Lauki Kofta | Bottle Gourd in Tomato Gravy | Lauki ke Kofte

If there are days when you have a whole bottle gourd that you need to consume but you know chopping to make a curry (lauki ki sabzi) or adding to dal (lauki chana dal) is not going to finish it up, and when you don't feel like making a snack (lauki muthia) or dessert (lauki ki kheer) - then lauki ke kofte will come to your rescue.

Lauki ke kofte consists of two parts: fried balls made from grated bottle gourd mixed with spices, and a tomato based gravy mixed with spices.  It takes a little effort to make lauki kofta curry, but makes a delicious dish to serve to your guests.




Vanilla Sandwich Cookies with Chocolate Filling | Eggless Baking

After making these eggless sandwich cookies when I sent the picture to my friend, the first thing she asked was if these were burgers.  When I sent it to my brother, he asked if these were idli.  Oh my.  If only people could taste food from a photo!

Lovely vanilla cookies, with a subtle hint of orange flavor through the zest, the chocolate-y center that you'd want to lick, the crunch in these mildly sweet cookies when eating, and the fun in making them.  Can only be described for now.



You'd want to get to baking them right away.  The ingredients for these Vanilla Sandwich Cookies with Chocolate Filling are fairly easy to find at home if you do bake occasionally.

Badam ka Halwa | Almond Halwa Recipe

Making Badam ka Halwa (Almond Halwa) is time consuming, yes.  It starts with soaking almonds, peeling each one, then slicing part of them while grinding the rest, and then cooking with milk and stirring them until your hands can’t take no more.


But eyebrows raise in amazement when you serve Almond Halwa.  Because people know the effort it takes to prepare a good almond halwa.  It has the ability to leave people impressed.



French Bread Recipe | Baguette

I always made baguette, challah, etc using a white bread recipe, the kind of recipes that use oil, butter, milk, etc – you know, because I thought a bread must have all of that.  But this French Bread recipe to make baguette from the book Joy of Cooking had only 4 ingredients: flour, salt, yeast, and water.


Honey Glazed Almonds, Salted & Spiced Nuts | Snack ideas

It had been a while since I made some things to nosh on. Summer in California means lots of outdoor activities and travels. That means lots of dry snacks to carry for road trips or flights.  So when couple of months back Alok told me we'd be going on a 3-day trip to Portland, I happily made some... masala mathri, namak paare (salted crackers)shakkar paara (sweet crackers)honey glazed almonds, and salted and spiced nuts.


Cabbage Muthia Recipe

Mutthi in Hindi language means 'fist'.  Muthia comes from that word because to make the log shaped steamed 'dumplings' you tightly press the grated vegetable and spice mixture into your fist.  Muthia can be made with various vegetables, such as bottle gourd (lauki), radish (mooli), cabbage (pattagobhi), and so on.


Kala Chana Masala Recipe

Kala Chana is known as black chickpeas or bengal gram in English.  It is different from the Kabuli Chana, the pale colored chickpeas (aka Garbanzo Beans) used for making Chhole.  The two are shaped similar but are different in size, color, taste, and texture.  For making Chhole, you need to use Kabuli Chana.  But for making Chana Chaat, for example - you can use either legume.

In this post, I'm sharing a really simple Kala Chana Masala recipe that's on the dry side but can be eaten with phulka, with poori, or can be enjoyed as a snack. These are called Sookhe Kaale Chane.


Ras Malai Recipe | Indian Dessert

When my family was discussing the menu for my wedding reception four years back, all I said I wanted was Ras Malai for dessert.  That's how much I love Ras Malai.

Malai Barfi (Milk Cake) | Indian Sweets

Some years ago, we were grocery shopping at an Indian store and saw a booth set up there selling Indian sweets.  Alok saw the box of Malai Barfi (Milk Cake) and wanted to buy it.  I was still pretty new in the USA and still getting used to the prices here.  So when I saw the small box of Malai Barfi for $7, I calculated the price in home currency and insisted that he not buy it.  Few days later, I made Malai Barfi and surprised him when he came home that evening.

