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{Recipe} Broken Wheat Upma with Vegetables

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Broken wheat (dalia / lapsi) is a good alternative to rice in most forms. I eat it steamed / pressure cooked with curries and dal/ yogurt, use it in salads and also make pulav and khichdi with it. Simply put, it is a good way to cut rice from one’s diet.

I am not for fad eating, extreme diets or cutting out food groups. People who know me, will know that I love food too much to have any control over how much I eat, once I get to the food. But anyway, back to the broken wheat. Besides making it to substitute rice, I love it as upma. That much hated ubiquitous breakfast dish that most people I know do not like. The trick to making good broken wheat upma is to spice it well, have lots of vegetables and roast the rava so that it doesn’t turn to a mush during the cooking process.

I use atleast double the ratio of vegetables to rava. It accommodates any kind of vegetables you may have handy (which are usually used in pulaos). Paired with a bowl of plain yogurt and some pickle, this is a filling meal.

dalia upma

dalia upma

{Recipe} Broken Wheat Upma with Vegetables (serves 3-4)

1 cup broken wheat dalia (lapsi/ bansi rava) ~ Dry roasted till lightly golden brown

2 cups vegetables of choice (use firm vegetables such as carrot, potato, peas, beans, red/ yellow bell peppers etc)

1 medium onion, chopped

1 large tomato, chopped

2 green chillies, slit

1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder (optional, adjust according to heat quotient)

a sprig of curry leaves

a small bunch of fresh coriander leaves

Salt to taste

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

1 teaspoon whole cumin

In a heavy bottomed pan, heat the oil and splutter the cumin. Add the green chillies and curry leaves and saute for a couple of seconds. Add the onions and saute for a minute till translucent. Add the ginger garlic paste and fry it for a minute, till the raw smell disappears. Add the turmeric and red chilli powder and saute.

Next add the tomato and the assorted vegetables and half the salt. Saute for a couple of minutes, then cover and cook on low heat for about 4-5 minutes or till the vegetables are cooked 50% .

Add two cups of hot water to the vegetables. Pour in the rava from a cup into the hot water in a steady flow, stirring the mixture with the other hand to mix it well. There should be about 1/2 inch water above the rava and vegetable mixture and check for salt. Add more salt if needed. Cover and cook on low heat for 5-7 minutes or till the water has evaporated and the rava is cooked.

Fluff with a fork and sprinkle with fresh coriander leaves. Serve hot with plain yogurt, coconut chutney or mango pickle.

{Review} Mist n Creams ~ Ice creams

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Ice-cream and summers have a marriage made in heaven. Especially the intimidating heat of Hyderabad which easily touches the 40s range. When I got a call to review an artisan ice cream joint called Mist n Creams I was interested though a little skeptical at the introduction of the place. I was told that liquid nitrogen was going to be used to make the ice cream in less than 3 minutes, that too in front of me, after I had made my selections.

I wasn’t even sure this was edible, but if there is one thing I believe in, especially when it comes to food, it is never say never.

So off I went along with a fellow food blogger to check out this place. Located in one of the still green colonies in upmarket Hyderabad, Mist n Creams has a small outlet that has a few tables and chairs to be seated inside. Parking is an issue as only street parking is available and this can be tricky especially at peak traffic times and on the weekend.

mist n creams

mist n creams

The owner duo, with prior experience in IT and Management, followed their passion for food and to bring something unique to the ice cream experience in Hyderabad. Armed with a year of research and travel to source ingredients and equipment, they tested out the market at a drive in parlour near the Hyderabad international airport on the outskirts of the city. Encouraged by its success, they brought Mist n’ Creams to Hyderabad.

mist n creams

mist n creams

The process of making the ice cream is the main attraction here. Baristas man the large mixers into which they add ingredients chosen by the customer after the order has been placed. Milk, fruit extracts, crushes, nuts and chopped fruit go into the bowl of the mixer, after which, carefully handled liquid nitrogen is added. Liquid nitrogen has the property of cooling anything it comes in contact with rapidly. In this case, when added to the ingredients for ice cream, rapidly freezes everything. When used with the paddle attachment of the mixer, a creamy dessert can be produced in a matter of minutes. This allows the customer to choose the texture of preference from creamy soft to slightly harder and more frozen. This technique of using liquid nitrogen to make frozen desserts is quite the global trend and offers the customer a delightful experience.

