Saturday, January 31, 2009

Oriya Ghanta for Puja days

Happy Basant Panchami !

Today we had an Oriya get together at a friend's place to celebrate the Saraswati Puja. They host it every year and do a great job of organizing it. The goddess was decorated nicely and there were lots of fruits and flowers. The kids recited the Saraswati slokas and saw the whole puja done the traditional way! The puja and the arti was a treat to watch.

There was fresh bundi and chuda ghasa made at home for the puja - both were mind blowing. Of course which Oriya party is complete without a round of yummy food afterwards. I had made one of the Oriya dishes - Ghanta. Ghanta means "mixed" and usually it means mixed vegetables. Again there are several versions of this dish, but this is the one that my Sasu makes for Puja days, since we don't put onions or garlic in it.


Yellow Pumpkin
Yam (or saru)
Green beans (use string beans if you have them)
Green papaya
1 small mango (peeled and then grated)

1 handful of green peas soaked in water (2-3 hours)
1 handful of yellow peas soaked in water (2-3 hours)
2 hand full of chick peas (soak and keep for sprouting the day before)
1 handful of Desi Channa (soak and keep for sprouting the day before)
1 handful of green mung Dal (soak and keep for sprouting the day before)

1 tsp of punch puran seeds
5 small pieces of cinnamon stick
10 pieces of Cardamom (Aleicha)
Ginger (2-inch piece) grated
Ginger (1-inch piece) cut into thin pieces

2-3 tablespoon of fried Cumin powder (if freshly roasted and ground then better)
Fresh Coriander leaves
Red Chili Powder to taste
4-5 Red Chillies

4-5 bay leaves
Turmeric powder to taste
Salt to taste
Oil for cooking (you can use ghee if you want too)
Coconut pieces or shredded coconut (optional) - about handful
Ghee - 2 tea spoon (optional)

How to

First cut all the vegetables into equal size pieces (other than the mangoes and ginger). After cutting the vegetable, use 2 times yellow squash for 1measurement of each of the other vegetable. So if you use 2 cups of quash, use 1 cup each of potatoes, egg plant and so on... This is the most time consuming part of making ghanta. Cut and keep aside from day before, if you can.

Put 2-3 table spoon of oil in a frying pan and put the panch phuran seeds and let them splutter.

Add the cinnamon and cardamom and the grated ginger and the bay leaves.

Add the vegetables that take time to cook (like papaya and radish first). Also add the sprouts and green and yellow peas. And salt and turmeric and red chili powder.

Add all other vegetables after 10-15 min (other than eggplant and mangoes).

Cover and cook in slow fire for about 45-50 min (depending on the quantity of vegetables). Keep mixing and checking every 3-4 minutes.
When all the vegetables are nearly cooked, add eggplant and cook for a few minutes.

A picture before I added the cumin powder

When all vegetables are cooked, add the grated mangoes and the cut ginger pieces and the cumin powder. Adjust salt and spice level at this point. Add the additional ghee at this point (optional)

Add coriander leaves and shredded coconut and serve hot. This is an Oriya favorite and usually served on puja days with rice and plain Dal and khatta.

This post is dedicated to my gudagang friends...

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Boodha chakuli with patriotic flavors

Sunday morning and the same battle starts with the kids. No they don't want eggs or bread or cereal. Again they want something different. I tell them how we used to get "Chuda Chakta" everyday for breakfast for all school days. We have batter for dosa every weekend, but the kids are not interested. So I tell them I will make a surprise pancake and made this boodha chakuli (basically utatapmam is called so in Oriya). Since it is republic day tomorrow, I thought of Saffron and green colors. The colors were a big hit and they both had 1 each. I feel thats a good start... Both promise to eat again next weekend, but I am not counting on it... Lets wait and watch.


