This is a bit tricky, but worth the effort – giving piles of crispy, spicy ganthia to munch on!

250 gm besan flour
1/2 cup water
1 tsp papad kheer
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ajwain / carom seed
2 pinches hing
1 – 2 tsp chili powder (to taste)
1/2 tsp turmeric
4 Tbsp oil

Oil to fry

Heat water in small saucepan and add salt and papad kheer and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat.

Sift besan flour into bowl and stir in chili powder, hing, turmeric and ajwain seeds. Add 4 tbsp oil and blend well with your hands to make sure all flour has oil mixed with it. Add water slowly and stir between adding. The dough is VERY sticky.

Heat oil until a piece of dough will rise to the top and sizzle.

Fill a kitchen press / murrukku maker with the dough and place the large sev plate on the end of the press and screw shut.  Below is a picture of the maker – it is also called a kitchen press.

murrukku maker

Murrukku maker (kitchen press) with large sev plate.

Squeeze dough into hot oil. When doing so, you will need to almost touch the surface of the oil with the end of the press while squeezing out the dough. Shake the press slightly while doing so, this will help separate the strands. Take a knife and cut off the dough ( will be near hot oil!) Stir pieces with the knife after you cut them off so as to separate them well while they cook in the oil. You may be able to put two or three squeezes of dough into the oil. Cook until they are very lightly browned, remove – shaking over pan to remove excess oil and place on paper towels to drain. Store in covered container.

Rajma Tikki

I made these the other day when I found that I had soaked too many kidney beans and so needed to use them up.  They are nice and soft and go well with lemon pickle or chutney.   I will try to add a photo when I have a chance (before they are eaten!)

1 1/2 cups cooked kidney beans, mashed
1 medium potato, boiled and mashed
1/2 onion, chopped
2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
1/2 sprig curry leaf, chopped
1/2 tsp garlic, minced
1 tsp ginger paste
1/2 tsp chopped green chili
3/4 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp chaat masala
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp black salt
salt to taste
2 Tbsp oil

Oil to fry

Besan flour


Heat oil in pan. When hot add mustard seeds and cumin seeds. When mustard seeds splutter, add onion. Cook for 1 minute, add ginger paste, garlic and green chili. Stir and cook for 2 mins on med heat, stirring. Add coriander powder, chaat masala and turmeric. Stir well and add about 1 tbsp water. Cook on med low for about 3 mins, stirring. Remove from heat and stir in black salt.
In a large bowl, add mashed kidney beans, potatoes, coriander, curry leaves. Stir in onion mixture and add garam masala and salt to taste. Form small patties with oiled hands and place on lightly oiled plate.

Heat oil to fry and make a thinnish batter with equal amounts of cornstarch and besan flour, salt to taste. Dip tikkis in batter, roll in crumbs and fry. I do NOT pre-make tikkis and refrigerate, they will not cook through properly.

Drain and serve with chutney. You can make without crumbs, but you need to use batter for coating to keep tikki’s from absorbing too much oil. Be careful eating hot tikkis, they are very hot and soft inside.

A simple masala

I like this masala as a basis for many curries.  It is pretty fast to cook up and you can add whatever vegetable, paneer, egg or meat that you want.


1 onion, chopped fine

1 large or 2 small cloves garlic minced
1/2 inch ginger minced
1 Tbsp ginger / garlic paste

2 tomatoes, chopped
OR 1 Tbsp tomato paste dissolved in 1/2 cup water
OR 3/4 cup tomato puree
Don’t use canned tomatoes..they won’t cook down.

1 to 2 green chilis, chopped (or to taste)

1/2 tsp cumin seed (jeera)
1/2 tsp mustard seed (rai)
1/4 tsp turmeric (haldi)
1 tsp coriander powder (dania powder)
1 tsp garam masala
1/4 red chili powder or to your taste (lal mirch)
2 cups water or to desired thickness
Salt to taste

Add: Frozen vegetables, pre-cooked vegetable, pre-cooked meat, paneer, leafy vegetable, cooked Koftas, whatever you like

To finish (can omit if you do not want sour)
Lemon Juice

Can add the following for taste or garnish:

Coriander leaves, chopped
Fresh curry leaves, fried

Oil to fry

Place 3 Tbsp oil in pan and heat. Add mustard and cumin seed, when they splutter, add onion. Stir and cook until translucent..or you can brown onion if you like that taste, just cook and stir until they are as brown as you like. Add garlic (don’t brown garlic, it gets bitter!) and minced ginger OR ginger / garlic paste and stir. Add green chile and stir. Add tomatoes and cook until slightly softened – if using paste or puree, add it now. Add turmeric, coriander powder, chili powder, garam masala and stir. If tomatoes or puree / paste are not liquidy enough, add some water so that spices do not stick and burn (about 1/2 cup). Cook, stirring constantly until oil begins to separate from the paste. Add 1-2 cups of water (depending on how thick you want it) and stir well.