And then last month  I celebrated birthday week for Alok and prepared one favorite dessert of his every day.  On one of the days, it was this simple Malai Barfi.

malai barfi indian sweet

Make Paneer at Home in Various Shapes

I have rarely bought paneer from the store ever since I started making paneer at home three years ago, buying only if I do not have sufficient time.  And the many people who make paneer at home, I have seen them mostly make their paneer and cut into cubes to use in their recipe.

But guess what?  The benefit of making paneer at home is that you can actually shape them any way you want, not just cubes!  I totally make use of that to my advantage and make paneer in various shapes to use in the different paneer recipes.


Dal Baati Choorma Recipe | Rajasthani Cuisine | Marwari Food

He came home early that evening.  He felt that day the elevator was ascending the slowest.  He was excited, he was hungrier than ever before.

Because I told him I made Dal Baati Choorma for dinner. 


You know Dal Baati Choorma is a popular combination in Rajasthani cuisine.  Every family has their own style of making these three dishes.  The Dal for Dal Baati comprises of five lentils and several spices.  Some families use different lentils to make the dal, some may or may not add chickpea flour or semolina flour in their baati recipe, and some people might fry or bake the dough to prepare the choorma.  I like to keep it simple and use the same baati recipe to make choorma and bake them together.

Here’s how I make Dal Baati and Choorma - all recipes in this one post.

Homemade Graham Crackers Recipe

You are going to LOVE making and eating these graham crackers at home.  Period.  Graham Crackers are real easy to make to use as pie crust, to munch on randomly during the day, to make as the cheesecake base, or to have it along with tea or coffee.

When Alok tried few of these graham crackers (while there were still plenty remaining!)...
Alok: can you make more of these?
Me: sure.
Alok: is it difficult to make?
Me: not at all.
Alok: so addictive.


Simple Jalebi Recipe (using leftover rice)

A post on jalebi made with leftover rice on a foodie group I follow intrigued me.  Jalebi made from leftover rice?  Wow.  I have heard of baking soda used in jalebi batter, heard of yeast used to ferment jalebi batter, but using leftover rice was a first.

When the batter did not rise and did not smell sour after fermentation like it usually does for a regular jalebi, I wasn't sure what was happening.  So I tried piping out some jalebis in oil with a small amount of batter first in a ziploc bag to see what would happen.  Drained and dipped them in sugar syrup and tasted one, wondering – would this taste like jalebi?

Apple Crumble aka Apple Crisp | Quick and Easy Dessert Ideas | Eggless Baking

Apple Crumble, also known as Apple Crisp, is a wonderfully simple and delicious dessert consisting of apples as the base filling and a crumbly nutty crisp topping - hence the name.  Is it the same as apple pie?  No.  Making an Apple Pie demands a little more work with the dough.  Besides, apple pie has a pie dough base and a pie dough crust on top.  Whereas for Apple Crumble - you toss the apple mixture in a bowl and fill it in your baking pan, you mix the crumble topping and layer it on top, you bake it cool it and eat it and it's all possible within 35 minutes.  What's more - Apple Crumble does not need eggs, so it's a great eggfree dessert if you're looking for one!


What is different about my apple crumble recipe?  I have made the quantities as 2 tsp, 2 Tbsp, 2 of each so that it's easier to remember, measure, and follow the recipe.  My recipe also uses less sugar while being moderately sweet and less butter while being just as delicious.

Dal Chawal Kath Recipe | Rajasthani Cuisine | Marwari Food

Kath, also known as khat or khatta, is a popular Rajasthani/Marwadi dish, but surprisingly I have not come across any information about it on the internet.  Dal Baati Choorma, and gatte ki sabji are some of the famous Rajasthani dishes that will probably come to your mind first.  While Dal-Baati-Choorma is meant more as a special meal, the lesser known Dal-Chawal-Kath combination from Rajasthani cuisine is more of an everyday meal, simple food.

Each family has their own style of making kath, and in this post I will show you different ways of making kath that I learned from my father, granny, and mother-in-law.



poetry: my little bro

Earlier this month my brother celebrated his birthday back home and I missed him. I missed him more when I counted how old he turned and how far he has come. And then I started to think he'll get married in a couple of years and life will change when his wife will become his priority. And then, I tried to pen down my feelings and wrote a poem after a long, long time.


