Saturday, July 17, 2010

Tomato soup with basil

I've been a bit busy to keep up with the cooking posts but the good thing is, the cooking hasn't stopped so now hopefully I'll get to post on here all of my favorite foods' recipes.

I came up with this recipe while reading other soup recipes and thought I'd give it a try. It's super easy and has become a favorite of everyone at home.

Tomato soup with basil


6 tomatoes (if possible, use the stemmed ones instead of Roma)
1-2 tbsp olive oil
½ red onion, finely chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ cup fresh basil leaves
4 cups of water, of as desired
1 tsp salt, or to taste
black pepper, to taste


Boil the tomatoes in a pressure cooker for 3 whistles and once cool, blend them in a blender adding the water. There is no need to strain them as the peels are well cooked and get blended in with the tomato puree. You can add more or less water depending upon how thick you want the soup.

Put the olive oil to heat on a heavy bottomed pan and add the onions to saute. Add in the chopped garlic in there as well. Once the onions turn translucent, add the salt and stir well. Add the blended tomato liquid in there and bring it to boil.

Save a couple of tiny whole basil leaves for decoration, if you like. Chop the rest of them to your liking in small pieces. I personally like them to be little bit bigger so they float in the soup.

Let the soup boil for about 5 minutes on medium heat and add basil leaves as it's still boiling. Keep the soup on stove for another 2-3 minutes and then remove.

Ladle in a big bowl and top it with the whole basil leaves you've saved. Serve hot with bread or any thing else that you like. You can add pepper to taste, if you like.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Blackberry Tiramisu/Parfait

I should say that this isn't really a tiramisu, more like a parfait-like dessert. My colleague SY shared this recipe with me a long while back. I was waiting for the berries to start their season so finally when they did, I got so excited to make this one. I already had a huge box of blackberries so I got a little creative and replaced the blueberries in the original recipe with blackberries. I halved the amounts of all the ingredients when I made it. And I got to admit, after 8 hours, it turned out to be the most delicious dessert... completely droolworthy.

Best to start making it around noon if you want to eat it after dinner.

1 box nilla wafers
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1 pint ricotta cheese
¼ cup powdered sugar
1 jar blackberry preserves (original recipe had blueberry preserves)
1 bag fresh blackberries (original recipe had frozen wild blueberries or fresh blueberries)
1 frozen limeade concentrate (thawed)
1 square baking pan (I used a square corningware pot)

Whip the cream in a bowl using an electric mixer until slightly thick. Add in sugar and ricotta cheese and mix gently until smooth.

In separate bowl combine preserves with fresh blackberries.

Layer baking pan with nilla wafers and brush with limeade concentrate.

Nilla wafers on cream and blackberries

Spread 1/2 of cream and ricotta mixture over nilla wafers. Spread berry mixture on top of cream and ricotta. Repeat layering one more time.

Blackberry tiramisu with nilla wafers sprinkles

Top with crumbled nilla wafers, cover and refrigerate for 8 hrs.

Blackberry tiramisu ready to eat after 8 hours of refrigeration

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Feta Cheese Tartlets

Sunday afternoons are fun and boring both. Boring because they start out so and fun because that's what they turn into as soon as I decide about what exciting thing to make. So this past Sunday, it was feta cheese tartlets. I got the recipe from a vegetarian cookbook.

The cooking time is really fast and you can get these tartlets ready in 15 minutes flat if you have everything.

8 slices of bread of your choice (I took 9 as it was for 3 people)
½ cup melted butter
4½ oz feta cheese, small cubes (I took ~ 3-4 tbsp crumbled)
4 cherry tomatoes, cut into wedges (I took 1 small sized tomato & diced it)
8 pitted black or green olives, halved
8 quail's eggs, hard-boiled
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp wine vinegar (I used red wine vinegar)
1 tsp whole grain mustard (I didn't have it)
1 pinch superfine sugar
3 pinches of salt
parsley sprigs, to garnish (fresh)


Remove the bread crusts and trim into squares and roll flat with a rolling pin.

