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Monday, September 21, 2020

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies(Eggless) ~ Step by Step Pics

Cookies are my younger son's favorite and he will never spare any cookie, the most favorite being the chocolate cookies. I tasted chocolate chip cookies, double chocolate cookies after landing in US and how kids used to go crazy after these. But gradually I started baking my own batch of chocolate chip cookie at home with wheat flour and a mch healthier one. The chocolate chip cookie I already have posted here but that just uses chocolate chip. These cookies have cocoa powder and chocolate chips in them to call it double. There is also a third variant called triple chocolate chip which am yet to try. These double chocolate chip cookies are crisp on the edges and thin outer cover but inside is chewy and soft.

Its been quite some days since I posted something here and the reasons obviously are the usual ones like kids attending online classes and so don't get hold of the system whenever am free and then laziness takes over above all the good reasons. Anyways better late than never, hope I remain consistent now. Coming back to today's recipe these double chocolate chip cookies are made with wheat flour, light brown sugar and are eggless. I haven't powdered the brown sugar and have beaten the butter with sugar the similar way and you can see the sugar speckles in pics too which we totally liked it as it gives a nice crunch. You can always powder the sugar and then beat the butter. These cookies stay good for few days in air tight containers. I didn't have much let overs to store for many days. Do give this a try and enjoy with a cup of warm milk.

Preparation time ~ 10 minutes
Baking time ~ 12-15 minutes
Serves ~ 12 cookies
Author ~ Julie
wheat flour 1 cup
cocoa powder 1/4 cup
corn flour 1tbsp
baking soda 1/2 tsp
softened unsalted butter(room temp) 100 gms or 1 stick
light brown sugar or regular sugar 1/2 cup
chocolate chips 1/4 cup
vanilla essence 1 tsp
milk 1/4 cup
salt a pinch

  • In  a bowl, add the dry ingredients- wheat flour, corn flour, cocoa powder, salt  and baking soda. Mix with a spatula.Keep aside.
  • In another bowl, add the softened butter. To this add powdered sugar (I have used light brown sugar but you can use regular granulated sugar as well). I haven't powdered the light brown sugar as the small crystals when bit in between the cookies tastes good. Then beat the butter and sugar until fluffy and pale.
  • To this add the vanilla extract and add the dry ingredients in batches. Add milk as needed and combine well to for a dough. To this add the chocolate chips(reserve a tbsp of chips for garnish) and then cover with a cling wrap.

  • Refrigerate this dough for 15-20 minutes. Then remove the dough, divide in two portions. Roll out one portion of 1/4" thickness. Using a cookie cutter of 2" diameter or a bottle lid, cut out small round discs. Place few chocolate chips on top of each cookie and press down gently.

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place the prepared cookie on a tray lined with parchment paper, the cookies expand slightly so place leaving a little gap. Bake in pre heated oven to 12-15 minutes. Mine was done in 13 minutes, just check the sides if it turned slightly browned then its done. Cool on wire rack completely and then store in air tight containers. Enjoy !!

* You can use jaggery too instead of sugar if you get good quality jaggery.
* If your butter contains salt then omit the addition of salt in dough.
* You can use ghee instead of butter too.

Check this link for more cookies recipes in this space.

Monday, September 07, 2020

Kothamara(Kothavara) - Carrot Thoran | Guar Beans (Cluster Beans) Stir Fry

Kothamara was one of the less used vegetables at home until I found the benefits of this veggie. Initially kothavara was added only to sambar and aviyal but later on this was taken up by stir fry. I tasted this stir fry in a hotel but then it was made as kothamara stir fry alone.Later I started making it by adding carrots to this and found all loved this form than the kothamara alone.This is a simple stir fry but does require a little more time than usual to cut the veggie. Though kothamara can be made as a stir fry on its own but I feel addition of carrots balances the bitter flavor of kothamara.This  bitter flavor is further reduced considerably by the addition of shallots and grated coconut. The grated coconut added to this stir fry is slightly more than usual stir fries/ thoran. Check this out !!

