Energy bar with peanuts, flax seeds and jaggery

Now that the older one goes to “big boy school”, I need to plan ahead for his lunch box and also his “van snack”. My hyper active boy gets super hungry on his way back from school and a hungry little boy makes a cranky little boy. So I send him a little something to tide over the hunger pangs till he can get a solid meal once he is home. Packing healthy fun snacks is always a challenge but thankfully both my boys seem to have a varied palette and enjoy different kinds of food. I got the idea for this energy bar from the brand “Yoga bar” that is available in health stores in India. They have a chocolate and peanut bar which I derived inspiration from. It satisfies the chocoholic in me and my son ūüôā

The quantities I mention can be easily doubles or tripled. This is a very forgiving or self correcting recipe ūüôā You can add or substitute the ingredients with all kinds of nuts( walnuts, cashew nuts, almonds), different kinds of seeds ( sunflower, flax, melon etc) use dates or honey instead of jaggery.


Ingredients: Makes 10-12 2″ inch bars

1 cup peanut

1/2 cup almonds

1/2 cup flax seeds

Vanilla extract 1 tsp

1/2 cup jaggery (add more based on your taste)

1 tbsp good quality cocoa powder

On low heat dry roast the peanuts till they are golden brown in color and you start getting the nutty aroma. Next dry roast the almonds. Dry roast the flax seeds till they start crackling. Dry roasting is the key to getting good tasting energy bars. Make sure you roast them on low flame and take care not to burn the nuts.

Next add all the ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend until the mixture comes together. You should be able to make balls which won’t crumble.

Spread the mixture onto a plate and press down with your fingers to even out the surface. Using a pizza cutter or a sharp knife, make horizontal and vertical cuts.

Refrigerate for a couple of hours. To get the pieces out, invert the contents onto another plate carefully.



Avial is traditionally a Kerala recipe made especially made as part of the Onam sadya. However it is also served as part of banana leaf meals in Tambrahms functions. The beauty of this recipe of the simplicity of ingredients. It uses specific veggies which don’t have strong flavor and the star of the dish is the generous use of coconut oil. That’s what sets this dish apart.


Ingredients : Serves 6-8

1/2 cup each of potato, carrot, beans, peas, raw plantain, yam (Suran or Suvarna gedde), sweet pumpkin, ash gourd cut into 1/4″ long pieces.

1/2 cup of freshly grated coconut

1 teaspoon Cumin seeds

2-3 green chilies

1 cup of yogurt

1/4 cup coconut oil ( *NOT* the organic odorless kind found in health food stores!)

1 sprig of curry leaves

1 tablespoon tamarind paste

Salt to taste

1 cup of water


First grind the coconut, cumin seeds and green chilies to a coarse paste.

In a wide bottomed vessel, bring the water to a simmer and add the tamarind paste. Now add the yam/suran and let it cook for a couple of minutes. Next put the beans, drumstick and cook for 2 minutes. Next add carrots, potato, plantain and ash gourd. Now add the coconut paste and salt and let it simmer for two minutes. Lastly add the peas and the sweet potato and simmer it till all the vegetables are cooked making sure they are not over-cooked. Add the curry leaves as well.

Since the cooking time for different vegetables varies, it is important to cook them in the order mentioned above.

Take it off the heat and mix well with coconut oil and yogurt. Serve with rice and any other spicy curry or sambar as a side dish!


Sriracha kissed almonds and Avocado sandwich

Sriracha kissed almonds and Avocado sandwich

When two exotic ingredients like Sriracha sauce and avocado get together in a sandwich, you know you cannot go wrong with it. What a treat to your taste buds…. the bold spicy flavor of Sriracha, the nutty taste of almonds and to balance it all, the creamy texture of avocado! Try this for a week end breakfast or an easy mid week dinner. It is perfect!

almonds swich5 swich3 swich2 swich1


1 cup of raw almonds

2 tbsp of Sriracha sauce

1 tbsp of Olive oil

Heat the oil in a small pan. Add the almonds in and gently begin to roast. About halfway through ( 5-6 mins) when the almonds are getting toasty, slowly add in the Sriracha sauce, watching carefully to not drown the nuts in the sauce or they will get too soggy. They just need to get a gentle drizzle of the sauce. Roast for another 5-6 minutes. Let it cool and store it for later use for a multitude of purposes!

