Shakshuka- An Israeli breakfast recipe

Want to make a meal out of eggs? Try Shakshuka/Shakshouka(What fun saying it na!! Shaak-shookaa! 😛 ) This Israeli (Egyptian/Tunisian) dish of eggs poached over a hearty tomato sauce is excellent with some naan,roti or bread. This will appeal to the Indian palate because of its proximity to our cuisine. It uses coriander and cumin spices in the garlicky tomato base. I served it with a caramelized onion and spring onion flatbread.
Recipe adapted from NY Times

You need
2 tbsp  vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 large red chilli pepper, chopped fine
6 large tomatoes, blanched and chopped fine ( you could puree and strain them alternatively for a quick fix)
4-5 cloves of garlic, sliced
¾  tsp salt
½ tsp red chilli powder (adjust to taste)
1 cup of assorted chopped vegetables may be added  (mushrooms, broccoli,peas,capsicum)
¼ tsp coriander podwer
½ tsp cumin powder ( I always keep some roasted cumin powder at hand for raitas and used the same)
Some chilli flakes (optional)
4 eggs
Some cheese, if desired
A handful of coriander leaves, chopped fine
Some salt and pepper to season the eggs

Heat oil in a pan and add onions. Fry them till translucent and add the red pepper, assorted and garlic. Cook till the pepper is done and them add the tomatoes, assorted vegetables salt, coriander powder, cumin powder and chilli flakes. Cook covered till the tomatoes are done.
Preheat the oven to 200C for ten minutes while the sauce cooks.
Stir in the cheese chunks (if using)
Transfer the sauce to a skillet or baking dish and gently break the eggs on the sauce. Season the eggs with salt and black pepper.
Bake for 7-10 minutes till the eggs are set.
Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and serve hot with bread. I used my Caramelised onion and green onion bread recipe to bake flatbread and served alongside to swipe the sauce with!

Enjoy a Shakshuka brunch this weekend.



Medu Vada and Rasam with Rasam Powder recipe

IMG_8324Tamil Nadu is the final destination of my Dakshin Rail. Shall we call it Chennai Express 😀
I often make Sambar but had never tried Rasam- the very thin, watery soup like wonder. I love Medu Vadas with it. In fact the vadas are favoured over Idlis in my house ( Umm …why is fried stuff more popular I wonder…)

My darling buddy Jaya Amit shared her Ma’s recipes and I got them both perfect in the first go. And no surprises there. Moms recipes always rock ❤
J also gave me the recipe to do fresh rasam masala at home. I made a small batch and  the aroma that filled my kitchen was moth watering. So here goes
For the Rasam Masala Powder
 (Makes about ¼  cup)
2 Tbsb coriander/dhaniya seeds
2 tsp tur/arhar dal
2 tsp chana/Bengal gram dal
8 whole red chillies
1 tsp peppercorns/whole kali mirch
1 tsp cumin/jeera

Dry roast all the above on a hot griddle one by one. Cool completely and grind. Store in an airtight box.

For the Rasam
(Serves 4)

A very small lemon-sized ball of tamarind
1 tsp desi ghee/clarified butter
1 small tomato chopped fine
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
½ tsp haldi/turmeric
1 Tbsp Rasam Masala
4-5  curry leaves
½ cup diluted tur dal (optional)
A handful of fresh coriander/cilantro, chopped fine

For the tadka/tempering
1 tsp desi ghee
½ tsp heeng/asafetida
1 tsp rai/mustard seeds
½ tsp jeera/turmeric
A pinch of pepper powder
4-5 curry leaves
IMG_8174Soak the tamarind in a cup of water for an hour. ( See the small ball. It is less than a tbsp )
Pulp and strain it. Add 2 ½ cups of water to the pulp.
Heat a tsp of ghee and add garlic, curry leaves and  tomatoes. Cook stirring for 3-4 minutes till the tomatoes are mushy.
IMG_8228Add the tamarind water, salt and turmeric and bring to boil. The diluted tur dal can be added at this point (If using). Add more water if needed. The rasam has to be nice and watery.
IMG_8231Add the Rasam powder and just bring to a froth and take off the heat.
IMG_8236Tempering – Heat ghee and add heeng and rai. As soon as the rai starts to crackle, take off the heat. Add the curry leaves and pepper powder and spread over the rasam. Serve hot with medu vada!


Recipe for  Medu Vada ( Complete with tips and tricks!)
 ( Makes 12-15 medium sized vadas)
1 Cup Whole urad or good quality urad dal
1 small onion, chopped fine
2 green chillies, chopped fine and seeds removed
6-7 curry leaves, torn roughly
2 tsp grated ginger
Salt to taste
½ tsp heeng/asafetida
Soak a cup of urad dal for two hours ( Do not over soak else the batter gets watery)
IMG_8224Drain and grind till thick and fluffy, adding very little water slowly. Do not add too much water else the batter will be runny and the vadas won’t form well. Grind just before you are going to fry them for better results
IMG_8225.(TIP- If the batter does get runny, add a little semolina and make simple round Pakoda like vadas as it might be difficult to get the doughnut like shape)

Add all the other listed ingredients to the batter and mix well.
IMG_8226IMG_8232Pour oil generously in a  kadai/wok. Don’t be skimpy with oil, else the vadas will stick to the bottom of the wok.
Take a clean plastic sheet. Moisten the sheet and your hands. Take 2 tsbp batter and make the vadas.
IMG_8233Drop gently into the oil and fry on medium heat till golden brown. Serve hot!

