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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Buttermilk Blueberry Muffins

soft, fluffy and juicy Buttermilk Blueberry Muffins

Cup cakes or muffins or whatever you call, they are one of my favorite snacks when I have baking sessions. There is still so much of learning process going on with my baking and using oven. I tried different muffin-recipes but always ended up with very dry and hard ones. Finally I got hold of a very good one which leaves the muffins moist from inside and fluffy and soft all over even after 2-3 days kept at room temperature stored in not so air-tight container. The search for a perfect blueberry muffin recipe is over, for me ;) after I tried and tested this recipe from

slice me up!

Cuisine: International ~American
Prep time: 20 mins
Cooking time: 30-35 mins
Serves: 8-10 people
1C fresh blueberries or frozen (unthawed)
2C all-purpose flour(unbleached), plus
1T all-purpose flour(unbl)
2/3 C granulated sugar
2t baking powder
1/4t baking soda
1/2t ground cinnamon
1/4t salt
1 large egg (or 1/4 C orange juice)
1 1/4C buttermilk
1t vanilla extract
3T unsalted butter, melted and cooled
for Crumble topping(optional):
1/4C all-purpose flour (unbl)
1/2t ground cinnamon
1/4C firmly packed light brown sugar
2T unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  1. To make the bluberry muffins: preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. generously butter or grease the muffins cups/tins.
  2. If using fresh blueberries, rinse and thoroughly dry the berries. In a small bowl, toss the fresh or forzen berries with the 1t flour.
  3. In a large bowl, sift together 2C flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon. Add sugar and salt, stir well so that all the ingredients mix well.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg and 1C of buttermilk until combines, whisk in the vanilla and melted butter.
  5. Pour the buttermilk mixture into the well, begin stirring the liquids, gradually drawing the dry ingredients into the well until they are blended well. If the mixture is to thick add theadditional 1/4C of the buttermilk and gently mix.
  6. Add the blueberries and fold in just to distribute evenly taking care not to overmix.
  7. Evenly divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups
  8. To make the crumble topping (optional): In a small bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon and brownsugar. Add the butter pieces and cut into the sugar mixture with a pastry blender until the topping looks like crumbled
  9. Evenly divide the crumble topping among the muffins, sprinkling it on top.
  10. Bake the muffins for 30 to 35 mins, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin come out clear. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 mins, then carefully turn out onto the rack.
  11. Serve warm, or cool completely. Store in an airtight containers at room temperature for up to 2-3 days.

Variations: You can choose to add your favorite berries, cherries or any dry fruits according to your taste.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Kerala's Favorite Delicacy~ Aviyal

The cuisine of Kerala is linked in all its richness to the history, geography, demogaphy and culture of the land. Like other South-indian cuisines, Kerala cuisine is predominantly spicy. Coconuts grow in abundance in Kerala, and consequently, grated coconut and coconut milk are widely used in dishes and curries. Kerala's long coastline and strong fishing industry has contributed to many fish-based delicacies.

Being brought up in Mumbai I had many Malayalee friends at school and in the neighbourhood, so I was lucky to get introduced to their culture and food. Onam is a big festival very grandly celebrated in Kerala and amongst all the Keralites spread across the globe and I always look forward for this as I get to eat Sadhya

Jyothsana of
Curry Bazaar is hosting this month's Regional Cuisine of India~Kerala and it means celebrating the regions cuisine. For this event the most comforting dish to cook for me is Aviyal.

Aviyal is a dish that has a unique place in a typical Kerala Cuisine. It is a thick mixture of a lot vegetables, curd and coconut. It is seasoned with coconut oil and curry leaves. Aviyal is considered an essential part of the Sadhya. Common vegetables that are used to make aviyal are yam, plantain, drumsticks, carrots etc. Some people prefer to substitute curd with raw mango or tamarind pulp. This dish can be made into a gravy and eaten with rice or be made into a semi-solid side dish. The word "aviyal" is also used to denote an assortment or a mixture - this sense being derived from the way the dish is made. I have learned this recipe from my neighbor Aunty in Mumbai, thanks aunty for your wonderful recipe!


