Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Fruit salad yummy yummy !

Childhood friends…ahhh, they are memories to cherish! The laughter, the adventures, the naughtiness, the experiments, the tussles and compromises, all that we did together…won’t such bygone memories bring smile on your face? We grew up and went to new places, made new friends; but still… there is always a special place for an earlier-day friend, that has no substitute. There were periods of time in my life where I couldn’t blend with new acquaintances and grieved for some of my old friends!

But what is the connection with fruit salad and an old childhood friend? Well, this is the dessert that I grew up with. A Christmas, Easter or any other celebration without a fruit salad was unimaginable. A packet of Brown & Polson custard powder was a permanent tenant in the fridge!

When I flew first time to USA after marriage, I took a packet of Brown & Polson, thinking custard powder won’t be available :D! Today in Australia, amidst a multicultural society numerous of varieties of desserts are available. But… nothing can give me the comfort and smoothness, a bowl of homemade fruit salad gives!

This is the 50th post of my blog; where I strive to keep the me in me alive. What else is appropriate rather than a bowl of my childhood dessert to celebrate this special event! Cheers and thanks to everybody following me and your encouragements…


Fruit salad
  1. Strawberries – 6 nos
  2. Kiwi fruit (peeled) – 2 nos
  3. Pineapple (peeled) – ¼ of one
  4. Apple – 2 nos
  5. Rock melon – ½ of a small one
  6. Mango (peeled)– 1 no
  7. Sugar – ¾ cup
Pouring custard
  1. Milk – 1 litre
  2. Vanilla custard powder – 3 tbsp
  3. Sugar – ¾ cup
  1. Cut fruits into small pieces and mix all together with sugar and refrigerate.
  2. Mix custard powder with a little milk to make a smooth paste.
  3. Mix sugar and rest of the milk and bring to boil.
  4. Pour the custard powder paste to boiling milk.
  5. Stir well continuously till the mixture is thick.
  6. Remove from fire and allow it to cool and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
  7. In a dessert bowl place some fruits and over that pour two dollops of custard.
  8. Garnish with glazed cherry and serve.
N.B – I used ready-made pouring custard from supermarket instead of making it with custard powder.
And you can use any fruits you like.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Cheesy mushroom puffs – story of an invention!

Have you ever panicked receiving unexpected guests? Unsure of your appearance, those scattered toys in the living room, the unwashed dishes in the kitchen sink, the unfolded cloths in the laundry basket and oh yeah… above all the big question, what to give them!!!

On such an easygoing dull evening I got information that some visitors are coming. I rushed to check in the freezer for some precooked snacks. Alas!!! …Nothing was there! :( I called hubby and asked to buy some snacks and get home early. But the answer was disappointing…he was in a conference and couldn’t come soon and asked me to manage.

Oh dear, what am I to make :( !!!. I checked my fridge once more for luck. I found some deep frozen chicken and beef inside the freezer and also a packet of puff pastry sheets. I pulled the pastry sheet out and doubted about the filling. Chicken won’t thaw in the immediate future. What about some egg puffs? Ummm…my baby wasn’t in a mood to cooperate.

Uhhhh…what else for filling! I looked the lower racks for some inspiration and found a packet of mushrooms. I pulled that out along with a packet of grated cheese still unconvinced of what to do.

I was still pondering over the filling when the doorbell rang and the guests and my hubby arrived simultaneously. I was literally crying in my inside but wore a clownish smile.

I took the pastry sheets spread some tomato sauce and placed some thinly sliced mushroom, onion and some grated cheese and rolled up and baked.
Umm…this is really good, one more piece :) …’one of them said. ‘Really!! Are they good!!!…Let me try!’ I exclaimed. Oh dear, surely they were…not kidding!

Hihihi… I invented this recipe (‘necessity is the mother of invention’, right?) but I know I do not own its recipe because somebody else had already invented and made it before me (I googled :)). But in this case I just could manage, and it didn’t cheat me; hence I will keep it.

  1. Puff pastry sheets (thawed) – 3 nos
  2. Button mushrooms (thinly sliced) – 15 nos
  3. Onion (thinly sliced) – 1 big
  4. Grated cheddar cheese – ¾ cup
  5. Tomato sauce – a few
  6. Egg (whisked) – 1 no
  1. Mix mushroom, onion and cheese together.
  2. Place puff pastry sheets on a flat work surface.
  3. Spread 2tsp of tomato sauce over the pastry sheet.
  4. Place one third of the filling mixture on one edge.
  5. Roll up tightly to enclose the filling and brush the pastry with egg.
  6. Cut each roll evenly into 5 pieces.
  7. Line an oven rack with greased aluminium foil.
  8. Place rolls, seam-side down on the foil.
  9. Bake at 250ºc for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Meat ball / Kofta curry

Kofta is a Middle Eastern / South Asian meatball or meatloaf. They are minced meatballs of usually beef or lamb, mixed with spices and onions (Wikipedia). It can also be made with any other meat or even vegetables.

