My Picture Book is live now on KickStarter

Dear Friends, Family, and Colleagues,

I’m excited to invite you to the launch of the Kickstarter for my children’s picture book, Princesses Only Wear Putta Puttas! Please check out the amazing video shot by film director Michael Duni, read an exclusive excerpt of the book with a special picture glossary, and preorder your copy at this link today: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/24665272/princesses-only-wear-putta-puttas

This, my first book, is going to be published in November. Kickstarter is a platform that has raised over $1Bn for creative projects just like mine.

Since early momentum is so important on Kickstarter (I would love for Princesses Only Wear Putta Puttas to get picked up as a Staff Pick and featured on the site!), please consider doing one of the following:
Preordering your copy of the book today! I have an Early Bird Special – you could get an Advanced Reading Copy of the book before it’s published in November for only $9. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/24665272/princesses-only-wear-putta-puttas
Liking, commenting, and sharing the post I’ll be putting on my Facebook page
Forwarding this email to your friends who have little princesses in their own lives!

Many thanks for checking out my Kickstarter for Princesses Only Wear Putta Puttas! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/24665272/princesses-only-wear-putta-puttas

Best,
Priya

Thiratipal -conventional and unconventional methods

Milk Fudge Bonbons/ Toffees
Traditional Thiratipal
I kickstart to the festival of Gokulashtami, also names, Janmashtami, or Krishna Jayanti, a day to celebrate that bratty yet most adored blue boy, born to Devaki and raised by Yashoda with Thiratipal. Thiratipal is a sweet dish which has been a favorite of many south Indian families and in our home especially. I can still taste the deliciousness of my mom’s preparation of this dish. While I have always taken the effort to celebrate all the Indian, Hindu festivals, I had scaled down the celebration for a while because year after year it us just us who enjoy the fruits of my hard labor – nothing wrong with that whatsoever. I have gone through waves of celebration when my older kids were younger and I dressed them up as Krishna. But then 4 years ago, a little girl with the naughty disposition of Krishna entered my life in the form of my baby girl and she regales anyone who wants to hear them with stories of krishna, having memorized the story CDs by heart. I am most always awe-struck at how much she understand and how perfect her intonation is when she tells the story! And she is just a 3 year old! She wakes up each morning and assumes different roles and confers upon me a role to play to – So I wake up each day as Krishna, Ganesha, Muruga or who ever the character du jour may be. And she always is the the lady of the story, be it Parvati, Radha or Yashoda OR Rapunzel, Peaches of Ice Age or Meera the girl monkey of Karadi Tales fame – She cracks all of us up with how genuinely she believes in the characters she plays and the sincerity she expects from us when we do our part. “Get in Character people!” Lol! But that is part of her immense charm and much like Krishna, she has us all wrapped in her little finger and fills our hearts and days with pure joy. So the posts related to this festival is dedicated to Kutty Lord Krishna and my very own Krishnas
When it comes to certain dishes, it is good to keep with the traditional – as least for me – The unconventional method I thought bombed until I was able to do a quick improv and make it a fancy bonbon. But I fell back upon good ole Meenakshi Amma, author of the treasured  “Cook and See” books. She measures things funny, but I tell you, I’d give anything to taste just one meal prepared by this talented lady.  Mom made the best, but as a child you enjoyed the snack and did not really take notes and when you get old enough to be interested in making it Mom’s gone and then you rely heavily on your tongue to remember the taste and texture of the dish.
Method 1 using condensed milk yielded bonbons or milk fudge toffees
Method 2 using whole milk yielded something quite close to what my mom used to make –
I am sharing both recipes with you
Method 1 –
1 can condensed milk
2 tbsp yogurt
(optional) 1 tbsp of ghee
I did not do the MW method that is so popular now. I did the old school stove top method.
I stirred and stirred and stirred and while the color was getting sort of toffeeish I did not see the milk splitting to form the curdled look that authentic Thiratipal consists of. It was peeling of the sides of the pan and I knew it would harden too much if i let it go any longer – So I put it on a greased plate. It just sat there while the idea to wrap them up like toffees occurred to me. With the help of my ablest assistant, my older daughter, we made balls of the fudge and wrapped them in wax paper. end of story – The taste itself is super yummy, if a little toffee like – Here are some pictures:
Method 2
2 litres of whole milk
1 cup of sugar
2 tbsp yogurt
1tsp ghee
This takes a LONG time folks – I am being honest here – it takes milk a good long time to reduce to malai or cream.  Add the yogurt and stir in the split happens dramatically. Add the sugar and stir in – the color changes from a white to an off white/cream and the frothing/bubbling intensifies. You turn this a minute or two then pour it into a greased pan. Voila – Thiratipal, a la mom and Meenakshi Amma is good to go
Pictures:
Hope my Krishna enjoy this.
Will be back with Thatai, Suhiyam or Suhiyan, Appam and Sweet Aval recipes for the occasion.

