Roz Ka Khana

A blog about everyday food. Mostly Indian. All vegetarian.

Ginger and palm sugar punch (Panakam), Spiced Buttermilk (Neer Mor) and Lentil green mango salad (Kosumalli)


This is a bit late for posting a Rama Navami recipe but as with all festival recipes, I record them here for posterity. I’m sure this will come handy in the years to come to me or to another reader so it’s better late than never. As always with all the festival recipes here, these are Amma’s recipes.

Panakam, Neer Mor are not just Rama Navami recipes by the way. While legend goes that this was served during Sita and Rama’s (Hindu mythological God and Goddess for the uninitiated) wedding and during Rama’s birth, the tradition seems to have stuck as these are the post celebration drinks served to this day during most traditional South Indian Hindu weddings and birthdays.

The best part – they are probably some of the easiest festival recipes to make. And they are all raw which means no stove top needed and no messy clean ups so as you can guess this is my favorite festival recipe as well:) (Not counting the tadka/seasoning to the buttermilk of course where there is some stove top heating involved, but that step can be skipped if you’d like it to be completely raw. I recommend adding the seasoning as that adds the real traditional South Indian taste)

The panakam can easily pass off as a summer cooler punch the next time you have a summer lunch  get together. Its sweet but the ginger and lemon give it the apple lemon tea kind of zing and tart taste, perfect for a hot day.

And the neer mor (moar) or light buttermilk spiced with ginger and curry leaves is the perfect coolant for a hot summer outing in the sun. “Buttermilk cools the system” as my Appa (dad) says- this is still his go to drink when he returns home from his trips to the vegetable market. And according to him the secret to his “zen”:)

Recipe for Panakam:

  • 1/2 cup palm sugar or jaggery
  • 1 tsp dry ginger pd
  • 2 cardamom crushed (you may add the skin as well for flavor but we used only the crushed seeds)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice (optional)
Method: Powder the jaggery in a bowl, add about 1 1/2 to 2 cups of water. You can add or reduce the water depending on how sweet you like the punch. Strain the water to remove any sediments from the jaggery mixture.
Add dry ginger pd, and cardamom pd .Mix well. Add lemon juice. Serve cold or at room temperature.
Recipe for Neer Mor :
  • Yogurt -1/2 cup.
  • Water 1 1/2 cups 
  • Asafoetida -1/4 tsp
  • 1-green chili crushed,
  • few curry leaves
  • salt to taste
  • seasoning -1 tsp mustard seeds , 1/2 chopped green chilli.
Beat the yogurt in a bowl and mix with water. Mix the asafoetida & salt with little water separately. Add this to the beaten yoghurt. Crush the curry leaves and add.
For seasoning the buttermilk, heat 1/2 tsp oil in a small kadhai or heavy bottomed vessel, When the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds. Wait till it splutters then add the crushed green chili (optional). Pour this onto the buttermilk. Mix well.
Recipe for Kosumalli or Kosambri (Raw moong dal, green mango salad)
  • 1/2 cup Indian yellow moong dal (skinned and split green gram)
  • 2 green chillies
  • 3 tbsp grated coconut
  • 1/2 raw mango grated
  • /1/2 cucumber cut in to very small pieces
  • salt to taste
For seasoning – 1/2 tsp mustard; 1 green chili crushed (optional)1 tsp oil, asfoetida – a pinch, a handful chopped cilantro
Wash & soak the moong dal for about 1/2 hr till it gets a bit soft. Drain the water, add salt, add the chopped cucumber and grated mango and coconut.
For seasoning, heat the oil, add mustard seeds. When they splutter add the crushed green chili, asafoetida. Add this to the moong dal salad. Garnish with cilantro. You may also add 1 tsp of lemon juice if needed.

