about all things hot'n'spicy , sweet'n'crazy


Falling in Love in India

Some general ranting followed by a  Raw banana stir fry.

Last week I read 2 states by Chetan Bhagat,  a long overdue , and  fell in love with the book and author. I realised you ain’t need to do complex empirical calculations to know why this man has a huge fan following among Indian youth. I flipped through the pages  and I was asking myself how could everyone in India who falls in love goes through the exact same series of events.

Falling in love in India and getting married to the same person is an achievement on it’s own. One may wonder why? The reason is that in India falling in love is not just a natural phenomenon as one grows up. It has to be a well planned and executed task. The top rules to fall in love in India:

  1. Is the boy/girl from same caste(same religion isn’t always enough)?
  2. Are they from the same state (Yeah we all are Indians, but we belong to our respective states than to the country itself).
  3. Do they have same social background ?
  4. Do they have similar educational qualification? (If girl is an engineer the boy “atleast” has to be an engineer!)
  5. Above all can their families get along well(You know marriage is not just about the 2 individuals , it’s about 2 families starting a lifelong relationship!)

In short falling in love in India is the modern approcah to arranged marriages where parents can show how modern they are by letting their children choose their life partner(huh!). I’m sure there are exceptions but the numbers are too few in comparison.

Now from a complex/complicated recipe of life to a simple “raw banana stir fry”.In Kerala just after the first monsoon, it’s the season of  Bananas. Kerala banana , as they are commonly called, are a variety of banana native to Kerala – a southern Indian state. It’s one giant banana and firmer than the usual varieties. The banana chips made from the raw banana is a famous  export  from Kerala to the world of savoury snacks . From breakfast to dinner there is always something with banana during that season and needless to say after the initial excitement it’s just the patent wait for it to get over. The “mother” used to make a simple “ethakkaa mezhukkupuratti” (raw banana stir fry)  and the recipe follows.

Serves 4


  • 500 gm of Raw banana, skin off and cut into 2″ pieces
  • 1-2 tsp of chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp of turmeric powder
  • 1-2 tbsp water
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2-3 pods of Garlic crushed


Cook the banana with 1-2 tbsp water, chilli powder, turmeric powder and salt for about 5 mins or until they are cooked but firm. Take care not to over cook the banana as they will get mushy when stir fried.

In a non-stick pan heat oil, add crushed garlic and when they start to brown add the cooked banana and fry on low until it’s roasted well. Serve with rice and a good helping of “moru curry”.

Celebration of flavors

Chicken Kuruma(Korma)- Mildly spiced Chicken curry with ground coconut and fresh herbs.

In a true blogger style let me start this post with an apology for the no activity period on my blog. I decided to get fitter and more social. My absence from the blogosphere was due to my busy evenings spent gymming🙂 and less healthy weekend parties.

Chicken with coconut is a match made in heaven and those who are in doubt should definitely try this🙂. During my childhood I have had chicken cooked with coconut milk but chicken with freshly ground coconut was not something my mother made. Until a few years ago , I was completely oblivious of the existence of chicken curries with coconut paste. I just had to taste it once to conclude that this was an association that was going to last forever .Since then various recipes of chicken curries with coconut in its numerous forms has found a special place in my kitchen.

A south Indian vegetable kuruma which I have learnt from a recipe book is the inspiration for this Chicken Kuruma.

Serves 4


  • 500 gm chicken, medium sized pieces
  • 1 cup finely chopped Onions
  • 1 Tomato finely chopped
  • 1 tsp of ginger garlic paste
  • 1 tsp of red Chilli powder
  • 1/4 tsp of Turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp of Oil
  • 1 sprig of Curry leaves
  • Chopped Coriander leaves for garnish

Dry roast:

  • ½  tsp of Fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp of white Poppy seeds
  • 1 small piece of Cinnamon
  • 2 Cardamom pods

To Grind

  • 2 tbsp of fresh grated Coconut
  • 1 tbsp of roasted Chickpeas
  • 2 green Chillies
  • 2 tbsp of chopped Coriander leaves
  • 3-5 mint leaves


Heat oil in a pan. Add chopped onions, curry leaves and ginger-garlic paste. Sauté it until onion starts to brown. Add chopped tomatoes along with the dry spice powders and sauté for 5 -7 minutes.

Make a smooth paste of the ingredients listed under ‘dry roast’ and ‘To Grind’. Add the ground paste to the onion mixture and cook on low for about 8-10 minutes. Add chicken pieces along with salt and mix well. Sauté chicken with the spices for about 5-8 minutes. Add about 2 cups of water and cook until chicken is tender and sauce is of desired consistency.Remove from heat. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves. This can be served with plain rice ,roti or even pulav.