Brush the bread slices with melted butter and arrange into a muffin pan. First batch, I buttered only one side of the bread but on the second one, I applied butter on both sides of bread.

Bread baskets with foil

Press a piece of crumpled foil into each bread case to secure in place. I did this with my first batch and that left the bread soft under the foil so in the second batch I didn't put any foil.

Bake these bread slices in preheated oven at 375 F for 15 minutes. 10 mins weren't enough to toast the bread slices.

Baked bread baskets

While the bread is in oven, mix together tomatoes and olives. If you're putting in eggs, shell them and quarter them.

Mix together olive oil, vinegar, mustard (optional), sugar, salt and pepper.

Here I mixed the cheese-tomato-olive mix with dressing and kept it ready for use.

Tomato, olive, cheese mixture

Remove the bread baskets from oven and remove the foil, if you used any. Let them cool for a couple of mins.

Just before serving, fill the bread baskets with cheese-tomato-olive mixture, arrange the egg pieces on top and spoon the dressing. Garnish with fresh parsley.

Feta Cheese Tartlets

Next time, I am thinking to cut the bread slices in half as these ones were rectangular and little larger than the muffin case.

Enjoy this super quick item as appetizer or afternoon snack.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Apricot Bread

This one I baked last weekend. I had been wanting to do some more baking and then got a request from R to make some apricot bread. The thing is we both had been wanting to eat this since the time we had gotten to try this on a flight. I don't even remember when that was but it's been years since... and we had never eaten anything like that afterwards. So it was perfect timing!

I googled for quite a few recipes and finally settled with this one. And it turned out so good. As usual, made quite a lot of modifications/adjustments to the recipe to my liking.

Original recipe: Apricot Bread @

1 cup snipped dried apricots
2 cups warm water
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened (I added 3 tbsp)
1 egg 5 tbsp yogurt
3/4 cup orange juice (I added 1 cup)
2 cups all-purpose flour wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chopped nuts (I just added walnuts)
1/2 cup apple sauce (this is something I added)

So the first thing you do is soak the little pieces of apricots in warm water for 30 minutes.

In the meantime, in a large bowl, mix the sugar, butter and yogurt together. Once they're mixed well, add in orange juice. I added 1 cup of OJ instead of 3/4. Right at this point, I also added 1/2 cup of apple sauce for fun. :)

Apricot bread ready to be baked

In another bowl, combine wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix in the sugar-butter-yogurt-juices mixture and stir it well until it's all combined together.

Drain apricots to remove all water and add to the batter with walnuts. Mix well again.

Pour into a greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Baked apricot bread

Let the pan cool down for 10-15 minutes before slicing the bread.

A slice of apricot bread

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Vegetable Jambalaya

Everyone wanted to eat something with vegetables and so I sat there flipping through the pages of "Practical Cooking - Vegetarian" and liked this one the best. I had practically everything it needed and seemed pretty quick one so Vegetable Jambalaya it was. I made quite a lot of changes to the recipe and everyone loved it. :) Now I know why people who like cooking enjoy it. It's because when you make it with so much passion, there's such a little change that it will actually go wrong and when people eat it and enjoy it, they give you compliments and your efforts are appreciated. What could be a greater feeling than that!!

½ cup brown rice
4 tbsp olive oil (recipe called for 2 tbsp)
3 garlic cloves (finely chopped) (recipe suggested 2)
1 red onion (cut into 8 pieces)
2 dry red chili peppers (whole) (recipe suggested chili flakes)
1 green bell (diced)
1 eggplant (diced)
½ cup frozen peas
1 can baby corn (recipe suggested halved lengthways but I had diced)
1½ cups broccoli florets
1 tomato (chopped)
½ tsp garam masala
1 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp dhana jeera powder
3 pinch nutmeg
1 tsp salt (or to taste)

Note: the recipe had 1 tsp creole seasoning but I didn't have it and I searched for it at Whole Foods but they couldn't find it for me and so I gave up and decided to make my version of spices and that's what you see up in the Items section.