Sweet and Beet Samosa

Rather than make the usual potato based samosas, I decided to get to of my most favorite veggies, sweet potatoes and beetroots together to make this universally favorite and known Indian appetizer. You know you’ve created a winner recipe when you kids cannot keep their hands of the food – It took a lot to keep them away from the samosas at least until I got a chance to photograph it – I feel like this cruel mom when i do this, the kids understand the long-term value of this short but excruciating wait, I hope :)
Tomorrow is Varalakshmi pooja day – when Goddess Lakshmi who epitomizes wellness and prosperity is welcomed into our home and propitiated with sweet and salty offerings by way of food; flowers and a garland of mantras. I am so happy this festival comes in the summer when my daughters are not in school and it can be treated as a very special occasion, often more than even Deepavali when it is business as usual unless it falls on a weekend.

With no garlic or onion, this is a good recipe to consider making for festive occasions. Trust me you will be hooked on these samosas if you get a chance to make it or have it made by your help.

I have a picture gallery of the recipe – pretty self explanatory – at least for the stuffing.
NOTE: MAKE YOU STUFFING FIRST

Ingredients for the Dough

1 cup AP Flour
2 tbsp Sooji or cream of wheat (slightly coarse)
1/2 cup of warm water
1/2 tsp salt
2tbsp olive oil

Mix the dry ingredients and add the oil and mix – Add water slowly making sure you only use as much as you need to make a non-pasty, firm but soft & fine dough. Pinch into 5-6 balls.

For the veggie stuffing – sweet potatoes, beetroots, green chilies, salt –

Steam the sweets and beets.
Strain or dab off any excess water
Mash the sweets
Grate the beets
chop the chilies finely add the salt
In a pan add 1 tsp of oil and the veggies and cook for a couple of minutes

Prepare the dough and roll the pinched balls into 5-6 inch wide tortillas/chappatis
Cut right through the centre dividing them into 2 half moons
Wet the corners with a touch of water and fold to create a cone.
Press ends together to make sure they stick well.
Now spoon in the stuffing, pushing it into the cone tightly.
Fold the dough over the stuffing and close the ends by pinching them together.
Deep fry in fresh oil.
Serve with dip of your choice – I did with some homemade sweet& spicy tomato jam which i have yet to blog about.

Stuffed Squash Blossom in Braided Bread

Since I am on a bread roll,  (lol) I thought I’d follow up my french bread post with my stuffed and braided bread – the one many of you good friends have given me the wonderful like sign for on FB:)
Keep the same bread recipe as my french bread – except after it rises the first time around
roll it out like a pizza crust. The rest of the recipe follows – this was another of my off the cuff ideas since It is that time of the year again when my veggie garden is profuse with squash blossoms – You may recall my zucchini bajjis from last year. I did not want to use the blossoms in the usual ways that have been recorded on the web. It is really easy and I would love for you to try it – Like all other works of art, this requires patience and that is no biggy for most of my creative friends, right? :)

Here we go!
Identify the male flowers and pick about 10-15.  Wash in gentle water and pat dry with paper towel – allow them to sit in a sunny part of your kitchen until you are ready to work with them

Prepare your bread dough. Let it rise for 2 hours

Ingredients for stuffing the blossoms

1/3 less Fat Philedelphia cream cheese – I used about 6 ounces of the 8 ounce box
Pesto (Mine was homemade and the recipe will be posted soon) about 4 ounces

Mix the two nicely and keep ready

Pick up the dry blossom, cut the back ends off with the stem leaving a small hole. Approach stuffing from the petal end which is wide and convenient – make sure you do not over stuff or push it too far towards the stem side hole.