Liquid nitrogen is colourless and odourless and evaporates quickly freezing everything that it comes into contact with and needs to be handled carefully to avoid cold burns. The adding of this component to the liquid ingredients creates quite a spectacle with coloured (from the food) fumes emanating like a cloud. It is all quite dramatic and whets your appetite for more!

The menu is decent with a myriad selection of flavours. The chocolate variants are the most sought after and offer variety. They also have some classical chef’s choices and many which are fruit based.

mist n creams

mist n creams

I tasted Kiwi Kick, which is a kiwi based ice cream from the Fruit Dream range, the fruit n’ nut, which I was told is very popular from the Chef’s Dream range and the Roasted Almond from their Italian  Dream range.

mist n creams

mist n creams

The dramatics aside, the real test of mettle is the taste of the product. Honey dipped and crunchy roasted almonds from the Roasted Almond was easily my favourite. The texture of the ice cream is velvety smooth and creamy. This is due to the rapidity of freezing that happens with liquid nitrogen, the crystals that are formed are minute, and lend a creamy texture to the ice cream. The crunch and flavour of the roasted almonds elevates this dessert.

The Fruit n’ Nut is plain vanilla with a smattering of fresh fruit that included pomegranate and chunks of apple. The overwhelming taste of banana was a downer for me. This ice cream could certainly do better with a carefully selected medley of fruit instead of being overwhelmed by a strong flavoured banana. I will not recommend this to anyone unless I know what fruit are going to be added.

mist n creams

mist n creams

The biggest disappointment for me was the Kiwi Kick. After all the philosophy of the place is to appeal to all five senses. The last thing I expect from an ice cream claiming to be an artisan ice cream is the use of sickeningly artificial fruit crushes. The commercially available crush which was used in this recipe has so much of artificial essence, colour and flavour that it is difficult to mask. I couldn’t have more than a couple of spoons of this pale green ice cream that came topped with a few slices of fresh kiwi.

Yes the texture of all the ice creams served was velvety smooth and that in my opinion is what they need to capitalise on. The claim of the five senses is hardly catered to. The concept is novel. The dramatics of watching the ice-cream being made is a show stopper. I was rather underwhelmed by the final product tho. The recipes need much work,especially in the selection of ingredients and the pairing of flavours. The balance of taste, texture and flavour is lacking.

Mist n’ Creams has high potential. The concept is unique and one of its kind at least in Hyderabad. They need to sorely work on their recipes. For now, the main draw is the dramatics of watching the ice cream being made rather than the actual taste and flavour of the various ice-creams.

Mist n’ Creams, Ice Cream Parlour

Recommendations: The Roasted Almond Ice cream

Guests can also bring in their own ingredients (which need to be approved by the management) to create their own ice creams

Price for a double scoop begin from Rs. 120

Hours: 12:00 pm to 12:30 AM

Location: Below HDFC Bank, MLA Colony, Road Number 12 Banjara Hills, Hyderabad

Credit Card Accepted: Yes

Parking: Street parking

Telephone: 9440296169/ 8500085252

P.S: All photographs in this post courtesy of Preethi Vemu of The Meal Algorithm

Gouda and Pizza Sauce Muffins Recipe

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Gouda Cheese and Pizza Sauce Muffin

Gouda Cheese and Pizza Sauce Muffin

Amma is currently with me and as is the usual practice, I try and make something interesting when she is around. Unlike K, she is game to try anything at least once, and is deeply appreciative of my culinary escapades :)

A conversation almost always gets triggered from a food memory. This time, while asking about the ingredients I used, and knowing that finely grated cheese was used, she told me about how there was food rationing in the 50’s and some of the schools and organisations affiliated to America received supplies of  cheese powder and egg powder which they had no idea how to use. So they would mix the two and make scrambled eggs :)

I told her how I love savoury muffins and that it is a pity most people associated baking with cake and cake is sweet and hence all baked goods are expected to be sweet. In my baking classes, I used to teach a savoury pizza muffin, but due to it having not too many enthusiasts, I changed that over to a sweet variant.