Preparation time ~ 15 minutes
Cooking time ~ 10 minutes
Serves ~ 8-10
Author ~ Julie
kothavara/ guar beans 350 gms
carrot 2 large
grated coconut 3/4 cup
shallots/ kunjulli 10 chopped
green chilies / pacha mulaku 3 sliced
turmeric powder / manjal podi  1/2 tsp
curry leaves a sprig
coconut oil 2 tbsp
mustard seeds 1 tsp
salt to taste

  • Use tender cluster beans (guar/ kothamara) for stir fry. If you don't find the tender ones that then snip both edges or the hard sides of the cluster beans. Then chop the kothamara in small bits.

  • Peel the skin of carrot, wash and chop it small like kothamara.Chop the shallots, green chillies.
  • Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds. When it slutters add in the green chillies, chopped shallots and curry leaves. Saute until translucent. Add in the kothamara, carrots. Add turmeric powder and salt. Mix well, add 1/4 cup water. Cook covered for 5-6 minutes.
  • Run the grated coconut in a blender without adding water and pulse. Add the grated coconut, mix well. Check salt if needed. Then simmer on low flame for 2 minutes. Uncover lid and dry off any moisture left in the stir fry /thoran. Switch off flame, add a sprig of curry leaves. Keep covered for 10 minutes and serve.
* Remember to snip the hard sides of the mature kothamara(cluster beans) else it doesn't cook soft unlike the tender ones.
* Kothamara needs a little water to cook than just steam cooking. Add few tbsp of water to cook.
* If you like the stir fry more spicier then add more green chillies.
* Carrot is optional but it does reduces the bitterness of kothamara and adds a nice flavor.

Monday, August 31, 2020

Thena (Thinai) Pradhaman | Foxtail Payasam (Kheer) ~ Step by Step Pics

Wishing all my dear friends a Happy Onam !!
This year Onam in Kerala is a cautious and caring one in view of Covid -19 just like all other festivals that crossed so far. Anyways let's hope that things return to normalcy soon and we can move around more freely esp children. So we have no guests this year and so its a silent Onam like without much happenings except for the usual sadya.I made a small sadya for uthradam and thena pradhaman was the highlight of yesterday. Thena (foxtail millet) is a nutritious millet highly beneficial for diabetics. The magnesium in this millet helps to increase insulin secretion and thereby reducing sugar levels..An essential amino acid called 'lysine' is found in this millet which otherwise is not produced in the body. The high antioxidant activity flushes out acidity in the body. Thena is also rich in copper, zinc, calcium, magnesium and iron mineral which helps boost immunity. It is rich in calcium and is easily digestible.

Let me be honest here, I was tasting thena pradhaman for the first time. I have prepared kanji earlier with this millet which is also healthy. Foxtail millet was introduced to me from the blogosphere. I saw many of my friends using many millets. The only millet I knew was finger millet or ragi until I started adding other millets to our staples. I use barnyard millet to make idlis and dosas. These days millets are easily available in super market aisles and can be bought.

Pradhaman and payasam are the highlight of any sadya. As far as my understanding goes, pradhaman is thick and rich and is double cooked unlike the payasam which is single cooked. Double cooked means cooking the grains or fruits first and then adding to make payasam. Payasams like vermicelli is made directly in the boiled milk. Coming back to today's pradhaman, tastes delicious and is rich in coconut milk flavors. The cooked thena looks and tastes similar to nuruku gothambu or mulayari pradhaman. The only tedious job that I felt when cooking the thena is that you need to remove the husk and then use. But if you get cleaned foxtail millet then this work is easier. If you get a chance to try this out, always go ahead and give this pradhaman a try and enjoy.

Preparation time ~ 15 minutes
Cooking time ~ 30 minutes
Author ~ Julie
Serves ~ 7-8 bowls
*thena (thinai/ foxtail) millet 2 cups (refer notes)
cherupayar / whole moong dal 1/4 cup
jaggery 2.5 cups grated
cardamom powder/ elakka podi 3/4 tsp
ghee 2tbsp + 1 tbsp
cashews 2tbsp
raisins 2 tbsp

Look for stones, sticks and other impurities in thena. Then add a tbsp of water to the thena and keep for 5 minutes. Add this thena to a blender jar and pulse 3-4 times till the husk is removed. Now transfer this to a plate or moram and shake to separate the husk and gently blew the husk portion. It may be easy to remove the husk then. If you still feel there are more husk then repeat the procedure by adding few drops of water and pulsing in blender. I referred this video here to remove the husk from thena. Though I took 2 cups of thena before cleaning and got only a cup after cleaning.Rinse the thena completely under running water thrice to remove any husk remaining and other dirt.