Hold the flower and with a small spoon insert the cream cheese pesto mix (about 2 tsps). Press the petals close with your fingers. repeat until all flowers are filled.

When the 2 hours are up get the dough out and knead a couple of times . Split into 2 halves. I made a braided bread with one half and a plain loaf with the other.

Roll out the one half like you would pizza dough. Make sure the surface has already been dusted with flour before doing this.

Now place the blossoms gently and closely, facing opposite directions alternately (see picture below) .

Take a sharp knife and cut the sides into strips. The top and bottom corners will be slightly broader. Fold them in first, gently over the blossom. Then braid the rest of the strips, as shown in the picture.

Bake at 350 degrees or until brown at the top.
I hope you’ll enjoy this!

Serve it hot :)

Stay tuned for my Masala Buns – which is the next recipe on my blog!

Homemade Pesto

I have truly made a better braid than this, but hey…

Blue Ridge Cherry Pie

Can she bake a cherry pie, Billy boy Billy boy,
Can she bake a cherry pie, Charming Billy
She can bake a cherry pie
Quick as a cat can blink her eye…..

HOLD IT RIGHT THERE!!! Have you, composer of this song, ever made a pie crust from scratch??? You would not make such flippant claims, even in jest, if you have. A blink of a cat’s eye eh? Yes if it is blinking in slow-mo for about 24 hours -lol!

The biggest challenge of making a pie is without doubt the crust – if you nail that, then the rest is a breeze – And to master my pie-making skills, I once again turn to my lovely patient Canadian friend Stephanie of Joys of Baking. I followed her like the Lamb did Mary (ah- there is another rhyme I’ve inadvertently alluded to) you cannot but make a perfect pie crust. So my advice – follow this link for pie crust lessons.

What I claim to be mine is the filling –

In my Cherry kachal post, I told you about our wonderful cherry picking adventure, right? This was the first recipe I made with them – I have another very informative post on how to freeze cherries properly coming up soon.

What sets a pie apart from any other, other than a deliciously flaky crust? The filling, of course.
What a turn on it is to pick your own fruits, clean them, pit them and use them in a recipe – I made it my own by adding two ingredients that all my Indian friends would approve of and applaud :) Ginger and Cardamom. I ditched the same old Cinnamon and went for the exotic, the tingling spicy and what was pronounced a fabulous pie – I had taken this to a friends home and there was this gent there who was not a big cherry anything fan – I think he just got converted that evening :) I quote loosely “best pie ever” and went for seconds. That mes amies is a good compliment, n’est pas?

Here is the recipe for the pie filling
3lbs or 5-6 cups of pitted fresh cherries
3/4 cup of sugar
2tbsp corn starch
2 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1tbsp powdered cardamom
1 tbsp ginger powser

Preparation

In a heavy bottomed pan, throw in all the ingredients and cook for about 3minutes only until the ingredients come together.
Allow to cool down completely
Pour into the pie crust spreading evenly
Oven set to 350 and baked for 34-45 minutes

Follow Stephanie’s baking directions please – Link here

Here is my pie crust, pie filling and finished pie pictorial – enjoy y’all. Sorry I did not have the time to take pictures from the start – too preoccupied trying to get the ingredients right :)

Dough is made

cut into 2 halves if making a covered pie

Roll out flat and wrap in saran wrap and refrigerate 

They can be in the fridge for up to a week and in the freezer a lot longer

here are my two wrapped pie halves ready for refrigeration

The pie lady :)

Rolled and transferred on to the greased pan

Note little fingers have poked the pie!!

Following Stephanie’s instructions to design the corners

Fixing poke marks

Look at that!

cut the excess crust from the rim

keep refrigerated until ready to roll out and bake

The stars are coming along

My little one helps press the stars

There she is in her Rapunzel outfit :)

The pie is filled

arranging the stars

The oozing that indicates a fully cooked pie :)

The color is off – not enough light :(

This is a good one!