This curry brings to my mind a big two-storey naalukettu, my uncle’s maternal house, which is very near to my home. What is remarkable about this family is that the men in that family are fine cooks. I have heard several times my auntie saying so much praise-fully about the taste and variety of the dishes they made.

One day my cousin told she had meatball curry from there. Till then I had never tasted, or even heard about such a dish. I was very fascinated on hearing it and yearned to taste it! It never chanced me to taste it until I got married!

In the early easygoing days as a novice housewife, there was not much to do after my hubby went to office. Experiments in the kitchen were the only means to escape boredom. So I tried the stuff once!

I made it again last week with some left over beef. Spicy meatballs immersed in thick creamy gravy, along with cooked basmati is an absolute delight!


For meatballs

  1. Minced meat – ½ kg
  2. Onion (very finely shredded) – 2 nos
  3. Ginger paste – 1 tbsp
  4. Green chillies (finely chopped)– 2 nos
  5. Pepper powder –1 tbsp
  6. Garam masala – 1 tbsp
  7. Salt – as required
For gravy
  1. Onion (sliced) – 2 nos
  2. Tomatoes – 2 nos
  3. Green chillies (split the edge)– 4 nos
  4. Ginger paste – 1 tsp
  5. Chilly powder - ½ tsp
  6. Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
  7. Coriander powder – 2 tbsp
  8. Garam masala – ½ tbsp
  9. Medium thick coconut milk – 2 cup
  10. Kassori methi – 1 tsp
  11. Salt – as required
  12. Sugar – ½ tsp
  13. Oil – 3 tbsp
  1. Mix all the ingredients of meatball together.
  2. Make small lemon sized balls and keep aside.
  3. Immerse tomatoes in boiling water for 30 seconds.
  4. After that immediately put them into some cold water.
  5. Then peel off the skin and chop it finely and keep aside.
  6. Heat oil in a pan and fry onion, ginger and green chillies.
  7. When onions are soft add chopped tomatoes and fry for a while.
  8. Add chilly, coriander, turmeric and garam masala powders.
  9. Stirring continuously fry them till oil starts to separate from the mixture.
  10. Add coconut milk and salt and bring to boil.
  11. Add meatballs and cook uncovered on medium heat for about 10 minutes.
  12. When gravy thickens add sugar and kasoori mehti and remove from fire.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Chemmeen cutlets – Prawn / Shrimp cutlets

Two days back, I called my sister to greet her wedding anniversary. I asked her what special food she made. She gave me a long list – prawns cutlet, mutton stew, palappam
Oh… you made prawn cutlets!’ my mouth just watered. She expressed her concern that I did not put its recipe in blog. I said, ‘Hmm…usually they go into my stomach before a photo shoot…that’s the main reason…

Any family have their own unique menu for a special occasion. For us a special feast won’t be complete without a cutlet served with tomato sauce and sallas (Kerala onion salad)! With a crisp crusty outside and a spicy soft inside it is a temptation for non-stop munching!

Beef was our usual ingredient for cutlets. Somehow dad disliked beef and stopped eating. Thereafter mom started making prawn cutlets to include him also, and it became a great hit in our family. The easy availability of prawns in our place boosted the trend.

When my sister said she is making prawn cutlets I couldn’t resist my craving. So I told my husband why we don’t celebrate Australia day (Jan 26th) with prawn cutlets! He had no hesitation as if we were both waiting for a reason!

  1. Prawns (Chemmeen) – 500gm
  2. Onion (finely chopped) – 2 nos
  3. Carrot (grated) – 1 no
  4. Potato (cooked and mashed) – 1 big
  5. Green chillies (finely chopped) – 2 nos
  6. Ginger paste – 1 tsp
  7. Black pepper powder – 1 tbsp
  8. Garam masala – 1 tbsp
  9. Salt – As required
  10. Egg – 1 no
  11. Bread crumbs – As required
  12. Oil – for deep frying

  1. Remove the shell of prawn and wash well.
  2. Cook it by adding salt and ¼ cup water.
  3. Drain any excess water and mince it.
  4. Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a pan and fry onion, green chillies and ginger.
  5. Add the prawns, grated carrot, pepper and garam masala and mix well.
  6. Saute occasionally and fry till the mixture is dry and flaky.
  7. When it cools add mashed potatoes and mix with out lumps
  8. Make small lemon shaped balls with the mixture.
  9. Take each ball in a palm and press with other to make an oval shape.
  10. Dip them first in beaten egg and roll in breadcrumbs.
  11. Deep-fry in very hot oil, till they turn dark brown in colour.
  12. Serve hot with tomato sauce and salad.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Pavakka Thoran - Sauteed bitter gourd with coconut

Do you like bitter gourd?
I do, but my husband doesn’t!
Do you know the health benefits of bitter gourd?
I do, but my husband doesn’t want to know!