In another pan add the whole moong dal and fry roasted for two mins. Then add this to a blender jar and pulse 2-3 times till the dal look separated and outer skin is removed slightly. Rinse this dal under running waterfor 2-3 times till the outer skin is washed off.

Mix both dal and thena together, add to a cooker and add water 2.5 cups (each cup of thena needs 2 cups of water to cook). Pressure cook this for 2 whistles. Switch off flame.
In the meantime, dissolve the jaggery in a cup of water and strain the impurities. Keep aside. Similarly extract the coconut milk from grated coconut or if using canned coconut milk, then dilute the coconut milk accordingly and keep aside.

Heat 2 tbsp ghee in a heavy bottomed pan. Now transfer the cooked mix to this and fry the cooked mix for 2 minutes. Then add the jaggery syrup and mix well. Let the jaggery syrup get reduced a bit  and then add the third coconut milk and cook on low flame. Stir in between and then continue too coo  till its reduced completely.At this point add the second coconut milk. Continue stirring at this point and make a point to stir at the bottom of the pan so that it doesnt;t stick to the bottom of the pan.

It may take 15-20 minutes to get the thick consistency. Add the chukku podi, cumin powder and elakka podi. Mix well without any lumps. Finally, add the first coconut milk and mix well. Wait till one or two bubbles appear at the surface and switch off flame.

In another pan, heat the 1tbsp ghee and fry the cashews and raisins. Pour this over the prepared pradhaman. Enjoy warm or cold as preferred. We love it at room temperature.

*If you are using cleaned foxtail millet then use only 1 cup for this measures.
*If you don't know, what's first second and third coconut milk then refer this post here.
* Refer this post here to make your own chukku podi and cumin powder.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Kootu Curry ~ Sadya Dish (Step By Step Pics)

Thiruvonam is on its way but I still don't feel much about Onam this year as mostly people are confined at home and haven't moved out much due to Covid-19 precautions. We too haven't done any shopping this Onam and are not planning to do at this time. This year's Good Friday, Vishu, Easter, Eid all went away the same way. We are just comforting on the thoughts that if the family is healthy and sound we can have a elaborate Onam any day when all meet together. I think many of my friends would also share the same thought, right? So let's celebrate this Onam safely at home with minimizing the outside visits thereby reducing exposure to corona and make innovative, improvised dishes if you don't have a particular veggie and come up with a new dish if it clicks in the family too. Also, try to add in pookalam with whatever flowers you have in your garden and enjoy the simplicity for the betterment of our family.

Many of the sadya dishes are already on the blog space but there is no dearth of recipes when it comes to try newer sadya dishes compared to the traditional recipes may that be varieties of payasam, pachadi or any other sides. Scrolling down my sadya dishes, I found that kootu curry has not been posted here so far. Kootu curry was new to me till I tasted this dish during one of our Onam sadya in US. Kootu curry mainly is made to the north of Kerala and down south its replaced with erissery. Erissery and kootu curry preparations are almost the same except the veggies and lentil combos differ. Erissery is made with pumpkin and vanpayar (cow peas) and kootu curry is made with black chickpeas, yam and raw plantain generally. Also, in erissery we don't add jaggery as such and the sweetness is mostly derived from the pumpkin. Kootu curry can be made with split bengal gram,yam and ash gourd combo. Kootu curry is a dry side dish and the fried coconut tempering gives it its unique flavors. 
The chickpeas is soaked overnight and then cooked in a pressure cooker. The plantain and yam pieces can be added together and cooked separately till done. Then the chickpeas, veggies are mixe together with coconut paste, spices,salt and jaggery Finally the curry is tempered and poured over the curry. Do give this a try and enjoy with your loved ones!!

