Wednesday, June 29, 2016


Broccoli Usili

Broccoli - aloo sabji

Broccoli originated in Italy in the 6th century BC. It was introduced to the US and became popular in the 1920s. It has reached Indian markets and thus urban Indian kitchens too and has gained in popularity for its nutitional value. Surprisingly India ranks 2nd in the global production of broccoli (combined for production reports with cauliflowers). 

Broccoli is an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin K. Raw broccoli also contains moderate amounts of several B vitamins and the dietary mineral manganese, whereas other essential nutrients are in low content. Broccoli has low content of carbohydratesprotein,fat, and dietary fiber.

I have tasted broccoli in salads and pizzas and have never been a great fan. But I wanted to include it in my diet for its nutritional value, so I tried 'Indianizing' it with modified recipes - one South Indian, the other North Indian. And believe me, both are yummy.

Broccoli Usili 


  1. Broccoli - 250 gms
  2. Tuvar dal / chana dal – 4 tbsp
  3. Whole red chilli – 2 - 3
  4. Asafetida – a pinch
  5. Oil –1 ½ - 2 tbsp
  6. Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
  7. Urad dal – 1 tsp
  8. Whole red chilli – 1” piece
  9. Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
  10. Salt to taste
  11. Grated coconut - 2 tbsp
  12. Curry leaves – 8

  1. Soak chana dal in water for 20-30 minutes. 
  2. Wash, drain off the water and grind a bit coarsely with red chilli and salt.
  3. Wash the broccoli and cut it into small flowerettes and chop the tender stalk finely.
  4. Heat 1 tsp oil in a pan. 
  5. Add the chopped broccoli, 1/4 tsp turmeric powder and salt to taste.
  6. Sprinkle about 2 tbsp of water and cook covered on low heat till it is cooked and the water has evaporated. Set aside.
  7. Heat the remaining oil.
  8. Add mustard seeds, urad dal, red chilli and asafetida.
  9. Then add the ground dal and stir. Cook uncovered for 2-3 minutes.
  10. Sprinkle a little water and cook covered for 5-8 minutes on low heat, stirring in between
  11. Stir well and continue to cook on low heat, adding a little more oil if needed till the dal turns light brown and crispy.
  12. Add curry leaves and stir.
  13. Add the cooked broccoli and mix well.
  14. Add grated coconut and mix.
  15. Turn off the heat.
  16. Serve hot with rice and koottan / with chapathis.

1. If you want to cut down on oil, steam the ground dal in a pressure cooker for 10-15 minutes by making flat vadas and placing them on greased idli plates. On cooling, crumble them and add them to the tadka and continue.

2. Beans usili can be prepared in this manner too. Also 'kothavarakka' usili and 'vaazhapoo' usili.

Broccoli - aloo sabji

Serves 4

  1. Broccoli – 250 gms.(cut into flowerettes)
  2. Potato – 250 gms.(diced)
  3. Shelled peas – 3 tbsp (optional)
  4. Onion – 2 medium-sized – sliced
  5. Ginger-garlic paste – 1 ½ tsp
  6. Green chilli – 3 slit
  7. Tomato – 3 small - diced
  8. Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
  9. Red chilli powder – ½ - 1 tsp
  10. Coriander powder – 2 tsp
  11. Cumin powder – ½ tsp
  12. Garam masala powder – 1½ - 2 tsp
  13. Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
  14. Asafetida – ¼ tsp
  15. Salt to taste
  16. Oil – 2 ½ - 3 tbsp

  1. Heat oil in a pan.
  2. Add cumin seeds and asafetida, followed by sliced onions and fry till pink.
  3. Add slit green chilli and ginger-garlic paste and continue to fry till onion turns light brown.
  4. Add turmeric powder, red chilli powder, coriander, cumin and garam masala powders and stir for a minute.
  5. Add the diced vegetables and shelled peas and salt and stir well.
  6. Cook covered on low heat, stirring in between till the vegetables are almost cooked.
  7. Now add chopped tomatoes and stir gently.
  8. Cook covered for 2-3 minutes.
  9. Then cook without the lid (adding ½ tbsp of oil if necessary) till the oil separates and the sabji is dry and ready.
  10. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve hot with chapathi / puri.