Fresh, Raw Summer Rolls with Chili-Peanut dipping sauce


This was actually a Pinterest recipe that caught my eye at first but then I promptly forgot about it after adding it to my many recipe boards. Question for all your social media consuming foodie geeks – how do you keep track and organize the many recipes and food tips you pin, tag, instagram, stumbleUpon, Read it Later, save on Pocket, Evernote and whatever else you use to file recipes these days? I just glanced through my pins and bookmarks and I have enough recipes to menu plan for an entire year, without repeating any of them! But they are in dire need of organization and focus –  which one of those 10 spelt flour choc chip cookie recipes was THE one that got me ” the best-est cookie ever” badge from my foodie son? (Yeah I know I do manage to try some strange recipes:). I’m still not sure after trying out 4 other recipes and am not close to the original one:(

So send in your tips and suggestions. Of course the easiest method would be to record the best one here, so here goes…

I chanced upon this recipe again at this awesome blog called The Simple Veganista and the presentation and simplicity of this was enough to pull me in. I tried it for dinner last night and was impressed by how simple and yet how flavorful it was. This one is a keeper.  The recipe is modified slightly here as I used the ingredients I had (skipped tofu and added sprouts and kale) but it’s quite a forgiving recipe and I’m sure will taste good with whatever veggies you use.

Fresh, raw, healthy and very simple. Those should be good enough for anyone to try them I’m sure. The dipping sauce takes about 5 minutes to whip up. Have these summer rolls with a bowl of hot soup or any cold gazpacho and you have a balanced and healthy meal.


  • 5 rice papers (I used circular sheets)
  • 3 medium carrots, cut into match sticks
  • 1/2 cucumber, cut into match sticks
  • 1/2 bell pepper green, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • kale, pea shoots
  • radishes, thinly sliced
  • mung sprouts
  • mint leaves, a handful
  • basil leaves, a handful


  • 1. Dip the rice paper in a flat bowl of warm water (the water should be warm,not boiling but not lukewarm either). Soak untilyou feel the paper soften and begin to get translucent and a bit sticky.
  • 2. Layer the veggies -I added kale first, then pea shoots, carrots, bell peppers, cucumbers,sprouts and then mint or basil.
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  • 3. Roll the paper tightly around the veggies and continue to roll until you get a tube of tightly rolled veggies in rice paper.
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  • 4. Cut them in half and serve with dipping sauces of your choice.
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Peanut chili dipping sauce: (this is exactly as on the blog except that I added additional red chili flakes.You can also add fresh thai red chili if needed)

This makes 2 servings.
  • 3 heaping tbsps peanut or almond butter (I mixed 2 tbsp of peanut and 1 tbsp of almond butter)
  • 1 tbsp tamari, Bragg’s liquid aminos or soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp warm water
  • 1 – 2 tbsp rice vinegar, optional
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1-2 tsp red pepper flakes, optional

Mix all the above with a small whisk or fork until it blends together. You can make this ahead of time and store in the refrigerator.

Snappy Salads – Baby Spinach, Red Onion, Orange and Feta Salad with a Sweet Citrus Dressing.


This is a quick post for a snappy salad that I packed for lunch this morning. This week is fridge clean out week after days of entertaining and multiple grocery visits. Let me also add that it’s also a “clean eating” week for much the same reasons:). That is quite a challenge when you have pints of ice cream, chocolates and wine as party leftovers in the fridge but I did want to try.

This week’s resolve was to pack my lunch as often as I could and this salad was the easiest I could mix up with the clean-er items in my fridge and pantry. Some farmer’s market marmalade, rice vinegar and olive oil and I had a sweet citrus dressing. Truly snappy.


3 cups of baby spinach

1 cup chopped romaine lettuce

2 small mandarin oranges

1/2 cup pecans chopped

2 tbsp feta crumbled

1 small red onion sliced


1 tbsp orange marmalade

1 tsp rice vinegar (or red wine vinegar)

1 tbsp olive oil

You may also add some orange juice if you don’t have marmalade handy. As I said I was cleaning out my fridge:)

Salt and pepper to taste.

Mix all the above with a fork or small beater. Makes enough for 1/4 cup, enough for one salad.


Mix all the ingredients for the salad. If you’re packing it for lunch, keep the onions and the feta in separate containers and only mix them before you are ready to eat. Add the dressing, toss and enjoy!


Andhra Vegetarian Pulao

This is a much awaited recipe contribution from Radhika, a fabulous cook and a very dear friend. I did promise to post some choice recipes collected during my recent visits back home – Dallas home that is – um yes I realize how the term “home” is absolutely where the heart is.

