish origin from the Bobal grape but possibly related to Mouvèdre. Its main use is in blends.
Cabernet Franc:  French varietal used in occasional blends.
Cabernet Sauvignon:  Grown throughout Italy and making an appearance in some high-quality reds, such as the Super Tuscans, it’s grown by various producers in Sardinia and may be blended with a local grape (e.g. Cagnulari).
Cagnulari:  Local red variety, sometimes used in high-quality blends.
CANNONAU:  Spanish Garnacha or Grenache in French, this, produces earthy, red-berry flavoured wines and is grown throughout Sardinia – its DOC area extends across the entire island.
CARIGNANO:   Originally from Spain and France, it is used in Sardinia to make full-bodied, dark reds.  Carignano del Sulcis (Cariñena/Carignan) and its DOC area is confined to the south-west.   
Gamay:  Although grown widely throughout mainlaind Italy, it's very rarely found in Sardinia.
Girò:  Used to make some rare Port-like wines in the Cagliari area.
Malbec:  Sometimes appears in blends.
Merlot:  Widely planted throughout Italy, and also makes an appearance in Sardinia.
MONICA:  Widely planted across the island, it has red berry fruit flavours.
Nieddera:  Also known as Bovale, a dark red of Spanish origin. Made into rare varietal wines.  There is also a subvariety, Nieddera Mannu.
Pascale:  Very rare red grape grown in the Cagliari area.
Petite Verdot:  Blending variety of Bordeaux adds deep, dark colour and tannic structure.
Pinot Nero:  The Italian version of Pinot Noir is at its best in Piedmont and other northern regions;  Sardinia is not classic Pinot territory.
Sangiovese:  Famous base grape for wines such as Chianti Classico, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Brunello di Montalcino, Morellino di Scansano and Sangiovese di Romagna, this is also planted in Sardinia although tends to be blended, for example in Isola dei Nuraghi IGT, and makes an appearance in some rosé blends.
Syrah:  Heat-loving syrah/shiraz is being planted, particularly for use in blends.
Tannat:  A grape originally from south-west France where it is known as Madiran, this is a very tannic, dark variety used for blending.
Vermentino Nero:  Very rare red version of vermentino.  
If you’re on the island between early November and Christmas, you may see a few novello wines, the new red wines made from that season’s grapes.  Not all estates bottle a novello, as it’s not easy to produce.
To buy fine wines head to either a vineyard which sells to the public, or a specialist retailer.  But for a good selection of local wines supermarkets usually stock a range with prices between €2 and €40, and can sell some very good quality wines.  You'll see those same wines in most restaurants, making the markup completely transparent.

Museo del Vino
If you’re interested in wine, the Museo del Vino in Berchidda has some interesting information about the history of viticulture on the island, tracing its production through various ages and influences including the Phoenicians, Carthagians and Romans, with displays of historic winemaking equipment and a section dedicated to cork (sughero), still a major industry here on the island. 
The museum is housed in a purpose-built modern structure on the hillside above the town of Berchidda, and has stunning views out across the plains, vineyards and to the mountains beyond.  Tours can be arranged, including guided tastings of a range of wines.  The museum is open throughout the year - for opening times and details see
For those who'd like to find out about the wines of Gallura in more detail, the big regional co-operative Cantina Gallura has 160+ members in the area and its website has information on each major wine, its production plus brief tasting notes, in Italian and English.  It includes information on the area's Frizzante, Spumante and Novello wines, as well as the mainstream whites and reds.

Mirto  Made from the myrtle berries which ripen in winter, this is usually a dark red, sweet liqueur, although white mirto can also be found.  Good-quality mirto is fragrant and has hints of the herbs of the macchia where the myrtle bushes grow.  Poor quality mirto is sugary, coloured alcohol (often heavily chilled to disguise that).
Limoncello is also made on the island.  Again, good quality limoncello is worth finding;  fragrant and full of intense lemoniness.


Grown all over Italy, this unusual red is suspected to be a mutation of Moscato or Muscat. It is used to make sweet and perfumed reds in Tuscany, Lazio and Apulia among other regions.

Same as the French Garnacha or Grenache
Barbera Sarda:
A rare variety grown in Sardinia.
Bovale Grande:
Also known as the Nieddera, it is used mainly for blending purposes.
A deep red variety probably of Spanish origin but considered by some related to the Mouvèdre from France. Its primary use is in blending varieties.
Cabernet Franc:
French varietal widely grown in all regions, but especially in Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Produces very characteristic reds.
Cabernet Sauvignon:
Originally from France, this grape is widely grown all over Italy and has become the base for some of the most appreciated and expensive Italian red wines. Similar to other original French grapes such as Merlot and Cabernet Franc, it was widely planted throughout Italy after phylloxera wiped out most of northern Italy's vineyards at the end of the nineteenth century.
Cannonau or Cannonao:
Italian name for the French Garnacha or Grenache, produces earthy, red-berry flavored reds.
Originally from Spain and France, it is used in Sardinia to make full-bodied, dark reds.
Grown widely throughout Italy, it is vinified as Colli del Trasimeno DOC varietal in Umbria.
Of Spanish origin as many other Sardinian grapes, it is used to make some rare Port-like wines in the Cagliari area.
Also known as Malbec, it is a tannic, dark red Bordeaux variety used to beef up blends.
This highly productive and adaptable variety of Bordeaux was introduced in Italy probably at the end of the nineteenth century. Today, it is the third most planted red grape in Italy.
Widely planted in the Campidano area, it is a lightly-colored, lightly-flavored red grape of Spanish origin.
Also known as Bovale, a dark red of Spanish origin. Made into rare varietal wines.
Nieddera Mannu:
Subvariety of Nieddera
Very rare red grape grown in the Cagliari area.
Petite Verdot:
This prized blending variety of Bordeaux is well appreciated for its deep, dark color and tannic structure.
Pinot Nero:
The Italian version of Pinot Noir is at its best in Piedmont, Oltrepò Pavese, and Alto Adige wines.
Considered Italy's most noble red grape, it is the base for many prize-winning wines including Chianti Classico, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Brunello di Montalcino, Morellino di Scansano and, last but not least, the increasingly known Sangiovese di Romagna. It is considered a native wild vine (vitis silvestris in Latin) that was first domesticated by the Etruscans in the Tuscan - Emilian Appennines. It has a characteristic black cherry aroma with scents of wood smoke, tar and wild herbs.
Also known as Shiraz. Thought to be of Persian origin, this is a very popular grape in Australia as well as in the Rhone Valley. Given the resistance of this grape to intense heat, it is gaining popularity throughout Italy and especially in Sicily, the Tuscan Maremma, Latium, and other areas where the summer heat can be intense. It is used in both blends and varietal bottlings.
A grape originally from south-west France where it is known as Madiran, this is a very tannic, dark variety used for blending.
Vermentino Nero:
Very rare red version of vermentino.

Note: You can drink a glass of wine everyday which is perfectly fine, but do remember these words "TOO MUCH IS TOO BAD". :-)