Preparation time ~ 15 minutes
Cooking time ~ 25 minutes
Serves ~ 5-6
Author ~ Julie
chick peas 1 cup
yam / chena 3/4 cup
raw plantain / kaya 3/4 cup
coconut grated 1/2 cup
cumin seeds 1/2 tsp(optional)
chilly powder 3/4 tsp
turmeric powder 1/2 tsp
*pepper powder(coarsely crushed) 1 tsp
jagerry powder/sharkara 2 tsp
salt to taste

for garnish
coconut grated 3 tbsp
dry red chillies 2 broken
curry leaves a sprig/ thandu
mustard seeds 3/4 tsp
coconut oil 1tbsp + 2 tsp

  • Soak the chick peas overnight, drain water and then cook the chickpeas with turmeric(1/4 tsp) and salt in a cooker upto 4-5 whistles. Reserve the cooked water for cooking veggies.

  • In the meantime, chop the yam and plantain in cube size pieces separately and add to a bowl of water. Also grind the cococnut with cumin seeds(jeerakam) to a fine paste with little water (don't add more water as you may have to dry up all the moisture at the end then).
  • Now add the plantain pieces to a thick bottomed pan and add the cooked chick peas water. Add remaining turmeric powder and cook the plantain pieces until 1/4 th cooked and add yam pieces(you can even add both veggies together and cook). Cook till both veggies are cooked well. Add in the cooked chickpeas to this.

  • Add coconut paste, coarse pepper powder, chilly powder and jaggery(add crushed jaggery piece, it will melt down in the heat and mix). Adjust salt if needed.

  • Mix well and dry up all the moisture well so that the kootu curry looks nicely coated with masala. 

  • Heat oil in another wok/ kadai to temper. Splutter mustard seeds when the oil is hot, then add curry leaves, red dry chillies and finally add grated coconut. Fry the coconut till light brown. Pour this over the kootu curry. Finally, pour 2 tsp of fresh coconut oil on top and keep covered for 20 minutes. Serve warm with steamed rice and other sides.

* Whole peppercorns when crushed and added to many of the traditional recipes gives a unique flavor unlike pepper powder, do try that way for authentic tastes. You can even add the crushed pepper corns while tempering, heat and then add to the curry. But I generally add crushed pepper to the cooking mix.
* Kootu curry can also be made with the combination of split bengal gram,yam and ash gourd. 
* Final addition of coconut oil on top after tempering is optional but that definitely adds a unique flavor to sadya dishes.

Please refer this link here for more sadya recipes.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Chocolate Syrup (Homemade)

Homemade Chocolate syrup is a simple recipe that you can make it in a jiffy and hardly takes any expertize. Tastewise, the recipe may not be a exact copy of the store brought one but almost similar. I wouldn't claim a complete replica of Hershey's chocolate syrup but definitely a better choice as it is free of prservatives. Initial lockdown days we hardly got these stuff in stores as people had stocked up homes with all of the baking stuffs. And that's the time I started thinking alternatives and this quite worked good.

We should definitely make these once in a while at home just to know the amount of sugar we feed our kids in the name of jams, squashes, spreads and syrups. Your eyes may pop out seeing the amount of sugar needed to make 3/4 cup syrup is about half cup of this empty calories. The ingredient list says malt extract, corn syrup, liquid glucose, cocoa solids, thickeners. I had made the Hershey's Almond spread and that's surely a keeper, do give that a try if you haven't. Chocolate Syrup is demanded by kids mostly on top of ice creams, pancakes, crepes. And my kids have liked the homemade version and am happy to have tried. 

Preparation time ~ 2 minutes
Cooking time ~ 10 minutes
Author~ Julie
Serves ~ 3/4 cup syrup
*cocoa powder 3 tbsp or 4 tbsp
granulated sugar 1/2 cup
vanilla extract 1 tsp
water 1 cup
salt a pinch


  • Mix the cocoa powder in another 2 tbsp of water without lumps.
  • Heat the remaining water with sugar, let it come a boil on medium flame.
  • Add in the cocoa paste and cook on medium flame for 2-3 minutes until its considerably thick like store brought chocolate syrup.
  • Add the vanilla extract and salt, mix well just before ending. Switch off flame and cool completely before storing in bottles. (I preserve in refrigerator)
* Adding 3 tbsp yields the exact store brought flavor of chocolate syrup. If you are looking for a bitter sweet chocolate syrup then go ahead and add a tbsp more.
* Use good quality cocoa powder, I used Hershey's cocoa powder.
* Adding salt enhances the sweetness.
* If you love more vanilla flavors then go ahead and add more vanilla extract.
* The ingredients listed in store brought chocolate syrup also has corn syrup in it which adds to the thickening. I tried adding a tsp of corn flour when I made once to get the thickening but the thickening caused by corn syrup but the chocolaty flavor looks reduced a bit and so I felt this way its best to make without corn flour.