For the batter

1 cup url daal (soaked overnight)
2 cups rice (soaked overnight)
Salt to taste
Meethi powder

For the chakuli (each one)

1 tea spoon oil
grated carrots ( 1/4th of a carrot)
4 beans cut into small pieces
2 chillies cut into small pieces (optional)
1/4 of a small onion cut into small pieces

How to

Grind the urad daal and the rice in a blender or mixie. Add water and salt and leave in a warm place for a day for the batter to ferment.

To make the chakuli,

Take a flat pan and put 1/2 tea spoon of oil. Put 2-3 table spoon of the batter. Decorate with carrot shreds, cut beans, chillies and onions... Add any other vegetable you like here...

Cook 1 side for 3-4 minutes in very slow heat and then turn and add 1/2 tea spoon more oil. Let the other side cook for 3-4 minutes again.

Serve hot with green mint chutney.

Amba Khatta or Mango Chutney

Every time I go to India, I pack a bottle or two of mango pickles. Also when my Mom comes over, she makes me the best possible mango pickle. Unfortunately, I have run out of my pickles and so I have been the next best thing to amba achar is amba khatta. Last time I was in the Indian grocery store, I got some frozen mangoes. I had tried this mango chutney or amba khatta and it was a real disaster. The mangoes in that pack were so bitter, that it left me wanting for the real thing. So I got 2 mangoes this time and used one to make this khatta. My daughter is a big fan of this too, so we have been competing on finishing off this. My husband who doesn't like sweet food, even he tasted it and said it was good. Khatta in Oriya means sour, so this dish has to have the right combination of sweetness and sourness....

This is a speciality from my mom's kitchen, she has had written it for me in my recipe book in Oriya....


1 Mango (washed, peeled and cut into small pieces)
Panch Phutan - 1 tea spoon
Curry leaves - hand full
Meethi powder - 1 tea spoon
Jeera powder - 1/2 tea spoon
Sugar - 1/2 cup ( add more depending on taste)
Salt to taste
2 green chilien (slit into 1/2)
Oil - 1 tea spoon

How to

Put a little oil in a pan and let it get hot. Add the panch phutan and the curry leaves and the green chillies. Then add the cut mangoes and salt. Cover and cook until the mangoes are soft.

Move the mangoes to the side and add the sugar. Let it caramalize and then add about 1/2 cup water. Let the mangoes mix well with the sugar, add the methi powder and Jeera pwder. Taste and see if you need to add any sugar. Add extra water if you like a thinner consistency.

This tastes awesome with Pakhala or even with Aloo paratha.

Amba Khatta is my entry to the Chutney/Dip Mania" Event @ Mane Adige hosted by Ramya

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Sandwich in a jiffy

It was Saturday and everybody's clock seemed to be running late. I woke up at 7 and made myself a cup of tea. Princess (my daughter) was still taking her time to wake up. I guess she had stayed up last night reading her 1st set of Tin Tins. By the time I finished tea and was ready to start the day, I realized my daughter was running late to her numerous Saturday activities. Managed to wake her, get her ready and onto the breakfast when the real battle started. It being a Saturday she wanted a different breakfast (by the way she says that everyday anyway - only change the day of the week)...

There was no time to experiment or make something from scratch, so I put this Sandwich together from left over food. I have to say the inspiration for this goes to my husband, who puts together such sandwiches on most Sundays...

How to

I had some bhaja or sauteed vegetables that I had used for a vegetable pulao earlier in the week. I took the sauteed vegetables, put in the sandwich and served with a glass of milk.

Wow a healthy breakfast thats tasty and done in a jiffy. Not a bad start to this lazy Saturday!

PS : It took longer to take the picture than to make it. I took the picture later in the day...

Samosa by my kids and for my kids

We went to the Queen's Ganesh temple on Monday, the day off to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The darshan was awesome since it was working day for most people, I guess. Whenever I tell my two year old son about going to temple , he asks "to eat Dosa?". So obviously after the temple trip we headed to the temple canteen. The dosa in their is awesome. My foodie son knows it well. Usually we get a huge assortment of samosas, Vadas, idlies and dosas. But for some reason they were out of Samosas and Vadas. My daughter was upset. And decided that we have to go home and make samosas...

