Beach style masala kadalai - Boiled peanut salad

Beach style Masala Kadalai – Boiled peanut salad

People go to the beach for different things – to gaze at the sea, to feel the salty sea breeze, for a walk, to make sand castles, to play a game of Frisbee with friends, to make out with girlfriend/boyfriend and pretend no one’s watching, to wet feet in the sea, to take the dog for a fun outing, to escape the heat, to eat masala kadalai and bajji. If you know me, you should know what my reason is, to go to the beach. To think that Beach style Masala kadalai is good for you and is healthy is against all odds. But it is. If you are following my project 50k, you’ll know I am all about clean, healthy, low carb meals right now. This meal fits the bill perfectly. Boiled peanuts are delicious as such. If you want to turn it into a flavour-packed, filling salad, try this beach style masala kadalai. It is super easy and quick to put together and yummy. This beach style masala kadalai makes a great diet lunch. If you find shelling peanuts tiresome, you can quite easily get yourself a pack of raw peanuts and pressure cook them for the same results.  
chicken masala vadai

Masala Chicken vadai

I spent three days cleaning out my cupboards, shelves, beros, paranai, tops of beros, top of fridge, window sills, between wall and cupboard, behind cupboard, under cupboard, under stairs and inside drawers. Did you know you could store stuff in all these places? Martha Stewart won’t tell you that. I found I did not fit into 80% of the clothes I had. I had so many different cables and wires I could technically connect my TV to laptop to remote controlled car to DVD player to charger to camera to mixie. I’d still be clutching a handful of un-identified cables that fit into obsolete ports. I had loose change everywhere. None of the pens actually wrote. My fountain pens had all dried up. I had about 2 huge suitcases of books I had no space for. I hadn’t read most of my recent purchases. I wasn’t going to deal with the toys. It was too much. I had 100 glass milk bottles – the small cute kind for times when I might throw a party for 100 people. I had no business having as many cake pans as I did. I had enough small bowls in melamine, ceramic, earthenware, steel and microwaveable plastic for every conceivable need that I knew not, how to put away. I had my napkins, tablemats, little pieces of cloth, wooden boards, empty photo frames, textured cards – stray stuff that were the props for my blog photos. Friends, relatives and the maid when they see these, turn to look at me searching for reason. I don’t meet their eye. All I did those few days was to pack bag after bag of stuff that I just couldn’t have any more. I was angry at myself. I was severe with every little purse, dabba and tight jeans I hadn’t fit into in 7 years. I needed about two and a half kitchens to store just my baking stuff. It seemed impossible. When I couldn’t make up my mind, I put them in boxes and stashed them in the paranai. I started with a cabinet full of stuff. I kept going ruthlessly. At the end of it I had emptied most of the cabinet and filled up all of the paranais. For those who are unfamiliar with “paranai” these are the Indian equivalent of your “attic”, only we have these all over the house to stow away...
Cauliflower pakoda

Cauliflower Pakoda

Did you realize I’ve not blogged in 3 weeks?  … No? Thanks I’ve been working on transitioning Foodbetterbegood to its own domain – Foodbetterbegood.net complete with a cleaner prettier layout, printable recipe card, easy to search pictorial recipe index and easier subscription option! Most of the work’s done but there’s still some more that I am pegging away at. But I couldn’t wait any longer. So here it is. Look up… at the address bar of your browser. You are here! Welcome! If you are an ardent fan of Foodbetterbegood, I suggest you subscribe using the subscribe button. I am not sure if subscribers on the old site will receive the new posts.  Or you could follow on Facebook, Instagram, Google+ or Pinterest. Take a seat. Have some cauliflower pakoda. These cauliflower pakoda are dangerously addictive; the kind of addictive that gets your hand into a nice rhythmic action, popping one after another into your mouth. These are irresistibly tasty. Add some company, some conversation, a cup of hot coffee or a book and you have yourself a nice, cosy evening. Whoever thought of selling hot cauliflower pakoda on the beach, was obviously a connoisseur. Seated on comfortable plastic chairs twisted down into the beach sand, digging your toes into the sand, the evening breeze tousling up your hair, kids playing nearby – bucket loads of sand in their trouser folds, the smell of the sea in the air, piping hot cauliflower pakoda arrives alongside a spicy chutney. Everyone rushes in to grab one. Too hot! You blow impatiently and take a bite and half-blow, half-eat the pakoda. Ooh! Nothing beats cauliflower pakoda on the beach. But if you ever are craving those pakoda, here is the recipe. I deconstructed the recipe. It is not the beach pakoda recipe. It is my interpretation – my cover version of the beach cauliflower pakoda. Enjoy!  
stuffed okra

