Sunday, December 27, 2009

2009 - A Year of Friends and Food!

All photos used with prior permission by photographers.

Initiating this blog almost two years ago, my intention was to create a space to catalog my recipes, without the intention of creating a community as it has, especially over the past year. This year, after thirty-five posts, including posts on cookbook and website reviews and guests posts, this blog has amassed over 20 subscribers. Thank you to my friends, supporters and participants of interviews and guests posts.

This post is a chronicle of guest posts, interviews and a few of my personal favorite recipes of the last year. If you, too want to start making Indian culinary treats in your kitchen, see this post on creating your Indian-inspired kitchen in America, which is a tutorial on different gadgets that can help you create delectable Desi dishes!

Book Reviews
Both Cookbooks reviewed are written by Viji Varadarajan
Want to see Yogurt from a different perspective?
Review of south Indian vegetarian cookery chronicle:
A Healthy Taste of Indian Culture: Cooking with Yoghurt.
Temptations from the Tamil Table: Review of Viji Varadarajan’s Samayal South Indian Cookbook

Guests Posts and Recommended Recipes:
Paneer Makhani - Fried Homemade Cheese Cubes in Flavorful Cream Sauce by Srivalli
Recipe Review November 2009
Featuring culinary recipes and tips from blogs: 4th Sense Samayal, Aayi's Recipes, Hindu Blog, Ruchi, Veggie Platter, Vizmaya.
Recipe Review December 2009
Featuring culinary recipes and tips from blogs: Aayi's Recipes, Edible Garden, Fourth Sense Samayal, The Gori Wife Life, One Hot Stove, Veggie Platter

Inspirations and Recommendations
Aloo Bonda and Bread Pakodas by Oldernwiser0
Video cookery segment showcasing ease of making Indian deep-fried mashed potato balls (aloo-bondas) and deep-fried bread pieces with a flavorful batter covering (bread pakoda).
Indian Cooking Made Easier Series by Oldernwiser0
In this post, I shared one of the videos by Oldernwiser0 on paneer (Indian home-made cheese) making.
Okra Curry- the Martha Stewart Way and the Jennifer Kumar Way
A flavorful side dish made with okra (bindi) and spices.
Sambar Inspired by Viji Varadarajan
In this post, I detail how I create a savory, flavorful vegetarian stew, called Sambar as inspired from Viji Varadarajan's book Samayal: The Pleasures of South Indian Vegetarian Cooking (Winner Gourmand World Cookbook Award)

Recipe Blog Review: Vidhya's Recipes
Home cooked and ethnic dishes, using ingredients such as banana blossoms (right), of the South Indian vegetarian fare, Vidhya has also created quite a nice community of enthusiastic readers and people, like me, who have tried our own hands at some of her recipes in our own kitchens.
Insights and Inspirations by Viji VaradarajanViji Varadarajan
Combining her family's traditions and wisdom, Viji has written a series of TamBram (Tamil Brahmin) recipes, her Samayal series inspires me to learn more about her inspirations to share this wisdom with the world.

This year, my husband also inspired by some of my cooking skills, began taking photos of some of the dishes I have made. Click on the photos to see the posts.

Krishna's photography
Wish You a Happy Vishu
Keera Molagootal

Flavorful Spinach/
Mixed Greens and
Lentil Soup
Chenna Masala

Chickpeas Curry

Coconut Chutney

Dosa and Idli

batter recipe and

My photography
vattral kozhumbu - south indian vegetarian gravy
Vatthal Kozhumbu

Cornbread with Homemade Corn Jalapeno Gravy
Cornbread with Cream
Corn and Red Bean
Curried Gravy
Tomato Chutney
Tomato Chutney
inspired by Nithya

Create your Indian Inspired Kitchen in America!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Coconut Chutney - Dosa- Idli Photologue

article by Jennifer Kumar
photos: Krishna Kumar

...A nice, sour fermenting smell pervaded the entire home as I lifted the cover from the idli-dosa batter! What a nice pre-Christmas gift. This time, I deviated from the regular 3 cups idli rice/1 cup urad dhal with 2 cups long grain rice from the Mexican store and 1 cup idli rice to 1 cup urad dhal, nicely ground with a few fenugreek (methi) seeds and a dash of salt. Though it's freezing out, and the floors and tabletops are colder than in the summertime, I wrapped the batter bowl in a towel and set it on the floor by the furnace heater vent. In about 36 hours, I welcomed this wonderful present! I knew my happiness would bound more once hubby would get to eat some crispy dosa on his first holiday from work for Christmas break.

...The process of making dosa and idli batter has been a difficult one for me. It's taken me more than four years, and three blenders to get the right methods. What was once cumbersome in planning, blending and fermenting- let alone getting the right pressure while ladling and forming dosas on the hot pan, is now almost effortless. For me, it's really a big accomplishment. My main motivation and inspiration to make dosas, and masala dosas come from Maya's Kitchen. Once, when we dropped by, she left a long lasting impression on me. The way she formed each dosa on the pan, spread the dosa podi on the crisp dosa while rolling in the potato curry- as a one woman assembly line feeding over 10 people left me in awe. I thought, "Would I, could I ever be so efficient at making dosa?" This experience came to me at a time where dosa batter once ladled onto the pan would just end up in a sloppy, gooey, mountain mess on the pan- so I stuck to making idlis instead while hubby effortlessly made and attempted to show and teach me the right way to spread dosa batter on the pan. So much to learn- especially in the grace required to press with just such a delicate force to assure the batter is spread in almost a spiral pattern, but that the batter remains on the pan, and we arI survived this...e left with a nice, crispy, almost paper-thin dosa. I started with idli, moved to utthapam (a thicker dosa topped with chopped veggies, pictured, right), and recently as of this year started making the paper-thin variety. I still have a way to go to perfect my talent, but I know I am on the right track!

But, idli and dosa can not be eaten alone. They are always accompanied by something- dosa podi with oil, a variety of chutneys, sambar, [Indian] pickles, and many other sides I have yet to discover. On hot days, somehow I like to eat Tomato Chutneyidli with yogurt as a plain dish- no spices, which is good on the stomach. I prefer to eat other's homemade prepared dosa podi (powders made with roasted spices and lentils), which I mix with sesame oil, and hubby mixes with olive or vegetable oil. For chutneys, I make tomato (photo, right), onion or coconut chutney. If we have left over idlis, later I will take, cut them and make an idli upma (dry fry of idli pieces mixed with tempered curry leaves, mustard seeds, urad dhal, and few other spices, similiar to Quinoa Upma, with idli pieces instead of Quinoa).