For the sandwich, all you need is to mash up some avocado, drizzle salt and pepper. Toast the bread (with butter to a golden brown color is even better!). Spread the avocado evenly onto both slices, slide in the toasted almonds, add some extra fresh pepper if you can take the extra dash of heat. Enjoy!

Ambode/Kadle beLe vade

Ambode(deep-fried chana dal patties) is a quintessential accompaniment in a traditional iyengar meal for any rice dishes like puLiyogre, mango rice etc.I had been planning to make it for a long time but the thought of deep-frying, had been putting me off ūüėČ With an Ugadi potluck planned, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to make this, ¬†with step by step instructions from mom who makes the best ambode!

As with any Indian dish, this can be made with a lot of variations. I personally like to make it with mint. You can also use cilantro, dill (sappsige soppu) if you like the strong aroma, onions can be added( being a tam-brahm, I consider it a sacrilege to add onions to this dish :D). The trick to making crispy ambode is to not let the chana dal  soak longer, one hour of soak time makes the crispiest ambode!


Ingredients : Serves 8-10

3 cups chana dal. (Soak for an hour)

5-6 red chilies ( Use half bydagi and half guntur)

1 packed cup mint leaves, washed and chopped finely.

1 pinch hing

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

2 table spoons shredded fresh coconut

2 table spoons dry coconut (koppari)

Salt to taste

1 tablespoon ghee (optional but recommended)

3/4 – 1 liter oil for frying

In a blender, finely powder the chilies, fresh and dry coconut. Add turmeric, salt and hing. Next drain the chana dal completely using a sieve and transfer it to the blender. Using the pulse option of the blender, pulse the mixture until the chana dal is coarsely ground. Be sure to not grind to a paste, coarse ground dough adds to the crispiness.

Transfer the contents to a mixing bowl and then add the chopped mint leaves, and ghee. Mix thoroughly.

Make lime size balls out of the dough and keep aside.

When the oil in the frying pan is hot and the stove is on medium heat, take the lime size ball of dough and flatten it out into a patty, ¬†making sure the patty is 1/4″ in thickness. Add about 5-6 patties at a time and fry on both sides till golden brown. ¬†Do not fry them on high heat, this makes the outside get brown while the dough on the inside remains under-cooked.

Serve with a full course of tam-brahm meal ;). It also pairs well with ketchup or mint chutney.

AvarekaaLu palya/usli

Avarekai is apparently known as flat beans(I had to google for it!) in English and more popularly known as Surati Papdi in Indian stores in the US. Avarekai always evokes memories of my grandpa and also the erstwhile winters of Bangalore. If you are wondering why I chose the word erstwhile winters, it is a topic for another blog post :). Grandpa loved any dish made out of avarekaaLu! He would bring 2-3 kgs of avarekai from the market and leave it out in the open during the cool winter nights. This would make the avarekaaLu have more “sogadu”. To loosely translate the term into english, it means having a nice fragrance and an oily sheen to the beans. Then came the laborious process of shell the avarkaaLu. Next step was to separate the tender ones which would be used for making akki rotti. The big ones would be used to make saaru, upma etc.

Seeing as the love for avarekaaLu has been passed on through the next generations, I love using them in all kinds of dishes. Once such dish that I learnt from mother-in-law is the avarekai palya or usli. This pairs beautifully with plain akki rotti, puri or if you are little health freak like me, it goes well with chapatis too. I have to make do with the frozen variety here in the US though!


Ingredients: Serves 3-4

1 bag of frozen avarekaaLu or fresh beans from about 1.5 kgs of avarekaai

1 medium bunch methi leaves, chopped (optional but recommended)

2 teaspoons jeera powder

2 teaspoon mustard seeds

2-3 green chillies

1-2 cloves garlic

1 inch ginger

Onion 1 small chopped

Coconut 1/2 cup

Cilantro 1/2 cup chopped

Oil – 2-3 tablespoons

Salt to taste

Grind 1 tsp of jeera, 1 tsp mustard garlic, ginger, green chilli, coconut and cilantro to a fine paste with little water.
In a pressure cooker, heat oil, add mustard and jeera seeds and wait till the mustard splutters. Next add onion and saute.  Add the paste and saute for a minute. Add methi leaves and saute. Next add avarkaaLu, salt and little water if needed. Pressure cook for 3 whistles. Serve with plain akki rotti, puri or chapati.