At this point you can decide whether you want a smooth sauce or not. If you want smooth, remove from slightly, blenderize and pour back into pan. If not, just leave as is.

Add whatever vegetable, paneer or meat ingredients you want at this point. Cook sauce to desired thickness or until ingredients are cooked through, add salt to taste. Finish with lemon juice or yogurt if you like. Coriander and / or curry leaves can be added for taste too.

Quantities of masala sauce can be made ahead of hand, just don’t add the veggies, cheese, meat or yogurt until you heat it. Keep refrigerated or freeze. You will have it ready for when you need it!

Gongura Pulihora – Indian Rice dish


Gongura Pulihora


Gongura plant (the leaves with the red stems!)

I recently found to my pleasant surprise that the Roselle plants that I am growing to make Hibiscus tea are actually a form of sorrel.  The leaves are called Gongura in India and are used in making a tart pickle and to flavor rice.  I made the recipe for my rice and it was delightful.  The secret to the good taste is to make sure the tempering (fried dals) is nicely browned and not burned. 


Gongura (Hibiscus leaves) Pulihora


Rice – 1.5 cups (about 4 cups cooked)
Sliced Gongura Leaves – 2 Packed Cups or more to taste.
Fenugreek Seeds – 1/4 tsp
Mustard Seeds – 1 tsp
Urad Dal – 1 tsp
Chana Dal – 1 tsp
Red Chillies – 2
Turmeric – 1/4 tsp
Curry Leaves – 8 to 10

Vegetable Oil – 4 tbsp
Salt to Taste


Rinse rice well and soak for 20 mins,  Bring water to boil and boil 3 mins.  Drain and return to pan. Cover and cook on low heat until water is absorbed.  I just turn the burner off on my ceramic stove and let the covered pan sit for 10 mins.
When the rice is cooked, spread it in a large plate to cool.
Over medium heat, dry roast the fenugreek seeds till they start to change color. Grind the fenugreek seeds into a fine powder.

You can also use ground fenugreek powder and CAREFULLY heat it in a small pan – stirring constantly until you just start to smell it.  Remove from heat immediately.

In a wok or kadai, heat 2 tbsp of vegetable oil.
Add two split red chillies and stir-fry for 1 minute.
Add the gongura leaves and stir-fry till the leaves wilt.
Set aside the gongura leaves to cool.
Once the leaves are cool, grind into a smooth paste.  I did this in a coffee grinder and had to add about 3 Tbsp water to get it to a paste.
In a wok or kadai, heat 2 tbsp of vegetable oil.
Add mustard seeds and wait till they splutter.
Add the urad dal and chana dal.
Stir fry till the dals are light golden brown.  BE CAREFUL at this point, you do not want to burn the seeds.  Take the pan off the heat if you have to before you add the rest of the ingredients.
Add the curry leaves, and 2 split red chillies.
Stir-fry till the chili just begins to darken, once again you may have to take the pan off the heat.
Add the gongura paste, roasted fenugreek powder, turmeric, and salt.  Cook briefly to heat through.
Add the rice and mix well.  Check for salt.  If you want it more tart either add more gongura leaf paste or add a bit of lemon juice.


Korean Style spring rolls

I would have posted a picture of the ones I made myself, but alas – I ate them…all of them!    I am not sure if they are truly Korean, but the ones I had at a Korean church fair had the same ingredients.  They are easy to make and you can do the filling ahead of hand and refrigerate it.  You can also make them ahead and freeze them, take them out and fry as needed.  Note:  These do NOT keep well refrigerated once they are made, the skins get soggy and eat them while they’re hot!

spring roll picture

Spring rolls picture from:


1 Lb ground pork

3 stalks scallions, chopped

2 cups cabbage, chopped fine (can do in food processor using the grater disk)

1 cup carrot, shredded (can do in food processor using the grater disk)

4 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked and trimmed, chopped fine

1 -2 cloves garlic, minced fine

1 Tbsp dark soy sauce – chinese brand

1 tsp dark sesame oil – chinese brand

1 pkg spring roll wrappers – thawed.