For those new to this cuisine, idli are steamed cakes made from the batter that dosa is made from. Some purists may actually make two batters- the idli batter and dosa batter- with a slightly different proportion of rice to urad dhal. I don't do that- too much work right now! idlistandThese cakes are steamed in an idli pan set into a big pressure cooker. I usually steam it for about 20 mintues. However, last night I tried something new- I steamed them in a egg poacher. This cooking gadget is a more western contraption and is more easily available in America than idli pans, and pressure cookers (though pressure cookers are available in American stores, most Americans do not use pressure cookers). I steamed four idlis in the egg poacher last night. The final product, after 20 minutes of steaming is a cake a bit thicker and not as wide as the ones made in an idli pan, so they are actually a bit more filling per idli. However, we realized, it needs to steam a bit longer. Maybe next time I will leave it in there about 25 minutes- the middle section was still a bit uncooked, but edible.


Idli/Dosa Batter
3 cups rice
1 cup urad dhal
1 tsp methi (fenugreek seeds)

1. Soak rice and dhal in separate bowls for about 6 hours. Soak the fenugreek seeds in with the rice.
**If you are curious what rice to use, I usually use 'idli rice' available at the Indian store. If I don't have that on hand, I use 'ponni rice' also available at the Indian store. However, if you have no Indian store nearby, you can use long grain rice, that works well too.
2. Puree the rice separately and dhal separately, with little water. The consistency should be like pudding/thick pancake batter.
Blending the dhal is usually easier than the rice. Dhal will easily and quickly blend and puree. Check with your finger in between, before taking out of the blender. Take a bit of the batter between your thumb and forfinger, rub your fingers together, you should not feel any lumps or grains. It will feel 'like satin', smooth and velvety.
For the rice, it is a bit more tricky. The best batter is made by pureeing the rice separately from the dhal, because to get this velvety feeling from the rice, it takes a bit longer to blend. While urad takes about 3-5 minutes to get velvety smooth, rice may take 5-10 minutes depending on your blender's power. When you check the rice in between for smoothness, the graininess will decrease. Also, as one blends the rice, the batter thickens as the mixture becomes more velvety. Hope that makes sense! (Fenugreek seeds will be pureed along with the rice.)
3. When both urad and rice have been pureed sufficiently, mix these two purees together in a big bowl. Make sure there is room in the bowl above the line of the batter, to give room for batter to rise. Blending will take anywhere between 15-30 minutes.
4. After mixing the two batters, set this bowl aside for one day to two days depending on the climate. Some people suggest having the batter in a metal or glass bowl and keeping in the oven with the light on (no heat) for fermenting. I have not done this. I usually put the mixture in a plastic bowl, twice the size of the batter, assure the lid is on tightly, wrap it in a towel. If it is summer, I put it on the counter top for 1-2 days. In winter, I wrap the bowl in a towel and place it on the floor on a blanket in front of the heater vent for 1-2 days. I check the batter at intervals of about 12 hrs, 20 hrs, 30 hrs, etc or whenever I remember. Batter is ready when the lid is removed and a sour aroma hits you in the face and when the lid is fully taken off, the batter has mushroomed up- it is fermented and risen. Timing for this is between 15-48 hours depending on climate conditions.
5. Batter should be a pouring consistency to make dosa or idli. The consistency should be like a milkshake- thin, consistently smooth and pourable. Sometimes when the batter ferments and rises, it also thickens. It is important to add water little by little to get the batter to the right consistency. Some will take water in a bowl, dip fingers into it, and spray water with fingers little by little into the batter, mixing it with a spatula or fork until the right consistency is attained.

Wondering how many servings this batter makes? I am really not sure! It lasts us about 2-3 days of idli dosa making. I eat between 3-5 idlis, and he eats about 3-5 dosas. Roughly one ladle is one serving (1 ladle batter=1 idli= 1 dosa). If I make an educated guess, I'd say between 12-17 servings of idli/dosa from this batter.

How to fry/make dosa
If making dosa, the pan must be very hot. So hot that steam will be seen rising off the pan, even when frying, as to the right. (Click on all photos for bigger sizes.) Some take the pan off for a f...ew seconds before pouring batter on it. A ladle of batter is put on the pan and in concentric, even circles the batter is made into a thin pancake. Dripping a little oil around the sides of the dosa is important to make it crispy. Keep the heat on high, and watch the dosa. When it is first put on the pan, good batter will bubble and bubbles will burst as it fries. Usually we do not flip for about 5-6 minutes. To know when to flip, it would be possible to see the browness of the bottom coming through to the top, but not blackening or burning. When it is time to flip, taking the spatula around the 'edges' it would come off easily when the bottom has browned slightly. Flip and fry a bit on the other side. Do drip oil around it and move the pan around to get the oil to go under the dosa. This is not deep frying- a lot of oil is not needed- about 2-3 teaspoons per dosa is used. Some people may use more to get it a bit more crispy and brown. It is imperative to use oil to get a true taste out. The few times I tried to make a 'diet dosa' I realized it just wasn't worth it!

From Vegetarian Cuisine
How to make/steam idlis
If you have the Indian utensils, oil the idli pan and put about an inch of water in the bottom of the pressure cooker and heat the pan. Place batter in each oiled idli mold about 1/2-3/4 full. Place the idli stand inside the pot. Put the top on, do not put the weight on the pressure cooker. Once steam comes from the top, time it for about 20 minutes. Take out and enjoy!

How to steam idlis in an egg poacher pan
This method is similar to the above. Take each egg poacher insert, oil it, and fill it about 1/2-3/4 full with the batter. Steam on high heat about 25 minutes.

Close up of Idli
fluffing up in poacher pan.

Pan view.

Making Coconut Chutney Side Dish:

This two step coconut chutney recipe is so easy. It was taught to me by my father-in-law.
Step 1:
1/2 cup grated coconut
2 tbpsn chenna dhal (uncooked)
2 green chilies
dash salt
1/4 cup water

Place all these items in a blender and puree it. It may become thick, add 1/8 cup more water. Some people like the chutney thick, others more watery. The dhal would take some more time to puree. If you want to make it a bit easier to blend, soak the dhal separately in water for about 30 minutes before blending.

Place the pureed coconut mix into a serving bowl.