Stuffed Bhindi

Yesterday I did what no fat mommy should do. I looked through my wedding albums (after 7 years). So much younger, half the width, half the circumference… Everybody else seemed to have aged too, which was comforting. There were some who had since lost weight. That irked us a bit and in a fit of childish competitiveness, Jagan and I decided we had to exercise twice a day and eat once a day. I decided also, To not buy jeans till I lose weight. That I can’t find one that fits, and if I do and if I wear it, my behind looks like a huge parentheses is immaterial.    To not wear said parantheses jeans in the name of social good.   To not buy new clothes as they may be too large once I’ve lost weight.   To not attend parties & weddings until I lose weight.   To stay out of selfies, to avoid having to shoot 100s of photos, to avoid turning sideways or hide behind someone or hold my breath or photoshop the hell out of it.   To camouflage my fitness tracker. I wear a Garmin vivofit fitness tracker all the time. I like to believe I am fitness conscious. I am conscious that I am not doing anything about my fitness every time I look at my fitness band. Wearing it though has given me great grief. Everyone and I mean EVERYONE asks me what I am wearing and once I’ve explaied – how much I’ve walked and how much weight I’ve lost. Once they hear I’ve not achieved much yet, their reactions go from smug satisfaction to ridicule to advice. One very thoughtful lady went as far as to ask why I would even try, beyond this point, suggesting that I am married, a mommy and that I am old and I should settle into my parantheses. I will meet her once I’ve lost weight. Till then I am not telling anyone it is a fitness tracker.   Very important. To not look at the wedding albums till I lose weight. That felt like therapy, like a pact to myself. Thanks for hanging in there. Now on to today’s recipe. This recipe for stuffed okra/stuffed bhindi is really close to my heart. It is easy, slightly time consuming than your regular okra stir fry but totally worth it. I love the stuffing in this...

Fried Moong dal Toast

I am in ‘plan-B’ mode these days. I think I must make a decorated, layer cake for my dad’s birthday, then switch last minute to a brownie with frosting and finally make just the brownie. I buy loads of green chillies to make Mor Milagai but I can’t find Mor (buttermilk) anywhere. But I didn’t look for it. To think that just a couple of weeks back our fridge harboured not just tons of Mor and yogurt but other assorted wild cultures of I don’t know what (and I threw them out, peasant me. Sour-dough illiterate!). I make pizza dough, pizza sauce and even ready the toppings but don’t make pizza because I can’t find Mozzarella. My to-make vathal and oorkai (pickle) list are growing, summer is full blast on in Madras and I do nothing. I am waiting for yogurt to sour when there is no yogurt at home, for bananas to blacken but they get eaten up. I am there, yet not there. It’s there, but not there. I want to do, but don’t. I know many people who’d call this laziness. Maybe. I can’t wholly deny that, so I’ll accept it. So one morning I wake up to an idli-batter less fridge which means tiffen other than idli/dosai. I’d planned pesarattu or French toast but made Fried Moong dal toast instead. It is not my invention though. I remember a similar recipe in a Nita Mehta book that I am not able to locate now. I soaked moong dal in some hot water for 10 minutes (you can soak in regular water for 20-25 minutes) because I woke up late and I was in a hurry which is my normal state of things. I then ground the dal to a coarse paste, mixed in finely minced green chillies and fresh coriander leaves and slathered them on some bakery bread (these are smaller than your regular loaves and are usually softer) – both sides of each slice and then deep fried them till the edges are dark brown and crisp. I had a mild attack at the amount of oil the bread was taking up and I tried a skinny pan fried version with a couple of slices. I am sorry health freaks but deep fried toast was undoubtedly the winner – crispy edges and slightly chewy, crunchy dal coated inside. It was fantastic. I made this for...