Green Curry Flavored Paneer Empanada | Fusion Food | Appetizer Ideas

Last month I went to an event where some 100 attendees brought 100 bite-size pieces of their fusion food (appetizer, dessert, etc).  The creative combinations they came up with blew my mind.  After thinking for weeks, I had finally decided on taking green curry flavored paneer empanada as my fusion dish.


I grew up in Bangkok, Thailand, and that's where the inspiration behind my recipe came from.  I used the authentic vegetarian green curry paste brought from Thailand.  To add fusion to a Thai green curry paste, I used homemade paneer (Indian), and to fusion-ize it further, I shaped them like empanada (a touch of Latin America).  Since the theme of the event was ‘green’, I used spinach puree to add color the little cuties.

Shimla Mircha ka Salan: Bell Peppers in Spicy Peanut Gravy

When I hear "salan" I relate it to mirchi, biryani, and Hyderabad.  'Salan' means gravy and is popular in Hyderabad.  It is mostly made in three ways: with shimla mirch (bell pepper), with chili peppers (long chilies), or as a plain spicy gravy which is a superb accompaniment to biryani.  What I'm sharing here today is the one with bell peppers: Shimla Mirch ka Salan - bell peppers in a spicy peanut gravy.

I like to make my Salan spicy, a mild Salan is no fun.  Here's how to make one -


Simple Spinach Soup Recipe

There are some blogs I have come across that write lengthy introductions unrelated to the post.  Not that I have a problem with it, because if the multiple paragraphs are not exactly providing more information about the recipe then I'm usually skipping them.  But it amazes me how some people can write so much.  I really have to think for days what to include in a post!  Would you tell me whether you like to read such blog posts all about the author or do you prefer getting to the point?

For now, I'm sharing a simple spinach soup recipe.  There's no story behind it, no reason to stretch this post unnecessarily, and no point in blabbering.  The weather was good one day, there was a lot of spinach in the huge bag we got from Costco, and I felt like making some simple, easy, and delicious spinach soup.

Vegetarian Spinach Soup Recipe

Vegetarian Spinach and Mushroom Crepes for Breakfast

I'm sharing wonderful spinach and mushroom crepes today that will be perfect for your next brunch.  You can definitely have these spinach and mushroom crepes for dinner, as they are quite satiating with the paneer and cheese filling.  We relished our crepes for breakfast with some freshly squeezed pineapple juice.

Do your kids like to eat colorful food?  Then these green crepes would be great to also get them to eating spinach, because spinach puree has been used instead of any artificial food coloring to make the crepes.


Vegetable Stuffed Bun Recipe | Eggless Baking

The thing with baking breads is ... once you try making easy stuff like a loaf a few times, or a baguette a few times, you feel like going to the next level and try something like a pretzel or a challah.  Then you want to try some more shapes, sizes, and types of bread.  Not that bread-making has any such levels.  But you basically want to experiment different kinds of breads, because it's a challenge.  Because it's fun.


Dahi Vada Recipe | Dahi Bhalla Chaat

When I have guests over for a meal, I plan our menu based on beverage - appetizer - main course - sides - dessert.   Usually with a roti-sabji or rice-curry combination, I keep a side of salad and/or a raita.  Raita is so simple and quick to make, great to have something cooling the system, and easily adds another item to the menu.  But these days, instead of making raita, I prefer making dahi vada.  It's a little more work, agreed, but sometimes totally worth having a dahi vada instead of a simple raita.


dahi vada

Carrot and Ginger Soup | Vegetarian Soup Ideas

I had come across a question some time back on how to thicken a soup.  One can add potato while boiling the vegetables then blend, so that the starchiness in potato can help thicken a soup.  But then you cannot add potato in just about any soup.  So another method is to add cornstarch paste (cornstarch mixed with some water) while boiling the strained puree make a soup thick.  But then, not everyone likes to add cornstarch to their soup.  You can also add heavy cream toward the end, while it cannot rescue a thinned down soup, heavy cream helps to make a soup creamier (and yummier).  But you know what my preferred method is?

Add lesser water when blending, to begin with.  That's how I make my soups, that's how I made this delicious carrot and ginger soup.