For this muffin, I eyeballed all the ingredients and it turned out wonderfully fluffy and full of flavour.

I ran out of whole wheat flour, and have used half of all purpose flour and half whole wheat, feel free to use whole wheat flour for the whole amount, but expect the crumb to be a little grainy.

The pizza sauce I used is the one I posted in the Fusilli with pine nuts recipe. This is an all purpose pizza / pasta sauce that is very handy to have in the fridge.

Gouda Cheese and Pizza Sauce Muffin

Gouda Cheese and Pizza Sauce Muffin

Gouda Cheese and Pizza Sauce Muffins (Makes 6 large muffins)

1/2 cup All purpose flour (Maida)

1/2 cup Whole wheat flour (Atta)

1/2 cup Grated gouda cheese + 2 teaspoons for garnish

(Use any cheese such as parmesan or even processed cheddar, mozarella makes the muffin stringy, hence not recommended)

1 Egg (to make this eggless, use 1/4 cup milk + 1/2 teaspoon vinegar, let it sit for 5 minutes and use when the recipe calls for egg)

1/2 cup Milk (I used full fat)

1/4 cup Pizza/ Pasta sauce (check for the recipe here or use store bought)

8-10 fresh basil leaves, shredded (substitute with any fresh herbs of choice – mint, coriander, garlic chives or even spring onions)

1/4 cup chopped onion

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Salt to taste (add half of what you think you need because the sauce and cheese are salty)

Preheat the oven to 185 C and brush the bottom of a muffin pan with oil. For an even brown crumb, do not use muffin liners.

In a bowl, add the all purpose flour, wheat flour, grated cheese, salt, baking powder, baking soda, chopped onion and basil leaves and toss well.

In another bowl, add the egg and milk and whisk with a fork. Add the pizza sauce and mix it well. Add this mixture to the flour mixture and with a light hand, mix till the batter is just combined.

Spoon the mixture into the muffin cups equally, garnish with the reserved grated cheese. Bake for 16-17 minutes, testing with a toothpick for doneness.

Cool in the pan for 3-4 minutes before running a blunt knife around the edges of the muffin pan and removing them to a cooling rack / serving plate.

These muffins are best eaten warm. Can be stored refrigerated for upto 4 days.

PS: To make this an eggless muffin; use 1/4 cup milk + 1/2 teaspoon vinegar, let it sit for 5 minutes and use when the recipe calls for egg



Fusilli with Pine Nuts and Basil in Marinara Sauce

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Last year, I attended a live demonstration at a recently opened bistro in Hyderabad where the Chef showed us how to make fresh pasta. I have attempted to make fresh pasta in the past and I loved it. It was nice to interact with the Chef, ask questions and get answers for best techniques, ingredients, etc. We were served a pasta in a basic Marinara Sauce for which the chef gave us a rough recipe. What makes me want to cry is most of these recipes for sauces, need to be cooked for hours and hours and simmered and have all kinds of fussy ingredients. No doubt they taste fabulous, but I am nothing if not a cook who wants to always cheat!

There is nothing I loathe more than standing and stirring for hours. Even when a special celebration meal with several dishes is

So here is my version of a quick Marinara, ready in under 20 minutes, and tastes fabulous (even if i say so myself). I know a lot of cooks blanch tomatoes and peel the skin off and I do it too sometimes, but not this time, this is a quick sauce. I used local desi tomatoes, if you are using the Roma variety, you may need to blanch and peel the skin off as it is thicker than the skin of country variety of tomatoes.

Fusili Pasta

Fusili Pasta

Fusili Pasta in a Quick Marinara Sauce

2 cups cooked fusili (or any other pasta of choice) pasta {Cook according to packet instructions in salted water, drain and reserve some of the water}

3-4 medium sized tomatoes, roughly chopped (I used regular desi tomatoes)

1/2 medium onion, roughly chopped

2 pods of garlic, smashed

1 teaspoon each of sugar, red chilli powder/ red chilli flakes, dried/ fresh oregano and dried/ fresh basil

salt and pepper to taste

2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup of grated cheese (I used cheddar, parmesan is also good)

1/4 cup of toasted pine nuts (use almonds to substitute)

a small sprig of basil leaves

Put the chopped tomato, garlic, onion and 1/4 cup of water in a blender and pulse till smooth.

