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{Quick Cooking} Pav Bhaji Masala Pulao

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A few days ago, I was busy with work and suddenly realised I had not made lunch but was ravenous. I could have made upma. I make it well even when I add purple coloured veggies to it! But any chance to dig into a rice dish will not be lost. I’m a one dish meal queen. I love the convenience and the versatility of a one dish meal. My preference of carb is of course rice. Which self respecting south Indian will not turn to rice? 

I generally use one particular masala in most of my preparations ~ curries, dals, rice and anything else I may be cooking. It could be the sambar powder using my MIL’s recipe (contrary to purists, I make it and stock it in the freezer minus the coconut for a month) or egg roast masala that I so love or as in this case, pav bhaji masala, a packet of which I had opened and wanted to use at every opportunity.

A masala to me is just something to zing up a dish. Usually, most masalas have a base of coriander, cumin, chillies. the add ons are usually an assortment of garam masala. For instance, pav bhaji has a bit of amchur (dried mango powder) and hence will be slightly sour as opposed to a sambar powder which has roasted channa dal and is great to thicken curries! So depending on my instinct, I reach out and add a few spoons of a masala to whatever I may be cooking.

When I was writing this post, I did an online search and found that pav bhaji masala is used to make a rice dish called Tava Pulao. I have not tasted it, but most recipes call for cooked basmati rice to be sauteed with the masala. When cooked with the raw rice and vegetables, this dish has a milder flavour and takes lesser time!

My neighbourhood supermarket is doing a ‘buy one get one’ offer on a brand of basmati and I decided to be indulgent. This pulao will taste just as good with regular rice as well.

Pav Bhaji Masala Pulao (serves 2, time taken: 20 minutes)

Basmati Rice                    1 cup, washed and soaked in water for 5 minutes

Vegetables                        1 cup ( I used equal parts of mushrooms, cauliflower florets, frozen corn kernels)

Onion                                  1 medium, sliced

Green Chilli                       1, slit lengthwise

Salt to taste

Pav Bhaji Masala            11/2 teaspoons

Ginger Garlic Paste        1 teaspoon

Mint Leaves                       2 tablespoons

Oil / Ghee                            1 tablespoon

Bay Leaf                               1

Cloves and green cardamom 2 each

Cinnamon stick               1 small piece

Shahi Jeera                       1/2 teaspoon

In a pressure cooker, heat the ghee/ oil and when hot add the bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cloves, cardamom and shahi jeera. Saute for a few seconds.

Add the sliced onions and green chilli and saute till onions are translucent. Add the ginger garlic paste and saute for a minute.

Add the vegetables, mint leaves and the pav bhaji masala and saute for 1 minute.

Add the rice, salt and 2 cups of hot water and stir. Close the lid of the pressure cooker and put on the whistle. Cook on high heat for one whistle and turn down the heat for 5 minutes and turn off the heat.

Wait for the pressure to release, open the lid of the pressure cooker and fluff gently with a fork. Serve this pulao hot with a side dish of choice or just plain raita.




{Vegan MoFo 2013} Quick Schezwan Style Cauliflower Recipe (with ready made bottled sauces)

Schezwan Style Cauliflower

Schezwan Style Cauliflower

I love cauliflower in most forms. The first reason being, the vegetable lends itself beautifully to any recipe and absorbs flavours and spices very well. It can also be chopped into any size large or small and takes very little time to cook. A lot of Indian style preparations, overcook cauliflower and make it mushy. I like cauliflower to be firm yet cooked through and I find that depending on the cooking time, the texture can be preserved.

I made this as a party appetizer, but this is a versatile dish and can be served on the side with fried rice or noodles as well. Most grocery stores stock an array of readymade spice mixes. I stock a few to be able to make a few recipes at short notice. One of the mixes that I like is the Schezwan spice mix. there are several brands available and a teaspoon of this adds a nice kick to oriental style gravies, fried rice or even noodles.

