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Friday, February 28, 2020

Mexican Wedding Cookies | Snow Ball Cookies | Traditional Butterball Cookies ~ Step by Step Pics

Mexican wedding cake/ cookies or snow ball cookie also called Russian Tea cake is a short bread like cookie. They are popular during festive seasons, also for occasions like wedding, christening and even Christmas time. They are similar to the melting moments cookies that I posted long back but the onl difference is that this uses ground nuts like pecan/ walnuts or hazelnuts. Walnuts are readily available here whereas pecan and hazelnut are on the costlier side. I have used walnuts in this recipe. These cookies on itself is mildly sweet before coating with confectioner's sugar. The rolling in confectioner's sugar adds a soft sweet topping with a buttery feel inside. None can stop by eating just one !!

For those who don't know, confectioner's sugar is different from powdered sugar as confectioner's sugar has corn starch in it along with powdered sugar, also called icing sugar. Powdered sugar is simply powdering the granulate white sugar. I have explained the making your own confectioner's sugar in the note section if you don't get hold of store brought confectioner's sugar. Baking these days is hard in my kitchen especially during late afternoons. The direct sun of afternoon falls on our kitchen window and so I try to finish my chores before that as its very hot in there. I try to bake simpler recipes or plan ahead to prepare to bake before afternoon. However these cookies are so simple to put together but the only concern was the use of all purpose flour or maida. I try and use wheat flour or any other healthy flours as much as possible but to get the short bread cookie feel, you definitely need to use maida. And I just ignore the maida part in this cookie which sometimes is inevitable. A good quality butter and a pure vanilla extract yields the best taste of this cookie as there are no more fancy ingredients needed to make this cookie. Do try this out, its so addictive buttery and rich. These cookies just crumble even on touch when warm so be very careful when rolling inn confectioner's sugar. Cool them nice and good before storing.

Preparation time ~ 20 minutes
Baking time ~ 15 minutes
Serves ~ 18-19 cookies
all purpose flour / maida 1 cup (sifted)
unsalted butter(room temperature) 1 stick (113 gms or use 100 gms)
* confectioner's sugar / icing sugar 1/4 cup
vanilla essence 1/2 tsp
salt 1/8 tsp
nuts 1/3 cup (pecan/ walnut / hazelnut)

confectioner's sugar 1/2 cup

  • Sift the flour twice and remove a tbsp of flour and add to powder the nuts in the next step. Add in salt to the remaining flour, keep aside.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place nuts on a baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes. OR Fry the walnuts in a wok for 3-4 minutes until lightly toasted. Cool completely and grind in a blender until smooth by adding a tbsp of flour.

  • In another bowl, add the butter, beat until creamy and soft. Add in the confectioner's sugar, vanilla extract and beat again.
  • Add the flour mix in batches until combined well, also finally add the ground nuts mix. Make a dough, cover with a cling wrap and refrigerate for an hour.

  • After an hour, pre heat oven to 350 degrees F or 180 degrees C and line a baking tray wit parchment paper.
  • Scoop out about a tbsp of dough, shape it as a smooth ball and place on the prepared tray 4 inches apart as the cookie will flatten and spread once baked. Repeat this step till you finish making all balls out of the dough. I happened to bake in two batches and so refrigerated the made balls in the second tray till it was time to bake.

  • Place in oven and bake for 12- 15 minutes until the edges look slightly browned and underside is lightly browned. Mine took 14 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and cool lightly for 5 minutes and then roll each cookie in the prepared confectioner's sugar. 

  • Place on wire rack and cool completely before storing in  air tight containers. The topping may start melting as it sits for days, in that case top with more confectioner's sugar just before serving for the classic look.

* Powder 1 cup of granulated white sugar with 1 tbsp of corn starch to get confectioner's sugar. Use this confectioner's sugar for the above recipe.
* If you are using salted butter, skip adding the salt in the flour.
* I have adapted the recipe from joy of baking and I love most of her recipes explained well.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Ragi Idli | Panjipullu (Finger Millet) Idli ~ Quick & Easy Method

As we all know ragi has numerous health benefits and is one of the best non- diary sources of calcium. Ragi (Finger Millet) is also a healthy whole grain that reduces the glycemic index and is perfect for diabetics. I have been trying to incorporate ragi in a number of ways like Ragi Peechappam, Ragi Chocolate Muffins, Ragi porridge(Panjipullu Kurukku), Ragi poori, Ragi Puttu, Ragi Ela Ada  Instant ragi dosa and multi grain healthy laddus. However, each time when one dish of ragi gets bored, I try another one to keep the proportion of ragi intake balanced in our family. Ragi idli was tried in several ways before and finally I settled to this quick and simple method of making which turned out perfect. Ragi was earlier soaked and ground with urad dal to make the traditional ragi idli batter but the batter was over fermented each time I tried that way. May be I went wrong with some proportions but this one with ragi flour came out really good and am sure you can give this a try. These are so simple to put together and all you need is a good idli batter and ragi flour, mix them up and ferment. These idlis turn out just like our regular idlis except for the colour.