Date and almond rolls

I don’t know about you readers but I need my daily fix for dessert after lunch. And yes, it is always after lunch..Considering my big sweet tooth, I can’t afford to have desserts with butter, sugar and all the good stuff in them ūüėČ So typically my after lunch dessert varies from a piece of dark chocolate, cranberries, raisins, dried apricots etc. Date rolls are also perfect for satisfying these cravings for sweets! They also make a good snack ranging from 50-60 calories a piece and they are so easy to make!




Ingredients :

1 box of Mejdhool dates(3.5 lbs) cut into thin pieces

1.5 cups of almonds

1 and half tablespoon of ghee

1/2 cup grated dried coconut


In a thick bottomed wide vessel, add ghee and dates and mash the mixture till the dates breakdown and mix together. After they are mixed well, add the almonds and stir.  Remove from heat and allow to cool, till they can handled.  Shape the mixture into logs. Spread the dried coconut on a plate and roll the logs over the coconut ensuring they are well coated.  Refrigerate for 4-5 hours and then cut into rolls.


Set Dosa

Set Dosa is a dish that is something very unique to Karnataka. It is never on the menu in restaurants here in the US and so has me craving for this now and then. With the in-laws visiting us, it was the perfect opportunity to learn and savor this recipe of my mother-in-law. Apart from the Mysore masala dosa, this one is a crowd-pleaser, especially because the dosa turns out soft and spongy. The sponginess comes from the use of puffed rice when grinding the dosa batter.

Set dosa tastes best with some coconut chutney and vegetable kurma or sagu. This is one of those guilty pleasures that takes me back to the Darshinis of namma BengaLooru. Without further ado here is an ode to namma BengaLooru.


Ingredients : Serves 4-5, makes around 12-14 dosas.

4 cups rice

1 cup puffed rice/mandakki/kadle puri

1/2 cup urad dal

1/4 cup methi/fenugreek seeds

1/2 cup poha/beaten rice/avalakki

Rinse the rice, urad dal and methi seeds thoroughly and soak them for about 5-6 hours. During the last 2 hours of this process, soak the avalakki and puffed rice.

Grind it to a thick batter with water to a thick pouring consistency. Ferment the batter overnight.

Heat a tava,  and pour a ladle full of batter, do not spread the batter too thin or else you will not get spongy dosas. Spray oil and flip the dosa once it is thoroughly cooked.

Lauki Thepla/ Doodhi Thepla

First of all, my apologies for being away from the blog for so long. Both sis and me have been caught up with mundane duties of domestic lives. I will try and make up for not posting in a long time, now that I seem to have a bit of time on my hands.

Lauki thepla is an authentic Gujju recipe which I learnt from A’s nanny. Theplas are a staple in Gujarati diet and it is a good way to incorporate veggies in kids meals. You can substitute lauki with a lot of other veggies of your choice. I have used radish, methi leaves, beetroot, carrot to name a few. If you plan to use carrot or beetroot, make sure to cook the grated carrot or beetroot a little before mixing the dough. Since these vegetables don’t have a lot of water content in them, it helps to keep the thepla moist. You can also control the amount of oil you add while mixing the dough. Adding more oil makes the dough more pliable and very soft. I chose to add a little less than recommended but the theplas still turned out yummy!

ImageIngredients : Makes about 16-18 theplas

1 medium sized lauki/doddhi/sorekai/bottle gourd

2 cloves of garlic minced finely.

1 teaspoon red chilli powder

2 teaspoons garam masala

2 tablespoons oil and more for roasting

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

Salt to taste.

2-3 cups of whole wheat flour


Grate the lauki with the skin using using the bigger size of the greater so that lauki gets shredded coarsely. Transfer to a bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and the flour. Knead till everything comes together. There is no need to add water while kneading as the lauki has enough water content to bing the dough. Divide into lemon-sized balls.