Well, bitter gourd is a vegetable loaded with precious nutrients like folic acid, beta-carotene, iron, and calcium, almost double in amount than any other vegetables! And it helps to prevent diabetes, improves eyesight and fights cancer!

He is in enmity with bitter gourd! Each time I pick one he gets annoyed and murmurs like ‘can’t you buy something else?’ And during the early years of marriage he didn’t allow me buy any!

Now things are different and we are responsible parents of two adorable kids and this hesitation can’t go on any more. And I have to find ways to put some into the tummy of my kiddos and hubby!

I tried several recipes like pavakka theeyal, pavakka and mango palu curry and stir-fry…but nothing worked! Then I tried thoran, made of finely shredded bitter gourd and onion, laced with grated coconut, ginger and curry leaves. And I forcefully served two spoonfuls to his plate saying ‘don’t worry, it won’t hurt you.’ Unwontedly he tasted and asked me ‘is this bitter gourd! Not bitter anymore?’ Hurray… It almost worked!!

But still things are not smooth, he still gets unpleasant and raises his eyebrows when I pick some bitter gourd, but now I don’t care!


  1. Bitter gourd (very finely shredded) – 1 big
  2. Onion (very finely shredded) – 2 nos
  3. Freshly grated coconut – 1 cup
  4. Ginger (grated) – 2 cm long piece
  5. Green chillies – 3 nos
  6. Curry leaves – a few
  7. Mustard seeds – a few
  8. Oil- 2 tbsp
  9. Salt – as required

  1. Heat oil in a frying pan and splutter mustard seeds.
  2. Add shredded onion, curry leaves and ginger and fry for a minute.
  3. Add shredded bitter gourd, grated coconut and salt and mix well.
  4. Saute occasionally and cook in medium heat till done.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Sponge roll / Jam roll

“Jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell rock

Jingle bells swing and jingle bells ring
Snowing and blowing up bushels of fun …”

My little blossom and a bunch of other little blossoms were practicing to tap their feet to the rhythm of this music for our Christmas gathering. And I was planning to make some refreshments for them. Something fancy that should make glitter in their eyes and smile on their face!

Jam roll came to my mind spontaneously. May be it is because it was one of the things that excited me when I was a kid. One of my dream foods!If mom went for shopping in Ernakulam without us (my sister and me), it was our right that she should bring us some puffs or jam roll when she came back!

A piece of jam roll and a cup of mango juice … okay kids let’s back to dance again!


  1. All purpose flour – 1 cup
  2. Powdered sugar – 1 cup
  3. Eggs – 4 nos
  4. Baking powder – 1 tsp
  5. Vanilla essence – 2 tsp
  6. Melted butter – 10 gm
  7. Jam/ nutella – 5 tbsp
  1. Preheat oven at 180ºc.
  2. Sift flour and baking powder and keep aside.
  3. Beat egg and sugar till very light and fluffy.
  4. Add flour, melted butter and essence and combine well with out lumps.
  5. Line a large rectangle-baking tray with greased baking paper. (I used a 37 x 26.5 x 5 cm tray)
  6. Bake for 30 minutes at 160ºc.
Rolling a sponge roll
  1. Dust a tea towel with sugar and turn the cake into the towel immediately after baking.
  2. Remove the top sheet of baking paper from the cake.
  3. Starting with the long side closet to you and using the towel as a guide roll up the cake tightly.
  4. Place, seam side down to cool.
  5. Carefully unfold and spread with the filling.
  6. Roll again tightly and slice into pieces.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Chuttaracha thenga chammanthy - Pan grilled coconut chutney

This chutney is a simple spicy condiment that has always aroused my epicurean tendencies.

I remember grandma making this dish in her old style firewood stove. She used to put a few pieces of coconut kernel into the live wood charcoal and get them ash-grilled. The pleasant odor of coconut kernels getting ash-grilled is singular and tantalizing. I used to take a deep breath to allow the fragrance fill my inside!

They turn brownish with tiny bursting sounds among the glowing charcoal. They were then taken out one by one by grandma with the narrow wooden pipe she used to blow air to kindle fire. They were then crushed to a compound with onion, dry chillies, tamarind and some salt on a stone mortar!

In those days, I never got enough to fulfill my craving, since it was specially meant for the elderly!

Consumption of heavy food since Christmas and the tiredness after a long holiday trip made me consider such simple and appetizing dishes! Last night I had a bowl of rice porridge (kuthari kanji) along with this chutney --- a light, satisfying supper for a sound night sleep!

  1. Coconut kernel (cut into long pieces) – a handful
  2. Button onion / shallots – 3 nos
  3. Chilly powder – ½ tsp
  4. Tamarind – ½ tsp
  5. Salt – as required
  1. Heat a fry pan and grill the coconut kernels till golden brown on both sides.
  2. Coarse grind grilled coconut with rest of the ingredients in a grinder.
  3. Enjoy with a bowl of warm rice porridge!