Basic Eggless Vanilla Cake Recipe | Egg-free Baking | Vanilla Cake without eggs

A basic vanilla cake is a canvas, to paint your imagination.  A basic vanilla cake is a like your marble stone, to carve and sculpt with your vision.  You can add different flavors to your vanilla cake batter, or divide batter to add different colors to each portion to bake into a colorful cake.  You can fill your basic vanilla cake layers with numerous kinds of fillings, and decorate it with various kinds of frostings.  There's so much you can do.

In this post, I will share with you one of the recipes to bake your own egg-free homemade vanilla cake from scratch along with an FAQ on possible mistakes, substitutions, and suggestions.


eggless vanilla cake recipe

Basic Bakeware Needs for Beginners | Baking Tools and Essentials

Someone who was looking to start baking recently asked a question in a group what the best bakeware is, where to buy from, and whether to opt for a hand mixer or the stand mixer?

That made me go back in time and ask myself, "how did I start baking?"  And when I asked readers on my Facebook page if they'd like a post on the basic baking tools and they responded affirmative, here is a post that I hope will help other beginners.



In this post am going to share a little background of how I began baking, things I learned over time, pictures of baking tools I have, a list of basic things you need (and do not need), and some suggestions.  My aim is to give you valuable information under one roof, so I will be editing this post often as I think of more tips, ideas, answers to questions, and some more pictures as I stock up on more things.

Eggless Banana Bread Recipe

I baked Banana Bread again this past weekend.  Must tell you the the different trials I have conducted on banana bread recipe over the year - I have divided my recipe in half, I have tried a combination of sugars instead of one, I have replaced milk with makeshift buttermilk (milk + vinegar), I have used more butter than the proportion stated, and I have divided the batter to bake in two small Pyrex glass containers instead of aluminum loaf tins.

I have experimented with everything the instructions tell you not to.  

Samosa Recipe | Popular Indian Appetizer

While I was making tea after lunch, Alok opened the freezer today and saw a packet of samosas.  He HATES to eat anything frozen.  But after I made and fried some samosas fresh yesterday, I froze a few without frying for later.

He looks at me, shakes his head, and I knew an argument was going to be up next.




Alok: You froze samosa?  Tch tch. (smiling as if he discovered something I was hiding) You know I don't like it!
Me:   Everyone does it okay. I don't want to make small batches of something repeatedly anymore.  It's good to have some things ready when you want it.
Alok: Why don't you freeze tea also?  Freeze everything, so it will all be ready whenever you want it.  I must see what else is there in the freezer. (taking out each packet to see and to playfully tease me)
Me:   Freezing properly does not spoil the food.  What do you think restaurants do?  They freeze at the initial stage and cook on order that's why you get hot food that looks as good as fresh. (still hoping to change his mind!)
Alok: Okay, can I order Shahi Paneer, Kofta, and Naan from you right now?  Can you give it to me?  Now you see, this is not a restaurant, this is my house! (smiling because he *thinks* he won the argument)

Baked Tomatoes with Paneer and Potato Stuffing

I was trying something random the other day.  I told Alok I was cooking something special that day.  Special meant something new, since I had not attempted a new recipe or a new dish in a long time. 

As I added the unplanned ingredients one after the other, cooked and sampled it, the mixture was tasty and spicy.  So I thought of stuffing it in tomatoes, and baked it to see what happens.  I considered being prepared with a Plan B, but the stuffed tomatoes turned out great!

Sabudana Vada Recipe | Snack Idea

Sabudana Vada is one of those snacks that is fantastic to eat with afternoon tea, great to serve as a party appetizer, and wholesome for those who are fasting.
Sabudana Vada is one of those snacks that tastes the BEST when hot and fried just before serving, because reheating them in a toaster oven does not do them justice.
Sabudana Vada is one of those snacks that resonates Lays' slogan "no one can eat just one!"


Moong Dal Khasta Kachori Recipe | Snack Idea

Moong Dal (in Hindi) is the split skinned yellow mung.  Khasta (in Hindi) means crisp or flaky.  Kachori is a puffed-up fried snack: the dough made with flour is rolled out and filled with a spicy filling.  Hence, this is Moong Dal Khasta Kachori: crisp snack with a spicy yellow mung dal filling, and is also called as Moong Dal Kachori / Dal ki Kachori / Khasta Kachori.