In any case Radhika invited us all over for lunch one weekend afternoon during my visit. I had nagged her for this special recipe so many times that she decided to do a live demo of the making of this Godavari style (a district in coastal Andhra Pradesh also known for its culinary dishes) vegetarian pulao even if it was well after all the guests had arrived. (I was running late and of course had to see the demo.) Which was actually a great idea or so I would like to think – this aromatic pulao was tantalizing enough for the guests – enough testament for the rest of the scrumptious meal she had cooked. So they/we all waited in anticipation and watched her cook and it was well worth it. Very flavorful and aromatic – you could almost call this a “quick biryani”. And notice that I refrained from calling this a vegetable pulao -this dish is better off without vegetables and just uses onions,garlic and spices. In any case thank you Rads for the recipe and for your patience (with me):)

After I got back to Singapore I needed to try the dish out myself before I could qualify posting it here. And though it was a tad  spicier than Radhika’s, the result was equally aromatic and full of flavor.

Here is the step by step recipe with pictures. I couldn’t get a very good picture of the finished dish on both occasions – it was gone before I could click it in the right light and circumstances but you get the idea:)

Ingredients: (for about 10-12 people)

  • 4 1/2 cups rice
  • 9 cups water
  • Garlic – 5-6 peeled and crushed
  • Garlic ginger paste – 1 ½ tsp (add more ginger here than garlic to make a paste)
  • Shahjeera (caraway seeds)– 1 tbsp
  • Bay leaf – 1
  • Cloves – 1 tbsp
  • Cardamom – 1/2 tbsp
  • Cinnamon sticks -2-3
  • Star anise- 2-3
  • Green chilies – 5
  • Red chilies- 2
  • Curry leaves – one sprig
  • Jeera (cumin seeds) – 1 tsp
  • Mustard seeds – 1 tsp


  • Dhania jeera powder – Take 11/2 tsp dhania (coriander seeds) and 1 tsp jeera , roast and dry grind to a powder
  • Red onion chopped roughly into chunks – 1 big or 2 small


  • Cashews- 1/4 cup
  • Oil – 2 tbsp
  • Ghee – 1 tsp


  • Heat oil in a pan, add the ghee. Now add mustard, jeera, red chilies, curry leaves, green chilies.


  • Once the mustard seeds crackle, add the crushed garlic.
  • Fry the above well, then add whole masalas (cloves, cinnamon,bayleaf, star anise and shahjeera).
  • Add onion chunks, saute well then add the garlic ginger paste, saute again for about 3-5 minutes. Add cashews.


  • Cover with a lid and cook for a few minutes, till you get an aroma and onions are lightly fried,not very golden brown.
  • Add 1- 1 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  • Add 2 tsp dhania jeera powder
  • Now add 1 to 11/2 tsp garam masala (see note below for home made garam masala) .Let the masalas fry well in the oil
  •  Cover with lid and simmer till well fried.


  • Add washed and soaked basmati rice to this.You don’t have to soak the rice though I usually do for about a half hour.
  • Mix the rice well with the spice mixture till it is well coated with the spices/masalas.


  • Fry on a  medium flame till the rice is coated with the oil and spices and feels a bit “fried”, about 5 minutes of sauteing. Make sure you keep stirring the pot so the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom and burn.


  • Add salt to taste. You may need to taste for salt again after you add water.
  •  While the rice is being sauteed, boil about 8-9 cups of water separately in a saucepan or in a water kettle. (You will need approx 9 cups of water for 4 1/2 cups of rice so 1:2 ratio of rice to water)


  • Add the hot water to the rice and spice mixture.
  • Now taste again for salt and bring the rice and water mixture to a boil. At this step don’t put a lid on the vessel.
  • After it boils for a few minutes, cover the vessel and cook the mixture on a medium flame. Keep checking in every 3-4 minutes and stir the mixture.


  • You may also transfer to a rice cooker at this stage. I actually preferred to cook it in a vessel over a stove as I felt the aroma and spice was better distributed. If you are cooking over a stove, here is another tip to ensure the rice doesn’t get burnt. Keep a water bath or a flatter vessel with some water and then keep the vessel with the pulao inside the flat vessel. This double boiler technique helps in cooking the rice evenly and prevents burning. Alternatively you can also use a “tawa” or a flat iron pan before you place the vessel with the rice and water and heat it this way which is what Radhika did.