Kerala Cuisine ~ Aviyal

Source: My Aunty
Cuisine: South Indian, Kerala
Prep time: 20 mins
Cooking time: 20 mins
Serves: 4 people

4 C of mixed vegetables all cut into finger size which includes:
2-3 carrots, 1 raw banana, small size suran(Kanda in telugu), handful of cluster beans, small raw mango, half of the white pumpkin(ash gourd), snake gourd and one small potato.
pinch of turmeric powder/haldi
1C water
3/4 C thick curd
to grind coarsely:
1/2 C grated coconut, fresh/frozen
5-6 green chillies,
1 t cumin/jeera
for seasoning:
2 t coconut oil,
10-12 curry leaves
1 t mustard seeds

  1. Wash, and clean all the veggies, peel the skin of carrots, yam(suran/kanda), white pumpkin, raw bananas, snake gourd and potato. Cut the veggies finger size, just like to do for french fries(julienning).
  2. Pressure cook them with a pinch of turmeric powder for 2-3 whistles, we dont want them mushy.
  3. Meanwhile grind coarsely, grated coconut, cumin/jeera and green chillies with little water.
  4. Once the veggies are cooked, place them in a large serving bowl, dont throw away the water in it.
  5. Add the gound paste, salt and curd, mix well so that all the veggies are coated evenly, check for the salt.
  6. For seasoning take a small pan and heat coconut oil, when its hot enough add the mustard seeds and let them splutter for a second and add the curry leaves. No add the seasoning to the aviyal.
  7. Serve with hot steaming rice and sambhar.

You might also want to check these accompaniments:
Udipi Sambhar
Pedamma's Pappu Charu

Friday, January 11, 2008

Red Lentil Sprouts Salad with Spicy Vinaigrette

Red Lentils ~ Masoor Dal (Hindi) is much popular in Northern India than in the southern parts is not much used in everyday cooking. They are sometimes combined with toor dal (yellow dal) in cooking to avoid the muddy taste in the red lentil. A variety of lentils exist with colors that range from yellow to red-orange to green, brown and black. Red, white and yellow lentils are decorticated, i.e. they have their skins removed.

A large percentage of Indians are vegetarian and lentils have long been part of the indigenous diet as a common source of protein. Usually, lentils are boiled to a stew-like consistency with vegetables and then seasoned with a mixture of spices to make many side dishes such as sambhar, rasam and dal, which are usually served over rice and sometimes roti/flat bread. I am using red lentil sprouts in my salad to add more nutritional benefits to it. A half cup of raw lentils yields about 2 cups of lentil sprouts and double the nutritional value too.

sprouted red lentils~masoor dal

Nutritional value and benefits of lentil sprouts
: Lentils are a legume, and as such are high in protein and can be hard for some people to digest. The sprouting process should make digestion easier, but they may cause a lot of gas in certain people, who should probably avoid them.

The process of photosynthesis and germination changes the chemical composition of the lentil, increasing the amounts of the following substances: Vitamin A, C, E, Thiamin, Niacin, Carotene, Iron, Phosphorous, Potassium, most B vitamins.
Sprouts are rich in digestible energy, bioavailable vitamins, minerals, amino acids, proteins, beneficial enzymes and phytochemicals.

Exact information on the chemical changes in sprouted lentils is hard to find, but most sources agree that almost every substance naturally present in the lentil increases during germination, and that existing substances, such as starch and protein, are broken down and effectively predigested by the activated enzymes, making them easier to assimilate. If you want to learn more about Lentils and their benefits click here here and here.
Source: Wikipedia

More on how to sprout lentils read Nupur's~A Primer on Sprouting Lentils or else check this video on Sprouting Beans ~ SBT team's blog.

Red Lentil Sprouts Salad with Spicy Vinaigrette

Source: My Own
Cuisine: Indian
Prep time: 10 mins
Serves: 4 people
1C sprouted red lentils/masoor dal
1 carrot, peeled and slices
1 plum tomato, cubes
1C/bunch of Watercress (avoid the hard stems)
handful of dried cranberries/cherries
2T toasted pine nuts
for spicy vinaigrette:
3T extra virgin olive oil
1T distilled vinegar or 1/2 lemon juice
1 clove of garlic, grated
1 shallot, finely chopped
1T fresh parsley, finely chopped
pinch of red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Wash and rinse watercress and dry it in a salad spinner or over the kitchen towel and place it in a large bowl. Add carrot, tomato, sprouted red lentils, cranberries and toss well.
  2. In a small mixing bowl add all the ingredients of vinaigrette and mix thoroughly as the oil emulsifies with the acid.
  3. Pour the prepared vinaigrette over the salad and toss well. Top it with toasted pine nuts or any nuts of your choice.
Sending this entry to My Legume Love Affair event hosted by Susan of Well-Seasoned Cook.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Koi Thotakura Fry ~ Amaranth stir fry

Koi Thotakura Fry with crushed peanuts, garlic and red chilli powder

Andhra's favorite green is Thotakura (Amaranth/Chauli/Mulakeerai) after of course Gongura (Hibiscus cannabinus/red sorrel leaves/Roselle). Every morning in the streets of our Vizag you will hear vegetable vendor shouting and selling these farm cut fresh greens. Koi thotakura is the one with red stems and locally grown in Andhra. Here in US we don't see this vareity often, its almost like nil here in NJ.