Thursday, May 5, 2016


Crisp onion pakodas with nutty pieces of cashews can be really addictive. A great anytime snack which is also easy to make with ingredients always available at home.

It tastes almost like 'medhu pakoda' - a mouth-watering snack available in Tamilnadu. Actually as kids when we were in Pondicherry, we used to be addicted to this snack. No it wasn't made at home. Our Man Friday would at regular intervals be sent to get four packets for us at tea time - my father wouldn't come anywhere near it - he wouldn't eat anything with a trace of onion - he wouldn't take a second bite of the potato fry if the potatoes had been sitting in the same basket as the onions! We didn't know where they were bought from but never bothered to find out as we were ardent fans of the item and didn't want to give up on them for any reason. They were soft-n-crisp and would melt in our mouth. They had cashew pieces too in them. We had tried to get the recipe but in vain. We knew there was a hint of 'pottukkadalai' powder. During one of my Chennai visits, I could get big 'medhu pakoda' from one of the famous eateries. I tried to analyze its taste to decipher the recipe. And here is the recipe for the same. And it tastes pretty much the same. Yay!

Serves 2


  1. Besan - 1 cup
  2. Rice flour - 1/2 cup
  3. Futana dal (chutney dal) powder - 1 tbsp
  4. Onion - 1 medium sized - chopped
  5. Green chilli - 2 -chopped
  6. Ginger - 3/4 " - chopped fine
  7. Coriander leaves - finely chopped - 2 tbsp
  8. Mint leaves (optional)- 10 - finely chopped
  9. Curry leaves - 10 - finely chopped
  10. Ajwain - 1/2 tsp
  11. Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
  12. Asafetida - a pinch
  13. Salt to taste
  14. Cashewnut pieces - 2 tbsps
  15. Melted ghee - 1 tbsp
  16. Oil for frying

  1. Mix all the ingredients from 1 to 14.
  2. Add melted ghee and mix well.
  3. Sprinkle water little by little and mix to get a thick dough.
  4. Heat oil in a kadhai.
  5. Take a ball of dough in your hand and drop pieces (the size of big marbles) in the hot oil.
  6. Fry on medium flame till both sides are light brown and crisp.
  7. Serve hot with tomato ketchup / your favorite chutney. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


Dosas are a favorite breakfast item. A lot of variety can be introduced in the batter to come up with a twist to the traditional one - sometimes adding to its health benefits too.

 Ragi ('pannjhapul' / 'naachni') is very nutritious and has a lot of iron value. Adding ragi powder to dosa batter gives you healthier dosa which tastes a bit different. This is yet another 'adulterated' dosa - very healthy too.

You can get ragi powder from the stores. Better still, make it at home. Wash 1/2 kg ragi well and removing the dirt / mud settling at the bottom, spread it on a newspaper and allow to dry completely. Dry roast it in a pan stirring all along till it gives out an aroma. Cool and powder it in a dry grinder and store.

Makes 8-9 dosas


  1. Dosa batter - 1 cup
  2. Ragi powder - 3/4 cup
  3. Salt to taste
  4. Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
  5. Urad dal - 1 tsp
  6. Asafetida - a pinch
  7. Oil for making dosa


  1.  Take 1 cup dosa batter in a vessel and add 1/4 cup water.
  2.  Add 1 cup of ragi powder and required salt and mix well.
  3.  Heat 1 tsp oil and add mustard seeds, urad dal and asafetida. When they splutter, add them to the batter and mix well.
  4.  Add water if required to make it a thin batter. 
  5. Set aside for at least 15 minutes.
  6.  Heat a tava and spread the batter all over and quickly spread it gently to make a dosa. Drizze oil all around and flip it after a minute.
  7.  Drizzle 1/2 tsp of oil around it, cook on medium flame till done and remove.
  8.  Serve hot with coconut chutney / tomato chutney / sambar / molagappodi.

© Copyright 2011. Brinda Balasubramonian.