Step 2
pinch black mustard seeds
10 curry leaves
2 green chilies cut lengthwise
2 dried red chilies broken in half
1 tsp urad dhal

Take a small frying pan. Heat it. Put in the oil (about 2 tablespoons). Heat the oil. Put in the mustard seeds. Take care, when they heat they will burst out of the pan. This is important to get the right smell and taste.
When the seeds have burst, slightly move the pan up off the flame/stove and add in the other spices, temper them a few minutes until the urad dhal seems brown, not black. When it's ready (only takes about 2-3 minutes) put this mix on the top of the coconut mixture already in the bowl. Though it looks nice sitting on top of the coconut, as in the photo, do mix the spices into the coconut puree and sit aside for 10-20 minutes to let the flavors mix. It's so tasty!!

**I like to take the green chilies, urad and red chilies and put them in a small bowl so when oil and mustard seeds are ready, I can just drop the whole thing right into the pan!

Related Posts/Sites:
Maya's Kitchen- My local friend's vegetarian and non-vegetarian delicacies
Pongal Holiday Potluck Menu and Recipes
Quinoa Upma
Raw Onion Chutney
Stovetop, electric and microwave egg poachers.
Tomato Chutney by Nithya

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Temptations from the Tamil Table: Review of Viji Varadarajan’s Samayal South Indian Cookbook

Viji Varadarajan - Gourmand awardsJennifer Kumar
photos submitted by Viji Varadarajan

I would need to live three or more lifetimes just to experience the full range of amazing vegetarian food options in Tamil –South Indian cooking. However, with the aid of Viji Varadarajan’s Cookbook, Samayal: The Pleasures of South Indian Vegetarian Cooking, I can learn at least the Tamil Brahmin, or Tambram, cuisine spiced with few other regional dishes in one lifetime- whew! (In London at the Olypmpia Theatre for the awards, right.)

Having myself lived in Tamil Nadu for two years, and living in the homes of Tamil Brahmins, these cookbooks bring back so many homely memories of my stay there. Though I stayed in the homes of Tamil Brahmins day in and out, shared meals on the floor or at the table, learning to eat with only my right hand, and picking up my drinking glass (steel tumbler) with my left, relishing to the last grain of annam (rice), I regret whole-heartedly not entering kitchens and learning to cook when I was there. This is where Viji’s books fill the gap. I feel as though she is my Tamil Amma, taking me under her wing in her family kitchen and guiding me through generations of her family’s culinary secrets.

Viewing almost 120 recipes in the table of contents*, the main concern I have in opening up the book is in deciding where to start- all items tempt my tastebuds and I become overwhelmed with what to try first. Should I try the recipes I already know, like ven pongal (rice and moong dhal porridge) or one I may not know like keerai sundal (dry fried spinach salad)? When I was in India, I was so busy devouring the dishes that I never bothered asking the names, so this book again fills in the gaps there, too! So many choices and so little time.

A Range of Tastes

Opening up this book, I felt like ‘a kid in a candy store’- so many tempting choices moving me in different directions. There are some areas of the book that may be suitable places to start for the novice, and as luck has it the first chapter featuring over 13 varieties of rice dishes is it!

My favorites are lemon rice, tomato rice and curd or yogurt rice (thayyir saadham ). I have chosen these few recipes because they have the fewest steps and methods of preparation, and after a few successful attempts, I can make these dishes with my eyes closed! These dishes have been presented using fresh rice, but if you have left over rice and don’t know what to do with it- warm it and add the rest of the fresh tempered ingredients for a quick snack.

In Indian and Tamil menu preparation, nothing is served alone. Along with tomato and lemon rice, one could try any of the three varieties of coconut chutney, with my recommendation for beginners on the thengai thovayal because it has fewer ingredients. Some may shy away from this one because of lack of tamarind or asafetida. No worries, if you cannot find this in your local area, omit and make. Yes, the taste will differ, but overall, you will have nice coconut chutney to tempt one’s taste buds. I personally have made this recipe both ways, each equally tasty. If you’d like to try two chutneys with the lemon rice, in addition to coconut, try tomato. The recipe for Thakkaali Vengaaya Thovayal has a few more steps, providing a more layered taste to chutney. As for the curd rice, generally a more spicy or crunchy accompaniment is well-suited; such as an easier-to-prepare urulai kizhangu vadhakal – a crispy potato roast (which if you eat eggs, is a nice replacement for bland breakfast potatoes), or a more advanced preparation of sutta kathirikkai kotsu- a slightly pungent gravy with grilled eggplant. The best way to eat the accompaniments is by taking small amounts along with a larger amount of the main mixed rice dish.

Once you make these accompaniments, other menu items become more tempting. A high protein choice that is good as a snack or breakfast item is pesarat- the moong dhal pancake. I have made this with either split moong (yellow) or whole moong (green) with or without rice. This will go well with any chutney or even dipped in a sambar (thick vegetable lentil stew).

Have more left over coconut chutney? Try your hand at the famous rava uppuma- a breakfast or snack item made of rava (cream of wheat) infused with vegetables and spices. This is one of our personal household favorites. One can substitute other ingredients for cream of wheat- making different varieties of uppuma as featured in the book. Last, but never least, is the famous masaal dosai. This ‘Indian Burrito’ is a favorite of Indians and non-Indians alike. This crispy lentil and rice pancake is stuffed with a spicy potato fry similar to the urulai kizhangu vadhakal above. This dish, however simple it looks, has several steps. One should plan to create this dish over a few days time, as the rice and lentils used to make the pancake are first soaked for up to eight hours, ground into a velvety batter, and left to ferment for up to more than a day depending on your climate. The trick to a good tasting dosa is the sourness of the batter. This batter can also be used for making steamed-cakes or idlis, which can also be eaten with any variety of chutney or spice powders mixed with ghee, sesame or vegetable oils. Viji has shared three spice powder recipes suitable for dosa – idli accompaniments- karuveppalai podi, kothamalli podi, and idli-dosai milagai podi; sometimes affectionately known as ‘gunpowder’. The sambhar podi is one of the most versatile in a tambram kitchen. Used in a variety of different dishes - chutneys, stir fried vegetables and in gravies, it gives a distinct flavor to each dish. Amazingly no one dish tastes the same as the vegetables are cooked in its own juices.

If you’re looking for a snack on the run- a popular finger food snack is kothu kadalai sundal. This chick pea fried snack is sold on street sides in Chennai in small funnels. This is a fun snack to take on the run because it’s good even if it’s cold (though always better hot!). A Navarathri favorite among some in Chennai, this is a unique snack that can be a party pleaser because of it’s unique look and taste. Kids seem to love it too!

