Cheesy potato tomato sandwich

The day I work out, I feel I am obligated to have that Cadbury or eat Queen’s toffee at Ibaco. As compensation. And like that, I maintain status quo, never missing a chance to level it off. The other day after I’d done my 5 minute plank routine in 2 minutes and was resting face down, sprawled on the floor I discovered my long lost pen under the bed, a couple of hot wheels cars under the wooden almirah, Hasini’s time-table sheet, a comb, hair pins and a pencil. I closed my eyes, inhaled deeply and pretended I’d not seen any of it. I couldn’t interrupt my 10-minute rest time. I couldn’t crawl under, on my elbows and knees; that would be too much work.     I remember to not take the lift at office, I take the stairs. And when I take the stairs at office, I feel I must eat the masala vadai at tea time. I’ve become somewhat of an expert on energy conservation. I realize I am trying hard to maintain status quo. I am afraid of change. I realize I need to meet it head on. But I don’t trust myself. I cannot trust myself to add a touch of cheese, I will smother in cheese like I did with this cheesy potato tomato sandwich. I cannot indulge responsibly, I cannot eat a small square of chocolate. I have to compulsively finish that bar of chocolate. I cannot exercise portion control with biryani. Can anyone? So I joined a gym yesterday. I wanted to hand myself over to the instructor, tell him to work me all-out no matter what I say later, no matter the excuses I give. It was his duty to reduce me by 1/6th. I didn’t want to scare him the first day. I kept my mouth shut. This cheesy potato tomato sandwich is one of those healthy sandwiches that turned out a bit cheesy. If you’re master of your will, you can leave out the cheese. But I wouldn’t recommend that. Nevermind my recommendation if you are master of your will. I smear a thin layer of green chutney spread on bread slices, arrange sliced onions, sliced tomatoes and boiled, sliced potatoes, season with salt and pepper and top with a dash of cheese. I slather (you can lightly brush if you like) butter on both sides of the sandwich...

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...

Thinai Kichadi

I didn’t soak my fruits for the Christmas cake 3 months back although I did buy a batch of figs, raisins and apricots that I can’t seem to find now. I didn’t make Christmas-tree shaped sugar cookies with royal icing. I most certainly didn’t make a gingerbread house. I am not very good at this blogging thing. I am sure many of you are violently nodding your heads at this point now. I’ve always had a hard time keeping up, getting along, doing the ‘in’ thing and having conversations with my kids friends’ mommies. And I am just plain busy. Plain busy as in “Plain-busy”, not “fun-busy” with all the parties I have to go to, not “brag worthy-busy” with my yoga classes and marathon runs, never “socially busy” with all the friends I catch up with. I am plain busy giving my kids a bath, going to work, coming back, picking up their toys, cooking, cleaning, renewing insurance premiums, paying bills, searching for the TV remote, surfing channels hoping for a movie (a good one), ordering serial lights and sizzler plates online and battling with customer care for my undelivered items. “Thoo” – Did someone say? Some may call this lazy. I call it plain busy. Strangely (or not) last year too when the blogging world was bursting with cookies, fruitcakes, cinnamon rolls and festive goodies, my blog was there with a Rava Kichadi. Again I am wrapping up the year with this Thinai Kichadi. What a coincidence!! There is definitely some sign here. That my blog will always stand out, be timeless and different Or 2. That my blog will never be current and happening No voting on what sign it is! Please desist from calling out what sign you think it is. I’d like to think it is 1 and continue blissfully. This Thinai packet that my Maamiyaar brought home from an organic store, spent the first 3 months in a basket at the bottom of the kitchen cupboard. Then my Maamiyaar made a Thinai upma with some of it and the packet that I so thoughtfully fastened with a rubber band moved to the middle shelf and sat amidst the dal and rava jars for 2 more months and got tossed around everytime we took out the dal or rava. One day I decided I wanted to do away with the Thinai packet in a tasty, nice...