Schezwan Style Cauliflower

Schezwan Style Cauliflower

Schezwan Cauliflower (Serves 4)

Cauliflower Florets                 2 cups

Salt and Pepper to taste

Oil                                                2 tablespoons

For the Sauce

Tomato Sauce                         4 tablespoons (I used tomato chilli sauce)

Soy Sauce                                 2 tablespoons

Garlic                                          2 pods, chopped

Ginger                                       1 inch piece, chopped tiny

Red Chilli Powder                  1 teaspoon

Schezwan Spices                   1 tablespoon (Available at all leading supermarkets)

Green Onion                           3, sliced, green and white parts separately

Onion                                        1 medium, chopped into large pieces


Steam the cauliflower in sufficient water with salt for 4-5 minutes, drain and set aside. Do not overcook it.

Heat oil in a pan and sauté the cauliflower on high heat till it begins to get golden edges. Sprinkle salt and pepper. Remove the cauliflower pieces to a bowl.

In the same pan, add the finely chopped garlic and ginger and fry for a minute. Add the chopped onion and sauté till it turns translucent.

Add all the other ingredients except the green parts of the spring onions. Stir well and bring to a simmer.

Add the sautéed cauliflower to this sauce and toss well to coat. Garnish with the green onions and serve.

{Vegan MoFo 2013} Kerala Style Vegetable Ishtu Recipe

Kerala Style Vegetable Ishtu

Kerala Style Vegetable Ishtu

Kerala Style Vegetable Ishtu is the perfect accompaniment to Paalappam. It is a classic breakfast dish. The vegetable ishtu is a medley of vegetables simmered in the naturally sweet coconut milk. There is no holy grail in recipes and each one does what they like best. I have blogged a recipe for Ishtu earlier when I wrote the recipe for another favourite of mine, Idiappam or String Hoppers. Here is the current favourite version of ishtu, the addition of caramelized onion on the top, adds a nice depth to the flavour of this dish.

Kerala Style Vegetable Ishtu

Kerala Style Vegetable Ishtu

Kerala Style Vegetable Ishtu (Serves 4)

Mixed vegetables – 2 ½ cups, cut into small square pieces (carrot, potato, cauliflower, beans, peas)

Onion – 2 medium, 1 to be chopped roughly, the other to be sliced in semi circles and set aside.

Green chilli – 1, slit lengthwise

Oil – 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon

Whole Garam Masala – 1 star anise, 2 one inch sticks of cinnamon, 2 cloves, 4-5 pepper corns, 1 cardamom split open

Curry leaves – 1 sprig

Salt to taste

Coconut Milk (Thick) – 1 cup ( I used coconut milk from a carton)

1 tsp finely chopped / julienned fresh ginger

½ tsp sugar

Coconut Oil – 1/2 te


In a pan heat the oil and fry the sliced onions till golden brown on a gentle heat. Remove the onions onto a plate and set aside. Continue to add the star anise, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and pepper corns in the same oil, after a few seconds add the julienned ginger, chopped onion and green chilly.

When the onions turn transparent, add the vegetables, ½ a cup of water, salt and cover and steam for about 7-8 minutes till the vegetables are tender, cooked but not mushy.

Add the coconut milk, ½ cup of water (or adjust according to the consistency of gravy desired), simmer for a minute.  turn off the heat and let it stand for atleast 10 minutes before serving.

Heat the vegetable oil and coconut oil together, add curry leaves and allow them to sizzle, add the caramelized onion to this and take off the heat. pour this over the ishtu just before serving.  Serve with Idiappam or Paalappam

Vegetable Overload Khaara Bhaath


K likes his upma plain and simple with a coconut chutney, I like it full of vegetables. We make peace at home by alternating between the two. Since I have sole custody of the kitchen, I play dirty sometimes!

I had some purple cabbage lying about and I added this to the upma. I loved what colours landed up on my plate!

