Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Trails and pools!

I just got so absorbed by life that I almost forgot about blogging. Here, I come back with more eagerness and lot more things to share in addition to food recipes. I visited various places this summer with some of my awesome friends.

Last weekend I just happend to go for an hiking trip in 'Elephant Rocks state park' which is nearly 195 miles away from Springfield, MO.

The giant, red granite rocks are one of the most unusual geologic formations of southwest region in the States. These huge boulders stand in perfect sculpted position by the relentless forces of weathering and erosion over millions of years of geologic time.

The natural gaps between the rocks were so narrow that it is termed as the 'Fat man's squeeze'. There are various spur trails in this park to hike. One of the trail goes through 'The Maze' , a 100 foot region of vast rocky bed. Within this maze you will find 'the devil's kitchen', a semi-enclosed area formed by a monstrous rock. It was in deed so much fun to explore the caves and depressions in the rocks with friends.
As you walk along the trail, you get to explore the beauty and diversity of the flora in that region. There were also these naturally formed water bodies surrounded by lush green vegetation. On seeing the water, we all wanted to swim. So we headed to another state park close by ,Johnson Shut-ins.

Fearing water might get into the camera, we just left it in the car. But here is a wonderful collection of pictures that shows how it is to experience Johnson shut ins..
The unique thing about this park is the flow of Black river through the 'shut ins' ,a cluster of naturally formed hard volcanic rocks. These rocks pushes the water into many chutes, waterfalls and plunge pools. There are some potholes of nearly 50 feet depth. It was a terrific experience to dive and swim in those pools.
The most fun part began when we came across the different ranges of waterfalls. Each one of these falls brought a different yell of excitement. We almost forgot that we are not kids anymore and were sliding in those water chutes fighting with the other kids for turns :)

There are so many interesting spots in this place that it would take a whole day exploring and enjoying it without any hurry. This is definitely an amazing place for a summer weekend getaway!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Chicken Biryani

Basically I am a Vegetarian, but after coming to US I can't resist trying chicken dishes occasionally. Chicken Biryani is one among those irresistible chicken recipes. There are various methods of preparing Chicken Biryani ranging from the most popular Hyderbani Style to South Indian Ambur style. But here in Springfield,Missouri all the Indian students hail Preethy's Briyani. Lucky to be her room mate that I get to learn non vegetarian cooking from her. Every time she makes it, it turns out to be so perfect and she makes it look like so easy. I remember her making this biryani for nearly 50 people in our small cramped up kitchen all by herself.
A while ago, Preethy made Chicken Biryani at one of our friends place. Thanks to Mrs.Deshpande who whole heartedly let her kitchen for us to exploit.I clicked these pictures to share the recipe with you all.
I know many of my regular followers would have surprised by seeing a Non-Vegetarian recipe in my blog but there are many friends whom I know are die-hard fan of Preethy's Chicken Biryani. I just don't want this legendary recipe(esp. to the Springfield Indians) get lost and so wanted to share.
This is one of the easiest Chicken Biryani recipes I have found. It can be prepared in 30 minutes, if you have all the ingredients handy.
Here comes the recipe..
You will need :
1/2 Kg of Chicken(Boneless or with bone)
4 Cups of Basmati Rice
4 Big Onions
3 tomatoes
3 Green Chillies
2 Tbsp Ginger -Garlic Paste
2 Tbsp Plain yogurt/curd
2 Tbsp Oil
2 Bay leaf
3 Cloves
2 Cardamom
2 Sticks of Cinnamon
1 tsp butter or ghee
1-2 tbsp Biryani masala(approx)
2 tsp chilly powder(approx)
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
Salt to taste
The Biryani can be prepared in a jiffy if you follow the sequence of steps mentioned below..(The process explained below makes you think its elaborate,but trust me its not!)

Wash the chicken and dice them into medium sized chunks. Add yogurt, A big pinch of salt, a dash of chilly powder, a tsp of Biryani masala, one Bay leaf, one Cardamom and Cinnamon to the chicken chunks and mix well. Keep aside.

Wash the rice once and add water until all the rice gets completely immersed. Set aside for soaking.

Chop the onions lengthwise and slit the green chillies.Turn on the stove and place a pressure cooker or a large heavy bottomed vessel over heat. Pour the 2 tbsp oil.
When the oil is getting heated up, prepare the ginger garlic past. Take 5 Cloves of garlic and smash each one of them with the back of spoon/knife to remove the skin off. Peel the skin off a 2 inch Ginger piece.. Chop them finely or blend them in a grinder.

Now add the Bay leaf, Cinnamon, Cardamom, Cloves to the oil. Add the onions and green chillies when it started to splutter. Add a 1/4 tsp of salt to accelerate the cooking process.
Chop the tomatoes. Add the ginger-garlic paste and stir well. The onion should have turned translucent. Add the tomatoes, turmeric powder, chilly powder, Biryani Masala and salt(remember we already added 1/4 tsp of salt)
Simultaneously, turn on another stove and place a large frying pan. Add butter/Ghee .Drain the water completely from the soaking rice. Add the rice to the frying pan and give a nice stir. Until the rice appears to be glossy. Turn off the heat and set aside.