Cook the brown rice in a pot until it's cooked. Drain the water and set aside. The original recipe suggests to drain, rinse in boiling water and drain and then side aside.

Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pot and add the garlic and onion and keep stirring for 2-3 minutes or until light brown. While you're stirring it, add the two red chili peppers after 1st minute (not part of the original recipe).

Add eggplant, bell pepper, corn, peas, and broccoli to the pan and cook while stirring occassionally for another 2-3 minutes.

Eggplant, broccoli, peas, baby corn, bell pepper added to onion & garlic

Add tomatoes, garam masala, red chili powder, nutmeg, dhana jeera, and salt and stir well. Let the vegetables cook until they are tender for another 10-15 minutes on low heat.

Added tomatoes to the veggies mix

Add the brown rice to the veggies and mix well and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Recipe suggests you can use mixture of different kinds of rice such as wild or red rice for color and texture. They also suggest to cook the rice in advance for a speedier recipe.

Veggies after adding the brown rice

Serve hot with brown rice or just by itself or any how your heart pleases.

If you feel that is it not very spicy for your taste, you can always add some hot sauce or sweet & sour sauce to adjust it to your taste. I like it as is because then you actually get to taste each of the veggies and it is truly delicious.

Vegetable Jambalaya

Enjoy! :)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Gujarati Sweet: Mohan-thaal (મોહન-થાળ)

I had been wanting to make this since a long time and finally got a chance to make it during Holi-Dhuleti this year. It's a famous Gujarati sweet and usually is prepared for festivals and at many other occasions.

I made two batches of it - one on each day of the weekend. The first one turned out perfect but the secone one got messed up big time because I increased the portions and made some mistakes. But more on that later, first is the recipe that works! :)


1 ½ cups ghee
1 ½ cups chana besan flour
1 ½ cups sugar
¾ cups maavo
¾ cups water
4 tbsp milk (do not take any more than this)
3 tbsp ghee (do not take any more than this)
2 tsp cardamom powder
6-8 shredded almonds
6-8 shredded pistachio
1 tsp chaaroli/calumpong nut/cheronjee

Warm up the 4 tbsp of milk with 3 tbsp of ghee and add to the flour. Mix well and set aside for 15-20 minutes.

Shred the almonds and pistachio and set aside.

Shred the maavo to make crumbs and set aside.

Shredded maavo

Take a deep dish (I use stainless steel thaali) and brush it with ghee and set aside.

Take the flour that you had set aside earlier for 15-20 mins and mix it well to make it finer and sift the flour through a chaalni (sieve) (use the one that mainly used for wheat flour).

Mohan-thaal base

Put the ghee in a heavy bottomed pan and once melted, add the sifted flour. Let the flour turn golden or lighter shade of brown on a low-medium heat. Keep stirring in between. This usually takes about half an hour or more. Once the color of flour changes to light brown, add the maavo crumbs and stir well to mix them together for 3 minutes. Remove from the stove.

Chana besan being stirred on low heat

In another pot, take the sugar and water and heat to make syrup. Heat it enough so that when you put a drop on plate, it stays round and doesn’t spread (goli vale tya sudhi). (I had this prepared earlier when the flour was sitting around for 15-20 minutes and it got a bit hard so I had to reheat it with ¼ cup of water right before adding it to the flour.)

Add this syrup to the flour and mix it well. Add one tsp of cardamom powder in the flour, use the other tsp to sprinkle on top.

Pour the mix in the deep dish and set it. Remove the excess ghee, if you like. Sprinkle with the remaining cardamom powder, chaaroli (I didn’t have this so I skipped it), shredded almonds and shredded pistachio.

Mohan thaal set in a deepdish

Let it set for 10-15 minutes and then cut rectangular pieces with a sharp knife.