Enjoy the hot pulao with onion raita. Finger licking good!


Notes: Home made garam masala – 1 cup cloves, 1/2 cup cardamom, 3/4 cup cinnamon, 1/4 cup star anise, 3 tsp dhania or coriander seeds, 1 tsp cumin seeds or jeera, 1 whole nutmeg.

Grind all the above to a fine powder and store in an air tight container or in the refrigerator.

Anusuya’s Kitchen – Kuzhi Paniyaram


This one comes from Anusuya’s kitchen…remotely that is. I have missed visiting and posting from her kitchen for the last two years since our move, but this winter visit to Dallas was a good reminder to bring this series back, and savor this amazing cook’s simple and yum recipes. This recipe was one I wrote down in 2010, when she was in the mood to share some quick and easy snack favorites. I’m not even sure if she remembers having shared this gem but this recipe came very handy this week as I was out of lunchbox ideas for Nikhil. Mix some left over idli batter, chilies, cilantro and sambar/vethalkuzhambu powder powder and you have a new savory “appam” dish that is quite healthy too. You may add grated carrot or beans or any vegetable of your choice though I left that out in this recipe. I did add some chopped onions but that is optional too. You don’t need to use oil at all if you use a non stick “appa-karal” or the ebelskiver pan. I barely used one to one a half tsp oil for making about 15-20 paniyarams.

They make a great breakfast or snack recipe and if your child or you like it enough even if cold can be a good lunchbox staple too. I have to thank my good friend Maha for suggesting this as a lunchbox recipe.

Enjoy with any chutney of your choice – coconut or peanut or tomato or anything spicy:)


  • Left over idli batter – 2 cups
  • 1 tsp sambar powder
  • 1 tsp vethal kuzhambu powder (you may use 2 tsp sambar powder if you don’t have this one. You can find this occasionally in Indian stores abroad but I usually get mine from Grand Sweets in Chennai)
  • Ground ginger and chili paste (1 inch ginger plus 2-3 chilies or more if you like it very spicy)
  • Chopped cilanto 2 tbsp
  • Chopped curry leaves 1 tbsp
  • 1/4 tsp asafetida
  • Salt to taste
  • Olive oil or rice bran oil – 2 tsp
  • Optional – chopped onions and grated veggies like carrots or beans (1/4 cup each)


Take the idli batter in a mixing bowl and add all the other ingredients. Mix well.

Heat the appa karal or ebelskiver pan with about 1- 1 1/2 tsp of the oil. Just pour 1 tsp oil across all the cups in the pan so each cup gets a little to grease it a bit.

When the oil is hot, add one tbsp each of the batter. Cook till the batter is about golden brown and using a spoon or skewer or a chopstick turn the appam/paniyaram over to cook on the other side.


When golden and puffy on both sides, the paniyarams are ready to eat.


To a Happy and Scrumptious 2014!

It’s been an eventful 2013 for sure, at least on the food front – if you haven’t noticed Roz Ka Khana has become a tad bit more focused on healthy living and eating. Snappy Salads, 30 day green smoothie challenges, juicing, detoxing and cleansing were some highlights of 2013. Of course, dotted with some baked treats with the We Kneadto Bake challenges, “healthy” desserts and some festival round ups. Despite all the lulls and highs on the cooking and blogging front, I’m quite proud of what we have achieved together this year and cannot wait for more in 2014!

My 2013 rounded off with a much needed trip to Dallas or home as I call it spent amidst the warmth and love of family and friends, rekindling the good times of old and affirming a positive future. And of course reliving some great food sampling too which I promise to share very soon in upcoming posts. Some delectable Andhra recipes, baked goodies and some salads, juices and healthy “stuff”of course:)

So here’s a resolve to continue with the healthy, holistic and mindful living and eating as we slip into another new year. I wanted to list out some sites and blogs that have inspired me this year and continue to do so everyday as I take one baby step at a time to a holistic and healthy lifestyle.

