Recipes: Vegetable Upma

This is another typical South Indian recipe which is made across the four southern states. Different families use slightly different ingredients to make it theirs and you can too play around with the basic recipe.

Since S’ uncle’s death ceremony rituals are not yet done, we, because we belong to the same family/clan, are also bound by the rules that govern his own family. This includes eating ‘Satvik‘ food which means that we don’t add onions or garlic to our meals till everything is done. So I made this Upma a Jain version without adding any onions or garlic. I’ve put notes after the recipe should you wish to add them when you make this dish.

Mixed Vegetable Upma


  • 1 cup semolina
  • 1 cup mixed vegetables (I used french beans, carrots, frozen green peas and frozen corn), chopped into small pieces
  • 2 green chillies, chopped
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, chopped
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp split urad dal
  • 4-5 curry leaves
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1 tbsp ghee (optional)
  • 1-litre water


  • In a deepish pan, dry roast the semolina till it starts to emit an aroma. Make sure you stir constantly so it does not brown. Remove into a plate and keep aside.
  • Boil around a litre of water and keep it hot.
  • In the same pan, heat the oil and when it warms, add in the mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds pop, add the urad dal and let it brown. Then add the green chillies and ginger and stir for a couple of seconds.
  • Now add the mixed vegetables and season with salt accordingly and let the vegetables cook.
  • When the vegetables are 80% cooked, add the roasted semolina and stir well to mix. Now add the hot water, a little at a time let the semolina cook well.
  • When the semolina and vegetables are completely cooked, add a little bit more water and check for seasoning. Add a dollop of ghee (if using) and remove from the fire.
  • Serve hot with any chutney of your choice.


  • As I  mentioned earlier, this was made without any onions, so if you want to add onions to your recipe, add finely chopped onions after you add the mustard seeds, urad dal, green chillies and ginger and let it become translucent.
  • In addition to the vegetables I have used, you can also use potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli etc.


Recipes: Parangikkai aka Yellow Pumpkin Kootu

This is another kootu I love eating and until today I had been unable to replicate how my mum makes it. I’ve tried making this earlier but always felt that there was something missing. Then at the end of last year, when my parents came to Singapore, my mum made this one day. I did see how she made it but forgot to take notes. Then on Labour Day when I wanted to finally make it, I needed to get her to take me through the steps. I’ve seen various recipes on the internet, but none seems to be like how my mum makes it. So this may be a family recipe and I for one am glad I managed to take it down for posterity.

Parangikkai (Yellow/Orange Pumpkin) Kootu


  • 2 cups yellow/orange pumpkin, peeled and chopped into small pieces
  • 3/4 cup boiled toor dal
  • 1/2 cup + 2-3 tbsp fresh or frozen grated coconut
  • 6-7 dried red chillies
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp urad dal
  • 1/8 tsp asafoetida powder
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp ghee or oil
  • 2-3 tsps jaggery or sugar (optional)
  • Salt to taste


  • In a pan, heat the ghee or oil and when it warms, add the mustard seeds. When the seeds splutter, add the urad dal and let it brown slightly. Then add 2-3 dried red chillies, after breaking them and the asafoetida powder and finally the 2-3 tbsp coconut and stir well.
  • Keep stirring this coconut mixture till the moisture completely leaves the coconut, and you should get a nice brown and crisp coconut mixture. Remove from pan and keep aside and let it cool.
  • In the same pan, put in the chopped pumpkin and with very little water (just enough to cover and cook the pumpkins), jaggery and salt to taste and cook it till it gets cooked and starts to lose its shape.
  • In the meantime, in a blender, make a paste of the remaining coconut, the remaining dried red chillies and cumin seeds. The paste should be a smooth one, so add water as needed.
  • Make sure the cooked toor dal is completely smooth. If you don’t have a smooth paste like dal, use a hand-held blender to blend it to get the consistency you need.
  • When the pumpkin is cooked, add the dal and the coconut paste and water if needed to bring it to the thickness you desire. Check for seasoning at this point also.
  • When the kootu is completely cooked and the dal and coconut paste mixed in thoroughly, switch off the gas and add the toasted coconut. Mix well and serve.
  • This goes very well with a traditional South Indian meal or if it’s slightly watery, you can also have it with rotis or other Indian flatbreads.


Healthier Chivda

The way BB’s timetable is structured, he does not have a lunch break even though they end school around 3 pm (after starting school at 7:30 am), so when he comes home, he is super hungry and starts rooting for something to eat. We usually have some biscuits at home, but I was on the lookout for something slightly healthier.

I came across a couple of versions of this chivda, which is basically a mixture of various ingredients, traditionally deep fried, but which in this case, was dry roasted and so healthier. I made it and it was a hit, and a large bottle of this chivda didn’t even last a week. As soon as I finish this blog post, I’m off to making a new batch!