Note: at this point, you might have some excess ghee that comes up on the sides of the deepdish. You can remove it using a spoon and make use of it for some other sweets or strain it well and use it to spread on the roti/chapati/rotali, if you like.

Mohan thaal cut into rectangular pieces

Mohan thaal pieces

What not to do:

So for batch II, I had 2½ cups of flour and for that I took 6 tbsp of milk and 4-5 tbsp of ghee. This turned the flour into dough-like texture. Then by the time I was ready to sift the flour through the sieve, it would not go through as it was too gooie/sticky/dough-like. So then I was like "oh this isn't a problem, let me add some more flour" and I did. I kept doing that multiple times until I got all the flour/dough through the sieve. Well, this messed up the whole batch because by the time I poured out the final mixture with syrup mixed-in into a deepdish, the syrup started to separate from the flour and by the time the deepdish cooled down, the syrup turned into sugar crystals and sat at the bottom of the container as a layer. As you can imagine, it was not fun to even try out this mohan-thaal. My sweet mohan-thaal had been ruined royally... lesson learned: do not think more ghee and more milk make better sweets! :D

Moral of the story: the little bit of ghee and milk are supposed to be very small amounts compared to the amount of flour. They are not to be used to make dough of this flour, but more like to just moisten it slightly. If you feel that you've by mistake added more of it, add more flour right at that point and then let it the flour sit for 20 mins. Do not add more flour right before sifting it or while sifting it.

Mohan thaal batch 2

More later...
Enjoy! :)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Beet-Spinach Salad (Red & Green Salad)

I got this recipe from a salad cookbook. As usual, I made modifications to the quantities to my liking and used the ingredients that I had.

Beet-spinach salad

2-3 beets, boiled & diced
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1 orange
1 tsp fine sugar (I used regular sugar)
1 tsp fennel seeds (Gujarati: variyaali)
salt & pepper
baby spinach to make a bed for salad

First of all, boil the peeled beets in pressure cooker for 3 whistles.

Once boiled and cooled a bit, dice the beets and set aside.

Dicing the boiled beet

Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottom pan. Add orange juice, sugar and fennel seeds and stir well until sugar dissolves. Add salt and pepper to taste and add diced beet to it. Stir to coat all beets with the dressing and then remove from the heat.

Cooking diced beet with dressing

Arrange baby spinach leaves in a plate or bowl and put the warm beet on top and serve immediately.

Warm beet on baby spinach

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Vegan banana-walnut bread

Baked this vegan banana walnut bread for Valentine's day. Surprisingly enough, it turned out really delicious.

Thanks to MM for the recipe. It is from a vegan cook book but I've modified most of the ingredients to my liking.

Dry ingredients:
2 c whole wheat pastry flour
1 c walnuts, chopped (the original recipe had ½ c)
3 tsp baking powder (the original recipe had 4 tsp)
½ tsp cinnamon powder
½ tsp ground nutmeg (the original recipe had ¼ tsp)
¼ tsp salt, or to taste

Wet ingredients:
2 c bananas, mashed (the original recipe suggested 1 c)
½ c apple sauce, sugar free
½ c Dates, chopped pieces
¼ c maple syrup
¼ c olive oil (the original recipe suggested safflower oil)
½ tsp vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. I actually set it to 360.

Dry ingredients

Place dry ingredients in large mixing bowl and mix well.

Combine wet ingredients in another bowl & then add dry ingredients and mix well.

I took a 6x10 pan as I didn't have a 5x9 inch loaf pan like the recipe suggested. They suggested to well oil the pan but I lightly oiled it.

Baked banana bread

Bake for 1 hour, or until toothpick comes out dry. I baked it for 45 minutes.

I eat it warm with my favorite flavor of ice-cream for dessert or have it with cold milk for breakfast. :)

Banana bread slice

Creamy Corn-Tomato Bisque Soup

The original recipe is from

I modified it a bit to change the ingredients to make it vegetarian and some quantities of the items too have been changed.