Oats is the super food of the times - it has come to dominate as health food among the diet-conscious section of the world. Rich in fiber, oats has the potential for a wide variety of dishes. Earlier oats was used to make porridge ('kanji' - I remember myself to be a big hater of all types of 'kanji' as I had associated them with sickness). Nowadays people of my generation have started incorporating one 'kanji' in their daily meal at this stage of life.

We have been making oats porridge and having it with dry fruits / fresh fruits - but once in a while. Oats having hit the scene in a big way, I too suddenly found myself going for it! We are avid dosa-lovers and so I wanted to try out oats dosa. 

Normally I grind for dosa in my wet grinder and have quite a pot-load of batter sitting in my fridge. It used to be idlis, dosas and uthappas day in and day out – we never get tired of those. But I had a slight problem of arthritis creeping up and my doctor asked me to stay away from fermented stuff – especially idli / dosa. Since then I have been adulterating my batter. After a day each of idli and dosa, I make varieties of dosa - mixing it with ragi / oats / wheat flour / poha ...

Well, if you have reached almost the bottom of your dosa batter pot, you can still manage to make enough dosas for the family by 'adulterating' it with any of the ingredients I have just mentioned.
Here is my version of oats dosa -

Makes 9-10 dosas


  1. Dosa batter - 1 cup
  2. Oats - 1 cup
  3. Green chilli - 2-3
  4. Curry leaves - 12-15
  5. Coriander leaves - 1-2 tbsp
  6. Salt to taste
  7. Oil - 1 tsp
  8. Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
  9. Urad dal - 1 tsp
  10. Asafetida - a pinch
  11. Oil for making dosa


  1.  Soak 1 cup oats in 1-11/4 cups water for 1/2 hour.
  2.  Grind the oats, green chilli, curry leaves and coriander leaves in the mixer to a fine paste.
  3.  Mix this batter well with 1 cup of dosa batter and required salt.
  4.  Heat 1 tsp oil and add mustard seeds, urad dal and asafetida. When they splutter, add them to the batter and mix well.
  5.  Add water to make it a thin batter.
  6.  Heat a tava and spread the batter all over and quickly spread it gently to make a dosa. Drizze oil all around and flip it after a minute.
  7.  Drizzle 1/2 tsp of oil around it, cook on medium flame till done and remove.
  8.  Serve hot with coconut chutney / molagappodi.

  1. Remember oats dosa takes a little longer to cook than regular dosa, so have patience and don’t flip before time – the dosa will break.
  2. You can cover the dosa with a plate and allow it to cook on medium-low heat and then flip it and cook.
  3. If you are not able to spread the batter, make it very thin and pour it on the tava and move it around to spread the batter evenly and continue.
  4. You can use a handful of curry leaves alone too (without adding coriander leaves) - they are rich in iron content.

© Copyright 2011. Brinda Balasubramonian.

Saturday, March 1, 2014


Nendrakkai chips are freely available in stores all over the world - branded as well as local. In fact the best ones are the ones that are made fresh in reliable stores and sold like hot chips. Nobody makes them at home now. Tell me who has the time, energy and patience?

And no they are not that economical either! Once upon a time I used it fry them at home as my boys loved the home-made ones - thin and crunchy. In Pune in the 80s, one could never be sure about the freshness of the chips from the market except during Vishu and Onam! (Kerala items like nendrakkai, chips, nendrapazham etc were not freely available in Pune then). So I'd buy half a dozen raw Kerala plantains when available and make a big steel 'dabba' full of nendrakkai chips which would be gone in 3 days!

Now let's get back to the recipe - this time I made chips with just three nendrakkais and it lasted for a week it - was just this old couple munching them for evening snacks!


  1. Nendrakkai (raw Kerala plantain) 
  2. Salt to taste
  3. Oil for frying


  1. Wash the nendrakkai and make long lengthwise lines all around each of them with a knife.
  2. Remove the thick peels from all the plantains. 
  3. Pat one raw plantain dry and make thin slices using a grater, taking care not to pile them over but spread apart on a piece of paper so that they don’t stick together.
  4. Repeat with the others, on to different pieces of paper.
  5. Heat oil in frying pan.
  6. When it is hot, drop the slices spreading them all over in the oil.
  7. After 2 minutes, turn them over and continue to fry on medium heat, separating the ones sticking together.
  8. Remove them onto a tissue when they are a golden and the bubbles in the oil have subsided.
  9. Sprinkle salt over the hot chips and mix well and leave on a tissue paper.
  10. Repeat with the other rest of the plantains.
  11. After cooling, store in a clean dry air-tight bottle.