Dust the rolling pin and the surface generously with flour and roll the dough into theplas which are about 6″ in diameter.


Heat a tava, and roast the theplas till they are thoroughly cooked. Brush with oil on both sides while cooking.

Enjoy with yogurt and a dash of pickle. I ate mine with flax seed chutney powder for which I will be posting the recipe soon!

Thai basil fried rice with tofu

This is by no means an authentic thai recipe.. I tried a couple of thai basil fried recipes from the internet and then came up with this one with a few modifications to suit my taste. I made this on a weekday night and packed it for lunch the next day but my recommendation is to eat this steaming hot off the stove! There are lot more things you can add like scrambled eggs, fried tofu instead of baked tofu. You can use white jasmine rice instead of brown rice. This also probably tastes better with fish sauce or oyster sauce but since my family is vegetarian, I didn’t add those. All right then,¬† lets get straight to the recipe.


Ingredients : Serves 2-3

1 and half cups long grain basmati brown rice.

half a head of broccoli

1 cup assorted bell peppers cut into strips

1/2 cup green beans cut into 1″ pieces

3/4 cup baked tofu. I bought mine from trader joes

1/2 a big onion chopped

2-3 garlic cloves minced

3 tablespoons of olive oil/peanut oil

2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce

1-2 tablespoon sriracha sauce

2-3 thai cillies or serrano (regular Indian variety)¬† cut into 1/2″ pieces

1 tablespoon peanut butter (optional)

1/2 teaspoon sugar

10-12 basil leaves finely chopped

A few pieces of lemon wedge while serving

Roasted and crushed peanut powder for serving

Soak the brown basmati rice for atleast 2 hours and then cook it with 1 and half cups of water and let it cool. This can be made the previous day as day old rice tastes even better. If using any other kind of rice, follow instructions on the pack for cooking.

In a large pan or wok, under medium high flame, heat the oil. I use a cast iron skillet as I have an electric coil stove and it is difficult to achieve that amount of heat for stir frying. Also using any other metal makes the onion sweat and go soggy and you want the veggies to be crisp for the fried rice. Add garlic, chillies and onion and fry them till the onion turns translucent. Add the rest of the veggies and tofu and stir fry them for a couple of minutes till they are slightly tender but still retain their crunchiness.¬† Optionally for better taste, you can buy regular tofu, drain all the water on a paper towel cut into 1/2″ pieces and deep fry them. Add the tofu at the end, when mixing the rest of the ingredients.

In a small mixing bowl, mix the sauces, sugar and peanut butter until you get a smooth mixture.

Add the rice, the sauce mixture to the pan and salt and mix well. Turn off the heat and add the basil leaves and mix. Serve piping hot with a wedge of lemon and roasted and crushed peanut on the side.

BaaLekaayi palya/Raw Plantain stir fry

Raw plantain is a cousin to the everyday banana and used often in south Indian households. They are mostly used for making banana chips but other popular dishes include this palya and baLekaayi bajji. Without further ado, here is the recipe for baaLekayi palya. This pairs well as a side dish with rasam and rice.


Ingredients : Serves 2-3

Raw plantains – 4 small, diced into 1″ pieces

3 tablespoons oil

1 tablespoon rasam powder

1/2 tablespoon tamarind extract

1 sprig curry leaves

1/2 teaspoon mustard

1/2 teaspoon chana dal

1/2 teaspoon urad dal

A pinch of turmeric

Coconut 2 tablespoons (optional)

Heat the oil in frying pan and add mustard. Once the mustard seeds splutter, add chana dal and urad dal and fry till golden brown. Next add rasam powder, turmeric, curry leaves and the plantain and cover it and let it cook on low heat for about 10-15 mins.

The plantains need a little more oil then other vegetables because they tend to stick to the pan because of their high starch content. So if you feel the plantain is sticking to the sides of the pan, add a drizzle of oil.

Once the plantain pieces are cooked, add the tamarind pulp and toss gently. Once cooked, they tend to break if mixed vigorously.

Garnish with grated coconut and serve with rice and rasam.