Heat the olive oil in a pan and tip over the pureed tomatoes. Add the red chilli powder / flakes, oregano and basil and half the salt and pepper, cover and simmer on low heat for 10 minutes, stirring a couple of times in between.

Taste the sauce and add the remaining salt and pepper if needed. Adjust the seasoning according to your taste. Turn off the flame and cool for a couple of minutes.

Toss in the cooked pasta, stir and add the cheese.

Serve out into serving bowls, top with fresh basil and a sprinkling of toasted pine nuts. Eat when it is still warm.

This sauce can be refrigerated and stored after completely being cooled in an air tight box for upto 1 week. Makes for a good pasta / pizza sauce and also as a sandwich spread.

{Eating Out – Review} Seekh Kebab Event at The Trident, Hyderabad

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The Trident at Hyderabad is making serious in roads into the hearts (and stomachs) of Hyderabadis. I found myself at Kanak, the Indian speciality restaurant a few days ago as I was invited to sample their Seekh Kebabs.The hotel is hosting a week long Seekh Kebab promotion and on offer are 11 different kinds of vegetarian and non vegetarian kebabs, all made on skewers and in the tandoor. Kebabs are one of the most popular and widely sampled delicacies of Indian cuisine. Many kinds of kebabs in different shapes and forms, traditional, modern and fusion are available in most places serving Indian food. I was curious to sample the vegetarian offerings. While kebabs are a meat eater’s delight, vegetarians often miss out, or are offered meager samples. 

Seekh Kebabs are much loved in Hyderabad and we have quite a few high end as well as hole in the wall places that serve up delectable fare. So to have a promotion showcasing just that is a leap of faith. 

The dinner began with the customary pickles and relishes brought to the table with roasted papad. Kanak is located in the busy Hitech City area of Hyderabad and the glassed in restaurant offers nice views of the traffic and the city beyond. 


We started with the celebrated Kakori Kebab made of fine lamb mince. The kebab literally disintegrates in the mouth and was succulent with a very strong underlying flavour from cloves. The meat is flavoured so well that it would be an insult to dunk it into a chutney. 

This was followed by the vegetarian seekh kebab platter. I was happy to see that it had quite a few options and not one of them had paneer! Yes, much as I love cottage cheese, I am almost always put off by the fact that it is often the only option for vegetarian kebabs. 


I started with the Makkai ki tinka seekh which was made of sweet corn and potatoes and came on bamboo skewers, flavoured with a hint of mint. This kebab was rather dense, partly due to the potatoes and I would not really be asking for a second helping of this kebab. 

The Shahisubz seekh on the other hand was mildly sweet from the khoya that was used as the base along with a medley of vegetables and spiced with shahi jeera and chillies. Mild and flavourful and yet soft and succulent. The khoya works wonderfully to keep this kebab soft and succulent which is where most meat based seekh kebabs score. 

Next I tried the Matar moongphalli seekh which I was very disappointed with. It was dense and except for the strong flavour of the peanuts, there was nothing else going for this variant. I’m not a big ground nut fan and while I like it in small amounts, an overdose can be overwhelming. 

The last two that I tried, the Palak chilgoze ki seekh and the Til (sesame) methi ki seekh turned out to be my favourites. I am very partial to pine nuts and I’d never thought they could be used in a kebab. The sharp flavour of the spinach, spiced with nutmeg and the nutty bite of the pine nuts and cashews was so good that this was my favourite seekh kebab of the evening. I saved a piece of this and went back to nibble it several times during the course of the evening. The Til methi kebab won me over again because of the unusual combination and sharp nutty flavour of both the fenugreek leaves and the sesame seeds. Both black and white sesame was used and made the kebab brittle, but it was delightful.

We moved over to what everyone loves best, the non vegetarian offerings. A platter arrived and I lamented to my dinner partner that how unfair it was to Seekh kebabs that they were possibly the least photogenic items of food. So contrary to their richness of flavour. 