Spusht | Moong Dal Kachori Recipe

The most popular kachori I know of and love are Moong Dal Kachori (yellow mung), Matar Kachori (green peas), and Pyaaz Kachori (onion).  In some parts of India, some type of kachoris are made flat and soft not crisp, and are meant to be eaten with a curry, especially a potato one called Aloo Dum.


The Moong Dal Khasta Kachori in this post is not that.

Scavenger Hunt Idea | How to Plan a Treasure Hunt for Birthday, Anniversary, Valentine's

After I shared the treasure hunt surprise on Alok's birthday, I thought of following up with a post on how to plan a treasure hunt but never got to it.  Over the past year, I received several queries from readers for birthday scavenger hunt ideas and asking how to plan scavenger hunt clues.  While I replied to some individually, a recent email by a reader Dhiya finally encouraged me to write a post and make it easier for everyone.  This is going to be a long, LONG post but a helpful one for sure.


Scavenger hunt (aka treasure hunt) is so enjoyable, that you can plan this fun game for various occasions.  While I played the scavenger hunt on my husband's birthday, you can most definitely plan one for your anniversary or for Valentine's.  If you have kids, you can play a treasure hunt on your kid's birthday, either with only your child or along with your child's friends if you throw a party as such.

Eggless Chocolate Cupcakes (using butter) with Buttercream Frosting

Cupcakes are the in-thing these days; becoming much more popular than cakes.  People are preferring the small and pretty cupcake portions, individually decorated with different frosting or fondant toppers - for birthdays, baby showers, graduation parties, you name it.  And chocolate cupcakes, who doesn't love them?!

Good things come in small packages, a friend used to say.  So do these little cakes, these cupcakes.




Masala Mathri - flaky, crispy, spicy crackers | Tea Time Snack

A plain flaky mathri is undoubtedly timeless.  But sometimes, when you add some spices to the mathri it takes it to another level.  It’s so spicy and flavorful you don’t really need a pickle anymore.  Masala mathri, flaky, crispy, spicy cracker is a great tea-time snack.

Tea-Time Snack: Namkeen Kaju / Chatpate Kaju / Masala Kaju

To call this cashew nut-shaped snack as namkeen kaju (salty or savory cashew nuts), chatpate kaju or masala kaju (spiced cashew nuts) is a misnomer to the literally salted or spiced cashew nuts.  Alas, there is no other name by which these fried snacks are called.


So, to not confuse you - this post talks about how to make these fried cashew nut-shaped crackers using all-purpose flour; and NOT the real cashew nuts.

Eggless Ferrero Rocher Cupcakes | Eggless Cupcake Recipe | Eggless Baking

Since my high school years, I used to have this strange habit of collecting Wrigley's chewing gum wrappers (white, yellow, and green colors) and sticking the Ferrero Rocher sticker (from the golden chocolate wrapper) onto the refrigerator door.


In every few months my mom would have to clean the door and remove the sticky residues, and she never understood my fixation for the Ferrero Rocher labels.  Honestly, I still do not, either.

Tea-Time Snack: Namkeen Karela aka Champakali

This tea-time snack has a unique shape, can be made in three ways (savory, sweet, and spicy), and has several names.  The savory one is simply deep-fried, the spicy one can have different spice blends, and in the sweet version the deep-fried beauties are coated with sugar syrup.  The sweet one is called ‘champakali’ in Maharashtra, ‘elo jhelo’ in Bengal, ‘kordois’ in Assam, and ‘panasa honalu’ in Andhra.

Tea-Time Snack: Til-Gud-ki-Meethi-Papdi (Sesame & Jaggery Whole Wheat Sweet Crackers)

There are so many tea-time snacks.  Some fried, some baked.  Some sweet, some spicy.  And especially if those are dry snacks, that can be easily carried while traveling, or great to munch on during the hunger pangs - these simple wheat crackers can be added to that list.


Eggless Chocolate Chip Cookies with Flaxseed Meal (flax seed powder)

If I have to choose between a chocolate chip cookie and a sugar cookie coated with sugar icing, I will always, always choose the chocolate chip cookie.  A crunchy or chewy, whichever kind of chocolate chip cookie you like more - with bits of chocolates in between, and a few bites of nuts surprising you in bits - you cannot say no to a chocolate chip cookie, can you?