Friday, August 07, 2020

Ethakka Kumbilappam | Steamed Plantain Parcels

Kumbilappam is a famous treat for Keralites made using vazhana ela or edana ela. The edana or vazhana ela has a special flavor or aroma and this gets imparted to the appam as it gets steamed. Vazhana ela or Edana Ela is popularly called 'bay leaf' in English. Any regular kumbilappam is made of rice flour, jaggery, grated coconut but there is always scope for trying this out with different fruits like jackfruit(chakka) or plantain (ethakka). I have already posted the recipe of chakka kumbilappam in my earlier post, please do check.

The making of kumbilappam is not a hard task but the availability of the leaves to wrap or make cones is a concern. I have these leaves in my home and so get it whenever we go home and freeze them in ziplock covers, stays good more than six months. Thaw and clean the leaves to shape in cones once you take out from freezer. However, the aroma of fresh leaves reduces in the freezed up ones and fresh ones have a unique aroma of its own. These are guilt free snack that can be made at home, oil free and filling too. This time I tried making these with some nadan ethakka (over ripe plantains) and it really tasted delicious. The dough of kumbilappam should be loose to get soft steamed ones. So don't add more rice flour to make the dough stiff. Also the ratio of rice flour to plantains should be 1:2 to get the right texture. All loved the snack here with a cup of tea, you can also try these in banana leaves or aluminium foil wraps if there is no scope for fresh leaves. Check the recipe below :) 

Preparation time ~ 15 minutes
Cooking time ~ 20 minutes
Author ~ Julie
Serves ~ 7-8  kumbilappam
ripe plantain / ethakka 3
rice flour / ari podi roasted 1 cup
cumin powder / jeeraka podi 1/2 tsp
cardamom powder / elakka podi 1/2 tsp
jaggery / sharkara 1/3 cup
water 1/2 cup
grated coconut 1/2 cup
salt a pinch

  • Wash and cut the plantain in half. Steam cook the plantain pieces nicely or steam for 8-9 minutes and then mash the plantains. If seeds are big remove seeds by scooping it out and mash.

  • In a bowl, add the grated coconut,rice flour, elakka podi, cumin powder and salt. To this add hot melted strained jaggery syrup. And knead like a dough with mashed plantain. The mix shouldn't be very tight as the cooked kumbilappam will also turn hard and not soft. The dough should not be like chapathi dough much loose than that.
  • Prepare the edana ela cones using tooth pick or coconut leaves stem (eerkil). Fill each cone with the prepared mixture and place in a steamer. Steam cook for 8-10 minutes until done.
  • Remove from steamer and serve warm with tea, remove the leaf wrap and enjoy.

* Use fully ripe or over ripe plantain for best results.
* Always use rice flour to plantain in the ratio of 1:2 that is plantains should be more compared to rice flour . Then only kumbilappam will be soft.
* As we are kneading the rice flour not with hot water, its recommended  to add hot strained jaggery to the rice flour and mix.

* Ethakka Puffs (Sweet Puffs)

Friday, July 31, 2020

Cinnamon Pull Apart Wheat Bread | Star- Shaped Cinnamon Bread (Using Tang Zhong Method) ~ Step by Step Pics

Cinnamon pull apart bread has been in my do list since long but somehow I was postponing the bake for no solid reasons though. This time I got hold of this star shaped bread recipe with cinnamon sugar and butter filling. The actual recipe was double the ingredients and was a four layer bread but I baked it in two layers and so the bread was small apt for our evening tea. Got just finished in minutes. The sprinkling of powdered sugar on top is an additional sugary touch which you can avoid if you wish too as the bread is sweet with cinnamon sugar filling.