The author holding her award plaqueNo book on Indian cookery can be complete without a section on sweets. Who can resist a good rice pudding, called paal payasam in Tamil (literally meaning Milk Pudding). This sweet treat is easy to make in a pinch because it only has four ingredients- cream, sugar, rice and ghee (clarified butter) which are readily available almost anywhere! If you can’t find ghee in your area, Viji has offered a method of preparation for this in the book too! Another favorite sweet dish of mine is sakkarai pongal, a sweet version of ven pongal, a rice and moong dhal porridge. (photo: The author holding her award plaque.)

Limiting this review to such few recipes seems a shame. To get your hands on and into these recipes, order Viji’s book today through Amazon. Beside the recipes, you will learn about Indian culture and culinary tips at the end of each recipe. Ingredients that may be unfamiliar are listed in a pictorial in the back of the book. Viji has also created almost 20 menu plans for those wondering how to pair dishes into a complete meal. The book is then topped off with a selection of health drinks one can refresh them with after completing their wonderful, tasty, TamBram meals!

Thank you for sharing your culinary wisdom with us, Viji. I hope you enjoy her cookbook as much as I do!

*See the table of contents at Amazon.

**Special Thanks to Laura Denkatesh, Cookbook Coach for giving tips on writing a good cookbook book review! See Laura’s Website.

Related links/Articles
Viji’s website- Viji Samayal
Join Viji's fan page at Facebook
Insights and Inspirations of Viji Varadarajan (My interview with Viji)
Want to see Yogurt from a different perspective? (My review of Viji’s cookbook, A Healthy Taste of Indian Culture: Cooking with Yoghurt)

Newspaper/Magazine Articles
Brahmin Recipes by Viji Varadarajan on Magic Chef Hat, October 2008
Fusion in the Kitchen – The Hindu, March 2009
The tradition continues – Harmony Magazine, September 2007

tags : "cookbook authors", "south indian food", "tamil brahmin", "tamil food", "vegetarian samayal", traditional cookery "indian cooking" vegetarian "Indian vegetarian cooking" "pure vegetarian cookery" “cookbook reviews”

Monday, December 7, 2009

Paneer Makhani - Fried Homemade Cheese Cubes in Flavorful Cream Sauce by Srivalli

Srivalli from Cooking 4 All Seasons has graciously allowed me to reprint this recipe in it's entirety on my blog.

I am sharing this with you, my readers, to introduce you to Srivalli and her amazing cooking and photography talents- both tempt the tastebuds. Recently, Srivalli has published an e-book with some really unique and simple-to-make Indian recipes. I will share that with you tomorrow!! Srivalli is amazing creative!! Thanks for sharing this, Srivalli.

Preparation Time : 10 mins
Cooking Time : 20 - 30 mins
Serves - 4-5

Ingredients Needed:

Paneer - 250 gms
Onions paste - 1 cup
Tomato Puree - 2 cups
Ginger Garlic paste - 1 tsp
Red Chilli powder - 1 tsp
Coriander Powder - 1 tsp
Garam Masala - 1/2 tsp
Cumin Powder - 1/2 tsp
Cashew nut paste - 3 tbsp
Cream - 1 cup
Bay Leaf - 1 (opt)
Salt to taste
Butter - 3 tsp
Saffron - 5-6 strands
Milk - 50 ml.

Method to prepare:

You can use Home made Paneer or can use store bought. Cut into cubes and fry them in butter till golden colour. Remove and keep aside.

Warm milk and soak saffron in it.

Make Onion puree and Tomato puree separately. Keep aside.

In a pan, heat butter. You can use the same pan that you used for frying Paneer. Add the bay leaf, then fry Onion paste till its pink. add the ginger garlic paste. Fry both till the onion paste turns till brown.

Then add cashew paste along with all the spice powders. Simmer and allow it to cook well. Then add the tomato puree.

Add about 1/2 cup water and bring to boil. Then simmer and cook till it thickens. When the gravy is thick enough, add the cream and simmer for another 10 mins. Finally add the milk that has the saffron. Optionally, you can add orange food colour if you want richer colour.

When the gravy is ready, finally add the fried paneer and cook for 5 mins.

This tastes great with Ghee Rice, Jeera Rice or Naans.

Original Post on Srivalli's Blog.

Browse Current recipies posted on Srivalli's Cooking 4 All Seasons Blog.

Support Srivalli of Cooking 4 All Seasons- She's published a great new e-book with 15 unique Indian Recipes.

Flavours of South Indian Kitchen

Buy Now for only $5! My review soon to come!

Thank you for spending time on my website!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Recipe Review December 2009

Aayi's Recipes
Dried Gooseberry Gravy(Sukkil AvaLe Kadi/Tambli)
Shilpa shares a 'bitter' taste of India in this unique recipe.

Edible Garden
Gobi Manchurian
This unique Indian dish is a favorite and a special dish among some of my friends. This dish is a cauliflower (gobi) speciality with a nice gravy that, I think is Chinese influenced. But, until I read the recipe on this site, I never realized the gobi is covered in a batter and deep fried! Sounds yummy! I have yet to try it.

Fourth Sense Samayal
Spicy Rajma Gravy
Shilpa shares through captivating photo and poetry the beauty of thick, flavorful Indian kidney bean stew.

The Gori Wife Life
An American married to a Pakistani, living in Pakistan shares some lessons on traditional cooking mixed with modern touches in food storage and preparation.

One Hot Stove

Cashews are the new Cream
Nupur shares a tempting Vegan Dum Aloo recipe. Dum Aloo basically means 'strong potato.' Usually Dum Aloo dishes have whole, small potatoes in them.

Veggie Platter
Aloo Matar
Suma at Veggie Platter, shares a mouthwatering Potato (aloo) and pea (matar) dish ripe with the flavors of India!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Indian Inspired Vegetable Soup/Stew


2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup diced onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp ajwain seeds

15 baby carrots finely sliced
3 ribs celery, sliced thinly
2 cups diced green, red and/or orange peppers

Salt/pepper to taste

2 bay leaves

1 tbspn Cumin powder

2 tbspn Corriander powder

1/8 tsp turmeric powder

½ tbspn red chili powder

1 cup orzo pasta (or rice that doesn’t fluff up in soup)

6 cups vegetable broth

1 15-16 oz can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, chopped
1 tsp dried basil

1 ½ cup small beans or lentils (not black beans)


Step 1:

Heat olive oil, add ajwain seeds, onions and garlic on high heat for 3-5 minutes (don’t burn).

