Cauliflower chops

Cauliflower chops | Saravana Bhavan style

I suffer from what I call the “adjacent table dilemma” (pakkathu table dilemma) in restaurants. Let me explain. I am at Saravana Bhavan. I am torn between ghee roast and mini idli sambar. Others have made up their minds. I am struggling. Idli is classic. But ghee roast is always a restaurant special. Piping hot tiffen sambar tips me towards idlis. But the sheer amount of fragrant ghee beckons me the other way. I am not sure if I want to go the slurpy route or the crispy crunchy route. The waiter has come back for the second time. I have to get it right. Jagan glares at me. Me: “If I order two tiffens will you share with me?” Jagan: “No” Me: “What do you suggest for me – mini idli or ghee roast” Jagan: “Mini idli” I turn to the waiter and say “Ghee roast” Jagan again glares at me. We wait for the dishes to arrive. The ghee roast arrives crispy, golden and crunchy heady with the aroma of ghee. I feel convinced I’ve made the right decision. When I am about to pop the first piece of dosa into my mouth, Idiyappam and Cauliflower chops arrives at the adjacent table. It looks like the best combination of steamed goodness and fragrant masala. I want that. I am back to scene one. It was Idiyappam and Cauliflower chops that I’d wanted all along. It looks like I should also discuss with the adjacent table folks before I order. I came back home with a longing for the adjacent table’s Idiyappam and cauliflower chops that wouldn’t go away. The next week I decided to rectify things. I made Idiyappam and cauliflower chops at home. I don’t trust myself to order right at restaurants. I am a fan of the cauliflower chops at Saravana bhavan. It is this incredibly fragrant, rich luscious gravy that is cooked to perfection. This cauliflower chops is in between a kurma and a regular onion-tomato gravy. It’s a hybrid. This cauliflower chops is also great with Chappathis. I attempted the cauliflower chops and I am happy to say I got almost 90% there. I am sure it won’t disappoint you. Do try and let me know how you like it! Enjoy! If you liked what you read, you can like Foodbetterbegood on facebook and instagram to get all the updates. You can also subscribe...
Paneer butter masala

Paneer butter Masala

You know my favourite part of doing yoga? At the very end of the class, when you lie down, stretch out, close your eyes and relax. It looks like I am not the only one who feels that way. Many friends thought the same too. People liked having somebody instructing them to rest. It feels legitimate. It feels delicious. You’ve done your yoga and you’ve earned it. My biggest fear is that I might fall asleep on the yoga mat and somebody’d have to kick me awake. I take my yoga very seriously. Yeah, I started taking yoga classes a couple of weeks back. I thought you’d never ask. I am really enjoying these yoga classes. It feels like I was always meant to do yoga. Would you believe that I set out to learn yoga last year when I planned to lose weight? I let myself be convinced that it wouldn’t work for me – that I won’t ever be able to make it on time to a scheduled class and that I wouldn’t lose weight with yoga. I am regularly late for class and I am not sure I’ve lost weight. But I am enjoying doing yoga. I am not even doing it that well. That’s like unconditional love. I am posting this article today and today is International yoga day. That surely must be a sign.    Happy International Yoga day people! I frequently get excited about something new that’s caught my fancy and I can’t stop talking about it. Thanks for reading that! I am ever grateful for your support. If you’re here for the paneer butter masala, please read on. At the risk of adding one more recipe to the already inundated world of Paneer butter masala, I present to you my Paneer butter Masala recipe; the recipe that I came up with after many many iterations and which probably bears a strong similarity to 95% of the recipes out there.     How different can a Paneer butter masala recipe be? They all involve cooking down onions and tomatoes to a nice smooth sauce, they all call for a mix of spice powders to be cooked until the raw small goes away and they’re all unmistakably delicious, yummy and drool-worthy. Having made that impressive pitch on why you should try my recipe, let me warn you that it’s one of the simplest versions out...
Bean Sprouts kurma