Vegetable Overload Khaara Bhaath (Serves 2)

Semolina (Bombay Rava)                   1 cup

Assorted Vegetables                           11/2 cup

(Use a combination of cauliflower, cabbage, potatoes, peas, carrots, etc)

Vegetable Oil                                         1 teaspoon

Salt to taste

Curry leaves                                          a few

Fresh Coriander leaves                    a few sprigs

Mustard Seeds                                     1 teaspoon

Urad dal                                                 1 teaspoon

Green Chilli                                          1-2 slit, (adjust according to taste)

Onion                                                     1 chopped

Tomato                                                 1 chopped


  1. Heat a pan and add the oil, splutter the mustard seeds and add the urad dal. Fry till the urad turns golden. Add the slit green chilli and curry leaves and sauté for a few seconds.
  2. Add all the vegetables including the onions and tomato and cook stirring for a few minutes till the tomatoes begin to turn mushy.
  3. Add 11/2 cups of water and salt and bring it to a boil. Lower the heat, using both hands, add the semolina in a steady stream with one hand and stir the mix with the other hand.
  4. Ensure there are no lumps in the mixture. Cover and let it cook on low heat for 5 minutes. Take off the heat and leave covered for a few more minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve hot with a coconut chutney or pickle.

The Year That Was ~ 2007 ~ A Roundup of Recipes

Today’s the last day of this fabulous year….and tho I hate to see it go; I am filled with hope for the year that 2008 will be…. In many ways, 2007 has been a defining year for me…. If you read my other blog you will know that there have been many firsts for me this year…..things that I gingerly took a step forward to and they firmly became some of the best things I ever did…… this blog for instance…..for much time I was a lurker and trawler of food blogs and looked at them with amazement and awe….and then with one uncertain step I plunged into it…..not knowing if I would be read at all…yet the want to be part of this celebration of all things food was too strong for me to ignore….. I watch with amazement as the modest numbers go up on my stats counter…. More than anything, I am happy with the people I have met and the familiar comfort I feel when I know I am part of this tribe that celebrates food just like I do….the people I have learnt so much from, who’s recipes I have tried with much success, today I am so much more sensitive to what I eat, cook and try out…I am more observant of ingredients and flavors and most of all am willing to try out anything atleast once….of course K accuses me of not cooking for him but for the blog these days…. but then I guess all spouses of food bloggers suffer from the same malaise…..

Apart from a look back and nostalgia, Nupur called out for the best of 2007….. so here it is…..with less than 50 posts and almost those many recipes … top ten recipes of the year….these aren’t in any particular order….they’ve graced my blog, table and parties…. Its great to be able to revisit them and share them with you…..

Chocolate Truffles

Chocolate Truffles

Hand Made Chocolates

Hand Made Chocolates

Truffles and homemade chocolate

For the contribution they have made to my life this year, truffles and homemade chocolates they deserve pride of place on this list….chocolates in a way liberated me…from the shackles of identity, possible depression and self belief….they made me do something I loved and enjoyed, brought me a lot of success….much more than I’d have hoped for and even put me on tv!! Chocolates made me choose what I wanted to do…. Enjoy what I chose and reveled in the success that was 100% my own…..they have made me believe in a lot of things I never would have thought possible and put the crown on this fabulous year that 2007 has been for me personally……..

Date and Fig Ravioli

Date and Fig Ravioli

Date and fig ravioli

This one was truly a masterpiece…it is a show stopper and became so popular that I have already made it 3 times…. The light melt in your mouth crust….The ever so slightly sweet filling, the flavours and textures that mingle and make you savour it…. Ravioli…I am glad we met and made acquaintance….the best part is that filling can be varied both sweet and savoury…

Eggless Butter Cookies

Eggless Butter Cookies

Tarts and biscuits

For the sheer simplicity of ingredients and procedure, cookies and tarts make it to my list…again the tarts can be filled with a variety of things both savoury and sweet….makes for a simple yet well appreciated home made gift….it made me believe I can bake much more than bricks!!

Yeasted Hot Cross Buns

Yeasted Hot Cross Buns


This was a second attempt and met with much success…infact I ate a piece out of each of the 12 buns I baked just to make sure they really turned out as good as they looked…. It was my first attempt at bread of any kind and savoury baking….filled the house with that warm delicious smell that only bread can bring

Whole Wheat Apple Muffins

Whole Wheat Apple Muffins


Whole wheat and apple…with very little butter and full of wholesome goodness….these little ones were a big hit…and called for repeats….