A thing to love or despise?

Banana heart /flower  stir fry with mung daal and coconut .

Often in life we look down upon things that come to us free.Most of the times in the course of life we realise  that some of best things in life are free .But sometimes the realisation happens only when it’s no longer free.This truth of life even applies to a simple banana flower/heart.Did  I ever think that one day I would have to travel about 2 hours and pay 5 pounds for a banana flower.The answer is no.To me this was always something that was readily available in mom’s vegatable garden in the backyard of the house.

The banana flower in one form or another had its place on our dinner table and to me that was only because it was “there” pleading to be to be picked up.Needless to say, I wasn’t very appreciative of it’s taste and it’s nutrition quotient.Things changed drastically after I moved here and now this dish enjoys a top spot in the list of things I crave for.

Serves 4-6


  • 1 Banana flower , cleaned, chopped finely.
  • ½ cup moong dal cooked
  • 1 tsp oil
  • Salt to taste

To Grind

  • ½ cup grated coconut
  • 4-5 green chillies
  • 2-3 Garlic pods
  • ½ tsp Cumin

For seasoning

  • ½ tsp Mustard seeds
  • A few Curry leaves
  • 1 tsp finely chopped Shallot/Onion
  • 1 tsp Oil


Heat 1 tsp oil in a pan.Add finely chopped banana flower and cook for about 6-8 minutes.Add the cooked moong dal, ground coconut paste and salt.Cover and cook for further 5-8 minutes.Add 2-3 tbsp of water if the mixture is getting stuck to pan.Remove from fire when its done.

For seasoning, heat oil in a pan , add mustard seeds.When it starts to splutter add shallots/onion and curry leaves.Fry till the onion is brown.Pour the seasoning over the cooked banana flower mixture.

Best served with rice and a generous helping of curried buttermilk (moru kachiyathu).

Note: To clean the flower , discard the deep purple coloured outer layers of the flower (bracts) and use only the lightly coloured densely packed inner core .Finely chop it and soak  immediately in buttermilk for about 10  minutes to get rid of its bitterness.

From my Father’s Food Memoirs

Stir fried Beef with shallots.

This is the story of a young boy who lived in a small town in Kerala. He was the youngest among his six brothers and this earned him special privileges in the family. One of the privileges of his life then was that he would always get a portion of  special dishes cooked for the elders of the family. It was very common in those days to save the best dishes for the head of the family and to be able to have a taste of those was a rare treat. He would wait to have dinner with his dad when ever his mother prepared this special beef fry and his dad never disappointed him. Days and years went by, everything around him changed but his love for the beef fry his mother made  remained the same.

This young boy is my father and every time he narrates this story to us he would be beaming with joy. You would be surprised to know this beef fry has proven to have medicinal powers and works better than antipyretic in treating fever in the case of my dad. Every time he falls sick my mother makes sure he gets a dose of his mom’s beef fry along with the tablets. This is definitely the ultimate comfort food for him not just for taste but for the flood of memories it brings back.

I am excited to share the recipe with you and you would be amazed to know a beef fry recipe can’t get any simpler.

Serves 3


  • 500 gms of Beef cut into bite sized pieces
  • 5-6 Green chillies split lengthways
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped Ginger
  • 1 cup Indian Shallots halved
  • 1-2 tsp of White Vinegar
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 Sprig of curry leaves
  • 1-2 tsp oil


Wash the beef and place in a pressure cooker. Add 1/2 cup of water and salt to taste and cook for about  10 minutes after the first whistle. Alternatively, you can cook the beef in a regular pan with enough water to cover the beef for about 30 minutes until the meat is soft. Make sure there is at least  half a cup of stock remaining in the pan at the end of cooking.

Add  the chopped shallots, chopped ginger, slit green chillies and vinegar to the beef and cook until all the liquid in the pan is gone.

Heat oil in a non-stick pan .Transfer the contents of pressure cooker to the pan. Add curry leaves and fry it on a low flame until the meat is browned as seen in the picture.

Serve it as side for rice or even better use it as filling for your tortilla wrap.

A sumptuous breakfast spread

Ven Pongal with Vada , Sambar and Coconut Chutney

A pot of boiling water with rice and lentil is a usual sight in every Tamil kitchen on the morning of their harvest festival, Pongal. This offering to God later finds it place on the breakfast table with the numerous other dishes to feed the Family who have gathered to celebrate. It’s very typical in India to have an elaborate break fast on special occasions. My memories of any festival are mostly associated to the specialities served on the day and Pongal is no different.