Lunch-Box Event Round-up

Did you notice how it’s un-characteristically pleasant here in Chennai (not counting the oppressive humidity just before the rains)? It’s been raining on and off the past week and even yesterday. Nothing like rain to lift the spirits. I really don’t understand these Brits always complaining about overcast skies. We love our rains. We celebrate rains. Our heroines wait for the rains to break into a dance (Oho Megam Vanthadho – Mouna Ragam – Classic, Vaan Megham – Punnagai Mannan – Another Classic. I love love this movie and every Balachander movie). Why not? If only I knew a few more moves, I’d dance too instead of land on my bum like l did last time trying to kick-splash some water on Chinnu. I’ve been busy doing nothing. I slept in the past couple of weeks because there was no Tennis class to wake up for. I’ve been lazy, not done much cooking or writing but I’ve been very very busy as well. I can be lazy and busy at the same time. Can you? I’ve now been packing Hasini’s lunch box for more than a month and I dare say I’ve mastered it. I’ve learnt a few neat tricks and a lot of cheat tricks along the way and I’ll share them on my blog for the benefit of other lazy moms. I really do think the “Lunch-box” topic is absolutely crucial for our economy and I need to have a dedicated space on Foodbetterbegood for this topic and I’ll update the space periodically. For starters I’ve rounded up some really yummy lunch box treats from several of my blogger friends in this post. This lunch-box theme of Kid’s Delight event (Srivalli‘s idea) happened in May this year. I’ll need to thank all my blogger friends who sent in their lunch box recipes to the event. Most of the recipes are now on my to-try list. I am sure they’ll become your kiddo’s favourites too. Steer away from the usual and give these recipes a shot. This lunch-box round-up includes all the usual kiddie favourites of noodles, grilled sandwiches and Thayir sadam plus a variety of variety rices, paniyarams and stuffed parathas. I hope these recipes inspire you to create some delicious lunch-boxes. After all, an empty lunch-box is the best compliment to lunch-packing moms. I hope these lunch-box ideas bring you lots of empty, licked clean lunch-boxes. Not to...

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...

Breaded sweet potato crisps

I waited outside the gate to the kindergarten section at Hasini’s school this morning bracing myself for a fight. I was prepared to talk to the Head-mistress if necessary or stage an online protest, post facebook ads… whatever it took. I came home on Friday last week to a teary eyed Hasini who ran up to me and wailed “Amma, Miss adichitaange ma, thititaange ma, naa school po maaten”(Teacher beat me, scolded me, I don’t want to go to school). She cringed at the mention of school but she could not get it out of her mind either. However much I tried to move the conversation to cheerier things, she circled back to school Me: “2 days leave – Saturday and Sunday. Jolly!” Hasini: “Adhukku apparam school a” (After that is there school?) Me: Lunch pidichidha inniki? (Did you like your lunch today?) Hasini: Nariye yen vecha? (Why did you pack so much?) I could not bear to see my child so forlorn and anxious. She forgot her worries temporarily over the weekend watching Chotta Bheem, splashing around in our huge new inflatable swimming pool (which I spent 2 hours inflating with a hand pump and would have taken another 8 hours but then remembered our vintage vacuum cleaner and managed to finish inflating in 2 minutes) and getting her nails polished. But she woke up today, silent and dull and wouldn’t eat a thing. When the assembly was finally over, I walked over to her classroom and met her teacher determined to be direct, diplomatic, firm and tough all at the same time. I introduced myself and told her how miserable Hasini was. The teacher replied smiling “I know Hasini well. I was just being stern.  I think of them as my own kids..” and I burst into tears. The teacher was mighty embarrassed and had a hard time consoling me. For all my bravado, I am a scaredy-cat when it comes to my kids. I really hope the teacher meant what she said. And I hope Hasini had her lunch. I made these breaded sweet potato crisps that she really enjoyed eating recently (at Mathsya’s buffet) for lunch today along with baby corn pulao. The sweet potato crisps were nice, crisp and tasty. I carefully packed a small portion of pulao and sweet potato crisps so she wouldn’t worry about finishing lunch. Prep time: 20 minsCooking time: 20 minsServes:...