Get your forks and dig in folks

Kara Boondhi

This is a simple and immensely addictive snack made in many parts of India, but perhaps called by different names. In Tamil kara means spicy and boondhi means drops.  The kids had gone out for a swim. My hubby had just finished off a rather distasteful packet of something from the indian store, the kind that is excessively spicy and doughy and not much else – I decided to launch on the boondhi trail – after all, how hard can it be- In my mind, it seemed a cinch, since I had bought the boondhi ladle the last time I was in India.
I took my inspiration from the video from Vahrevah – he explained it quite nicely and it was easy to figure out what I should look for – And the bottom line is consistency – that’s really all it boils down to when you consider how, oily or soft, or elongated they could get -if the consistency is incorrect – so what you are looking for is a thick flowing consistency that drops slowly from the ladle – You take a ladle to the ladle and assist the drops
The second point to not is don’t over crowd the pan – there should be exactly one layer of boondhis per time else you get yourself and the boondhis into a sticky, clumpy mess.

Here is my recipe with a few changes that helped me make the best boondhi

2 cups of besan (or what you amount you choose)
1 tsp of baking soda
1.5  cups of water (divided)
2tsp of salt

kara podi (to mix in after the boondhi) I used homemade molagapodi, some roasted cashews and curry leaves.

Preparation of batter

Sift the besan to get rid of knots
add the salt and the baking soda
mix them in nicely with a whist
Add 1/2 cup of water first and and make a thick paste
Then slowly add the rest of the water in small installments, checking for thick flowing consistency

Note: Too much water will not make round drops and will absorb too much water. Too thick a batter will not allow the batter to drop into the oil –

Trial and error is OK! It took me at least two tries to know when to stop the dripping to avoid clumping. I had to add more batter because I had gotten it a little too thin for starters. I guarantee you that by the 3rd or 4th round, you’ll have nailed it :)

Heat oil on a medium flame
Get the boondhi ladle positioned above the centre of the frying pan.
Now I will let my pictures speak for themselves.

The boondhi ladle

My watery atta

bad bad bad!!

Not so great -too much water and too much batter in one go!

Really good right :)

That’s my wrist flying around with a ladle stirring the ladle :)

Check out these beauties :)

I had added to much batter

My best batches :)

You can see how I kept improving until it really did get perfect – I think adding the baking soda gave it the air to puff up nice and round.

Stuffed and Baked Pattypans

Pattypan5
A seasoned patty pan flower :)
Pattypans3
ready to eat!

These are beauties from my garden and after browsing plenty as to how to cook ‘em, I decided I will make a stuffed bake out of it! These squashes are as easy on the eyes as they are on the palate

The joy of cooking home grown abounds and “homegrown” will probably be my most favorite words for the summer!
This is a super healthy recipe and SO easy to make – I feel so good and pleased if I make a wonderful new dish and it is SO easy to make!
Ingredients
Pattypan squash (as many as you need or have)
Stuffing Ingredients
2- 3 tomatoes
1 onion
1 cup of cottage cheese
Spices:
Oregano
Pepper
Basil
Green chili 2-3
Turmeric
Fresh sage
Fresh Garlic chives
pattypan4
With the turmericborders

Preparation

Slit the pattypan head exactly where the flowery edges are and scoop the seeds out – keep the head of the squash to use with a different recipe (hope to blog this too)
I used Turmeric as a decoration around the edges of the flower and for more beautiful pictures, besides of course the wonderful flavors it brings to the dish
Make the stuffing
In 1 tbsp of olive oil, sauté the stuffing like you would a sauce, making sure to add the cottage cheese last and set aside
Prepare the patty pan by adding the same spices and some sea salt, so that it does not taste blah by itself
Now add the stuffing into the scooped hole in the patty pan
Grate some parmesan on top of it and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees
Eat hot…
As always, love you all and see you in your blogs soon
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My homegrowns
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Pattypan takes centre stage :)
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Their heads with the top scooped off for future recipe
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Cutting the rim like a surgeon – my dahling hubs
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Now he scoops out the seeds
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Ta-dah!
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The saute
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Stirred in
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Oven ready

Exciting announcements

I won a cook book my first ever from Cooking creations! YAY!! and thank you – I have heaps to read from that one!
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Sorry it got uploaded sideways :(

I am also excited to announce that NOW SERVING will be haing a 3rd guest segment soon…. Stay tumed

And last but not least my blog event FAST FOOD NOT FAST FOOD EVENT will be hosted by my sweet blogger friend, Vardhini Koushik of Vardhini’s Kitchen – Do check out her wonderful blog for event details and send in your entries –
That’s really it mes amies – bon soir until the next time!!!