Step 2:

Turn heat to medium, add carrots, celery, and peppers. Stir it up. Fry for 10 minutes stirring every two minutes.

Step 3:

Add all the spices. Stir and fry for about 5 minutes more on low heat. During this 5 minutes heat the water and start to make the pasta.

Step 4:

Add the vegetable broth, diced tomatoes, parsley (if using dried, use 1 tbspn) and basil into the soup. Stir it up on high heat. When it boils, turn heat to medium, cover it up.

Step 5:

After 10 minutes add in the beans/lentils. Cover it again and let boil.

Step 6:

Heat for another 10-20 minutes to get firmness/softness of carrots and other veggies you prefer.

Step 7:

When veggies are almost the right firmness, add cooked orzo or rice. Turn off heat, let sit about 10 minutes and serve.

Will serve 4-6. Adapted from

Originally posted on my other blog in 2007.

More Mouthwatering Menus.

Thank you for reading and spending your time here! Bon App├ętit!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Recipe Review November 2009

Greetings, Friends:

It's been a few months since the last time I printed this column. I go through phases - being inspired to cook or at least, dream, about cuisine based on purely by my emotions and taste buds! This month, there was such a wide variety and long list of recipes that inspired me (and few I have actually prepared at home), that I wanted to share the links from Nithya, Aayi, Abhilash, Jaishree, Suma, and a surprise guest! Enjoy this month's recipes, I hope they tempt your tastebuds and inspire dreams of yumminess as they had with me!

4th Sense Samayal
Indian Special Kai Murukku
Nithya shares how to make a tasty handwoven deep fried snack made of rice and lentils. The snack itself is called "murukku" and, in this case, called kai murukku as it is hand rolled. In Tamil, kai means hand/arm.
Antipookoora - Banana Flower Recipe and Art Photo by NithyaPlantain Flower Usili (Vazha poo/ Anti poo)
This is a unique Tamil preparation using the banana flower stamens. I have had the honor to help make this dish- this is truly one dish that is best made with 'a village' of helpers because of removing the stamens. It's a job that is both time consuming and detail-oriented. And, with a whole group of people putting their attention, patience, time and love into the preparation- the end product is all the tastier!

Aayi's Recipes
Vegetable- Barley Soup

Hindu Blog
Thirukkural Quotes on the Food We Eat
Thirukkural is an ancient book of parables written in the Tamil language by the poet Thiruvalluvar. His parables cover almost every aspect of everyday life. Here is a sampling of quotes relating to nutrition, which reminded me of a multipart post on my blog- A Thought for Food and Food for Thought.

Spicy Oat Pancakes
Jaishree introduces us to an Indianized version of oatmeal pancakes. YUM!

Veggie Platter
Aloo Methi Matar - Microwave Version
Suma has a whole series on microwave Indian recipes. She makes it look so simple and easy! This recipe is for a potato (aloo) and pea (matar) curry with fenugreek (methi) leaves.
Masoor Dal Sambar
Suma shares a tasty recipe for a vegetarian stew made from masoor dhal, a lentil not often thought of thickening sambar, as toor dhal is usually utilized for this purpose.

Mambhazha pullisheri (kerala style)
A delectable yogurt mango spicy salad eaten as an accompaniment to rice and other Kerala dishes. Who can resist this sweet sour combination?

Related Links:
Recipe Review August 2009

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Horseradish Spiced Mashed Potatoes

Today I was hanging out at the book store looking at some cookbooks. I found an interesting one called, Sam the Cooking Guy: Just a Bunch of Recipes.

In this book, our fearless and creative chef, Sam Zien introduces me to a horseradish mashed potato dish! I was instantly enthralled because I love horseradish! Since I became a vegetarian, I haven't figured out how to use horseradish, because in Hungarian meals I grew up with as a kid, horseradish is paired with some meat items, and I doubt it exists in Indian cuisine.

So, soon as I got home, I took a boiled potato out of the fridge that's been reserved for Aloo Curry, and instead used it for this new purpose. Here's the recipe I used. It's so easy and tasty!

2 cups boiled and mashed potato- skin can be left on as per your taste
2 tablespoon Parmesan cheese (I personally like Kraft Grated Parmesan the best.)
2 tablespoons sharp cheddar grated (or another cheese you like that adds another color)
2-3 tablespoons (or more per taste) horseradish

No need to add salt as the cheese has salt in it.


Easy!! Take the potato (aloo) and peel if desired. Mash in your hand (play with your food, and feel if if you so desire) or with a spoon into a bowl. Warm this in the microwave until it's hot enough to eat. Add in the rest of the ingredients. Stir and enjoy!


**Notes, some may wonder if "horseradish" is vegetarian because of the word 'horse'. It can be misleading if you are unaware of the plant and the language. Horseradish is vegetarian, it is a plant. More on horseradish plant here.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Palak Paneer - Fried Homemade Cheese Curds in a Flavorful Spinach Puree

By: Jennifer Kumar


1 Packet of Paneer (Make your own homemade paneer, recipe, with video, here.)
5-6 oz spinach (generally a small pack of spinach ready to use, prewashed from produce section)
1 cup roughly cut onion, then pureed
1 cup diced tomato, then pureed
1/4 tsp garlic paste
1/4 tsp ginger paste
1 cup water
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp coriander
3/4 tsp garam masala
salt to taste

1. Thaw paneer or make homemade paneer.
2. Heat water in a pan. When the water boils, put in the spinach. Let the spinach wilt, and drain the spinach. Keep the drained spinach water aside.
3. Heat a pan with three tablespoons oil. Fry the paneer cubes until all sides a golden brown. Set fried paneer on a plate with a paper towel on it. For a treat, try a fried paneer piece plain, it's very tasty! (Do not wash or put that pan in the sink, it can be reused to make the dish in, with the tastes from the fried paneer already in it, it's tasty.)
4. Keep ready the purees.
Roughly dice the onions, puree. Set aside.
Roughly dice the tomatoes, add in 1 cup water (use drained spinach water if desired), ginger and garlic paste and spices. Puree together. Set aside.
Puree the spinach with 1 cup water (use drained spinach water if desired). Keep aside.
5. Heat the same pan again and put in a tablespoon oil. Heat oil and put in ajwain seeds (this is optional but it gives a nice taste if you can add it, and adding the ajwain and smelling the aromas will tell you the oil is hot enough to sautee the pureed onions.).
6. When the oil is hot and/or the ajwain releases some aroma - add in the pureed onion. Stir this in the oil until the oil seems to look as if it's separating from the onion.
7. Add in the tomato puree and stir. Turn down the heat to medium. Keep stirring about 5 minutes.
8. Add in the spinach puree. When spinach puree is added, it may be necessary to put a top over the pan and turn down the heat a little, as it may begin to splatter out. Stir these all together, mix a few minutes. Once the heat reduces a little (between low and medium) let this simmer about 5-10 minutes to let the spices settle in.
9. After about 10 minutes just take a little bit out on a spoon and try it. Taste it to see if the spices have blended in nicely. If not, stir and simmer this for about 5 minutes more and repeat the tasting process.
10. When the spices seemed to mix well, add the fried paneer into and mix nicely.
11. Let this settle for 5-10 minutes.