The platter consisted of the Hyderabadi Seekh kebab, the Seekh Gilafi or the Chupa Rustam, Kashmiri Seekh kebab, Zafrani reshami seekh and the hara pyaz murgh gilafi. 

Gilaf means a cover and the uniquely names Chupa rustom is a chicken seekh, covered with a minced lamb coating. The Lamb coating is studded with finely chopped tomato, coriander, mint and onion and was flavoured just right. I loved the combination of chicken with lamb and the surprise factor was pleasing.

The Murgh Gilafi too was mild and flavoured partly by the outer covering of finely chopped spring onions and ginger. It was pretty to look at too which cannot be said for most of the kebabs I indulged in!



The Kashmiri seekh was my favourite again because of the deep flavours. This kebab is tossed in spices ~ dried ginger and saffron after being cooked in the tandoor along with tomatoes and onion which makes it very moist and it pairs excellently with Indian breads, I tried it with a very flaky Lachcha paratha. 


What looked like a dramatically large masala papad, turned out to be the flamboyant Kadak Rumali. A rumali (handkerchief) roti is by nature paper thin and soft. And yet, here was a crisp one, studded with finely chopped onion, tomato, green chillies and coriander leaves, with a generous sprinkling of grated cheese and spices. Makes for a nice snack to nibble on, shared at the table as you enjoy the seekh kebabs, and when you aren’t really in the mood to eat heavy Indian rotis.  

My least favourite of the evening was the Zafrani Reshami Seekh, which I found too bland and leathery. The Hyderabadi seekh was very similar to the Kashmiri one, minus the sass of the added spices and onion tomato saute. 


I sampled several of their Indian cocktails that Kanak is famous for. There were three that I would recommend anytime ~ The Patiayala Peg – Scotch whiskey paired with cardamom, cinnamon and caramel. Deep flavours that set the mood for an evening. My other favourite was The Indian Paradise – Vodka, guava juice, worcestershire, tabasco and lime, reminiscent of a bloody mary, but the glass rimmed with chaat masala is a clincher. They also have a refreshingly light Hyderabadi Pan which is a vodka cranberry based cocktail with subtle hints of betel leaf.



We finished the meal with scoops freshly made ice cream in saffron and pistachio and apricot. The saffron pistachio was too eggy for my taste, so I stuck to the apricot flavoured one which had chunks of dried fruit. 

A pleasant summer evening spent with delightful company and some real good food. 

The Seekh Kebab promotional is on till the 13th of this month, and if you are in Hyderabad, I would definitely recommend you try this out. 


The Seekh Kebab promotional at Kanak, The Trident, Hitech City, Hyderabad

Recommendations: Kakori kebab, Chupa rustam and Kashmiri Seekh kebab (non veg) and Palak Chilgoze ki Seekh and Til Methi ki Seekh (veg)

Guests can order specially put together platters of kebab samplers for both vegetarian and non vegetarian options.

Price for the platters (excluding tax): begin from INR 1225

Hours: 7.30 pm to midnight.
Location: Hitech City, Hyderabad
Credit Card Accepted: Yes
Valet Parking: Available
Telephone: 91 40 6623 2323

Chili Garlic Sauteed Vegetables ~ Sandwich

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Sauteed Vegetable Sandwich

Sauteed Vegetable Sandwich

This has to be the month of sandwiches for me. After detesting dry bread with cucumber and tomato slices, I have become a sandwich fiend with a vengeance. There is nothing better than a good sandwich made with fresh bread. Generally I do not like the bread to be slathered on with either butter or mayonnaise. Just a little to get things going and add flavour.  This sandwich filling has three of my current favourites ~ mushrooms, olive oil and a readymade chilli garlic paste which is handy to have in the fridge.

I add this paste to curries, dal, pasta sauce, vegetables and even spinach for a nice kick. It is not too spicy and yet lends a wonderful depth to the vegetables. Am sure this can be made at home, I just picked it up on a whim of my now aimless supermarket trips and am (for a change) making good use of it.