Oil to deep fry

Paste made with 2 Tbsp flour, 1 tsp cornstarch and enough water to make a thin paste. about the consistency of glue.


Fry pork in a deep saucepan until completely cooked.  Drain.  Stir in cabbage, carrot, scallion, mushroom, garlic, soy sauce and sesame oil.  You can do this before the meat cools.  At this point you can refrigerate the keeps for a couple of days, or use it right away to make the rolls.

To make rolls.  Unwrap spring roll wrappers and remove from package.  Gently peel one wrapper off and place it in front of you with one of the 4 corners facing you.  Place a tablespoon or so of the pork and veggie mixture on the wrapper about 1 inch from the point and roll up, starting with the point and then pulling the two sides of the wrapper over the filling to cover it.  Complete the roll and put a bit of the flour / cornstarch paste on the closing point and roll to seal it.  See pictures below.

Heat oil to med – high in a deep frypan or wok and fry 4 – 6 at a time, turning once or twice until golden brown.  Remove and drain on paper towels.  Serve with duck sauce, hot mustard, Thai sweet chili sauce or whatever condiment you like.

How to make the rolls:

how to roll a spring roll from:

how to roll a spring roll from:


Tabbouleh salad

Tabbouleh salad

Tabbouleh Salad

This is a delightful filling salad that is so refreshing on a hot, humid day.  It is especially good made with garden fresh tomatoes!

1 /2 cup medium or coarse bulgur wheat soaked in 2 cups boiling water for about 1/2 hr
3/4 cup chopped parsley
2 large tomatoes or equivalent (about 1 cup chopped or to taste)
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup chopped mint
4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste

Strain soaked bulgur and rinse under cold water. Mix bulgur with mint, parsley and garlic. Add lemon juice and olive oil and stir well, add salt and pepper to taste. Before serving, stir in chopped tomatoes.  You can adjust any of the ingredients to taste if you like.


Dahi Wada Masala spice

I love dahi wadas – though I must admit that I have not made them from scratch often!  I particularly like the flavor of the spices that are sprinkled on them once they are soaked in yogurt and topped with sweet chutney.  I find that the combination of spice, yogurt and chutney is good just by itself..without the wadas (I know – just shows how terribly lazy I can get!)  Here is a little recipe to make the spice mix for the wada / yogurt topping.  I keep it handy in a baby food jar – they are great for storing portions of spice mixes.

1. 1 tsp Red chili powder (or more to taste)

2. 2 tbsp cumin seeds

3. 2 tbsp Coriander seeds

4. 1/4 tsp black salt

5. 1 tbsp Chat masala

Dry roast cumin and coriander and grind to a powder. Add remaining ingredients and stir well to mix. Can add 1/2 tsp roasted whole cumin seeds that have been lightly crushed. Serve with dahi wada or on plain yogurt for flavoring. 

Stir Fried Indian Style Collard Greens – adapted from Manjula’s Kitchen online


Stir fried collard greens


I came across this recipe while looking for a new way to cook collard greens and made a few adjustments for taste.  I was fortunate enough to receive a nice, fresh bunch from a friend and this recipe is easy and flavorful.  The greens remain nicely green and are a bit chewy in texture which I prefer over the mushy cooked-to-death kind!

3 cups shredded, chopped collard greens (instructions below)
1/2 medium onion, chopped rather fine
1/3 tsp cumin seed
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 to 1 tsp ginger paste or minced ginger
1/2 tsp chopped green chili (or to taste)
1 seeded dried red chili, torn in two (or to taste)
Salt to taste
Ground pepper to taste
1 Tbsp oil to cook

If using fresh whole collard greens (you will need between 5 and 8 leaves depending on size): Wash well and remove the long stem piece / inner vein from the leaf. Take the two leaf halves and stack them one on top of the other. Keep de-stemming and stacking leaf halves until they are all piled up. Tightly roll the end from one side and using a sharp knife, begin slicing from one end of the roll to the other so that you have shreds. Pile up the shreds and gently chop them into smaller pieces. We do this so that we don’t wind up with collard ”spaghetti” which is messy to eat! If using the packaged kind, rinse and chop into smaller pieces.