The texture wise these idlis are soft and they need to de moulded from the idli mould soon after its out from the heat else the top dries out faster unlike regular idlis. Other than that the cooking process remains same and you can serve a healthy alternative for breakfast. Ragi on its own is very dry and may not taste the same like we do other flours as its gluten free. So mixing ragi four to rice or wheat improves the texture of the food item that you are preparing and in turn you can reduce the rice/ wheat proportions too compensating it with ragi. I do prepare both regular idlis and ragi idlis as kids make faces looking at these brown coloured idlis. So I serve them a mix of both regular and ragi idlis and this way it works fine. The grown ups enjoy ragi idlis alone.The texture of the idli is obvious from the pictures below and do give this a try if you are looking for reducing the rice calorie load. A good sambar pairs well with ragi idlis that we love the most compare to chutneys. Serve these soft idlis with sambar and tomato chutney, love it !!

Preparation time ~ 20 minutes
Cooking time ~ 15 minutes 
Serves ~ 8-10 idlis
ragi powder 1/3 cup
idli batter 3/4 cup
water 2 tbsp
salt to taste


  • Prepare idli batter as you usually do with rice idli batter or if you use store brought idli batter then use that. Take 3/4 cup of this batter, keep aside.
  • In another bowl, mix the ragi flour with 2 tbsp of water. Add another tbsp if required to adjust consistency of batter.

  • Mix the ragi and idli batter, aerate the batter well using hands. Keep this covered in a warm place to ferment for 6-7 hours. 

  • After 7 hours, the batter will be nicely fermented. Grease the idli mould and pour the batter in mould. Place in idli cooker with water  and steam cook for 10-12 minutes on medium flame.
  • Remove the idlis from cooker and wait to cool slightly till its warm on touch (don't overdo the cooling, else the top becomes dry).
  • Serve warm with tomato chutney and sambar. Check out my homemade sambar powder too.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Spinach - Corn Rice | Palak Rice ~ Lunch Box Special

Its been quite a few days since I posted something here. The reason being simple, I just got pre occupied with several other things that I hardly got time to pen down the drafts and publish them. So sorry dears. Anyways wish I have this energetic feel always to keep my blog space ready to publish all posts consistently. Today's post is a simple lunch box rice that takes hardly anytime to put together. Whenever mom prepared dishes out of these greens, I used to shy away as spinach was a big 'no' to me as a child.
But as I grew up and started understanding the good health benefits of spinach, I started using spinach in my cooking. Gradually this soft corner for palak helped me to try out variation of spinach recipes which would be acceptable to all especially my kids. The elder child is particular about a few peculiar tastes and so he doesn't like spinach. However spinach in the pureed form hardly tastes anything like spinach greens when it is ground along with a few cashews and added to this rice. The ground paste of grated coconut and cashews adds the needed fat to the rice to make it soft and doesn't make the rice dry out when mixed with spinach puree. The beautiful green color of this rice makes it stand out and definitely a kiddo pleaser too. Corn adds a nice sweetness to the rice which balances the flavours of palak. These are my home grown organic batch of spinach and so I plucked them before its very mature as baby spinach and so tasted delicious. The fried raisins in the rice is purely optional but my kids love cashew or raisins in these one pot meals and so I do add them. Do give this a try and am sure all will love it !!

Preparation time ~ 20 mins
Cooking time ~ 20 mins
Author~ Julie
Serves ~ 3 
rice 1 cup(basmati / sona masoori)
frozen corn kernels 1/2 cup
oil 3 tbsp
raisins  1 tbsp
turmeric powder 1/4 tsp
salt to taste

to grind
palak 1/2 bunch or 1 cup chopped
grated coconut 1/4 cup
cashews 10
ginger 1 " piece
garlic 4-5 cloves
green chillies 2 broken

  • Soak the cashews in a bowl of water for about 20 minutes.
  • Wash and chop the palak(spinach). Blanch the palak and keep aside ( how to blanch palak- In a bowl of hot water, add the spinach leaves for about 40-45 seconds till stems are wilted.Immediately drain water and add in a bowl of cold water to stop cooking process. Drain water and use).

