Archive | March, 2012

Quintessential Cauliflower

29 Mar

This is in my mind the best way to eat cauliflower. It draws on the idea of cooking cauliflower in a North Indian fashion sans heavy cream, paneer and over-cooking. For best results the cauliflower is cut into as minuscule florets as possible and added as the last item so that the sauce envelops the vegetable but the freshness and nutrients of the vegetable are preserved. I served it with rice, dhal, poppadom, and pickle. But I don’t see why it cannot be a side dish for roti.


To Saute:

  1. 4 cup of cauliflower florets
  2. 1 medium onion – Finely chopped
  3. 1 medium tomato not too ripe- Finely chopped
  4. Cilantro for Garnish
  5. 3 Tbsp Oil
  6. 1 Tbsp Ghee
  7. Salt to taste


  1. 2 Tsp Cashews
  2. 1 Tsp of Red chili powder
  3. 1 Tsp madras curry power
  4. 1/2 Tsp of turmeric
  5. 1 Tsp Cumin
  6. 1/2 Tsp Black Pepper
  7. 2  Green chilies
  8. 2 cloves of garlic
  9. 1/2 cup of coconut
  10. 1 heaped Tbsp Ginger
  11. Mint leaves (optional)


1) Grind all the ingredients for the sauce together. If you don’t like any particular spice then don’t add it. This is important because I detest the taste of coriander in some dishes and skip it altogether. Add water bit by bit just enough so that you can grind. If you have fresh mint, add a couple of leaves as well and grind.

2)  In heavy bottomed pan, melt the ghee and oil. Add the onions and saute just until it changes color. After 2-3 mins add in the tomatoes and stir well.

3) Cook for about another couple of minutes and mix in the sauce. Let this simmer over the heat for 5 minutes until the whole base comes together .

4) Now add the cauliflower, salt and a cup of water, give it a whirl and close the pan with a lid. Cook for about 8 mins and then remove the lid and cook until desired tenderness.

5) Garnish with cilantro and serve.



Something is wrong with me..

29 Mar

I can’t bring myself to bake/cook the same thing twice . In the past week or so I’ve attempted this, this, this and another ricotta based pasta. A word of caution about the cake: It tastes more like a sweet deli bread. Also, the Anzac cookie was too bland and I ended up doubling the amount of white sugar. The pea soup was a hit with my husband . The paneer is the savior of the recipe so try to not skip that step. Here is a list of things I want to try in the next week. This weekend I am making a non-alcoholic loaf version of this, MK’s paniyaram recipe, classic avial  and if time permits, this one. Apologize for the lack of pictures. I get so excited at the prospect of cooking that my blog is almost forgotten.

Wildflower Weekend

26 Mar

@ Sunol Park

I had a pleasant weekend in the bay area. Amongst my favorite  moments: Cheerful conversations,  warm food, shopping, wildflower spotting and an evening  at the Sunol Regional Wilderness park . I imagine this would be a great picnic spot, albeit for a summer afternoon as it was rather cold this spring evening. As this past weekend was the peak bloom for spring flowers, I watched out for wildflowers and they were everywhere. We spotted lupines, cherry blossoms (which can be found every 100feet literally) and yellow wildflowers. At one point, we saw a giant bed of wildflowers with mainly yellow but also pink and lavender wildflowers. Ah, can’t spring be everlasting?

My happy place is 500 miles away

23 Mar

My irritation at having to live in San Jose is at an all time high. I’ve lived in 4 places in the past 10 years (Chennai, Lexington, San Diego and San Jose). Of these four I’d say that San Diego is the most beautiful! Every weekend was amazing and there were so many things to do that didn’t involve a minimum 45 minute drive. Apparently it only rains during weekends in SJ (again this is true for the next 2 weekends in SJ). In winter its mind numbingly cold without the chance of snow. During peak summer I feel like I am in an oven . The stark desert like landscape that greets my eye, especially on the drive from home to work, does not appeal to my happy nature. The only thing to do is shop but this  gets boring too soon. ARgh! I’ll stop my rant now.

The things my dreams are made of

13 Mar

My mind is completely inert. The rain this weekend dampened my spirit. Being cheated of my weekend, I sit here and dream of wildflowers, wearing beautiful sandals with sparkly gems, eating fruit custards and playing with my baby. But most of all I want to relish in bright sunlight. So bright that my eyes would hurt and my heart would sing.

Repeat offender?

10 Mar

I wanted to do another post on my favorite things to cook. The orzo soup recipe is from Heidi Swanson of 101cookbooks fame. Its one of those things that can be thrown together in less than 20 minutes and is a meal by itself.

I try to vary the recipe each time by switching a different green(spinach instead of chard) , a different topping(grated carrot & onions for tomatoes) but keep the base relatively straightforward. A smaller pasta in a broth with a lot of flavor. Try this one folks. You’ll thank me later. I know I am grateful to Heidi for her splendid ideas.

Dinner Anyone?

8 Mar

I made dinner for me and my husband last night. This is a change from our usual routine because my mother, who is currently residing with us, prepares dinner.

I generally build my weekday meal depending on what I have in stock. I dug into my refrigerator and spotted some ricotta, mozzarella, a bunch of basil leaves and very little vegetables.  I originally thought of a chickpea based pasta soup with a cheesy topping but that is just way too much work for a week night. I found some jumbo pasta shells in my pantry and soon ideas began to shift around in my head. I’d make a a one course meal of pasta shells stuffed with herb & chili ricotta cheese in a tomato basil sauce.

I quickly got to work and assembled the shells, made the tomato sauce & arranged everything on the pan and baked. The thing I love about this recipe is that low fat ricotta is actually very low in fat, high in protein and a good source of calcium. Total prep time is about 20 mins.

For 4 servings –


8oz Jumbo pasta shells


1 1/2 cup low-fat ricotta cheese

1/2 cup grated mozzarella

3 chilies chopped


1 cup loosely packed basil leaves , chopped into small pieces


1 cup loosely packed basil leaves cut into long strips

1 small onion (preferably red) cut into tiny pieces

1 15oz can of crushed tomatoes

(Alternatively, you can use 3 cups of ready made red pasta sauce. I like Maria Batali sauce from Whole Foods).


1) Bring a large pot of water to boil.

2) Mix all the ingredients for the filling together

3) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

4) Make the sauce – Saute the onion in oil. Add the crushed tomatoes & 1 cup of water to this and simmer.

5) Cook the pasta just al dente.

6) Once the pasta is cooked, fill the shells with the filling.

7) Spray the pan with some oil, spread 1 cup of tomato sauce as a base.Arrange the shells in the pan in a single layer on top of the tomatoes. Pour the rest of the sauce on top . Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. I always bake in the top most rack.

Remove the pan from the oven and enjoy! The original recipe calls for grated Parmesan on top but I prefer it as it is .

(Courtesy: Recipe Behind Barilla Pasta Shell Box & Heidi Swanson of