  1. Simple Green Smoothies continue to be my source of inspiration for those morning cup of greens. #nomorecaffeine
  2. Juicing for Health, Juice with Drew (Juicing Vegetables) website and Facebook pages for some great juicing recipes.
  3. My Yoga Online for one of the best compilations of studio yoga classes and mind & body videos. The annual subscription is totally worth it. Let me know if you need an invite to one free week of yoga to try it out for yourself.
  4. Fitness Blender for some butt-kicking cardio and strength training exercises. And the best part – the videos are all free.
  5. Raw for Beauty and Mind Body Green (Facebook page and website) for some general health, food news and inspiring videos and quotes.

I thought this Raw for Beauty picture with the Voltaire quote couldn’t have summed up a better new year resolution:). Have a blissful and happy 2014!

happy penguin

“Best” Brownies from scratch


I was looking for a fudgy brownie recipe this weekend. Strangely I’ve never managed to make that perfect brownie – moist, fudgy with that crusty texture on top. The only times I have been successful is when I use boxed mixes but my attempts “from scratch” have always ended up tasting like chocolate cake which as you know is not the same:(.

A brownie is a brownie and a cake is a cake. And a brownie made from a box is not the same as one from scratch – I wouldn’t have said this 5 years ago I know. I’m trying to be more “health conscious”now. No processed foods and mixes. Whatever, you say. These are still quite “sinful” brownies. Okay, I’m not being snooty. But you will agree with me that as you begin to experiment with creations from scratch it is a whole new world out there. It raises the bar. So the perfect brownie from scratch remained an elusive recipe for me.

Until I found this recipe on allrecipes that calls itself “best” brownies. The recipe and video links are easy enough to follow and got me to try them yesterday. These were gone in a day – enough testament that out of 16 brownies I made on Saturday for my son and his friend we had 3 left on Sunday morning with 1 being devoured for breakfast :). “Best brownies” for sure – at least among all the recipes I’ve tried. I modified them a bit to include some organic plain and wholemeal flour, raw cacao powder for cocoa powder and muscavado sugar instead of white sugar and powdered demerara sugar for the icing. I am trying to make them as “healthy”as possible:)

These are not vegan, however and I did use butter and eggs, though I’m sure substituting applesauce instead of butter and flax seed meal for eggs will give you a similar result. I plan to try the vegan version next weekend and will let you know. Note – for the flax seed egg substitute - grind flax seeds to a powder. Use 1 tbsp flax seeds mixed with 3 tbsp water and beat well by hand or in a blender till you get a frothy mixture. This is for 1 egg. and you can double for 2 eggs. Add the frothy mixture instead of the eggs to the batter.

And I also used my own frosting recipe, not the one shown in the link.


1/2 cup organic unsalted butter

1 cup muscavado sugar (you may also use palm or coconut sugar)

1/2 cup mix of organic all purpose flour and wholemeal flour (you may use 100% of any one flour as well)

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract or 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste

1/3 cup raw cacao powder (or regular cocoa powder)

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp organic natural baking powder


1/4 cup unsalted butter

3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar or powdered demerara sugar

1/8 cup raw cacao powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tbsp cream or 2 tbsp milk or almond milk


Here’s the step by step with pictures:

1. Preheat the oven to 175C or 350F. Take the butter in a microwave safe glass bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds till butter completely melts.


2.Add the muscavado sugar and mix the butter and sugar mixture well with a beater.


3. Add the 2 eggs. Beat well with the hand beater till you get a homogenous mixture.


4. Now add the raw cacao powder. Mix well again.


5. Take a 8×8 inch baking pan and line with aluminium foil. Ensure that the foil overhangs from the sides and you can fold over the rim. This step is very helpful when you have to remove the brownies from the pan.


6. Pour the prepared brownie batter in the pan.


7. Bake at 175C or 350F for 25-30 minutes. Make sure you don’t overcook. You can use the knife test to see if done (should come out clean)


8. Frosting method: In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or in a food processor or in a large bowl using a hand beater or a wire whisk, cream the butter and stir in the confectioners/powdered sugar and cocoa, mix on low speed and cream again until soft and creamy. Stir in the vanilla extract or other flavouring of choice and beat again for a couple of minutes.This is a flexible recipe and if your icing is stiff add a little more milk, a tablespoon at a time and if your icing is thin, stir in more powdered sugar.