Mixed Fruit & Veggie Stew AND Fusion Recipe Winner Announcement

MFVStew
Day 1 of the Blogging Marathon and I’ve chosen the theme of Curry in a Hurry
This is a very simple and wonderful curry to have with chappatis or rice or even pasta
It is colorful, healthy and above all extremely tasty. I used kokum for the gravy along with coconut and other spices. Read on here
Start to finish is about 30-40 minutes TOPS!
Ingredients
Assorted veggies and mango– I used all the ones in the picture below
1 lemon sized kokum ball
¼ cup of fresh grated coconut
2 green chilies
2 red chilies
½ cup chopped Cilantro
1 tbsp corander
Spices optional
1 tbsp oil
Mixed veggie mango stew
MF&V Stew
Preparation
Heat the oil and sauté all the veggies, mango and red chilies
Soak Kokum in ½ cup of warm water for 10-15 minutes like you would imli
In a smaller pan, dry roast the coconut, cilantro, coriander and green chilies
Grind into fine paste.
Now grind the soaked kokum and strain over the veggies.
Add the ground coconut paste
Allow all of it to boil and simmer for a few minutes
Garnish with Cilantro and serve hot!

Mf&V stew
Winner Announcement

Thanks to the wonderful participants from India and elsewhere in the world who sent their incredibly creative fusion recipes to the wonderful event created by Pari of Foodelicious which I was fortunate to host in April.
The winner was picked from the Indian entries since Pari will be mailing out the wonderful cookbook of Tarla Dalal to the lucky person.  I picked the winner through random.org and the book goes to Entry # 7 – Creatrive Journey Congrats to you J

Check out the Blogging Marathoners doing BM#5 along with me
Curry in a hurry under 30 min: Cool Lassi(e), Harini, Kalyani, Priya Mahadevan, Suma
Seven Days of Colorful Dishes Kid’s Special: Priya Suresh, Veena,
Seven Days of Indian Sweets: Shylaja, Srivalli
Seven Days of Regional Specials: Priya Yallapantula
Under 15 mins Quick Breakfast:Aarthi, Vaishali

Mixed Veggies Medhu Vadais (MV Squared :)

Mixed Veggie Medhu Vadai
The moment I saw these on Chitra’s Blog, Ratatouile, I was salivating so much, I simply had to make them right- away – but then I was doing the blogging marathon with a 30 minute meal theme and I was unable to carry out my craving for these. Then a day or two later, I saw a similar post on Cool Lassies blog as we were doing a blogging Marathon together and I said. That’s it! I gotta make these regardless of when I will blog them and that my friends is a long story capsuled into a few sentences. This is a gratified me now blogging this after over a week J Seems to be the second fried recipe in a row, but I have gotten back to uber healthy recipes and these will follow to cleanse and detoxify the fried recipes to which I have and you will probably surrender to once you see these yummies.
Well, my mate-ees, for those of you who have children who absolutely hate cabbage (like I do), this is a neat way to serve them!
MvMv
Ingredients
2 cups of urad dal
4-5 green chilies
2-3 Red dried Cayenne chilies
½ of cilantro
1 cup of grated cabbage
1 red onion sliced thin
A pinch of asafetida
1 stem of curry leaves
Preparation
Soak all of the above (except the cabbage and onions) in 2 cups of warm water for about an hour or 2
Grind coarsely in a food processor using no water or the very minimal amount to get the blender going.
In the meantime, chop your onion and grate the cabbage
In a pan, ever so slightly dry roast both
Remove ground mix and put in a wide mouth container. Add the cabbage, onion and the required amount of salt and mix in well
The batter should be thick but well ground, by which I mean the Urad dal should be paste.
Keep Oil to fry
In the meantime, get a cup of water handy.
Now wet or dampen your fingers you will use to scoop a ball of the batter and the opposite palm with some water.
Once the ball of batter is on the palm, gently flatten and press a hole in the middle.
Now flip back to the other fingers and slide drop into the hot oil
Repeat process. Turn to cook both sides until golden brown
Voila and Ta-dah…..
mvmv3
The Veggies
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The Batter
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Mix veggies into batter
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Deep Fry Donut Vadais
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Serve Hot
Rasa Vadai
Or as Rasa Vadai :)
MvMv2
One Last look :)

Linking this to Priya’s Book Marked Recipes

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