Egg & Cabbage scramble | Muttai Muttagose podimas

I am feeling jittery and overwhelmed. Come next week, I have 2 snack boxes and 2 lunch boxes (3 when Jagan returns from his trip) to pack, a breakfast to make that not everybody hates,  2 spoilt little kids to ready for school, a tennis lesson for Hasini squeezed somewhere in-between and all this by 8:30 am!! Hasini’s school reopens next week. Terror Yuvi will also be starting school next week. Terror Yuvi is a mighty spiderman at home but wails the shrillest in school. I’ll have to be fanatically-prepared and extraordinarily organized none of which I am. And I’ll have to wake up early which my neural network has been unable to ‘get’ in its 30 year history. I tend to round off my age to the nearest lowest round number divisible by 10 to keep things simple and to feel better. There’s no better time to use my Meal planner than now. I created the meal planner at the beginning of the year meaning to use it every week but haven’t used it continuously. Now is the time. I need to plan my menu for the week, stock groceries and produce for the week and also prep them as far I can so that I can pull something out and finish quick. I need quick, healthy and tasty recipes. This Egg & Cabbage scramble is just the thing, perfect for lunch boxes too. It is super quick, tasty and most definitely healthy. My kids love eggs in any form and they love this one too. If you’ve never tried the combination, egg and cabbage may sound weird but try this one and you won’t be disappointed. Serve this scramble alongside variety rice, rolled in rotis with a little ketchup if your kids are the ketchup loving ones, with pooris or sandwiched between toasted bread, mayo and some fresh veggies.   Prep time: 10 mins Cooking time: 15 mins Serves: 4 Ingredients Cabbage – 3 cups shredded or chopped Eggs – 3 Salt to taste Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp Green chillies – 3 or 4 chopped fine Onion – 1 medium chopped fine Oil – 3 tbsp Method 1.      Beat eggs lightly in a small bowl. Add turmeric and salt and beat till frothy. Set aside. 2.      Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan. Add the chopped onions and green chillies and sauté till the onions turn translucent. 3.     ...

Kichadi | South-Indian Breakfast

This kichadi recipe is my mother’s. It works well and is really simple. Just remember the water:rava ratio which is 2:1 and you’ll do well. The South-Indian Kichadi is basically a dressed up upmawith vegetables and a little masala. It is a wonderfully healthy and tasty breakfast option that is sure to please kids and adults alike.  I love kichadi with coconut chutney. It used to be one of my favourite breakfast orders in Bangalore. In Bangalore they call it “Kara Bhath” and one of the few things both kannadigas and Tamilians would agree on (No politics/no offence meant). We can never agree on sambar for example, although I personally enjoy the sweet note in Karnataka style sambar. The kichadi turned out great – soft, fluffy and delicious. Thanks to my mother. I think I’ve told you guys what a great upma maker my mother is. It’s her specialty. We’ve had stretches when she’d make it every night for dinner for even a week in row – Bansi rava upmawith onion and green chillies, Arisi rava upma, Godhumai rava upma, kichadi, Vegetable bath and then Bansi rava upma with whole dry red chillies. “Yenna Upma va!!” – We’d rag her for making the same thing every day even though we enjoyed it. She’s got them all down perfectly and she can replicate the same taste every time she makes them. If somebody ever plans an Upma franchisee chain, she’s the one to catch. Prep time: 10 minsCooking time: 20 minsServes: 5 IngredientsBansi Rava/Sooji/Semolina – 2 cupsMixed vegetables – 1 cup (carrots,beans,peas) cut into tiny piecesOnion – 1 large chopped fineTomato – 1 chopped fineGreen chillies – 3 slit lengthwiseGinger-garlic paste – 1 tbspTurmeric powder – ½ tspSalt to tasteWater – 4 cupsMustard seeds – ½ tspCumin/Jeera – ½ tspCinnamon – 1 inch pieceCloves – 2Curry leaves – from 1 stemOil – 2 tbspGhee – 1 tbspCoriander leaves – a handful chopped Method 1.      Dry roast rava on low heat till a nice aroma emanates – about 5 minutes. Remove on to a plate. 2.      In the same kadai, heat 2 tbsp oil. When hot, add the cinnamon and cloves. Then add mustard seeds and when they splutter add cumin and curry leaves. Throw in the chopped onions and fry till they turn translucent. Add ginger-garlic paste and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the green chillies and tomatoes and fry till...