1 tbsp olive oil
½ red onion, chopped
5 red tomatoes, peeled, seeded, & chopped
1 cup yellow corn kernels, boiled
4 cups water
1 tsp sugar
½ cup heavy cream
Salt & black pepper to taste
½ cup chopped fresh mint

Heat the oil in a big pot and add the chopped onions and cook well until they turn lighter shade of brown. Add the chopped tomatoes, water and sugar and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the liquid is reduced by one quarter, about 20 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes.

Tomato base cooking

While that cools, boil the corn in a separate pan. Alternatively, you can roast the tomatoes and corn. That will give it a better taste than just the boiled/cooked version.

Preparing Corn-Tomato Bisque Soup

In a blender, puree the soup in several batches until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes per batch. Strain into a clean pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add corn kernels and boil some more. Turn off the heat and stir in the heavy cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Reheat gently over low heat.

Garnish with the fresh mint before serving the soup.

Creamy Corn-Tomato Bisque Soup

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Cranberry-Walnut-Blue Cheese Salad

Our Indian everyday meals don't have too many green vegetables so it only makes sense to include salads in them so that we get our daily dose of green veggies.

This one is very famous salad here in the US. There are several versions of it as you can change the kind of cheese and the salad dressing per your liking. The cafe where I eat once in a while serves this and I absolutely love it. So one day I decided to give it a try at home and it turned out almost exactly the same.

When making salads, I try to use organic vegetables, if available. Also, I try not to use bottled salad dressing but make them fresh before making the salad. For this one, I had less time so I used the 365 fat free organic Balsamic Vinaigrette from Whole Foods.

As for the mixed leafy greens, you can buy them mixed from market (Whole Foods has big selection that you can choose from and Costco has good prices, if you're in the US) or mix them at home. Here is a list of several green veggies in case you are buying them individually.

2 plates full of organic mixed greens
3 tbsp balsamic vinaigrette
½ cup walnuts
½ cup dry cranberries
½ cup crumbled blue cheese


Take a big bowl and put the mixed greens in it.

Add balsamic vinaigrette and toss it to mix well. Then add walnuts, cranberries and cheese crumbs in that order. You can change the quantities if these if you like depending upon your taste.

You can choose to toss it or not. If you do, the walnuts and cranberries will sit at the bottom so make sure while serving you don't leave them out.

The salad is ready to eat!

Serves: 4 people

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Dam Aloo


1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp red pepper powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp salt (or adjust to taste)
1 tsp aamchur powder
3 tsp dhana-jeeru

3 tsp ghee
3 tsp oil
2 tsp cumin
2 cups chopped onion
1 cup cilantro
1 cup fresh/dry methi
1 1/2 cups tomato purie
6 medium sized potatoes

1 tbsp magattari seeds
1 tbsp khuskhus



Step 1:

Soak magattari seeds and khuskhus in water for half an hour and crush in blender with half a cup water, set teh paste aside.

Step 2:

The potatoes should be the small ones but if you can't find them, you can use the regular ones as well.

Peel the potatoes and cut each potato into 1 to 1 1/2 inch pieces.

Step 3:

Put oil and ghee to heat. Once hot, add cumin, then add onions and saute well until they are brown.

Step 4:

Add tomato purie, methi and cilandro and stir well.

Step 5:

Add all the spices - turmeric, red pepper, garam masala, salt, aamchur powder, dhana-jeeru and mix it well.

Step 6:

Once the mixture is boiling, add the potatoes and mix them well.

Step 7:

Transfer the mix in a pressure cooker and cook for 1 whistle.

And you have 'Dam Aloo' sabzi ready! :)

Paneer Bhurji

There are so many versions of this that one can practically come up with a new recipe with every new vegetable. This version is without the gravy.

2 tbsp oil
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp chopped (green chili, ginger, garlic)
3 cups chopped onions
3 cups chopped bell-peppers/capsicum (red and green)
1 ½ cup grated paneer
½ cup kasoori methi
1 tsp cumin/jeera
1 tsp garam masala

Put oil and butter in a pan to heat.