I wanted to join in the celebration this year by cooking up the traditional breakfast. This is my way to say a big thank you to Tamil Nadu for making me feel at home during my years there ,teaching me some great values in life and for giving me some wonderful friends.

So let’s get cooking .On a regular day you can just whip up a quick breakfast by serving pongal with coconut chutney.

Serves 4-5

For Pongal


  • ¾ cup raw rice
  • ¼ cup Mung Daal

For Seasoning

  • 1/2 tsp Cumin
  • 1 tsp Black Peppercorns
  • 1 Green chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp finely chopped Ginger
  • 8 -10 Cashew nuts, halved
  • 1 tsp Oil
  • 2 tsp Ghee
  • 1 sprig of Curry leaves
  • Salt to taste


Dry roast the Mung Daal for about 3-4 minutes or until it gives a nutty aroma.Soak the  washed rice along with the roasted daal in 4 cups of water for about half an hour.

Transfer the rice, daal and water to a pressure cooker and cook for about 15 -20 minutes on medium flame.

Heat oil in a pan big enough to hold the rice mixture. Fry cumin seeds, cashew nut and peppercorns until the cashew nuts turn brown. Add chopped ginger and green chilli and fry further for 2-3 minutes. Transfer the cooked rice mixture into the pan, add salt and  mix well.Pour ghee over the rice and mix well again. Remove from the heat.

For Vada


  • 1 cup urad dal soaked for about a minimum of 4 hours
  • 1 tbsp fine semolina
  • 1/2 cup of chopped Shallots or red Onion
  • 1 tsp finely chopped green chilli
  • 1 tsp finely chopped ginger
  • 1 tsp Black Peppercorns
  • 1-2 Sprig of Curry leaves roughly chopped
  • A pinch of baking soda (optional)
  • Salt o taste
  • Oil to deep fry


Grind urad dal to a smooth paste .Use very little water for grinding.I use the chutney jar that comes with Indian blenders to make my batter and it works just perfect.If your batter becomes watery add about 1-2 tsp of rice flour.

Add rest of the ingredients listed except oil to the Daal paste and mix well. Semolina is my secret ingredient to get that crispy restaurant like vadas.If you dont fancy the idea of biting into whole pepper while relishing your Vada you can omit it from the recipe.

To shape your vada, wet your palm, take a lemon sized ball of batter, place it on your palm, shape into a ball, flatten it out and make that most important hole in the centre.You can even use greased plastic sheets or banana leaf to shape the vadas.

Heat oil in a deep pan ,slide  it carefully in to the oil. Fry on medium heat until it turns golden brown.

If  you find it difficult to get perfect shaped vadas , just  use an ice cream scoop or a regular spoon and drop small scoop of batter into the hot oil. Shape doesn’t matter as long it tastes great.

For Coconut chutney


  • 1 cup grated Coconut
  • 4  Green Chillies
  • 1 tbsp roasted Chana Daal (Dalia)
  • Salt to taste

For Seasoning

  • 1 tsp Urad Daal/Black gram
  • ½ tsp Mustard
  • 1 sprig of Curry leaves
  • 1 tsp oil


Grind Coconut, green chillies and  roasted daal with salt to a smooth paste with about  quarter cup of water.

Heat oil in a pan and fry everything listed in the section “For Seasoning” until the urad daal is nicely browned. Pour over the ground coconut mixture.

To Serve

Serve the Pongal with vada and chutney on the side and a small bowl of Sambar. Recipe of Sambar to follow.

The harmonious union of Spinach and Lentil

Spinach – Lentil curry with ground coconut.

I had the privilege to enjoy fresh home made lunch for about a month when my parents visited me last summer. I would impatiently wait for the clock to tick 12 to rush home to savour the mom-made lunch. No, 12’O clock is never too early for lunch especially when it’s cooked by mommie dearest. It was during one of those merrier days I had this curry that tasted very similar to my old favourite “Paruppu curry” but greener in appearance. I was told that it was  “cheera paruppu curry” , translates to spinach lentil curry,  and it featured often in our menu (!) during my growing up years in Kerala. I am not too sure about this claim and didn’t bother to care much as I was too busy wiping off every bit of the curry left on my plate.

Now lets move to the apparently not so new spinach with mung daal curry.