Spread the frosting over the warm brownie with a spoon or spatula.


9.Cut into equal squares. Enjoy warm.


Makes you want to lick the batter and frosting , doesn’t it? Here’s another picture just to add to the food porn:)


Snappy Salads – Suja’s “Everything” Salad

20131123-141532.jpgIt’s strange how time flies here, or feels like it does. Before you know it, it’s Fall and Winter in other parts of the world but in Singapore it’s heat and humidity, year after year. I’ve been in another of those ruts much like this weather. Post green smoothie/Diwali sweet coma you could say. Nah, I’ll just blame it on season-less Singapore:).

So I thought about embarking on a full “cleanse” after all that sugar and fried stuff from Diwali. I bought the 21 day cleanse from Simple green smoothies along with 2 other friends and we had our own little community of sorts – sharing recipes and our daily hits and misses. But then I realized that the 100% cleanses where you have a skinny diet for a week or two was not for me. A menu where you live on a certain calorie diet or deprive yourself of something only to crave it later wasn’t going to work. My two other fellow cleansers started it and reported a loss of energy the first week.

I have always believed that a good diet is when you eat well, eat right and feel energetic first thing in the morning and at the end of the day. If you feel like a ton of bricks and just want to curl up and go to sleep it’s not the diet for you. Of course if you have been on a high processed, high sugar, caffeine diet then the first few days of weaning are the toughest and the symptoms may last a day or two. But once you are past that phase you should begin to see a spike in energy that lasts all day without the need to starve yourself. So here’s what I have been trying to do for the past few weeks:

  • Eat salads, soups, juices, fruits, greens, smoothies, whole grains, fermented foods, nuts and seeds – foods that are easily digestible by the body.  You will find that when the body doesn’t need much energy to digest food the energy can be expended towards other bodily functions. This is what will give you more energy.
  • Eat small regular meals even if you have to eat every 2 hours but not because you have to, because you want to and when you feel hungry.
  • And most important of all, be mindful of what and when you eat. When you are conscious of what and when you eat you absolutely will not over eat and you will eat only what your body needs.

And so armed with that mantra, a couple of us have started this what’s app community of sharing salad recipes. Smoothies for breakfast, salad for lunch or dinner and then a regular meal, rotis, brown rice or anything non processed, fresh and home made. And of course a vigorous 30 minute workout 4 times a week at least. Try this and watch that energy spike.

This salad is a favorite of a long time family friend. I call it the everything salad as it has a lot of ingredients. But that’s what makes it filling enough to last through lunch or dinner. Thank you Suja for your contribution to this new series — Snappy Salads:)




1 lebanese cucumber
1 red pepper
11/2 cups spinach & rocket mix
1 bunch baby asparagus (nuke them in the microwave for a few minutes. They should be crunchy)
½ avocado diced into cubes
12- 15 roasted almonds, crushed (roast them in microwave for 5 minutes)
some pitted black or green olives.
½ cup of boiled chickpeas
2 tbsps chopped basil
1 tbsp fresh rosemary
You may also add Mung (green gram) or alfalfa sprouts if you wish
2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
black pepper to taste

Add the dressing & toss the salad – a healthy salad is ready to crunch away.

Festival Recipes – Cous Cous Payasam, Easy Sundals, and Quick Ladoos

This is exactly a week late so let’s say this is more of a post Navarathri round up. But you could use these recipes for most festivals so I am classifying these as  Tambrahm (Tamil Brahmin) festival recipes:).

Between the green smoothie frenzy, golu (dolls) exhibits and a real Navarathri schedule, things weren’t just busy – they were chaotic. This was my first year actually celebrating Navarathri traditionally and to be perfectly honest I didn’t know where to begin.

For the uninitiated, Navaratri literally means nine nights and represents a celebration of the Goddess Amba, (the Power). Over the nine days and nights, nine forms of Shakti (the sublime, ultimate, absolute creative energy) are worshipped.