Once hot, add chopped green chili-ginger-garlic and cumin and mix well.

Add onions to the pan and keep stirring until they're well cooked.

Add kasoori methi and stir to mix it well.

Then add the chopped bell-peppers and grated panner and cook for 5 mins.

Add garam masala and cook for another minute.

Remove from stove and serve hot with any kind of bread.

Feeds: 4 people


I initially started putting together my recipes on my main blog but since Meera and I are doing this together, I decided to bring my first recipe here now.

1½ cup pigeon peas/tuvar daal
6-7 tsp oil (or as needed)

3 tsp white lentil/urad/adad daal
2 tsp fenugreek/methi seeds
2 tsp chickpeas/chana daal (optional)
1 tsp cumin/jeeru
1 tsp black mustard seeds/rai
2 big dry red chili peppers (cut into halves)
½ tsp asafoetida/hing
10-12 leaves curry leaves/meetho limbdo

4 tsp cumin-coriander blend/dhana jeeru
2 tsp red chili powder
2 tsp salt
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp sambhar masala

2 tomatoes chopped
¼ cup tamarind/imli/aambli
1 tbsp grated coconut (optional)
water (as needed)
cilandro/dhana (to garnish)

Boil the tuvar daal in pressure cooker until it’s well cooked. It’s okay if it’s a little over cooked (not burned, but more liquidy). Mix the cooked daal well with water and set aside.

Boil the dry tamarind in one cup water and after mixing it well, strain it. Set aside.

In a big pot, heat the oil and add mustard seeds, urad daal, methi, chana daal, red chili peppers, jeeru, meetho limbdo and hing. Once the urad daal turns light pink, add about 5-6 cups of water. After the water starts boiling add the following: salt, red pepper powder, turmeric, sambhar masala, dhana jeeru. Keep stirring in between to mix well. Let the liquid boil some more and add the daal that we set aside earlier. Add tomatoes, tamarind liquid, and grated coconut. Stir well and let it boil at medium heat.

Veggies: (for Vegetable sambhar)
Note: This is optional, but I add it because it makes sambhar healthier. You can add/remove any of the veggies as you please.

½ cup chopped onions
½ cup chopped bottle gourd/dudhi/lauki
½ cup chopped ivy gourd/tindora
½ cup chopped potatoes
½ cup chopped eggplant
½ cup chopped okra/bhindi
¼ cup chopped carrots
2 tsp oil

While the sambhar is boiling, in another pot, heat the oil and add the onions, once the onions turn light pink transparent then add rest of the vegetables and cook at medium heat for 10 mins.

Add these cooked veggies to the sambhar mix. Don't just dump it in as it might make the sambhar splatter all over the place. Instead use a big spoon to move it from one pot to the other. Alternatively, you can put a little bit of sambhar in the pot with veggies and pour it all back into the bigger pan.

Let it boil some more so that the veggies are well soaked in the sambhar. Garnish with cilantro. Serve hot with idli or rice or just as soup.

Feeds: 8-10 people

Monday, January 18, 2010

Welcome & Lentils/Grains of the Day

श्री गणेशाय नमः

Welcome to Our Cooking Experiments!

This is our blog to keep track of different recipes we have tried and other cooking notes.

Enjoy and share your suggestions!

Meera & Kanan


Traditionally, these grains/lentils are eaten on the following days:

Monday/Somvaar - saamo/varaya?
Tuesday/Mangalvaar - Pigeon pea (tuver)
Wednesday/Budhvaar - Green Gram (moong/mug)
Thursday/Guruvaar - Chick pea (chana)
Friday/Shukravaar - Rice (chokha)
Saturday/Shanivaar - Black lentil (urad/aDadh daal)/ Sesame (tal)
Sunday/Ravivaar - Wheat (ghau)


A very helpful link that lists Indian Vegetables, Spices and Grains:,_spices_and_grains