Upma- Quick Light Healthy Breakfast


This light and quick fix breakfast is healthy and versatile. You can make it just with the basic tempering of mustard seeds and curry leaves or as many seasonal vegetables as you want, to make a mixed vegetable Upma.
Although it may be made in oil, but the taste of the ghee-roasted upma is unsurpassable.
IMG_8036(This recipe serves 3-4)

½ cup semolina/sooji
1 tbsp ghee
1 tsp mustard seeds/rai
6-7 curry leaves
1 small onion, chopped fine ( can omit if making Jain style)
2 green chillies chopped fine
5-6 cashew nuts, chopped coarse
1 tsp lime juice
2 ½ cups of water
1 tsp of urad dal and chana dal each, soaked for 20 minutes
A handful of fresh coriander

Roast the semolina in 1 tsp of ghee till it begins to change colour and gives a toasty aroma.
In another pan, heat the remaining ghee and splutter the mustard. Keep the heat on medium.
IMG_7585Add the cashew nuts and roast them till they get light brown. Add curry leaves and the soaked dals and stir for a minute.
IMG_7587Add onions and fry them till they begin to brown. Add green chillies (and any vegetables if using) and stir for a minute.
IMG_7589Increase the heat to full. Add water and bring to a boil. Add the lime juice.
IMG_7593Slowly add the semolina, stirring continuously till the upma comes together and loose fudge like consistency is reached.
IMG_7598Sprinkle fresh coriander, mix well and serve immediately.

Upma Pesarattu or MLA Pesarattu – Green Lentil Dosa from Andhra served with Upma and Tangy Ginger Chutney

Andhra Pradesh is destination next on my Dakshin Samyal aka my Southern sojourn. My friend Sushma, was kind enough to share some of her family recipes with me and I was able to get together this meal.
The MLA Pesarattu, called so because it is popular in the the MLA quarters at Hyderabad. The green lentils dosas are roasted in ghee and served with a tangy ginger tamarind chutney (Allam Pachadi) and ghee laden Upma. A rich platter!

For the Pesarattu/ green lentil pancakes
Pesarattu (Andhra)
(This recipe makes 10-12 pesarattu)

1 cup whole moong dal with skin/ chhilke waali moong dal
2-3 green chillies
2 inch piece of ginger
Salt to taste
1 tbsp rice flour (optional)
1 onion, chopped fine
A few cashew nuts, chopped coarse
Some fresh coriander
Ghee/clarified butter to cook the pesarattu (may use oil)

Chop the ginger and green chilles into large chunks and soak them with the dal in enough water for 4-5 hours.
Rinse and blend into a thick paste. Do not throw the water used to soak. Add as required while grinding. Do not add too much. We need a thick batter. Some rice flour may be used if the batter is difficult to work with.
Add salt just before making the pesarattu.
Heat a heavy griddle. Sprikle water and wipe. Immediately, spread a ladle of the batter like a dosa. Drizzle some ghee around and in the centre.
Spread a little thick for sofe pesarattu and really thin for crisp ones.

Lower the flame and cook till done. If required, flip and cook the other side.
6On top of it sprinkle the onions, cashews and coriander.
7Spread two tablespoons of upma ( Find recipe here) inside the pancake  and serve hot with the tangy garlic chutney.


For the Ginger Tamarind Chutney /Allam Pachadi

(Makes ¼ cup chutney)

This tangy spicy chutney is a tease! You cannot stop licking it off the bowl. It is that yum!!  😀

2 Tbsp tamarind pulp ( take a lemon sized ball of tamrind, soaked in 1 cup of water and strain it)
1 2×2 inch block of jaggery/gud, crushed to small pieces
3 Tbsp grated ginger
Salt to taste
½ tsp red chilli powder ( or more if you want it hotter)
1 tsp oil

Soak the jaggery in tamarind pulp for 2 hours.
After the mixture has been soaking for 2 hours, heat the oil and  sauté  the ginger in it. Add salt and chilli powder, stir for a few seconds and remove.
IMG_7904Cool and add the sautéed ginger to the tamrind jaggery mixture.
Soak for another 2 hours to imbibe all the juices and the flavours to come together.
IMG_7905Blitz the mixture and cook on the gas on low heat for about 40 minutes to an hour to get a sticky spicy delicious ginger tamarind chutney! Yum 😀 :DBe careful. If you don’t stop ‘tasting’, you might have none left to serve with the pesarattu. Works well with dosas too.