Heat oil in deep frypan, wok or kadhai and add cumin. When cumin sizzles, add onion, garlic, ginger, and chilis and stir well. Fry over med high until onion begins to soften, stirring occasionally. Add collards and stir well. Add a pinch of salt to get collards to begin wilting. Turn heat to medium and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring until collards are cooked..they will be chewy but soft. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.  This serves about 2.


Thai cold noodle salad with curry ”dressing”



I recently visited a lovely Buddhist temple in the Tampa FL area and had the pleasure of eating an amazing salad using curry as a dressing.  The original uses a very well cooked chicken curry (the chicken was in shreds) and I don’t believe they used coconut milk.  I have developed my own version of this interesting salad using a lot of my own homegrown Thai ingredients such as Thai basil, Kaffir lime and lemongrass.  It tasted wonderful!

For curry:
1 can coconut milk
1/2 can chicken broth
1 Tbsp Golden mountain sauce
2 Tbsp red curry paste
1 tsp oil
2 young kaffir lime leaves or 3 old, torn
1 inch galangal, sliced thin
3 stalks lemon grass about 4 in long, pounded
3 Shiitake mushrooms, soaked and cut (retain soak water)
Handful dried straw mushrooms, soaked and cut (retain soak water)
2 dried japones chilis, seeded
5 scallions, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 Tablespoon jaggery or brown sugar


For salad:
Thai basil
Mint leaves
Shredded cabbage
Shredded carrot
Mung bean sprouts
Cold rice noodle
Lime juice to taste

Heat oil in pan and add curry paste and cook about 2 mins over medium head. Add coconut milk, chicken broth, Golden mountain sauce, jaggery, chilis, galangal, and lime leaves. Simmer 20 minutes – remove lime leaves (they can make soup bitter), galangal and lemon grass. Add mushrooms with 1 cup of soak water and scallions. Simmer 5 minutes. Let cool to room temperature and add lime juice to taste.

Place a handful each of cold noodle, cabbage, carrot and beansprouts on a large plate. Sprinkle all well with lime juice. Spoon room temperature curry over top and garnish with fresh thai basil and mint leaves. Serve.

Note: Refrigerate leftover curry. You can also add meat or tofu to the curry to eat it as a hot curry with rice. If re-using as dressing, re-heat just enough to melt coconut fat.

Kala Chana – Black Chickpeas

I love the rich, almost meaty taste of these stewed black chickpeas.  They have a wonderful texture too, they aren’t as soft as the large yellow chickpeas that most Americans are familiar with.  Give these a try, they make a wonderful side dish or even a filling main meal with Indian bread.

1 cup kala chana, soaked overnight

3 tablespoons oil
1/8 teaspoon asafetida (hing)
1 teaspoon Cumin seeds (jeera)
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon ginger / garlic paste
1 green chili finely chopped
1 Onion thinly sliced and quartered
2 Tablespoons Tomato paste
2 tablespoons coriander powder (dhania)
1/2 tablespoon turmeric (haldi)
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder, adjust to taste
2 teaspoons salt, adjust to taste
4 cups water

Approximately 1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro (hara dhania) to garnish

Make paste with 2 tablespoons water, ginger garlic paste, chopped chili, coriander powder, and turmeric powder.

Heat oil in pressure cooker, add cumin and hing – stir fry a few seconds, add onions and fry on medium heat until onion is soft, do not brown onion.  Tip cooker and let oil pool in corner and add flour to the oil, whisk it in to combine it with the oil and stir.  Stir in the spice paste and cook briefly – about 1 minute making sure spice paste is cooked through, be careful not to burn it.  Add add water, kala chana, salt, tomato paste and red chili powder to taste.  Heat on high until it starts to steam, whisking well to make sure the tomato paste is dissolved.  Cover pressure cooker, bring to a steam, then turn to medium heat and cook 15 mins.  Take off heat, let cool to remove pressure cooker lid and add lemon juice, stir well and mash some of the chickpeas to make a thickish gravy.  Garnish with chopped cilantro.  Serve with rice or Indian bread.