I used onions, sliced mushrooms and a little bit of bell peppers. Am sure zucchini, thin strips of carrot, and even slices of eggplant will taste terrific in this. The key is to add a lot of onions  and saute them on a medium flame till they are sweet from the caramelization, but not brown or crisp.

A box of these sauteed vegetables in the fridge will make it easy to rustle up pasta, a roti wrap or even as a vegetable side on a busy weeknight.

Sauteed Vegetable Sandwich

Sauteed Vegetable Sandwich

Chili Garlic Sauteed Vegetables ~ Sandwich (Makes 2)

4 slices                       Bread of choice, lightly toasted

1 medium                   Onion, sliced (about 2/3 cup)

1 cup                          Vegetables such as bell peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, spinach etc, sliced

1 tablespoon              Extra virgin olive oil

Salt to taste

1 teaspoon                 Chilli garlic paste (or grind together one clove of garlic with 1 ripe red chilli)

a handful of fresh herbs such as coriander or basil

1 teaspoons               Salted butter

  • In a flat pan, heat the oil and add all the vegetables. Saute on medium heat till the vegetables have wilted and the onions are translucent(about 2 minutes).
  • Add the chilli garlic paste, salt to taste and the fresh herbs and mix well.  Continue to saute till the liquid from the vegetables has almost dried off. At this point, the onions should be a deep brown and still soft. Turn off the heat and cool.
  • On a medium hot tava, toast the bread lightly and apply the butter.
  • Place the sauteed vegetables in a thin layer, top with the other slice of bread and press down lightly. Toast for 1 minute on each side, ensuring the filling does not come out.
  • Slice diagonally and serve warm.

Note: these vegetables can be stored in the fridge in an air tight container for upto 5 days to make a quick meal tossed with cooked pasta or in a wrap.


Tabbouleh Salad with Jowar Pearls (Gluten Free)

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Note: If you would like to attend the Escapades Culinary Studio Class on salads this week, send me a message on our FB page.


I love Mediterranean food. As is evident from my attempts to make non deep fried falafels and pita bread from scratch. I also love the freshness of the salads that are served. Simple fresh ingredients, light and summery dressings and a meal or a side is ready in as much time as it takes to chop all the vegetables.

Tabbouleh Salad

Tabbouleh Salad

Tabbouleh salad is popular as a side. It uses bulgur wheat. I teach this in my salads class, and it is a very big hit with everyone. I’m sharing it here for the readers of this blog. Use jowar pearls as per this recipe for a gluten free version of this salad. The original uses bulgur wheat which can be substituted with broken wheat rava used for upma etc, cooked millets of any kind such as foxtail or even cooked brown rice.

I like to eat this salad spread on a roti wrap with either a sliced boiled egg or grilled paneer and make it a complete meal.

Tabbouleh Salad with Jowar Pearls (Gluten Free)

Serves 3-4

Jowar pearls                                              ½ cup, soaked for 4-5 hours, cooked in a pressure cooker with ½ teaspoon salt

Parsley                                                        11/2 cup, leaves tightly packed

Mint                                                              ½ cup, leaves only

Cucumber                                                  1 medium, retain the skin, remove seeds and chopped small

Tomatoes                                                  3 medium, chopped

Onion                                                          1 small, finely sliced

Feta Cheese                                             ¼ cup, crumbled (use fresh paneer to substitute)

Pine Nuts                                                  1/4 cup, toasted (use walnuts or almonds to substitute)

For the dressing

Lemon Juice                                          2-3 tablespoons (adjust according to taste)

Salt and freshly cracked pepper    to taste

Extra virgin Olive oil                          1/3 cup


* Wash all the greens and lay them to drain on absorbent towels.

* Chop the tomatoes into small squares. Remove the seeds from the cucumber and chop to the same size of the tomatoes. Finely chop the onions and set aside.

* Finely shred the greens – parsley, mint

* Whisk all the ingredients for the dressing and do a taste test. Adjust seasonings and set aside.

* In a bowl large enough to toss everything up, add the chopped greens, cucumber, tomato, onion and jowar. Mix well with a large spoon. Pour over the salad dressing and mix everything well. Let stand for at 10 minutes before serving. Top with crumbled feta cheese and toasted pine nuts just before serving.



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