We got home and started the samosa process right away. Then I found out that I had no Maida at home. Well it had snowing already (again), so no way I was going to step out to the Indian store. So I improvised and made it with wheat flour (atta). Trust me it tasted awesome.

Here is the recipe for making it. But I have the instructions for the real version and not the one using the wheat flour. If you want to use wheat flour, just replace Maida with Atta and that's it. Also here I have not added any chillies since I was making these for the kids. But go ahead and add some green chillies if you like it spicy. I made the filling and the frying, but my daughter helped with the actual samosa making. Oh yeah my son helped too - in playing with the dough and also the eating...


For the filling

Boiled potatoes (4 small ones)
Salt to taste
Amchoor powder (pinch)
Jeera powder (1/4 tea spoon)
Ajwain powder (pinch)
1 small Onion cut into small pieces
Oil (1 table spoon)

For the outer layer

Maida (1/2 cup)
Oil (2-3 tea spoon)
Oil for Frying ( 1 cup)

How to

To make the dough for the outer covering or layer, mix the Maida and oil in a medium bowl. Once the maida is evenly coated with oil, add some water to mix the dough. Knead the dough for a few minutes to make a firm dough. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rest for 30 minutes.

To make the filling, in a large saute pan or skillet, heat 1 table spoon of oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for about 2 minutes, until the onion turns golden brown. Add the salt and then the potatoes and fry for a few more minutes. Then add the jeera powder and ajwain powder. Remove from the heat and add the amchur powder. Stir to combine, then adjust the seasoning, to taste. Let it cool until it is easy enough to handle.

On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough and make into smooth balls. Place each ball on the floured surface and roll into a thin circle, about 3-inches in diameter. Cut each circle in half to get 2 semi-circles. Spoon about 1/2 tea spoon of filling in the center of each semi-circle. Brush the edges with water and fold the dough over the filling. Press the edges together to seal. Place on a plate and repeat with the remaining ingredients.

Heat 1 cup of oil in a small bowl. Add about 3-4 somosas and fry in low heat until the samosas turn golden brown. Serve hot with tomato sauce or coriander chutney.

Monday, January 19, 2009

7 legumes for my legume love affair

I was driving down to Costco with my little one in tow and I was listening to NPR radio. They were discussing the new movie 'Slum dog Millionaire'. It was so much fun listening to comments from people calling in and also listening to Rahman's music in the background... It sure did transport me back to India.... And then that show ended and the science desk started and they started discussing the therapeutic effects of copper. That's when I thought of serving more often in my copper utensils...

This dish was not made by me. This is my nanny's dish - I think it is typically north Indian. The legumes come together so nicely and the dish smells awesome... Both my kids love eating it and it is so healthy...

I thinks its the perfect entry for the blog event: Announcing My Legume Love Affair, Seventh Helping! , the event brain child of Well-Seasoned Cook Susan

Also sending this to JFI: Chickpea

Chole (Chick peas) - 1/2 cup
Rajma (Kidney beans) - 1/4 cup
Black eyed Dal - 1/4 cup

dry Green peas - 1/4cup
dry Yellow peas - 1/4 cup
Green mung Dal - 1/2 cup
Yellow Chana Dal - handful (I added to this to the original recipe to get to 7 legumes - usually I don't add this)

Salt to taste
Turmeric powder - 1 tea spoon
Red chili powder - 1/2 tea spoon
Onion - 1 large
Tomatoes - 2 large
Ginger garlic paste - 1 table spoon
Garam masala - 1 tea spoon
Oil - 2 tea spoon

Also these quanties of Dal feed a family of 5 atleast twice - so reduce quantity as needed.


Take all these legumes and soak them in water overnight. The rajma, chole and blacked eyed dal should be soaked separately from the others. You can choose any other Dals you like I guess...