  • In a mixer jar, add the grated coconut, ginger, garlic, green chillies, cashews and blanched palak. Add a tbsp of water to grind to a smooth paste.
  • In the meantime, cook the rice as per packet instructions or rice variety. Keep aside to cool.
  • In a pan, heat the oil. Add in the raisins, wait till its golden brown. Drain and keep aside.In the same oil add the corn kernels. Saute the corn for about 1 minute and add the ground paste. 

  • Wash the blender jar with 3 tbsp of water and add. Cook till the masala is cooked well for 2 minutes, add salt and turmeric powder. Add in the cooked rice, mix well. Adjust salt if needed. 
  • Cook covered for a minute and switch off flame. Add in the raisins and mix well.Serve warm with cucumber raitha and fried fryms. Enjoy !!

* I didn't feel the need to add chilli powder as 2 green chillies were added as paste. But if you still feel to increase the heat then feel free to do so.
* I  have used frozen corn, thawed and used. If you use fresh corn kernels,then cook and use.
* You can use frozen green peas too instead of corn kernels.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Chilli Garlic Prawns ~ Step by Step Pics

Prawns are a great source of some of the major minerals like selenium,zinc, copper, phosphorous, copper and magnesium. They are also rich source of omega 3 fatty acids which help reduce the risk of heart disease and arthiritis. They also are rich source of unsaturated fats that help improve blood cholesterol levels. Kids love prawns the most in sea food but as prawns spikes uric acid levels I hold them back thinking of H. He also loves prawns if he gets to taste them. So cutting back prawns is the best idea. Indo chinese or chinese recipes is a big 'yes' here at home and they love munching them without any fuss. This chill garlic prawns is a perfect appetizer or can be paired as a side with egg fried rice or veg fried rice or even hakka noodles.

The garlic is added in the marination and sauteeing which adds a dominant flavor. The outer cover of the prawns is crisp soon after frying but the prawns are soft inside which when added to the sauces combines well. The soy sauce and chilli sauce is added in the recipe along with corn starch/ corn flour slurry to thicken the sauce. Though the list of ingredients may look long but it hardly takes any time to cook and put together. This tastes best when served warm, try this out !!

For more seafood recipes, check this link here.

Preparation time ~ 15 minutes
Cooking time ~ 20 minutes
Serves ~ 4-5
Author ~ Julie 
first marination
prawns 350 gms medium sized
chilli powder 1/2 tsp
pepper powder 1/2 tsp
salt to taste

second marination
all purpose flour (maida) 2 tbsp
corn flour 2 tbsp
garlic 1 tsp paste
garlic 1 tsp paste
egg 1
dark soy sauce 2 tsp

for sauce
minced garlic 1 tbsp
minced ginger 1 tbsp
medium sized onion 1 cubed
capsicum(green bell pepper) 1 cubed
green chillies 2 vertical slit
dark soy sauce 2 tsp
chilli sauce 1 tsp
pepper powder 1/2 tsp
salt to taste
corn flour 1 tbsp
white vinegar 1/4 tsp or lemon juice 1/2 tsp
water 2 tbsp

oil to fry


  • Clean the prawns, de vein and rinse under running water. Drain water completely and marinate using the ingredients listed under ' first marination'. Mix well and keep aside for half an hour(min) to overnight if possible.
  • Thaw the prawns if you left for marination in refrigerator and then proceed to the 'second marination. Combine this marination well and leave aside for half an hour.

  • Heat oil in a kadai/ wok and deep fry the prawns sliding one by one. Deep fry until golden on medium flame. Drain on a paper towel and keep aside.

  • Take 2 tbsp of the fried oil in a non stick pan for making sauce and add in minced garlic and ginger. Saute until the raw smell disappears and then add in the vertical slit green chillies an then cubed capsicum and cubed onion. Make a slurry of corn flour/ corn starch in 2 tbsp of water, keep aside. Add in the sauces to the sauteed mix along with pepper powder and salt(note that soy sauce has salt in it so add accordingly). Add the corn starch slurry to thicken the sauce and then add the fried prawns. Give a quick toss on high flame and then finally add the vinegar or lime juice. Switch off flame.
  • Serve warm with egg fried rice or veg fried rice.
* Adding dark soy sauce to the second marination is optional if you don't wish to have a dark coloured fried prawns or use light soy sauce for marination and dark soy sauce while making the sauce.