Chicken – 65

Yesterday during our skype conversation, Yuvi tried to pounce on his dad by head-butting the laptop screen to directly jump into America. It is Yuvi’s way of saying “I miss you”. Jagan is more away than in. He’s away for most occasions – kids’ first day of school, his own birthday, Hasini’s birthday and now our wedding anniversary. I was going to make a classic Tiramisu for our wedding Anniversary today, from scratch but didn’t have Rum. If only Jagan were here! I am fighting the lone battle against lizards and “Maravattais” (millipede) in our house. Even yesterday, I kicked out a maravattai that had found its way into our bathroom. I am not enjoying driving during weekends and definitely not finding parking. I never worried about car repairs, AC repairs, bills and public relations at home. It is hard to believe that Jagan was taking care of all of these silently while watching “Two and half men” and “Destroyed in seconds” and while always being “just now seen”  on whatsapp. It is my way of saying “I miss you”. So I made chicken-65 instead (of Tiramisu). How in the world Chicken-65 instead of Tiramisu? We love both equally. Jagan’s love of chicken is un-paralleled. Hasini takes right after him. She even eats like him I noticed yesterday just like how Bhagyaraj’s son in “Mouna Geethangal” adjusts his glasses like his dad. Bhagyaraj is a genius. Anybody who disagrees is… is… is not my friend. I made this lip-smacking chicken-65 (courtesy: Chef Jacob’s cookbook “Asaiva samayal”) and Jagan’s favourite coconut and poppy seed chicken curry along with chappathis yesterday and wolfed down everything to my heart’s content all the while thinking how much Jagan would have enjoyed this meal.For more south-indian non-vegetarian recipes check out Maayandi Kudumbathinar Menu | South-Indian Non-vegetarian dishes Prep time: 15 minsCooking time: 15 minsServes: 3 Ingredients Boneless Chicken cut into small pieces – ¼ kiloOil for deep fryingCurry leaves – 1 stemOnion – 1 medium chopped fineGreen chilli – 1 chopped fineGinger – 1 inch mincedGarlic – 4 pods minced Marinade Ginger – 1 inch pieceGarlic – 5 podsGreen chillies – 3Kashmiri Red chilli powder – 2 tspSalt to taste Dipping Batter Corn flour – 4 tbspWater – ¾ cup Saute mixture Whisked yogurt – ¼ cupSalt – a pinchKashmiri red chilli powder – 1 tspTurmeric powder – ¼ tsp Method Clean chicken, pat dry and cut...

Rain-holidays and Egg Bajjis in monsoon struck Madras

There is no better feeling than when you wake up in the morning weary and disgruntled thinking of going to school (or readying the kids for school) and then suddenly hear that it’s a holiday because of the rains. Really! It is a one-of-a-kind feeling. Not the same as knowing before-hand about a holiday. Not the same as pretending to be sick and taking leave. This is guilt-free, unexpected, sudden joy. Nothing like it! Bliss! The past week was just this. After the first rain-holiday, we got into the practice of groping for the mobile phone first thing in the morning and squinting through half closed eyes checking our SMS’es for the school’s announcement hoping for another rain-holiday. And they never once disappointed. Every day the school sent an SMS announcing a holiday because of the rains. Yuvi would lift up his head to confirm if it was a holiday “Amma leave a?” and when I told him it was, he’d smile contentedly and drop back on to his pillow. I’d curl up next to him and go back to sleep. I always wait for the rains. Madras looks so much better in rains – atleast the first day. By the fourth day I want the bloody thing to stop. I’ve run out of my kids’ jatties (underwear). It is such a pain hauling all the wet clothes around, laying them out on tables, racks, coat-stands and mats all over the house, turning them over half way through and personally fan-drying every T-shirt, nighty and lungi. This time I just let it all soak up 3 days of non-stop north-east monsoon rains. I was down to my kids’ last few emergency jatties in my handbag but I decided to let go (of the wet clothes), live the moment, enjoy the rain. Rainy day watercolour? Picture through car’s windscreen What I miss is a large window to sit by and watch the rain however clichéd that may sound. I am a sucker for such clichés. Bajjis during rain must the most dog-tired, hackneyed clichés around and I may say it often too but you will never catch me saying “No” to bajjis when it is raining. The truth is you will never catch me saying “No” to bajji anytime, rain or not. You have to admit that the idea of sitting by a window looking at the pouring rain, biting into...

Homemade Puff pastry | Bakery style egg puffs and vegetable puffs

I told you last week that I am on a diet, that you’re going to see more salads and stir-fries and I am eating healthy. Today I post butter layered, utterly butterly buttery puff pastry recipe. Therein lies the twist. No twist. These are from the heydays of my carefree eating a couple of months back which I am posting now instead of earlier because my timing is bad and I can’t remember nothing. There is no excuse not to make puff pastry and none whatsoever to not eat it. I’ll forego my entire lunch (if I really have to) for one piping hot, fresh from the oven egg puff that crackles with every bite spilling lovely crispy golden shards of puff pastry down my kurti. I’ve always heard how puff pastry is really complicated and difficult and that it requires lots of skill and practice. I won’t say it’s easy. It takes time and patience but it is definitely doable and successfully at that by any first timer. This was my first attempt and what can I say other than that they were simply astounding. This was my bedtime routine that entire week. I’d lug my pastry dough, jumbo rolling pin, flour and plywood board to our bedroom every night leaving it all by the bedside to let the dough soften while I got Yuvi and Hasini into their night dress, while Yuvi sang, while Hasini sharpened her pencils down to nothingness, while they tumbled around the pillows, while Yuvi told me what Bheem and Dolu Bolu did that day, while they laughed their heads off at made up words “Druka”, “buduka”, “damputippa”, while they settled into their beds and dozed away. I’d then step over to my Pastry Dough rolling out station and in a great cloud of flour, start. I’d quickly roll out the dough, fold back in, turn it around and again roll out, fold back in, turn around, roll out, fold back in, roll, fold, turn, roll, fold turn until the butter held up. I’d stop when the butter started to ooze out. I’d shove it back into the fridge and continue later. I did this for 3 days maybe 4 or even 5, can’t say. I was lost in it. Then I finally rolled out the puff pastry dough into one large sheet, cut it up into smallish squares and froze them ready to be filled...