Next day cook the Rajma and Black eyed Dal and Chole in the pressure cooker with water, salt and turmeric powder for 15 min (Using the pressure cooker for the legumes that take longer to cook). Take the other Dal's and cook in a different pan with salt and water and turmeric powder.

Take another pan. Add oil and then add the cut Onions. After the Onion starts turning golden brown, add the ginger garlic paste and keep frying until the raw smell disappears.

Add the cut tomatoes and fry again for few minutes. Add the cooked Dal, chili powder and the garam masala.

This dish tastes real great with rotis or parathas, but works as well with Rice too. Its an all time family favorite.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Mitha Suji

My friend had invited me for dinner and I knew she loved this dish. She is a maharastrian and they call it Sheera while it is called Suji Halwa elsewhere. But for us in Orissa it is one and only 'Mitha Suji'.

My husband doesn't like sweets that much and I have been trying to cut down on sweets too. So I hadn't made Mitha Suji in a long time at home - well at least for 7-8 years. I called up my mother-in-law to get this recipe. Its easy and was done in a jiffy. Wish I could get my kids to eat this - its so easy to make and so yummy! Well at least I enjoyed it.
To make it kid friendly, you can cut into diamond shape or use a cookie cutter to cut out into different shapes.
Of course we in Orissa love to eat this as breakfast with Aloo bhaja.


Suji - 2 cup
Sugar - 1 cup ( or about 3/4th cup if you like it less sweet)
Ghee - 1/4 cup (you can skip the oil and make this 1/2 cup too)
Oil - 1/4 cup
Cashew Nuts – a handful
Raisins - a handful
Milk - 1 cup
Water - 2 cup


To start with , roast suji in a frying pan for about 5-6 minutes stirring in between. Keep the heat low so that the suji doesn't burn and turn brown. Switch off the heat when you get a nice aroma of the fried suji.

In a separate bowl start heating the milk + water. Once it is about to boil, add the sugar and mix well. (Use the microwave if you have one. It will be done in 2 min)

Take the raisins and soak in water for a few minutes.

Take a deep pan. Put the ghee, fry the cashew nut till the nuts turn little golden brown and then add the fried suji. Fry for 1/2 a minute and then add the milk + water + sugar mixture. Stir vigorously to avoid forming lumps. Once the liquid is absorbed, add the raisins and move the pan from the flame and cover with a lid.

Serve it hot with Aloo Bhaja (Alloo Fry).

How easy is that ?

Utterly delicious Dal

It was Christmas time and I had taken both my kids for lunch to work. Some of my colleagues (women) joined us in the cafeteria. The kids were having a blast while we were discussing kids and their food tantrums. That's when one of them asked my 7 year old daughter - 'Do you like anything your Mom cooks ?' She said 'yes - yellow Dal'. Everyone burst out laughing...

Since then every time I get down to making this Dal I remember that incident. While making it today, I thought of posting it here..


Arhar Dal - 1 cup for the whole family
Tomatoes - 2 large ones
Onions - 1 large
Curry leaves - few
Green Chillies - 2
Panch Phutan - 2tsp
Turmeric Powder to taste
Salt to taste
Oil - 1 tea spoon
Hing - pinch (optional)


In a pan, add Dal, cut tomatoes, turmeric powder, salt and twice the amount of water as Dal. Add more water if needed. Boil it till the Dal is cooked.

Heat oil in pan, add panch phutan and green chilies and allow spluttering.

I also add a pinch of hing at this point (optional)

Then add onions and curry leaf and fry till onions turn brown.

Add the whole baghar to the Dal or add a little bit of baghar to each serving of the Dal to make it look special!

Enjoy my daughter's favorite Dal .Sending this to FIC - YELLOW hosted by Sunshinemom.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Tomato Soup

Tomato Soup

Winter days always reminds me of soup and I go hunting for my recipe book to make soups. There are several soups that we make at home, some that carry the smell from home and some that have been adopted from the cafeteria food from work.