In South India, prayers are offered for the 10 days in honor of the Goddesses Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswathi. There is also the tradition of keeping a “golu”  - an exhibition of various dolls and figurines predominantly of Gods and Goddesses in Indian mythology, placed on odd (usually 3,5, 7, 9, or 11) steps (padis). Girls and married women are usually invited to homes to view the exhibits, and are given vermillion and gifts and a token of the offerings made during the 10 days. This festival symbolizes what I would call a true expression of “girl/woman” power in the Hindu tradition.

As you can tell, a celebration for 9 days and nights needs quite a bit of organization and planning to make it a stress free festival. This year, I was also starting a new job the same week so you can see why I was beginning to obsess about it weeks before it began:)

One phone call to my mother-in law was the antidote. She is by far the most resourceful person I know when it comes to planning for festivals and events. She has always been the  “cook it and get of the kitchen” type of person and her secret has been her inimitable way of organizing and planning her schedule. I say “inimitable” as there is no exact science to it – it’s all in her head and still quite well planned:)  She has a simple rule -

  • Start the day before – make a few easy desserts that will last you the 10 days.
  • Keep these desserts for those rushed mornings when you don’t have the time to make neivedyam (offering) from scratch
  • Create a schedule of payasams and quick desserts for the slightly relaxed mornings.

I felt so much better when I spoke to her. But I realized this was going to be an annual routine and I needed to record these somewhere to actually remember the tips. So I created a time table or menu of sorts for Navarathri.  Again, this is probably too late but am sharing it for posterity and for referring back to this next year. Plus these recipes are pretty standard Tamil festival fare, use them for Diwali, Varalakshmi puja,you get the gist:)

Day before Navarathri :

I made these simple rava and Maa laddos. Recipe courtesy – Indra V, my mother-in-law:).

Simple, ghee laden delicacies.The best part, they don’t need any cooking really and last through the 10 days, well refrigerated of course.

Rava and Maa Ladoos:

For Rava Laadoos:


  • 1 cup semolina or rava
  • 3/4 cup sugar (I used raw sugar which may make the laadoos light brownish)
  • 1/4 cup ghee or clarified butter
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom powder
  • 1/4 cup broken cashews


  • In a pan add 1 tsp ghee and roast the cashews till golden brown.
  • Remove the cashews and in the same pan, add the rava and roast till you get a nice aroma. Do not let it change color so ensure you keep stirring for about 5 minutes or so.
  • Let this cool completely.
  • Grind the rava to a fine powder.
  • Grind the sugar to a fine powder.
  • Mix the two in a bowl and add the cardamom powder. Mix well.
  • Transfer this mixture to a wide bowl. Add the remaining melted ghee slowly to this and mix well.
  • The mixture will begin to get a bit sticky like when you add water to sand. Take fistfuls of this mixture and make round balls. If there is enough ghee you will find it easy to make the balls. If not you may add a bit of milk to the mixture to ensure the balls hold together.
  • Allow the ladoos to cool and store in air tight containers.

For Maa Ladoos: (the exact same procedure only the ingredients are slightly different)


  • Roasted gram dal or pottu kadalai – 1 cup
  • Raw sugar – 1 cup
  • Ghee – 1/4 cup to 1 cup
  • Cardamom powder – 1.2 tsp
  • Cashews, broken – 1/4 cup







You can also make Date Almond Pooran Polis and/or Carrot Coconut Squares the day before.

Day 2 and Day 5:

Cous Cous Payasam

I had never made payasam with cous cous before though the method was the same as any other jaggery based payasam recipes. This one is adapted from Biny’s recipes. Result was a creamy payasam with the right texture and just the right amount of sweetness. You may substitute the cous cous with broken wheat as well to make on another of the days.


  • Couscous-1cup
  • Jaggery-1cup
  • Coconut milk-1cup
  • Hot boiling water11/2cup
  • Cumin seeds1/2tsp,roasted and crushed
  • Cardamom pods-3,crushed
  • Nuts and raisins-3tbsps
  • Ghee/Butter-2tbsp


  • 1. Heat about 1 tbsp ghee in a small kadai and when hot add the broken nuts and raisins. Fry till golden brown and keep aside.
  • 2. Take the cous cous in a bowl. Pour some boiling water (1- 1 1/2 cup) on the couscous and close the lid.
  • 3. Take the jaggery in another bowl, add some boiling water (2 tbsp) and heat it on a low flame till the jaggery melts,


  • 4. Add the jaggery to the cous cous. Also add the cardamom powder.
  • 5. Heat this mixture on a medium flame. until the cous cous and the jaggery are well mixed and the mixture becomes thick.
  • 6. Turn off the heat. Slowly mix in the coconut milk and mix well.
  • 7. Add the nuts and raisins.