  1. Sprinkle salt soon after draining off the chips from the oil.
  2. Earlier I used to add 1 tsp of concentrated salt water just before the removing the chips from the oil; fry for 1/2 minute and drain off on to a tissue paper. This enabled uniform spread of salt but caused the oil to splatter and cleaning was an issue.
  3. I use minimum oil (say 1/3rd not ½ the kadhai) and have the patience to fry the chips in small batches – you see I don’t reuse the oil and I don’t want to waste too much oil!

© Copyright 2011. Brinda Balasubramonian.

Monday, December 16, 2013


This is my 100th post to this blog of mine. I am happy to share the recipe for 'cocktail / mini samosas' - one of my all-time favorites. 

Samosas have been the hot favorites of North Indians. I still remember gorging on the 'garama garam' samosas  my aunt and uncle would get us, along with garam jalebis while growing up in Delhi. 

'Samosas' enjoy universal appeal today. Samosas enjoy such a great popularity that they have earned a place in all restaurants' menu cards not only all over India but also abroad. 

Most of us love to grab a bunch of samosas from our favorite restaurant along with sweet chutney / green chutney and fried green chillies. That is the easiest - buy them, relish them. But when we make them at home, we can have a pot full of samosas and enjoy the satisfaction of making and eating a restaurant-item-made-at-home. It may sound a little bit laborious but good planning and some time and inclination at hand will help you enjoy the process. Not to forget the compliments you'll be able to pocket at the end of the day!


Makes 18-20 samosas


For the covering
  1. Maida – 2 cups
  2. Rava – 2 tbsp
  3. Melted ghee – 8 - 9 tsp
  4. Salt to taste
  5. Ajwain – 1 tsp
  6. A little warm water
  7. Oil for frying

For the stuffing

  1. Potatoes - 4 medium sized ones
  2. Carrot - 1 (cut in small pieces)
  3. Peas - 1/2 cup
  4. Onion - 1 small (chopped)
  5. Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
  6. Asafetida - a pinch
  7. Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
  8. Coriander powder - 1 1/2 - 2 tsp
  9. Garam masala - 1 tsp
  10. Amchur ( dry mango powder) - 1 tsp
  11. Salt to taste
  12. Oil - 2 tsp


For the covering

  1. Mix maida, rava, and salt. Crush ajwain between your palms and add it.
  2. Mix well.
  3. Add 4 tsps of melted ghee and mix together.
  4. Add the remaining ghee and mix well.
  5. Add warm water little by little and knead into firm dough and keep covered for at least 20 minutes.

  1. Boil the potatoes with turmeric powder and salt. Cool and peel and mash them.
  2. Boil the carrots and peas with salt.
  3. Heat 2 tsps of oil in a pan and add cumin seeds. When they crackle add asafetida and chopped onion and fry till light brown.
  4. Add coriander powder, red chilli powder, garam masala and amchur powder and stir for a few seconds.
  5. Add the mashed potatoes and carrots and peas.
  6. Add chopped coriander and mix well.
  7. Cool and divide into 18-20 balls.

To prepare samosas

  1. Divide the dough into lemon-sized balls (9 - 10)
  2. Dip each ball in a little oil and roll into a big thin puri.
  3. Cut in two halves.
  4. Place a ball of potato stuffing in the center and place the left part (radius) over the right part and seal them well. 
  5. Next seal the circular part all along, placing one part over another and pressing them to form a mini samosa. 
  6. Repeat with the other half. 
  7. Keep them covered with a damp cloth to prevent them from drying.
  8. Repeat with all the balls. 