This one posted is easy, kid friendly and tasty and something that we used to have at home. My mom swears off garam masala from soups while I add a little bit to make it taste desi... I know, I know - who has garam masala in soups ? Your choice - you can skip the garam masala if you want.


4 large vine red tomatoes
1 large carrot
1 small potato peeled
1/4 inch long piece of ginger - grated
salt to taste
1 cup water
pinch of garam masala (skip it if you can't bear garam masala in soup)
freshly crushed black pepper to taste
1/2 tea spoon of butter

Wash and put the tomatoes, carrot, potato, grated ginger and salt and water in a pressure cooker and cook in high pressure for about 10 minutes.

Take the mashed contents out after the pressure cooker cools down and grind the contents in a food processor.

You can strain the contents through a sieve- but that will remove all the fiber from the food. So I usually skip this step.

In a large pan, add butter. Once it heats up add the garam masala and the contents from above. Add water and salt if needed.

Put into a soup bowl - add freshly crushed black pepper and serve.

This is also a good way to get the kids to eat some vegetables.

Chuin Bhaja (Drumsticks Bhaja)

On our trip to the Indian grocery store this time, my husband picked up some fresh drumsticks. Though he doesn't fancy it much, the kids and I love it. But usually I don't bring or cook the fresh kind unless Mam or MIL are around. The drumsticks available in the frozen section work very well in Sambar, but I had to try to use the fresh ones for the real heavenly bhaja. So this was my 1st brave attempt at making 'Chuin Bhaja' , the one that I have eaten million times at home.

Its simple yet delicious. I love it most with Pakhala bhata, but it tastes good as a side dish with Rice and Dal too...


Chuin (Drumstick) - about 4-5 longsticks
Aloo (Potatoes) - about 2-3 small ones
Oil - 1 tea spoon
Panch Phutan
Haldi (Turmeric)
Whole Red Chillies - 2 (optional)

Wash and Cut the Drumsticks to about 2 inches size.
Wash and cut the potatoes in round shape. Do not take the skin off.

Put the drumsticks and potatoes in a bowl with water and salt and turmeric and let it boil for 10-15 min until the drumsticks are a little soft. It would be better to add the potatoes a little while after you add the drumsticks, since the drumsticks take a little extra time to cook. Drain water and keep aside.

Take a deep pan, put the oil. Once it smokes, add the red chillies (optional) and panch phutan. Let the phutan splutter for a bit, before adding the potatoes and drumsticks. Add Salt and Turneric to taste.

Fry for a little bit (2 minutes) and serve hot. Tastes really good with 'Pakhala bhata'.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Samba Dashami

Why do we celebrate Samba Dashami :
It is a festival unique to Orissa and is celebrated on 10th day of the Sukla Paksha of Pusha Masa. Legends say that Samba, the son of Lord Krishna, was afflicted by leprosy and he was cured by Surya, the Sun God, after 12 years of penance. So on this day, all mothers pray to Sun God to keep their kids healthy.

How did we do it back home:
I know growing up Mam used to make 2 holes in the ground and put some haldi water and milk in it. Then she would do some pooja to Surya god and then offer prasad of several yummy pithas and ghanta (mixed vegetable curry) and khichidi. Later in the night there would be an offering of badi-ghanta and rice to "Braja Mahakala". In some places, a special dish is made for each kid and offered to Surya God.

How it is done now in our family:
Now my mother-in-law does this ritual for both my kids in India. She makes Pakoras for one of them and Aloo bhaja for the other. Samba dashami was on the Jan 7th for 2009 and I made 'Aloo Bhaja' at home.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Aei Aei's Dalma

It was the New Year and I was busy calling friends and cousins whom I hadn't called in ages. My daughter yelled from her room - 'don't forget to call Aei-Aei'. That set the ball rolling - I called my grandma (Aei) and spoke to all my mamas and meins and cousins who were around. That surely put me in the nostalgic mood and I was remembering the good old times at Aei's place. Thats when I thought of making this dalma.