Fresh Koi Thotakura ~ Amaranth Leaves
My SIL sent me these garden fresh Koi-Thotakura from her backyard through my In-laws visiting us from Boise, ID . Here is a picture of leafy vegetable patch in her backyard.

SIL's backyard patch

Thotakura can be cooked with dals/lentils, can be stir fried or just sauted with light seasoning. Today I am blogging my MIL's recipe which is very tasty and can be a side dish with plain rice, and roti. I am sending it to Vani from Batasari, the host of Weekend Herb Blogging started by Kalyn from Kalyn's Kitchen.

Source: My Mother-In-Law
Cuisine: South Indian, Andhra
Prep time: 20 mins
Cooking time: 10 mins
Serves: 4 people

3 C Koi Thotakura, washed, dried and coarsely chopped along with the stems
Salt diluted in 2T of water
to be coarsely grind:
3 cloves of fresh garlic
handful of roasted peanuts
1/2 t cumin seeds
1 tsp red chilli powder/cayenne/paprika (for less heat)
for tempering/tadka/seasoning:
1 t mustard seeds
1 t cumin/jeera
1 t urad dal/black gram
1 t chana dal/bengal gram
4-5 curry leaves (optional)
2 T cooking oil


1. Wash and dry the leaves on a kitchen towel, make sure its dried thoroughly. Then coarsely chop the leaves along with the stems discarding any tough ones.
2. Heat oil in a large pan, add mustard seeds and let it splutter for a minute, then add the rest of the seasoning ingredients and let it fry for a minute.
3. Add the chopped leaves and stir occasionally for even cooking, sprinkle the salty water over the leaves, saute and cover with a lid for 4-5 mins.

MIL teaching me the recipe

peanut-cumin-garlic-chilli powder mix

4. The leaves will shrink down and now is the time to add the grounded powder of garlic, peanuts and chilli powder. Mix well and cover for another 2 mins till it dries out of any excess water.
5. Serve with Rice and dal or Rotis/Indian flat bread.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Creamy Corn Choup

Creamy Corn Choup ~ somewhere between chowder and soup

First and foremost, ( no, its not too late to say HNY...) I wish all my readers around the world a very Happy, Prosperous and Healthy New Year 2008.

Its been a very long time since I blogged, though not years! There were other things that needed my attention and my health took a toll, so blogging took a back seat. Thank you all for your concerned messages and comments, I am really overwhelmed.

As the temps are dropping more rapidly in here, I like to warm up with some soups during those wicked winterly days. Creamy corn choup is the thicker version for soup and thinner than any chowder, inspired by Rachel Ray.
Source: adapted from Rachel Ray
Cuisine: American, International
Prep time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 25 mins
Serves: 4-6 people
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
4 slices turkey bacon, chopped (optional)
1 onion, chopped
4 to 5 large ears corn, scraped from cob or 1 box frozen corn
1 medium or 2 small zucchini, chopped
1 pound small potatoes, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 bay leaf
5 to 6 sprigs fresh thyme
1 teaspoon paprika
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 quart chicken stock
1C heavy cream
1/2 C chopped flat-leaf parsley,
A few dashes hot sauce, to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Heat a medium soup pot over medium-high heat with extra-virgin olive oil.
  2. Add bacon to hot oil and cook until crisp at edges.
  3. Add onions and corn, zucchini and potatoes and bell pepper as you get them chopped.
  4. Also add to the soup pot the bay leaf, thyme sprigs, paprika, and salt and pepper, to taste.
  5. Cook for about 7 to 8 minutes to begin to soften the vegetables.
  6. Sprinkle flour into the pot, stir and cook 1 minute. Stir in the stock and let it come up to a bubble and thicken up a bit.
  7. Then stir in cream, parsley and hot sauce, to taste, and simmer 5 minutes. Season the soup with salt and pepper and serve hot with garlic bread.
Note: Leftover choup is great to taste the next day too!

Lastly, a big thank you for all my visitors for your lovely, heartfelt comments, you are my inspiration to get start over after this long blog-break!

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