I love baking breads of different shapes and sizes and I had prepared the shaped dinner rolls sometime back. The tang zhong method is used to bake this bread which I used for baking the wheat flour bread. This is also baked with wheat flour which worked perfectly fine and didn't feel like it was baked with wheat. If you plan to bake using double the ingredients, then give an additional cook time of 5-7 mins more than this bake time. You may also fill the bread with crushed garlic and butter for a savory version and can bake homemade garlic bread. Do give this a try and enjoy !

Preparation time ~ 20 minutes
Baking time ~ 15 minutes
Serves ~ 1 star shaped bread
Author ~ Julie
to prepare tang zhong 
all purpose flour (maida) 1/4 cup
water 3/4 cup

to prepare bread
wheat flour 1 cup + 1/4 cup
salt 1/4 tsp
sugar 1.5 tbsp + 1 tsp
yeast 1 tsp
milk 3 tbsp
tang zhong half of prepared (approx 3 tbsp)
butter 1.5 tbsp
vanilla essence 1/2 tsp

to fill
cinnamon powder 1 tbsp
sugar 1/4 cup
butter 1/3 cup melted

1 egg wash to brush the top

  • Mix the all purpose flour(maida) and the 3/4 cup water without lumps to make tang zhong. Heat this over flame on low and keep stirring till the mixture thickens and is a porridge like. Switch off flame at this point and leave to cool completely. Use half of the prepared tang zhong for this recipe (approx 3 tbsp).

  • In a bowl add leuk warm milk(3 tbsp), sugar and yeast. Leave to proof for 7 minutes until its frothy.
  • In another bowl, add the wheat flour, sugar and salt. Mix well and then add half of the prepared tang zhong and add in the yeast mixture. Mix in gently and make a dough. The dough a this point is very sticky. Transfer this to a work surface or clean counter top and knead till its no longer sticky (around 10 minutes). The dough should set gluten in after kneading, if you stretch a small portion of the dough,it should be thin and translucent that means the dough can be rested to rise at this point. Add the softened butter at this point and knead again. Now add in the remaining 1/4 cup wheat flour or as much needed to get a smooth but not very sticky dough.

  •  Brush a bowl with oil and place the dough in the bowl. Brush the top of the dough also with oil. Cover with a cling wrap and leave to double for an hour.

  • After an hour, punch down all the air in the dough. Make two equal portions of the dough (approx 160g each) and leave to rise in the bowl for 15 minutes. Cover again with a cling wrap.
  • In the mean time, prepare the filling by mixing the sugar 1/4 cup, cinnamon powder and melted butter. Mix well and keep aside.

  • Now, roll out each of the balls in a big chapathi shape but slightly thicker than chapathi. Place on a parchment paper lined tray. Then spread the cinnamon mixture and roll the next ball of dough on a lightly floured surface. Then transfer this on top of the spread cinnamon mixture and seal the edges. 
  • Now place a lid in the center of the prepared chapathi. Using that as a center guide, cut out lines to make 16  equal portions. 

  • Then twist two close ends together to the outside by twisting three times. And pinch the ends to make a pointed end like flower. Repeat the same step for all other cut portions. Cover with a cling wrap and then with a damp cloth. Leave to rise for another 45 minutes till its puffed again.
  • Pre heat oven to 350 degrees F (do this in the last 10 minutes of rise) and then brush the top of the bread using egg wash liberally and then place in preheated oven. Bake for 15-17 minutes till the top looks nicely baked (I kept only the heat mode on at the bottom and gave two minutes of top heat for the final look). Remove from oven, brush the top with butter and leave to cool for 10 minutes. Sprinkle powdered sugar on top and serve with black tea. Enjoy 😊

* The tang zhong method I have earlier used to prepare whole wheat bread recipe, the link is here.
* The original recipe makes a four layer flower /star by simply doubling all the ingredients. In that case, divide the dough in four equal portions and make four chapathis, sprinkle each layer of the made chapathi with cinnamon mixture. That makes a big star shaped bread. 
* Use oil or butter for the dough but for cinnamon mixture use butter or egg wash for better tastes. Also remember to add the fat portion afte kneading the dough first else it may not rise well.
* You may also fill the bread with crushed garlic and butter for a savory version and can bake homemade garlic bread.

* Shaped Dinner Rolls