Bean sprouts Kurma – Tasty way to include sprouts into your weightloss diet

I have immense respect for people with fit bodies. It tells me that they work hard, are disciplined and can control their mind and mouth, the last of which I’ve never fully mastered. It is no mean feat. It is not easy eating healthy. Don’t agree? Try eating a bowl of raw bean sprouts every morning for breakfast. Why bean sprouts are so good for your weight-loss diet Bean sprouts have been a part of the diet of weight-watchers and fitness enthusiasts for ages because: They are low calorie but nutrient dense and full of fibre which means they fill you up, add a ton of good things to your body but don’t count for much. One cup of bean sprouts is just 100 calories. Bean sprouts are a good source of vitamin B2 that helps boost your metabolism. The high fibre helps ease bowel movements. The Vitamin C in bean sprouts keeps your skin, nails and hair healthy. More Sprouts Recipes to Come Knowing all this makes eating bean sprouts a no-brainer. But it doesn’t make it any easier. So I racked my brain to come up with recipes where I could incorporate these sprouts. I remember making a sprouts stuffed paratha awhile back that everyone really enjoyed. I wanted to add more easy recipes to that list. Thus was born this sprouts kurma and the sprouts dosai, sprouts stir-fry and other sprouts recipes you’re about to see in the coming days. Keep watching. This sprouts kurma is such a delicious, creamy rendition of the sprouts, you’ll have no qualms at all polishing off a cup of this sprouts kurma with rotis or idiyappam or dosai. I promise. I served them with benne kadubu – karnataka style rice dumplings. Oh My, they were such a pair. Also this kurma is so much easier than your regular vegetable kurma because there are no vegetables to cut. Easy and healthy. Win-win. And you managed to down your day’s dose of sprouts in style without gagging. Win-win-win! Try today! Do let me know in the comments if you have your favourite sprouts recipes. I’d love to hear.  
Deepavali mutton kurma

Deepavali Special Mutton Kurma

Hope your Deepavali started with a nice oil bath followed by a long leisurely breakfast of several soft dosais alongside a rich, lip-smacking Deepavali special mutton kurma. Hope you planted your butt on the couch and remained there the rest of the day and watched all the programs on all the channels. Hope you stole some time in between to go burst 100 walas and 1000 walas, pisssed off your neighbours and filled the entrance to your house with a respectable amount of paper kuppai (trash). That was my Deepavali. A mutton kurma for Deepavali cannot be any ordinary kurma. It needs to be extra special and extra decadent. And so you marinate the mutton in yogurt, fry the spices in ghee, cook the mutton in milk and finish off with coconut milk. This is the kind of breakfast that fills you up till dinner time. That is essential when you have a day full of TV programs you want to catch up with. You don’t want to get off the couch to prep lunch. I know this post should have come before Deepavali along with the Diwali promotions, Diwali Sale, the great Indian shopping festival in time for you to try this recipe for Deepavali. I know I am a bad blogger. Often, it’s the build-up to Deepavali that I enjoy even more than the day itself. I loved the deluge of Deepavali sweets and murukku on my facebook and instagram feeds. I love the food blogger spirit (not me), simple, cheery and optimistic. I was surprised though that nobody seemed to be posting the most important Deepavali mutton kurma. I wondered if it wasn’t as popular a tradition as I thought it was.  or  If mutton kurma eating south Indian bloggers are under represented in the blogging community.  or If it is an outcome of censorship. I’ve talked to a couple of people who said something like this “I’ve read some of your posts. Your writing is really good. Hmm.. yours is a non-vegetarian blog right? But, I am a vegetarian.” to which I’ve very naively replied “But I post a lot of vegetarian recipes too.. (In my mind thinking “Oh, don’t stop reading because of that, Maybe I should post more vegetarian recipes.. “).  However I don’t think I should try to change anything. I consider it my foremost duty to post the traditions and recipes that aren’t...

Double beans curry, Quinoa and roasted veggies

It’s been a long time. I hope you enjoyed the Navrathri school break. I may have enjoyed the holidays more than Hasini and Yuvan. When Yuvan woke up and realized he had to go to school, he whined and pleaded. I told him firmly he had to go to school. He had had a good break. He needed to get back to his routine. After their school van disappeared around the corner, I sat down with my cup of lemon and honey and mentally ran through my master list of excuses to not go to gym – “I needed a break” – I was already in one. “I was tired” – Not really “I was late. I didn’t have time” – Not applicable “I just didn’t feel like working out. I have to listen to my body” – This seemed most appropriate. So I went with it. I just didn’t feel like working out. I had to listen to my body. So I skipped gym. I sat sipping my drink thinking of what else I could get out of. The after-holiday blues are always so hard to fight off. I don’t want to cook. I don’t want to do the laundry. I don’t want to work out. I want to stay on the couch all day, undisturbed. Days like these I make my laziest meals. I hope to slowly get back into the grind. I have plenty of posts I planned to write and a host of de-cluttering to do around the house but never got around to. I am looking forward to breaking though the ennui and getting all of them done. Good luck to all of you in beating the post-holiday slow-down! The recipe I have today can easily be a lazy meal too if you remember to soak the double beans the previous night. Just dump everything in a pressure cook and cook until soft and your desired curry consistency. Serve over quinoa or hot steamed rice. Top with a fried egg if you want to up your curry and rice game. Serve hot. Enjoy!      
Dal Makhani