Enjoy with rice or roti.

About 3-4 servings.

Tips: If you want to reduce the amount of oil, some people do not fry the paneer but put it in 'raw'. If desired one can do this, but the taste will be different and the paneer may crumble rather than staying in cubes when you put it into the paneer mix (step 10). Some may also bake it in the oven. Though I have heard of people baking it in the oven, I have not tried this.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Indian Cooking Coaching Classes for Indian H4 Wives, Others, In Rochester, NY

Authentic Journeys
Indian Cooking Coaching Classes

Are you?
A H4 wife or dependant parent from India new to cooking and Rochester?
Looking for ways to pass time- by learning Indian cooking through one-on-one coaching in your home?
Are you an international student from India (girls, only, please)?
A working professional woman from India on assignment in Rochester, New York?

Who am I?
I am Jennifer Kumar, an American married to a Malayalee and lived two years in Chennai. My love for India and vegetarian cuisine crosses more than 10 years. I have learned how to make dishes from North and South Indian cuisines with the use of ready-made and home-made masalas and spice mixes.
More about me on my blog:

What kinds of foods do I cook?
Here is a sampling of foods I make:
South Indian: Sambar, Rasam, Kozhumbu, vegetable curries, puttu kadala, dosa, idli (from scratch- not the ready made batters), other types of “crepes” like besan pancake/omelet (eggless), moong dhal crepes, adai (mixed dhal crepe), sundal dishes (dry fried curries made with chenna, black-eyed peas or other beans), chutneys, others.
North Indian: pav bhaji, palak paneer (homemade paneer), dhal curries and tadkas, aloo matar, dhal makhani, chapatti, chole masala, rajmah, others.
I use readymade and home-made spice masalas. Many times with dishes I will mix powders (cumin, coriander, chili, etc) with ready-made powders (chole masala, rajmah, etc.).
If you’d like to see a sampling of recipes I make see my recipe blog:

How can I help you?
Are you home-bound? Unable to drive or feel shy to go out alone during the day? Do you rely on your husband to take you to the store? Does he get less rest because after work, he comes home and has to go grocery shopping or help you adjust to the lifestyle here? I can help with all that- taking pressure off your husband, giving him much needed rest, you a companion and you a break from your daily routines.
Interacting with me, an American who is well versed and comfortable in the ways of Indian culture, is also a good bridge to American culture. Through these classes, you can gain some confidence in interacting and socializing with an American through the comfort of your Indian culture!

Coaching Class Offerings:
I am available to help home-bound Desi h4 wives and mothers to take you to the store to go grocery shopping.
A two hour class introducing you to a wide variety of Indian spices, dhals, etc.
One-to- two hour coaching classes in your kitchen cooking various Indian vegetarian foods (or American foods, too, if you so desire.)

Prices for in-home services – involve your friends for discounts:**
$15 per hour for one person
$25 per hour for two people
$35 per hour for three people
$45 per hour for four people (max)
Details on Fees:
* For car trips, an extra $10 is charged for transportation charges.
* Fees over one hour are billed on ¼ hour increments.
* Unmarried students deduct $5 per entire class fee (not per person) as a student discount.
** These are introductory prices – lower than going rates.

If this offer interests you, you’d like to participate or ask more questions, don’t hesitate to contact me:
Jennifer Kumar (subject line Rochester Desi Cooking Classes)
Phone: 585-387-9325

*I am a licensed Social Worker and graduate of a Life Coaching Program. Cultural adjustment services extend beyond the scope of cooking- I offer life skills training and life coaching services also with this same rate pricing structure (again introductory rates). See
Thank you and happy to help you!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Want to see Yogurt from a different perspective?

Review of Viji Varadarajan’s book, A Healthy Taste of Indian Culture: Cooking with Yoghurt
Jennifer Kumar

Americans are used to seeing and tasting sweet blends of yogurts with fruits and sweet flavorings.

Cooking with Yoghurt book - Viji with the 'Best Health and Nutrition book in the World' certificateIndians, and South Indians particularly don’t omit all sweets from yogurt, but we can get to taste a different side of yogurt with the yogurt dishes of Viji Varadarajan’s book, A Healthy Taste of Indian Culture: Cooking with Yoghurt- the spicy and savory side of yogurt. (Gourmand book award, image, right, click on it to see a bigger size.)

Ever tried salty or spicy yogurt mixtures? Maybe the closest Americans would get to this, without trying Indian food is through the Greek dish tzatziki- yogurt with cucumbers and dill. In fact there is a slight variation of this in the cookbook- Tamil South Indian Tzatziki better known in Tamil as Vellarikkai Thayir Pachadi. Like Tzatziki, this dish has cucumbers, salt and yogurt. Adding of oil, mustard seeds, coriander leaves, green chilies and coconut then turn this into a South Indian cool delight.

Those who know Indian cuisine also know that yogurt has a different consistency in Indian dishes than American. Viji also shows us in the introduction how to make homemade yogurt that has a thinner, and sometimes curdled appearance as compared to the American gelatin inspired blocks of yogurt.

Another interesting yogurt side dish may appeal to the Mexican in you. I like to call it Indian cooling salsa. Like salsa, but find it too spicy but just can’t stop yourself? Want a salsa that is both spicy and cooling at the same time? Try making the Thakkaali Thayir Pachadi, this yogurt tomato puree infused with mustard seeds popped in oil, salt and curry leaves is a unique substitution for salsa and without jalapenos or chilies!