Puffed Rice and Flattened Rice Flakes Chivda


  • 2 cups flattened rice flakes (Poha)
  • 4 cups puffed rice (Mumra)

For the seasoning

  • 3 tbsps oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 green chillies, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup raw peanuts
  • 8-10 curry leaves
  • 1 tbsp sugar (optional)
  • Salt to taste


  • In either the stove top or the microwave, dry roast the flattened rice flakes and puffed rice till they are crisp, but not burned. This should take around 10-15 minutes on the stove top and around 5-6 minutes in the microwave.
  • If you are using a microwave, make sure you roast it in increments of 1 minute each and in between each roasting, stir well. In the stovetop, also keep stirring to ensure it does not burn.
  • In a smaller pan, in the meantime, heat the oil, and when the oil becomes warm, add the raw peanuts and fry for a while till the peanuts start to become crisp.
  • When the peanuts start to crisp up, add the other seasoning one by one in this order – mustard seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, green chillies, curry leaves and turmeric powder. When the peanuts are really crisp and ready, add the sugar and salt and remove the pan from the fire.
  • Pour this seasoning over the roasted flattened rice flakes and puffed rice and mix thoroughly. Check for sugar and salt and let it cool completely before storing it in an airtight container. It should easily last for a couple of weeks or so, but I seriously doubt it will last that long.

Recipe: Dum Paneer Kali Mirch

A couple of weeks back, I was searching for recipes to make when I chanced upon this recipe in NDTV food which was a pure paneer recipe. It intrigued me enough that I decided to make it, after making some changes to it based on what I had at home. It was super delicious and it’s a definite keeper at home.

This recipe cooks on dum in the last stage which essentially means cooking it in its own steam and not let the steam escape. I have cooked something on dum on a stovetop for the first time and it was achievement unlocked for me with this recipe!

Dum Paneer Kali Mirch


  • 2 cups paneer, chopped into biggish chunks
  • 2-3 pieces of clove
  • 2-3 pieces of cardamom pods
  • 1 inch piece of cinnamon
  • 2 medium-sized onions, finely chopped
  • 3-4 garlic pods
  • 1 inch piece of ginger
  • 4 green chillies (use a lesser number if you are using the smaller green chillies as they tend to be spicier)
  • 10 pieces of cashew nuts soaked in warm milk for 20 mins and then blended to a smooth paste
  • 1 small cup of beaten yoghurt
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp pepper powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala powder
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp freshly cracked pepper (to garnish)
  • Coriander leaves to garnish


  • Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan and add the onions and on fry them on a medium to low flame. We need to brown the onions, but not burn it, so you need to keep stirring. When nice and brown, cool it, blend into a fine paste and keep aside.
  • Grind the ginger, garlic and green chillies to a fine paste and keep aside.
  • In the same pan, add the remaining oil and fry the dry whole spices – cloves, cinnamon and cardamom and let them fry till the oil becomes fragrant.
  • Now add the browned onion paste and let it fry for around 5 minutes till the oil starts leaving the sides of the pan.
  • At this point, add the ginger-garlic-chilli paste and saute for a few minutes.
  • After this, add the cashew paste and let it cook for a few minutes.
  • Next, add the beaten yoghurt and the dry spices – turmeric powder, chilli powder, pepper powder and garam masala and let it cook.
  • Add some water to bring it to the consistency you want and let it come to a rolling boil.
  • Add the paneer/cottage cheese and salt and any extra water should you need.
  • Now you need to cook it in dum. What it means is that you cook it in its own juice with no steam being able to escape. You seal the pan with aluminium foil and then cover it with the lid of the pan and let it cook on a low flame for 5-10 minutes.
  • Remove the foil, garnish with coriander seeds and cracked pepper and serve hot with any rice dish or even Indian flatbreads. I served this with a simple pulao.

Simply delicious!!

Recipe: Navratan Pulao

A couple of weeks back, this recipe popped up in my Facebook feed. It is a recipe from the Sanjeev Kapoor’s WonderChef brand. I only had one view and when I was wondering what to cook this weekend, I decided to make this and used what I thought was the recipe.

Navratan traditionally means nine gems and so I decided to make this with nine ingredients, including dry fruits and excluding rice and spices.

Navratan Pulao


  • 2 cups basmati rice, washed and soaked for 30 minutes
  • 1 large onion, sliced finely
  • 1 carrot, julienned into slightly thick strips
  • 1 sweet potato, julienned into the same size and shape as the carrot
  • 1/2 cup green peas
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 10-12 cashew nuts
  • 10-12 almonds
  • 1 handful raisins
  • 2 green chillies, chopped into large pieces
  • 1 tsp finely chopped ginger
  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 4-5 cloves
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 4-5 green cardamom pods
  • 2-inch cinnamon
  • Salt to taste


  • Drain the rice and keep aside
  • In a pan, heat the ghee and when warm, fry the cashew nuts, almonds and raisins, one by one, remove, drain and keep aside.
  • In the same pan, with the remaining ghee, add the cumin seeds, cloves, cinnamon, bay leaf and cardamom and stir for a couple of seconds.
  • Now add the chopped chillies and ginger and give it a stir.
  • Add the vegetables and stir well.
  • Now add the washed rice, the fried dry fruits and salt and stir well.
  • If you are cooking this in a rice cooker, pour the rice into the rice cooker, add 3.5 cups of water and check for salt and let it cook.
  • If you are cooking on the stove top, add 2 cups of water and let it cook. Check occasionally and add more water if needed.
  • You can serve this with any gravy based vegetable or even just with a salad and a raita.