Dal Makhani

Hasini was doing subtraction the other day. She was puzzled and I impatient. She asked me if every time we borrowed, we borrowed only 1 and not more. I looked at her genuinely curious face. I felt sorry for being harsh. Yuvan meanwhile was singing “Dumka, A dumka, A dumka dumka dumka!” and writing the wrong spelling. The two giggled uncontrollably. I felt myself teetering between laughing and yelling. I couldn’t make up my mind which way to go. Many times I go berserk and hate myself for it. I will never understand how after dropping the bournvita on the floor, colouring the eraser black, drenching the AC remote, plotting with the thatha paati to secretly eat ice cream, losing the 3rd water bottle in 2 months and stapling together the pages of their rough book, they can look as innocent as they do when they sleep. A wave of guilt and remorse washes over me as I watch their sleeping faces, yuvi sleeps with half closed eyes, Hasini with her mouth slightly open, her arms under his head, he hugging his cheetah, his legs kicking her back. They take turns waking up during the night, to go to the toilet, to complain about the snake, the tiger, the skeleton; I pat them back to sleep without opening my eyes promising to slay them all. They insist they have to go “chuchi” and pat me to sleep and go to the toilet.  How and when do these little creatures grow up and what are the mothers to do then? Cut to morning 7:35 am I turn up the heat on the dal makhani, heat the dosa tawa and sprint to the fridge to get the dosai maavu (dosa batter) while Yuvan stands on the little stool in the kitchen tying his tie and asking what I am making for lunch. Hasini walks in with hair brush and hair bands in her hand for her ponytail, I ask her to wait, she stares out the kitchen door dreamily, Yuvan brings a bottle of milk from the fridge asking for a bournvita. He demands an answer, I tell him its Dal Makhani and Ghee rice, he kicks and screams that it is not what he wants, that it’s always Hasini’s favourites, I make a dosai, brush Hasini’s hair, take out the dosai, Hasini says it’s not her favourite either, I warn them...
Shakshuka

Shakshuka – The Muttai thokku of foreign origin

Hasini and Yuvi cracked up when they heard it’s called Shakshuka. They made up their own words out of it – “sokka pota suka”, “shoppu shappu”.. If you’ve never heard of Shakshuka, let me explain. Shakshuka is the mottai thokku of foreign origin. The muttai thokku (poached egg curry) that we make when we’re in a hurry, when we’re not in the mood to cut vegetables, when we’re craving a meaty dish but have nothing on hand and settle for an egg dish. Our humble muttai thokku is the sexy shakshuka of the western world. Like Haldi Doodh and Turmeric latte, Dal and lentil soup, kurma and curry, lassi and smoothie. Hasini loved the Shakshuka more than anyone else. Towards the end, I sprinkled some grated cheese over the eggs, covered the pan for a couple of minutes and let the cheese melt. We toasted some buttered bread slices and mopped up the Shakshuka with them. It made a delicious and filling breakfast. It’s also a great recipe to make for your next brunch.
how to make avial, easy avial recipe

Avial

It’s almost the end of summer vacation and it looks like we did every “don’t”. I woke up late everyday. The kids woke up even later. They didn’t work on their handwriting. They didn’t read. They didn’t help around. They did watch Bahubali thrice. They watched Inception with Jagan, Maanagaram and Kannathil Muthamittaal with me and Vijay TV serials with my mother. They binge-watched cartoons. I joined them at times if they were watching Motu Patlu. Hasini, Yuvan & Paati struck a secret deal with the Kwality walls fellow to stop every morning at our gate at an hour that I am usually scurrying around to get ready for office. Hasini and Yuvi eat their ice cream under the protection of the grandparents and arrive at the breakfast table with wiped mouth and hands and a poker face. They learnt to ride their bicycle without the practice wheels. They sing all of Bahubali’s songs. Yuvi does a katappa head bow when I ask him to finish his dosai. I am hoping that all the cinema will give them a good foundation in the arts. I didn’t make any of the vathals I planned to make. I bought vadu maangai with good intentions, lovingly stored them in the fridge just until they rotted and promptly threw them away and felt a weight lift off me. Weekends were even lazier which meant I made a heavy breakfast served it late and pretended to not notice lunch time. One lazy weekend morning we had this adai avial for breakfast. I’ve never been a big fan of Avial. But I was a convert once I ate Adai Avial at a restaurant. I asked my friend Lakshmi how she made Avial at home. She expertly and very simply broke down the Avial recipe for me in between mouthfuls of Adai Avial we were sharing. It worked like a charm. Boil vegetables with salt till tender, grind together your avial masala, combine everything together and top it off with a fragrant coconut oil tempering. That is really all there is to it. Try it.  
Fish Moilee