Eggless Chocolate Pinwheels

Eggless Chocolate Pinwheels

Chocolate (Eggless) Pinwheel Cookies

Simplicity is the key that I look for in baking particularly because I am a novice baker….and I feel less nervous tackling cookies rather than cakes….. so chocolate pinwheels takes pride of place because it qualifies on the simplicity factor…but fools you with its beauty…. This is a recipe you can make dough out of and freeze till you are ready to bake…..

Idiappam and Ishtu

Idiappam and Ishtu

Idiappam and stew

Making this was so much like starting the blog…you wacth from afar with awe and respect…then take the plunge and never believe you are going to come into your own…. But you do…and it always surprises you!! Idiappam and stew has been like that for me… its simplicity bowls me over…perfect comfort food, and fix for all seasons

Hara Bhara Kabab

Hara Bhara Kabab

Beetroot Raw Banana Cutlet

Beetroot and Raw Banana Cutlets

All things kababish!!

the beetroot and hara bhara versions of what I dish out with alarming regularity are just a couple of ways to bring nutrition to the table…who can refuse a cutlet when offered? I haven’t encountered anyone till date who does…. Imagine nutrition and taste in one package….

Spice Powders

Spice Powders

Dynamite heaps

spice powders…or chutney podis make it to the list due to their sheer versatility…. They can spice up happenings like none other….idlies, dosas, steaming hot rice, bread and sprinkled on veggies too…..they are time savers and deliver a substantial spice kick




One of the simplest dishes to make and soothing on the palette and the digestive system….from my training under MIL dishes, this one takes the cake for simplicity, appeal and wholesome goodness….

As I went through the picture files, I have realized that I could have put up a much better show with all that I hoarded….so to more frequent and better posts in the new year then!! As I look back on the year of food blogging, I am so happy with finding and being a part of this world…. To meet so many people with similar interests….to be able to find almost any recipe that you are looking for…. With step by step instructions and pictures of real food…. to know that you are one with a tribe of people who don’t think it is weird to discuss kitchen ingredients….to see a little bit of everyones life at the table….peeking into personalities and homes and lives….we are interwoven in the strongest bonds of all….food…..of blog events, deadlines and celebrations!! Of not being able to wait till you post…taking endless pictures, editing and agonizing over them….of the reassurance in the form of comments and feedback….it brings joy known only to a blogger….

I also learnt so much about healthy vegetarian cooking…. That it doesn’t have to be drowning in oil and masala to tickle your tongue….

I learnt that tho this is part of my life for long time now….i need to let go of an all consuming obsession…. Infact in a surprising manner, this blog has helped me put so many things into perspective…and because its out there for the world to see….it has meant a deeper commitment to many of the decisions that I have made….

So in the new year, I hope to explore much more than I thought I would….to cook better, wholesome and innovative meals….to experience once again the joy of creating a meal or a dish … to eat healthier….

A big thank you to all my friends, family …..thanks for being there and for being you…

A warm hug and a huge thank you to you – my readers …………. thanks for coming back to Escapades…for holding my hand through these first few steps…..for all the feedback and encouragement, I am grateful….truly and honestly…..for appreciating all that I have attempted…. escapades has a little bit of me everywhere….and if there is something in particular you’d like to see here, please do let me know….

Finally….to K…my soulmate…. Who painstakingly sat through my bouts of cooking, serving, clicking, surfing, writing and posting…who became my unofficial photographer just to make things easier for me…. Who has valiantly tried to answer the barrage of most inane questions like the 3rd degree…. For being the taster, appreciator of all my culinary escapades…. You know what I want to say to you….

Have a great end to this year everyone……and have a fabulous new year, filled with all that you truly want….may we find answers to the questions we want to ask…and happiness in all that we do…. Have a wonderful new year!!


To the stars in the sky and our dreams!!

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