Serves 4 to 6


  • 2 cups of finely chopped Spinach
  • ½ cup Mung daal
  • ½ tsp Turmeric
  • ½ tsp Chilli powder
  • Salt to taste

To Grind

  • 2-3 Green chillies
  • 3 tbsp grated Coconut
  • ½ tsp Cumin seeds
  • 2-3 Shallots

For seasoning

  • ½ tsp Mustard seeds
  • A few Curry leaves
  • 1 tsp finely chopped Shallot
  • 1 Red Chilli
  • 1 tbsp Oil/Ghee


Cook the Mung Daal in a regular pan or pressure cooker with the chilli powder, turmeric powder and enough water to cover.

While Daal is being cooked , grind all the ingredients listed under  the “To grind” section to a fine paste. Sauté the finely chopped spinach until it’s wilted. Once the Daal is soft add the spinach, salt and  coconut paste to the Daal and cook for another 5-6 minutes. Remove from the heat.

In a small frying pan, heat oil/ghee and add the mustard seeds. When it starts to splutter, add the rest of the seasoning ingredients and fry until the shallots are browned. Pour this over the curry and  leave it covered till it is served. My mom adds thinly sliced shallots to most of the seasoning and I can vouch that it definitely enhances the taste.

This tastes great when served with rice alongside an accompaniment of fried pappads and lime pickle.

Fusion is the order of the day

Chilli Paneer – fiery hot succulent pieces of Paneer with a crunchy coating.

For me until a couple of years ago Manchurian , be it  Gobi or Baby Corn , epitomised Chinese cuisine. I packed my bags and came to UK for a Master Degree and landed in a class room packed with all but English students.Yes  there were Indians, Africans, Chinese, Arabs but not a single English student in my class.To be honest I was slightly disappointed and was saddened. I didn’t  lament for too long and was quickly making friends with everyone. One of those miserable winter afternoon, I was sitting in the lecture theatre with a group of Chinese friends.I quickly used that opportunity to boast my knowledge of Chinese cuisine.I confidently popped the question “So how do you guys make Manchurian at home?”. My Chinese friend’s look said everything – he didn’t understand a word I said. I am not the kind who gives up , so I wrote down on a piece of paper  – “Manchurian”. All of his brain cells failed to recognise it.He was also not the one to give up and quickly entered “MANCHURIAN” into his electronic translator and  not really to my surprise(By then I had almost realised that I didn’t know a thing about Chinese cuisine) , even the electronic circuit bailed out .I had emptied the place before he declared “Manchurian is not Chinese”. With the aid of Google the ignorant me found out Manchurian , the staple served in Indian Chinese restaurants  along with the many other regulars on the Menu card that are considered Chinese , by me at least,   are  believed to have originated in the streets of Calcutta. The use of Chinese seasonings and method of cooking makes it Chinese enough or more appropriately Indo Chinese.

This  introduction was just  to  take you through a very popular Indo Chinese dish with Paneer – chilli Paneer.

Serves 4


  • 250 gm of Paneer cut into bit sized pieces
  • 1 cup Onion diced
  • ½ cup Spring onion finely chopped
  • 4-5  Green Chillies slit length ways
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped Garlic
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri Chilli powder
  • 1 tsp Vinegar
  • 2 tsp soya sauce
  • A pinch of Sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil for Shallow frying

For Marinade

  • ½ cup All Purpose flour
  • ½ cup Corn flour
  • 1 tsp Soya Sauce
  • ½ tsp Ginger – Garlic paste
  • 1 tsp Pepper Powder
  • 1 tsp Chilli powder
  • 1 Egg
  • Salt to taste


Make a thick  marinade with  all the ingredients listed under “For Marinade” . Place the Paneer pieces  in the marinade, mix well and leave it aside for about half an hour.

Heat oil in a shallow pan . Fry the Paneer pieces (make sure the pan is not over crowded) until golden brown. Remove and keep aside.

For the sauce , heat  oil (Use 2 tsp of oil from the left over oil used for shallow frying) in a wok. Add the diced onion along with the chopped garlic and saute on high flame for about  1 minute. Add the chopped spring onion whites and saute for further 1 minute. Mix vinegar with the red chilli powder to make a paste. Add the red chilli paste, soy sauce, sugar and combine. Add the fried Paneer pieces and mix carefully making sure Paneer is coated well with the sauce. Do a taste test at this stage and add salt if necessary.Cook on high for another 3-4 minutes and turn off the stove.Garnish with spring onion greens and serve hot.  This is a great starter to get any party going.