Hot Chocolate | Hot Cocoa

Hot Chocolate is super-easy to make and is almost a non-recipe. It’s that simple. Make sure to use good quality cocoa and always add a pinch of salt. Salt always ratchets up the chocolate flavour to another level, so don’t skip it. And another important thing to keep in mind is to never let the cocoa boil or it’ll get burnt and you’ll be left with that ugly scorched smell. I made this hot cocoa the morning we were starting on our vacation.  So while the rest of my family were scampering about to stuff in last minute things into the luggage, I was photographing this hot chocolate. I was yet to bathe and dress up my kids. Jagan gave me nasty looks and I just about managed to click a few pictures with the drink in the frame. So as usual the pictures aren’t the greatest but the recipe is a definite keeper and is off Hershey’s cocoa box label. You can serve this hot or cold. Either way it is delicious. I am sending this to Srivalli’s Blogging Marathon theme – Chocolates and to Srivalli’s kid’s potluck party. Prep time: 5 mins Cooking time: 2 mins Makes: 2 Tall glasses Ingredients Dark Cocoa Powder – 4 tsp Salt – a pinch Sugar – 4 tsp Water – ¼ cup Warm Milk – 2 glasses Fresh Cream – 2-3 tbsp (optional) Method 1  .       In a pot combine, cocoa, salt and sugar to the water and heat. Let it come to just under a boil. Keep stirring so that the cocoa and sugar are dissolved and to make sure the cocoa doesn’t burn. Remove from heat when it begins to bubble around the edges. 2  .       Add this cocoa mixture to warm milk and stir to combine well. If using fresh cream, add at this stage and whisk or blend well to combine. Divide the hot chocolate between the two glasses and serve hot or refrigerate for 2-3 hours and then pour into individual glasses and serve cold. Notes: 1  .       I used Fresh cream because I wanted my hot chocolate a bit thicker but it’s up to you. You can skip it all together. Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM#33

Chicken & Bell Pepper stir fry

In the early days of my marriage, when we were in Bangalore less the joint-family, stir fries where the staple. We had stir-fries every-day for dinner. I had a kitchen all to myself (glorious times those) and all I did were stir fries those first few weeks (dumb me). But Stir-fries are the easiest, quickest and sometimes the healthiest options too. We’d have stir-fried vegetables, stir-fried sprouts.. This stir-fried chicken is quick and yummy. This stir-fried chicken was perfect for my little ones. They loved it. Each picture shows you a dynamically changing bowl of stir-fried chicken. Because my kids kept nibbling on the chicken while I tried to click these pictures. There are innumerable ways you can vary this stir fry but just make sure that you adhere to the basic principle of stir-fries. Always stir fry at high heat, while constantly moving the food around. You want your food to cook but you also want to retain the freshness and crunch. So the order in which you add vegetables is important. Capsicum/Bell peppers cook very fast and therefore you add them towards the end. If you were to add carrots or baby corn, you’d have to add them earlier or leave them to cook a little longer. If you want to add mushrooms, cook them separately till all the water evaporates and they’re nicely browned and then combine them towards the end. And don’t ever overcook chicken, it gets stringy and tasteless. I served this stir-fried chicken along with Thai red curry and steamed rice. My kids ate the stir fried chicken as is. You could also serve these alongside Mexican rice, sandwich them between two layers of toast slathered with some mayonnaise or roll them up in a tortilla along with your favourite sauces. Another great way to serve these to kids is to give them little toothpicks to pick out the chicken. My kids recently went crazy using their toothpicks at a restaurant. Try it. Prep time: 5 minsCooking time: 10 minsServes: 3 Ingredients Chicken Breasts – 2 cut into bite sized piecesCapsicum/Bell peppers – ½ cup chopped into bite sized piecesGarlic – 4 pods mincedGinger – 1 inch piece mincedOil – 3 tbspSoy sauce – 1 tspBlack pepper powder – 1 tspSalt to taste Method 1.      Wash and clean chicken. Pat dry and chop into bite sized pieces. 2.      Heat up a pan, add oil...

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