In addition to a wider variety of these yogurt side dishes, there are main dishes to be eaten with rice like Mor Kozhumbu- a spicy vegetable stew with yogurt mixed in. Also highlighted is a regional specialty Paruppu Urundai Mor Kuzhumbu. I made this dish long back with the use of a recipe from a blog. That being said, Viji’s methods are much more straight forward, simple and less time consuming with very tasty results. This is a tasty dish of a spiced yogurt soup with lentil dumplings. It’s simply tempting.

And, of course no south Indian meal, Tamil Brahamin three-course meal is complete without a plate of curd rice, or thayyir sadham- which she has displayed with the addition of pomegranate seeds, irresistible in my book!

Beyond regular meal time foods, there are a few varieties of rava idli (steamed sour cakes), good tea time snacks or breakfast items, and sweet dishes like mor kali or sourdough steamed cakes and thayir badusha, which reminds me of the North Indian gulab jaman (and can maybe taste more so with the substitution of rose water). I have yet to try to sweets, but in good time, all will fall into place!

Thank you to Viji Varadarajan for creating this one-of-a-kind yogurt lover’s cookbook!

See Viji's profile, along with links to her website, Facebook fanpage, links to her other books and acquaint yourself with her friend and editor, Padmini Natarajan.

Thank you for spending time on

Friday, October 23, 2009

Cornbread with Cream Corn and Red Bean Curried Gravy

This dish is inspired by a dish we love at Cheesecake Factory called "Sweet Corn Tamale," and my love for the layered, flavorful tastes of India and Mexico. I hope you're tempted to try the same!

Small -sized sweet corn cakes (ready made in the store)

For gravy:Cornbread with Homemade Corn Jalapeno Gravy
2 tbspn oil of your choice (vegetable or olive)
pinch cumin seeds
1/2 cup small diced red onion
1/2 of 1 jalapeno, finely diced
1/4 cup red bell pepper finely chopped
1/4 cup orange bell pepper finely chopped
1/2 cup water
pinch turmeric
3/4 tsp cumin powder
1/4 tsp coriander powder
1/8 tsp garlic salt (or 1/2 tsp garlic paste, salt to taste)
1/3 canned ready-to-use red beans (about 5 oz)
1 can (14.75 oz) can creamed corn
1 tbspn finely diced cilantro (coriander) leaves
to taste, garnishing - sour cream, optional

1. Warm oven to 250F for warming the corn cakes.
2. Keep all vegetables diced ready to put in the pan as needed- onions and jalapenos together, red and orange pepper in another.
3. Heat wok, put in oil. When oil seems warm put in cumin seeds.
4. As the cumin sizzles and an aroma comes out, drop in onions and jalapenos. Stir fry a few mintues until the onion becomes translucent, not browns.
5. Add in red and orange peppers and red beans. Stir fry about 5 minutes so the peppers soften.
6. Turn heat to medium, add water and all the spices (cumin and coriander powder, garlic salt, turmeric). Let this simmer about 5 minutes, stirring every minute.
7. Add in the entire can of creamed corn, stir in. Simmer 15 minutes or until all the flavors combine.
8. While the corn gravy is simmering, place corn cakes on an oiled pan, cut in half, place in oven to warm about 10 minutes.

Taste for salt, it may not be necessary to add more because the canned corn may have salt in it.

To eat- place the warmed corn cakes cut side up on the plate, Ladle a generous heaping of corn gravy on the corn bread pieces. The finished product is a blend of different flavors, with a mild hot spice from the jalapeno. Eat with a side of sour cream. If not hot or spicy enough, eat with an additional side of salsa rojo (red salsa) or salsa verde (green salsa). YUM!

Hope you get a chance to try this and the one at Cheesecake Factory. Let me know what you think!!

Related Posts:
Our visit to Cheesecake Factory
Burritos with Ginger/Tamarind Sauce: A Mexican Indian Delight

Thank you!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Okra Curry- the Martha Stewart Way and the Jennifer Kumar Way

This post is just for fun!! There is a video below. Enjoy and thanks for stopping by!


olive oil
1 red onion cut in long pieces

1 tbspn yellow mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seed
1/2 tsp coriander powder

1 lb whole okras not cut

long cut tomato


See, or at least, hear, her make this recipe, below in a really raw video.

The method is so different from the Indian way. No popping of seeds

This is how I would make it

3 tsp oil
pinch black mustard seeds.

heat oil and put in the mustard. When it pops add in-
10 okras cut into slices, pinch salt, red chilies (2 broken), 5 or so curry leaves, urad dhal uncooked (a pinch), 1 tsp cumin powder, 1/2 tsp coriander powder.

Stir fry until it's golden brown...

Hopefully the stickiness would go off on it's own.

Any remedies for ridding of the stickiness?


I eat it as a side dish with sambar rice or with rotis.

Sorry about the quality, I recorded with my Iphone, purposefully. I wanted you to hear what she has to say, even if you can't really see it very well!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Introduction to Indian Cookery- A Class with Jennifer of this blog!!

Want to learn a little about the ingredients used in Indian cooking?

This short class will introduce you to some basic ingredients used in Indian cooking and what they are used for. You will also be able to touch, feel and smell the ingredients. All participants will be able to take some pre-measured and bagged ingredients with recipe to take home and make their own Indian meals!

** The classroom doesn't have kitchen facility- we are not cooking- just learning about the ingredients.

I will introduce to you:
A wide variety of lentils and dried beans/peas/pulses
A few kinds of rices
Different masalas (spice mixes) used in preparing dishes
Spice mixes used to eat with prepared dishes
Help differentiate spicy (flavorful) and hot (like chili peppers) in Indian cooking
Indian cooking gadgets, but you can use American ones to make simple recipes.

Seats are limited to 12.

There is a nominal fee of $10 per person to cover cost of materials.
Payments due 1 week before your class starts by cash, money order, or check. Sent to me at
Jennifer Kumar, P.O. Box 284, Pittsford, NY 14534

Comments or questions?

*If in cash, we can meet in person.
**Paypal is also available but will be $13 to cover the fees of paypal. If you'd like to pay by paypal, let me know, and I'll send you the information.

Date and time:
This class has passed. I am open to teaching this to people in the Rochester area. Please e-mail me. If enough people want to join, I will organize it again, or if you have a public place for me to meet you (church, community hall, etc) I am open to that. Please e-mail me with your thoughts.

All classes to be held in Jewish Community Center, Room: #3, 1200 Edgewood Avenue, Rochester, NY

This is posted in Facebook too:

Pass it on! Thanks.