Add the marinated chicken pieces to the tomato-onion mixture and cover it for couple of minutes. Add 4.5 cups of water to chicken masala mixture. Mix well and check for spices and salt. At this point add more of salt or spices if you want.
Once the liquid started to boil, add the roasted rice. Mix well and cover and cook in medium heat for one whistle( if using pressure cooker). If not pressure cooker, cook covered for 15 minutes in medium heat or until the rice is done.

Open the lid once the steam settled and get lost in the awesome flavors!!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Sabudana(Sago) Thalipeeth & Vada

Thalipeeth & Coconut Chutney
I haven't posted so many of Maharastrian dishes in my blog but I guess there is lots to come here after. A week ago, my friend Sangita Lalit showed me how to make Thalipeeth-a Maharastrian delicacy . Sangita is basically from Pune and has got so much interest in cooking just like me. I will share with you some more of her amazing recipes soon.
Sago is such a versatile ingredient and it can be used to make many delicious dishes.
You can make lots Sago kichidi for breakfast, add some boiled potatoes to the leftover kichidi and make Thalipeeth for lunch. If there is some leftover mixture for Thalipeeth, fry them in oil and treat yourself for Sago vada and a hot cup of tea for a nice evening.
Sago/Sabudana are made of tapioca starch,so they are easily digestible and is good for you.As far as I know, South Indians do not use them in anything expect for making Payasam(Kheer). Well, I found Sago tasted better in the form of Thalipeeth/Vada.

1 Cups of Sabudana
1 Cup of boiled potato
1/2 Cup of Ground Peanuts
1/4 Cup chopped Coriander
1 Green Chilly ,Finely chopped
1/2 tsp of cumin seed powder
1/4 tsp of chilly powder
2 tsp of lemon juice
1 tsp of sugar
Salt to taste

The crucial step is to soak the sago to make it perfectly soft. Wash the sago 2 to 3 times and then add enough water to soak them. Let is sit for 3 hours. Mix the sago once in a while to ensure even soaking of the sago pearls.

If there is any water left , strain and then use.

Mash the boiled potatoes. And mix in the soaked sago, peanut powder, coriander leaves,lemon juice, cumin & chilly powder, salt and sugar.

In a wet cloth, take a portion of the mixture and flatten it into 1 inch thick circle. Put a hole in the center.

Heat a pan and drizzle some oil, carefully place the Thalipeeth along with cloth on the hot pan and gently peel off the cloth from the Thalipeeth without breaking it.

Let it cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Flip it gently to the other side and drizzle some more oil.
Once the brown spots appear on either side. It can be removed from the pan and is ready to serve.

Pointers from Sangita:
One can vary the proportion of Sago to Potatoes depending on the personal preference. When the potatoes are added more than the sago it tastes much better, but the Thalipeeth will be very fragile and soft.
They taste best with Cucumber raita/ Coconut Chutney.

I made some Vadas out of the leftover Thalipeeth mixture the next day. I shaped them in the form of patties and deep fried them in oil.Believe me ,these Vadas are to die for!!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Happy New year all!
There isn't much going on in my blog ever since I left India. This new life here wasn't helping me much to indulge in trying out new recipes and rejoicing them. I hope I'am kind of accustomed now and believe I would be able to post often. I don't want to make it as a new year resolution and not sticking to it! So lets see how much improvement I can bring about to this blog in the coming days.
Recently ,I bought a Dslr camera 'Canon rebel t2i' and I'am totally loving it.I had a chance to visit New York and Florida for my Christmas vacation and had super fun with the camera there. 

I was surprised to receive a gift from my friends Preeti and Mohan. It's one of the most appreciated gifts I have ever received. Its a Vegetarian cookbook by Carla Bardi which has an interesting collection of recipes.

To start of with, I tried out the hummus dip featured in the cookbook.
I know this dip isn't much of a work, but I haven't tried making it in home all these days. So here I come with Hummus..


1 16 oz can of Chickpeas(garbanzo beans)
1 tablespoon Tahini sauce
1/2 lemon ,squeezed
1 clove of Garlic
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp water
Cumin powder
Dried mint leaves

  • Wash the chickpeas twice to get rid of the sodium in it.
  • Put them in a blender along with tahini sauce, lemon juice, garlic and salt
  • Blend the mixture smooth by adding water.
  • When the blender is running, tip in 2 tbsp of olive oil.
  • Once the mixture is smooth transfer in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil.
  • Sprinkle paprika, cumin powder and dried mint leaves.
P.S You can also use dried chickpeas by soaking overnight and pressure cooking them the next morning. This would give a better quality hummus when compared to the easy method I have used.

I had the hummus with Pita bread and also tried with Indian Khakra( a crispy flatbread )