You can serve warm or chill in the refrigerator before serving.

Sundal Varieties: 

Sweet Corn Sundal Recipe


Ingredients :

  • Sweet corn kernels- 1 cup
  • Grated coconut – 2 tbsp
  • Salt to taste

For the seasoning

  • Oil – 1 tsp
  • Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
  • Urad dal  -1/2 tsp
  • Red chilli – 2-3
  • Hing – a pinch
  • Green chilli – 3
  • Curry leaves – a sprig


  • 1. Microwave or steam the corn with some salt till it is cooked.
  • 2. Heat some oil in a heavy bottom vessel, add mustard seeds. When it begins to splutter, add the urad dal, red chili and asafetida.
  • 3. Now add slit or crushed green chilies and curry leaves.
  • 4. Add the corn and season with salt. Mix well. Garnish with grated coconut, cilantro chopped and some lemon juice if needed.

Peanut sundal:


  • 1 cup 
Grated Coconut
  • 3-4 thai green chilies
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 2 sprigs curry leaves.
  • 1 inch ginger

For seasoning

  • 1 tsp 
Mustard Seeds
  • 1/2 tsp
 Urad Dhal
  • 2 Dry Red Chilly
  • Curry Leaves – a sprig
  • Asafetida – a pinch
  • Oil – 1 tsp


  • Pressure cook the nuts with some salt.
  • Grind the coconut, green chili, cilantro, ginger and curry leaves in a blender to a coarse powder.
  • Heat the oil and add the mustard seeds, urad dhal and asafetida.
  • Add the curry leaves, red chili and stir for a minute.
  • Mix in the boiled peanuts and salt and stir well for a few minutes.
  • Add the ground chili coconut powder/paste and mix well. Garnish with cilantro and serve hot.

You can also make black bean sundal the same way as above (use either the corn recipe or the peanut sundal recipe, just substitute the corn with the black beans.


Eggless Snickerdoodles – for an October birthday

20131008-072529.jpgThis is my foodie son’s own creation and his experiments with baking. For his 12th birthday.

He made these with eggs a few days ago and they were chewy and just right. Tried them again without eggs and we actually couldn’t tell the difference. So here is the eggless recipe made for the birthday boy and his friends by him:).

When did he grow up to bake his own cookies?

There is a teeny tiny part of me that wishes I could continue to bake something for his birthday like I used to but the time together in the kitchen was fun enough to make me proud as I watched him don an apron:). We do it in style, you see.

Ingredients: (for 18 large cookies or about 24 medium ones) – Adapted from

  • 3/4 cup sugar (we used raw unrefined sugar)
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 pinches salt
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons flour

For the topping:

  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon powder


  • Preheat oven to 350°F
  • Combine butter (room temperature so it’s soft) and sugar in a bowl or stand mixer with paddle attachment, and mix on medium speed until it gets lighter and fluffier.
  • Add vanilla and milk to butter/sugar mixture. (You can be flexible with the amount of vanilla you use).
  • Combine salt, flour and baking powder in a separate bowl.


  • Combine the dry and wet ingredients, using either a spatula or your hands. (Dough should be a little bit sticky at this point).


  • Add extra flour as needed until dough becomes less sticky and it’s easy to shape into round balls without the dough sticking to your fingers.


  • Form 12-18 equal-sized balls, flatten to about 1/2 – 2/3 inch in thickness. Coat one side with cinnamon sugar. (Lay about 1/8 Cup sugar on flat surface and lay each flattened ball of dough on it, pressing gently).


  • Bake for 8-10 minutes, until bottom is lightly golden.

If you’d like to try these using eggs, he used this Martha Stewart recipe. They were delish!



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