To make samosas

  1. Heat oil in frying pan.
  2. When the oil is hot, drop 4 - 5 mini samosas carefully in the oil.
  3. After half a minute, lower the flame.
  4. After another minute, gently flip each of the samosas.
  5. After a couple of minutes, turn the samosas again.
  6. When they are uniformly browned, drain off the oil well and set them on a tissue.
  7. Fry the rest of the batches of samosas.
  8. Serve hot with ketchup / green chutney .


  1. Make sure that the edges are sealed well - you may use a drop of water to seal them if needed.
  2. Patiently fry the samosas on low heat so that they are light brown as well as crisp.
  3. The stuffing can be prepared without onions too.
  4. If you have excess dough, roll them into small matris and fry them till crisp and store in airtight containers.
  5. If you have excess stuffing, use it to make a sandwich later.

© Copyright 2011. Brinda Balasubramonian.

Sunday, December 15, 2013


'Dal Pakwan' is a Sindhi specialty - usually enjoyed as a Sunday breakfast / brunch. The dal is made with chana dal and is pretty simple and bland. 'Pakwan' is a larger 'matri' - made with maida. This is an ideal item when you have guests over at snack time as pakwans can be prepared earlier and the dal can be heated up at the moment.

Serves 4

Makes 16-18 pakwans


For pakwan -
  1. Maida (all purpose flour) – 2 cups
  2. Rava – 2 tbsp
  3. Melted ghee – 10-11 tsp
  4. Salt to taste
  5. Ajwain – 1 tsp
  6. A little warm water
  7. Oil for frying
For dal - 
  1. Chana dal - 1 cup
  2. Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
  3. Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
  4. Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
  5. Asafetida - a pinch
  6. Ginger - 1/2" - finely chopped
  7. Green chilli - 2 (slit)
  8. Red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
  9. Coriander powder - 1 tsp
  10. Salt to taste
  11. Oil - 2 tsp
  12. Coriander leaves (chopped) - 1 tbsp



  1. Wash the dal. 
  2. Add enough water and pressure-cook it with turmeric powder for 8-10 minutes on low flame after the first whistle. 
  3. Allow to cool.
  4. Heat 2 tsp oil in a pan.
  5. Add mustard seeds and cumin seeds. When they splutter, add asafetida, ginger and green chillies and fry for a minute.
  6. Add the chilli powder and coriander powder and salt to taste.
  7. Add the cooked dal along with the water. 
  8. Add water if necessary and boil.
  9. Simmer on low heat for 2 minutes till the right consistency is reached.
  10. Garnish with chopped corinder leaves and serve hot with pakwan.

  1. Mix maida, rava, and salt. 
  2. Crush ajwain between your palms and add it.
  3. Mix well.
  4. Add 5 tsps of melted ghee and mix together.
  5. Add the remaining ghee and mix well. 
  6. Add warm water little by little and knead into firm dough.
  7. Keep covered for at least 20 minutes.
  8. Make lemon-sized balls with the dough.
  9. Dip each ball in a little oil and roll into a big puri.
  10. Make a few little lines with a knife in each puri (to prevent it from puffing up).
  11. Repeat with all the balls.
  12. Heat oil in frying pan.
  13. When the oil is hot, add one pakwan in the oil.
  14. After a minute, lower the flame to medium.
  15. After another minute, flip it.
  16. After a couple of minutes, turn it again till both sides are light brown.
  17. When the bubbles in the oil subside, it is time to remove the pakwan from oil.
  18. Drain off the oil well and set the light brown pakwan on a tissue.
  19. Fry the each of the pakwans.
  20. Serve hot with hot dal.

  1. If you want to optimize your time, keep the frying pan on the stove after rolling 4 pakwans. As one batch is getting fried, roll out a set of 4 pakwans – you can manage this if you are used to rolling puris!
  2. Patiently fry the pakwans on low heat so that they are light brown as well as crisp.
  3. If less ghee is used, the pakwans will be a bit hard. You can rectify this by kneading the remaining dough with your palm smeared with melted ghee.
  4. If excess ghee is used, they will tend to crumble in the oil. In that case, add 2 tsp of maida to the dough and knead well before making the rest of the pakwans.

© Copyright 2011. Brinda Balasubramonian.