My daughter calls my grandma (i.e. my Aei) : Aei - Aei. So in that spirit this is my Aei-Aei's dalma, since my Mom used to enjoy this version of the dalma at her grand mom's place. She says it tastes the best when cooked on wooden stove. But even the non-wooden stove one tastes great.

Dalma is a staple of Orissa and there are several different versions. This is my great grandma's home speciality.


1 cup Mung Daal
1/2 tea spoon turmeric powder
2 small potatoes cut into large chunks
1 small egg plant cut into large chunks

1/2 tea spoon jeera
2-3 green chillies
1/2 tea spoon of ghee
1/4 inch ginger cut into small thin slices
lemon juice - to taste


Take the mung dal and just dry roast in a pan for 10 min on very low heat. When the daal starts turning pink - take it off the fire and soak in water for 1/2 hr.

Take a big pan and put water, turmeric powder and start boiling the Daal.

Once it is half cooked, turn up the heat and add the potatoes and egg plant. Cook until everything is done but not over mashed.

Take another small pan, add ghee. Once it heats up, add green chillies and jeera and ginger. Pour into the cooked daal.

Serve hot with some lemon juice.

I love having this with rice and some bhajaa like 'baigan bhaja' or 'kadali bhaja'.

Sending this to FIC - YELLOW hosted by Sunshinemom.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Mung Dal Soup

My husband loves everything Mung. Recently he read that mung daal is very good for health in some ayurvedic articles and has been insisting that I make him this soup. Finally I gave in and made this today. I was very sceptical about it and added some of my variations to the instructions he gave. But the final version was very good - and he is hooked. Now its going to be another staple in our meals during winter time.


1 cup yellow mung dal
3 cups vegetable broth or 3 cups water
2 large vine ripe tomatoes
1 sprig of cilantro
2 green chillies (optional)
1/4 inch ginger - grated
1/2 teaspoon ghee
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 tea spoon of fried Jeera powder
Salt to taste
Fresh crushed black pepper to taste (optional)


Cook mung dal, tomatoes, grated ginger, green chillies, cilantro and salt with vegetable stock or water in a pressure cooker at high pressure for 10 min.
Let the pressure cooker cool down by itself and the cooker opens by itself.
In a small pan, heat ghee. Add Jeera powder and slowly add the cooked dal mixture.
Mash the whole cooked mixture with a heavy spoon and adjust the thickness with water or vegetable stock until you have a thick soup.
Stir in the lemon juice.
Garnish with fresh crushed black pepper (optional).

Serve fresh and enjoy the hot piping soup.

I am posting this for the winter treat food blog event posted by Trupti.

New Year Party

We had a New Year's party on Friday 2nd Jan. Everyone was working so we started after 7 PM. The food was yummy and the company was awesome. Everyone chipped in to make the Pooris, feed the kids and clear away the dishes... The kids had a grand time playing and making a mess...

Here are pictures of some of the dishes we had...

'Mansa Tarkari' aka Goat Meat Curry

Cup cakes made and decorated by my kids. Photo taken by my daughter.

"I get by with a little help from my friends." - John Lennon

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year - 2009

I wake up in the morning to see the trees and roads painted white in snow... Everything looks so tranquil and pretty. What a nice way to start a new year....

New Year at home in Cuttack used to start with a trip to either 'Panchamukhi Hanuman mandir or 'Chandi mandir' in the morning. Afternoon lunch would be 'feast' at home with lots of uncles, aunts and cousins for company. We usually had 'Mansa tarkari' or Goat meat curry and Fried rice and salad for lunch ( I am sure there were other things made - but I looked forward to only these things). Wow I can still remember the nice red fried rice my mom used to make and still smell the awesome 'mansa tarkari'.

Away from home, New Years day is spent calling up everyone back home and wishing them a 'Happy New Year'. Usually we try making a trip to the Queens Ganesh temple, but with this weather - not sure we will make it this year. But we do plan to celebrate with friends on Friday evening. Hey anytime with "Mansa tarkari" in the New Year is celebration time, right ?