Leftover Dal Tikki

Happy Vinayaka Chaturthi everyone!  Strangely I have the TV and remote all to myself and I am flitting from one cinema climax to the next and I am loving it. Strangely there are so many good movies on today and not “Singam” or “Singaravelan”.  Sorry, that was last week when I sat down to write this. I loved “Yaam Irruke Bayame”. It was hilarious. “Endrendrum Punnagai” was good too. I’ve been sitting on these Leftover Dal Tikkis, an absolutely cracking puff pastry recipe, my first really well decorated red rosette cake and a whole lot of stories but haven’t been able to sit down to it. I don’t want to open the fridge these days. It is scary. Yesterday’s rice, last week’s lemon rice, alpha, beta 1 and beta 2 versions of the same coriander chutney, assorted slices of cakes, extra frosting, light fresh rasam, concentrated rasam, multiple loaves of bread, huge dabbas of dosai maavu (dosai batter), one hardened chappathi dough ball that’ll make exactly one chappathi.... multiple blocks of butter, the half tin of cherries (from the fantastic blackforest cake), multiple bags of lindt chocolates (we hoard lindt chocolates) and Hershey’s kisses stare me in the face (We’re out of eggs though). And I can’t find a place for my little bowl of dal. I told you about Joint families. We’ll have multiple versions of everything but never enough eggs. Some repurposing was in order. I wasn’t going to throw out my favourite dal. I re-arranged, switched smaller dabbas for a few bigger dabbas and managed to squeeze the dal into the fridge. We were going the have leftover dal tikkis the next day (but I made up the recipe as I went along). I first cooked the dal down to a thickish consistency, adding in powdered oats, some fresh green peas and spice powders, drizzling in some oil now and then to help along and reducing it to a dough almost. I then shaped it into tikkis, rolled in bread crumbs and shallow fried in butter and oil. I didn’t have to find a place for the dal tikkis in the fridge that night. The tikkis were gone. Success! Next alpha, beta 1 and beta 2 chutnies.. Prep time: 10 minsCooking time: 15 minsMakes: 10-12 tikkis Ingredients Any leftover Dal – 1 cupGreen peas – ½ cupOats – 4 tbsp powderedRed chilli powder – ½ tspGaram Masala powder...

Vegetable stuffed Somas

It is finally raining here in Chennai and my kids are sound asleep already. It’s such a pretty sight the two things and together it’s almost poetic. I am left strangely unoccupied and free and for a moment I didn’t know what to do. Confused, I called up a couple of numbers but none of them picked up. I could watch TV, cook, bake, read or write. I chose to write. It’s been raining all over Tamil Nadu but not in Chennai. It finally rained today. So tomorrow morning’s Tennis class is Ooooo (Ooooo in Chennai Tamil is “gone”, “game over”). But did I tell you that these days I wake up before 6 am everyday, Tennis class or not. Yeah, it’s a medical miracle. I don’t know if Kochadaiyan’s advice (“Suriyan ku mun yezhundhu kol Suzhiyaniye jeipaai”) had anything to do with it. But I am changed.  Every night I prep for next day’s breakfast and lunch, box them and shove them into the refrigerator – chopped vegetables for curries and poriyals, grated coconut and sautéed onions for chutnies, boiled potatoes with skin for potato fry, peeled garlic, finely minced ginger, sautéed pureed gravy bases for gravies and curries and anything else I can prep beforehand without worrying about it getting spoilt. Next morning as soon as I am up, I pull out all my boxes from the fridge and start them all off – grind, temper, sauté and have them cooking while I run back and get a kicking Hasini out of bed and ready for Tennis class. By the time we leave for Tennis, they’re all almost done. We rush back from Tennis, shower, dress, eat and rush to school just a few minutes late as always. That is again a miracle how we always seem to arrive at that time irrespective of how packed or totally empty our mornings are. The few mins after the bell seems to be our steady state. I feel like a super-efficient, mean machine like a fighter bomber – planning and prepping the previous night, cooking and packing Hasini’s lunch, taking her to tennis class, readying Hasini and little Yuvi for school and finally dropping them off. The bombs are dropped. Mission accomplished. By the time I reach office, I am done. What Iittle is left, my boss finishes off for me. I made these vegetable stuffed somas on one of...

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