* Chilli Fish
* Chilly Chicken 

Friday, February 07, 2020

Murmure Namkeen | Puffed Rice Mixture

Murmure Namkeen is one of my quick fix snacks when I have no other good options in hand and kids love too with a cup of tea. Mostly the weekends when all are at home, I too get lazy to make elaborate snacks and end up making something like this which is filling and tastes yummy. If you are on hunt for a less oil snack yet tastes crunchy then this it. However puffed rice or murmura isn't a great choice for weight loss regimes and for diabetics as puffed rice is a burst of energy but doesn't meet the requirements of protein and fiber. There are packs in markets which are fortified with added vitamins and minerals.

This less oil version of namkeen uses peanuts that add the extra crunch to the namkeen. Chilli powder and spices added to the plain puffed rice makes it tasty. There are a lot of variations or many recipes that uses puffed rice in different forms but this is one of the simplest with the least number of ingredients. If you have a pack of puffed rice in hand, then go ahead and give this a try.

Preparation time ~ 5 mins
Cooking time ~ 5 mins
Serves ~ 5-6
Author ~ Julie
puffed rice 4 cups
peanuts 1/2 cup
chilly powder 1 tsp
turmeric powder 1/2 tsp
curry leaves a sprig
oil 2 tbsp

Heat a thick bottomed pan and add oil. Wait till oil is hot, slide in the peanuts and fry them. Add in the spices on low flame and then add the puffed rice along with curry leaves. Continue to stir the puffed rice mix on low flame till the puffed rice looks crisp and mixed with spices. Switch off flame and serve with tea.

* Add dry mango powder if you love it tangy.
* Alter the spices as per tastes, increase or decrease as per tolerance.

* Bhelpuri Chaat
* Pori Unda (Puffed Rice Balls)

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Mixed Dal Paratha | Rajasthani Churi ka Paratha ~ Step by Step Pics

Life is not always the same and each day the thought of am getting older definitely will fill in negative energy. So I sincerely forget my aging factor and remember that kids are growing up, he he.. Watching our kids grow up, fills in an immense positive drive, Isn't it?  My younger son started late to speak and by 2.5 years he only had signs and actions. He was just too lazy to utter and was focussed on a very few words though he knew all things. But these days he's becoming a non stop chatter box soon after landing from school. I find it so hard to put him to studies. But now I feel the non stop chatter box has come a long way from his toddler speech and so I sometimes ignore his jabbering because I feel its better to watch him talk than the actions. His list of funny incidents per day can be recorded in a book as I keep forgetting those quickly.

Coming back to today's recipe is a paratha which is easy to put together except for the soaking of dals. Parathas are always a complete meal whether its filled with veggies/ egg or any non veg. But this is a special kind parathas made from pulses. This is a famous paratha of Rajasthan. The best thing I loved about these parathas is that they are protein packed, filling ones. I made these for my kids as an after school snack and they loved it. The dals need just a soaking time of 2 hours and you are ready to go. Once soaked, these just need a gentle crush in the mixer jar. Add to the atta with some spices and knead. The dough is similar to chapathis. Roll them and fry on a frying pan smearing it with some desi ghee(clarified butter).

Preparation time ~ 15 minutes
Cooking time ~ 20 minutes
Serves ~7-8 parathas
Author ~ Julie

atta / wheat flour 1 cup
whole moong dal /cherupayar 2 tsp
split moong dal/ payasam parippu 2 tsp
masoor dal 2 tsp
urad dal/ uzhunnu 2 tsp
arhar dal / tuvara parippu 2 tsp
chana dal / kadala parippu 2 tsp
fennel seeds / perinjeerakam 1 tsp
hing / asafoetida / kayam podi 1/4 tsp
chilly powder 1/2 tsp
garam masala 1/2 tsp
crushed kasuri methi 1/2 tsp
coriander leaves 2 tsp chopped
salt to taste
ghee to smear 2 tbsp


  • Soak all dals (listed above) for 2 hours (don't over soak the dal), grind coarse without adding any water. Just pulse once or twice to crush the dals a a coarse mixture.
different dals

  • Mix the coarse dal mixture and spices with atta along with chopped coriander or mint leaves ( I have used mint leaves). Try combining the dal with the atta , add little water and knead dough to a dough like for chapathi/ parathas. Rest for 10 minutes covered.

  • Divide the dough in  7-8 equal portions and keep covered. Make paratha out of each roll.
  • Heat a frying pan or tawa. Place each paratha and cook evenly on both sides like we do for chapathis. Spread ghee or oil as needed. 

  • Repeat the same steps till you finish making all balls. Enjoy with a simple raitha or achar.

* You can add coriander(cilantro) or mint leaves chopped. 
* You can add a piece of  ginger and green chillies too. I wasn't sure of the ginger flavor in parathas so omitted that.