Fish Moilee

I hope you had a good Mother’s day. I hope you didn’t post a selfie of yourself with your mother. That would seem too much of a cliché I’d think. I am sorry if I offended those who did. In my family, we don’t hug. We don’t crowd our heads together for selfies. Wish someone “Happy Birthday” and they’ll get awkward and reply “Ok, sure”. Try getting everyone into a family picture and you may very well give up the idea of family pictures forever. The entire family has difficulty expressing affection. They’ll make biryani, chicken kurma to say “welcome back, I missed you”, they’ll heap Himampasand mangoes to say “take care”. This family doesn’t recognize Mothers day, Fathers day and such. I dared to try. I decided to gift my mother a leisurely no-cooking day. I made green peas brinji, poori, vegetable kurma, fish fry and mango parfait. I told my mother to not cook anything for the day. She being who she is made just an Upma, some more kuzhambu, rice and seppankezhangu fry, nothing else. She has no idea of Mothers day. I tell her while I serve the brinji I made. “Oho sari sari”, she says. She enjoyed the meal. I am not going to take any chances with my kids. I start a day earlier. I tell them all about Mothers day. I tell Hasini and Yuvan – “It is Mothers day tomorrow”. I explain the concept to them. I dwell on the part about making it special for the mother. I then ask Yuvi – “What are you going to do tomorrow?” “I am going to ride my cycle” I look at Jagan for any signs of training. He seems surprised and amused. Hasini was very excited about getting me a present for mother’s day. She pushed us out from the couch, into the car and to the store to get me a cotton top. I really do love the top. I had a lot of leftover fish from Mother’s day that I was wont to fry. I made Fish Moilee instead. I learnt this recipe on one of our trips to Kerala. I cannot believe I’ve waited so long to make it. You could use this basic stew recipe and substitute prawns instead of the fish to make Prawn Moilee. This is one of those fragrant, delicately spiced but gorgeously flavourful stews that...
Paneer rice bowl

30-minute Paneer rice bowl

Do you know the “spoon in the fridge” trick? You keep a spoon hidden in the fridge so that when you are craving a spoon of bread halwa, gulab jamun or chocolate mousse you just grab your secret spoon that only you know of and dig in. Think that’s bullshit? OK, Picture this. You’re about to go to bed. You go around to switch off all the lights planning to scoff a tiny scoop of bread halwa. You see the dirty tumblers and coffee mugs and you gather them up. You also pick up the clothes from the floor to deposit in the laundry basket. Both your hands are full when you see the hot wheels car in your way. You push it to the corner with your leg and walk over to the laundry basket and almost drop the coffee mugs in but catch yourself at the last minute and drop in the clothes instead. You walk to the kitchen to deposit the tumblers and notice that the peace lily is drooping and you haven’t watered it. You put away the snack boxes on the counter back in the shelves. You come back out, see the plant and go back again to get a pitcher of water to water the peace lily. You go out to the balcony to water the other dying plant there, pick up the shoes there and put them away in the shoe rack, put away the newspaper, open the Amazon parcel on the table, check it out and then safely put it in one of the cupboards and promptly forget the location, shove the plastic covers flying around in the big bag of plastic covers, step on a lego piece, pick it up and put it away in the lego box, find 3 more lego pieces in the sofa crevices, trudge back to the toy cupboard and put them away and start switching off lights everywhere. You go to the fridge but realize you need to go back to your cutlery drawer, switch on the lights, walk to fridge, eat, close fridge, put away spoon and switch off lights. You decide that’s too much work and go back to bed. You walk past the folded clothes of the past 4 days, hop over the towel and lie down on the bed. You find a couple of pencils under your back. You shove it under...
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