** This class will teach you ingredients used for basis of Indian vegetarian cooking, though many ingredients are also used for cooking meat-based and egg-based dishes. Though all masalas I use are vegetarian, some are intended for meat dishes, but I use in vegetarian dishes!

**This room has no kitchen facility. We will not be making/cooking food in this class.

**Examples of Indian recipes I make

  • Location: Jewish Community Center

Friday, August 7, 2009

Recipe Review August 2009

4th Sense Samayal By Nithya
Alligator Fry
This is a unique name for a unique vegetarian dish- bittergourds stuffed with spicy dhals and deep fried! Creating cute little alligators from bittergourds is creative, indeed!
Chayote or Chowchow Curry
Chow Chow is a very unique vegetable and even more appetizing when taken as a side dish with South Indian food.
Chenna/Chick peas Rasam
Now, Nithya has stretched the definitions of what I thought Rasam is! Adding my favorite chick peas can't be resisted! More than the recipe, click inside to check out the photography!
Colorful Capsicum Rice
This is as close to a "rice a roni treat" as we will find in Indian food! An easy to prepare rice dish with different colored bell peppers. It can't get much easier than this!
Iron Adai
Adai is one of our favorites, but with added drumstick leaves, more appetizing for me!
Lemon Rasam
Spicy lemon enhanced soup.
Milagu (Pepper) Rasam
Who hasn't had pepper rasam from a cup- let alone a mug! The new 'hot chocolate'- and good for you too!"Pittu swan" = Fantastic Food Photography by Nithya
Soaked, ground and steamed lentils crumbled into a curry is this dish in a nutshell! The photo to the right, by Nithya inspires one and all into Indian cookery, paper crafts, and food photography! Thanks for the inspiration (photo reprinted with permission).
Rice Ball Bean Sundal
She says she's a fresher, but how many of us can make this time-consuming and a bit complex spicy bean salad made with rice flour dumplings? I gotta come to your house, and fast, Nithya!
Tomato Rasam
Watery spicy tomato soup.
Yennai Kathirikkai- Brinjal
Oh spicy eggplant curry, the color of the dish tempts me more!

Red Capsicum Chutney
A tempting puree of red bell peppers, akin to a pesto or salsa that is eaten as a side dish with Indian foods. Can also be used as a yummy sandwich spread!

Aayi's Recipes
Cumin/Jeera Bread
A nice twist on what I would call cumin-infused french bread.
Facebook Friends
Greens, potato and feta cheese pie recipe by Jennifer Jones Petro

Kamala's Corner
Rawa Pongal
A mouthwatering cream of wheat porridge with lentils and mild spices eaten for breakfast or any time of day!

Life at Abhi
Revealing the Rumors of Karkidaka Kanji- Medicinal Poridge
This is a special rice gruel infused with ayurvedic and local herbs particular to Kerala had during the Karkidaka Vavu rituals- worshiping of ancestors.

Puttu Uppumavu – Breakfast Puttu gets makeover at the teatime!

Ria's Collection
Urulakkizhangu Mezhukkuvaratti - An aromatic Kerala side dish using potatoes
This is a tempting south Indian style dry potato curry. Click into see the photos and start drooling!

Wonder what to do with left over idli/dosa batter? Tired of utthapam? Want something a bit more savory, tempting, deep fried and crunchy? Try this tempting treat!

Veggie Platter
Lime Sevai
Sevai is the Tamil word for Vermicelli. This South Indian vegetarian treat, usually taken as a tiffen (mid day snack) is a favorite of lime lovers. A mild blend of spices and fresh lime juice are mixed into cooked vermicelli to offer a unique dish loved by all!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Besan Omelette

This chickpea based recipe is a vegan alternative to an egg-based breakfast.

Although I have been making this breakfast alternative for the past few years, I never got it quite right. The main problem I continued to have was the ratio of water to besan flour. Today, as I made it again, I thought carefully about this and how to approach it. I decided to take more careful measurements. The end result has surprised me! I realised the ratio of besan exceeds water! Though I must have done this in the past, I was not conscious of it, and never really made the recipe with this in mind. The ratio of besan to water I used it 3:2 (in this case 1 measure equals 1/4 cup- so 3/4 cup besan, 1/2 cup water). This may make a thicker batter, and heavier pancake. Other sites say 1/2:1 ratio or 1/2 cup besan to 1 cup water. Try both ways and see what you like better. I have a problem cooking the thinner version, when it's too watery. I will have to improve myself!

As I did a little Internet research on this recipe, I found that it is also called 'cheela', though I am not sure what language this is. Cheelas, like western pancakes come in many varities, like besan, moong dhal (which I have made), oats (which I have yet to make), and others I do not yet know. Links for these will be at the end of the post.

3/4 cup besan (chick pea flour)
1/2 cup water
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp red chili pepper
1/4 tsp (heaping) ginger paste
1/8 cup finely chopped onion
1-2 green chilies, the small Indian kind
pinch of green herb like dried fenugreek, finely chopped cilantro (coriander leaves), parsley, etc. for color

1. Place besan flour and water in a blender and blend out any lumps. The mixture should be a little thinner than pudding. It should not be watery or it won't cook nicely. This could vary slightly on the quality of besan.
2. Transfer to a bowl, add salt, cumin seeds, red chili powder, ginger paste, green chilies, onions and green herb.
Note about chilis: It is ok to reduce or leave out if you don't like hot spices, the other spices will give flavor. For green chilies if you can't find Indian kind, use what you like but it will give a different taste. I finely slice the green chili, adding the chili and seeds into the batter. I gauge the amount by the number of slices, usually 8-10. Sometimes one chili is enough, sometimes two are required. You can add more if you like it hotter!
3. Heat a pan and put oil on it. Heat pan on high. When it is really hot, reduce heat to 3/4, take the pan off the flame and place half the batter on the pan and even it out. Fry on flame two minutes and flip. Flip a few times until you get a golden brown color. The pancake may appear soft and not done all the way through. Sometimes if you let it set for a few minutes after cooking to cool it, it will set itself when the ratio of water to besan is correct.

Alternative: For a green feel and another texture, others add peas. I have not tried this, though it seems interesting. Here's a recipe, green peas cheela.

This makes two servings, two pancakes. Besan pancakes are filling, and can be heavy.

Eat with a side of your favorite sauce (ketchup, salsa, green chili sauce), sour cream or cream cheese.

Thank you for reading my blog.

Related posts/sites
Throw away the recipe; Learn the ratio instead (NPR)
My old besan pancake recipe