Strawberry Milk Shake

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When you hit a grocery store now, you are sure to find some good strawberries and somehow the color of strawberries always tempt me to buy some. During summer, you always look forward to some chilled beverages and drinks that can cool your body. Some of the natural drinks that could cool your body are buttermilk, tender coconut water or watermelon juices like this one here ๐Ÿ™‚

Better than drinking store bought juices, is to make some ‘easy-to make’ fresh juices, milk shakes or smoothies at home and have it fresh. Atleast you can be sure of the amount of sugar thats in it ๐Ÿ˜ One such easy drink is Strawberry milk shake. It would hardly take 5 mins of your time to come up with this simple yet delicious milk shake. Top it with some generous amount of whipped cream and your kids are gonna love it too ๐Ÿ˜‰

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INGREDIENTS:
Note: Cup used for measurement is US measurement cup, 1 cup = 237 ml

Strawberry – 15 nos
Milk(chilled) – 1.5 cups
Whipped cream – 5 tbsp
Vanilla extract – 1/4 tsp
Sugar – to taste(apprx. 5-6 tsp)
Ice cubes(optional) – 5-6 nos

METHOD:

1. Wash and clean the strawberries and slice them into halves.
2. In a blender/juicer, put all the ingredients and blend it till there are no more strawberry chunks in the milk shake.
3. Serve chilled Strawberry milk shake topped with some whipped cream(optional).

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Cherry Achar(Pickled Cherry)

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It is the season of berries and cherries ๐Ÿ™‚ Some of our friends had gone for cherry picking couple of weeks back. And they shared some of their picks with us too ๐Ÿ˜‰ Well, who wouldn’t enjoy relishing freshly picked cherries..they were spotless and so fresh, that you could eat as many as you can..Well, did you know that eating cherries can put you to sleep?? ๐Ÿ˜ฎ Ya, so if you know of someone who finds it difficult to sleep, like DD ;-), give some cherries at night and they will have a sound sleep.

We finished our cherries that our friends had shared with us, the very same day, they gave it to us. But that left us wanting for more fresh cherries. Guess what?!!! We ended up buying a lot more of cherries from the store. And since the expert wasn’t with DD ๐Ÿ˜› , he failed to recognize that the cherries he bought were over ripe. They were too many in number too ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I didn’t want to waste all those cherries. I had to come up with some innovative idea of using up these cherries, which I would otherwise end up putting in trash!!! So I thought, why not try making some achar with these cherries. It is a good way of preserving the cherries and being Indians, we enjoy eating achar with absolutely anything!!! I loved this pickle and for a change, I made it sweet and sour. Of course, the sweetness from cherries would have been enough, but I had to put some jaggery to bring in that flavor I wanted ๐Ÿ™‚ I am glad I could increase the shelf life of those cherries ๐Ÿ˜‰

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INGREDIENTS:

Cherries – 600 gms
Mustard seeds – 1/4 tsp
Fenugreek powder – 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves – 2 strands
Garlic – 15-20 pods, sliced
Green chilli – 2 nos, slit
Red chilli powder – 1 – 1.5 tsp(depending on how spicy you want the pickle to be. I used 1.5 tsp)
Kashmiri red chilli powder – 2.5 tsp
Jaggery(grated) – 2 tsp
Vinegar – 4 tbsp
Oil – 3 tbsp
Salt – to taste (apprx. 1.5-2 tsp)

METHOD:

1. Wash the cherries and wipe them with a kitchen towel to dry them up. Keep aside.
2. Heat oil in a saucepan and put mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds splutter, put curry leaves and let it splutter. Reduce the flame to medium.
3. Put sliced garlic and slit green chillies. Saute till the garlic turns light brown.
4. Now add the fenugreek powder, red chilli powder and kashmiri red chilli powder. Saute for few seconds. Make sure that the red chilli powder doesn’t burn.
5. Add 1 cup of water and let it boil. Add the grated jaggery into the water and let it boil till the jaggery melts.
6. Now put the cherries and salt. Cook in medium high flame, till the cherries soften up and start to tear up easily.
7. Remove from flame and pour the vinegar into the saucepan and give a good mix. At this point, do a taste check and add more salt or vinegar per your taste.
8. After the pickle cools down, transfer it into a jar and store in the refrigerator.

Serve with rice or with absolutely anything whenever you want to have a spiced up side with sweet and sour element!!!

Tomato Rice

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Tomato rice or thakkali sadam is another one of the most popular flavored rice in South Indian cuisine. There are 2 kinds of tomato rice. One is spiced with garam masala, which is what I have made here. There is another kind, mainly made in Tamil Nadu, which uses some typical South Indian spices/seasoning. I will share that recipe another time.

This was the only tomato rice I knew till I came to US ๐Ÿ™‚ and was definitely a dish I liked a lot. My mom would make it very rarely, and so each time she would make it, it was one of those special dishes. The ‘special’ tag was given also because of the deadly combination she would serve it with. Wondering what it was??? Chilli chicken!!! Ya, you read it right ๐Ÿ˜‰ I have never heard about this combination anywhere else. Tomato rice with chilli chicken. I don’t even know how she came up with this combination. Somehow it clicked for us. Not just for us! I remember, when I used to go home for vacation from hostel, my roommates and friends would wait for my return. Tomato rice and chilli chicken was something my mom would pack for me on my return journey, so that I could have it for dinner. I remember one time, I got a big vessel full of tomato rice and lots of chilli chicken upon popular demand from my friends ๐Ÿ˜€ And that night was a feast. We were left finger licking after literally fighting over the food ๐Ÿ˜‰ Those days were awesome. I am getting nostalgic ๐Ÿ™‚ I miss my friends ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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INGREDIENTS:

Basmati rice – 2 rice cups
Tomato – 4 nos medium sized, sliced
Onion – 2 nos. small sized, sliced
Ginger garlic paste – 1 tsp
Green chilli – 2 nos, chopped
Cinnamon – 1/2 inch piece
Cloves – 5-6 nos
Bay leaf – 2 nos
Cardamom – 2 nos
Black peppercorns – 7-8 nos
Red chilli powder – 3/4 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves – 1 sprig
Coriander leaves – 5-6 strands, chopped
Salt – to taste(apprx. 1.5 tsp) – 1/2 for rice and 1 for masala
Oil/Ghee – 5 tbsp

METHOD:

1. Cook the rice(add apprx. 1/2 tsp salt and 2-3 drops of oil while cooking rice) and keep it aside.
2. Heat oil/ghee in a sauce pan. Add the whole garam masala(cinnamon, cloves, bay leaf, cardamom, black peppercorns) to the oil and let it splutter.
3. Put curry leaves, onion, ginger garlic paste, green chillis and the remaining salt into the saucepan and stir well. Cook till the onions turn light pink.
4. Then add the red chilli powder and turmeric powder and saute. Cook for few seconds.
5. Add tomatoes and cook covered till the tomatoes cook well in medium flame. The tomatoes should leave all juices and crush completely.
6. Once the tomatoes are cooked and the cooked masala looks like a paste, add the cooked rice into the saucepan and mix it well lightly with the masala. The masala should be coated well on the rice. But if you mix it hard, the rice will break and will loose its texture.
7. Remove from heat and garnish with coriander leaves.

Serve with chilli chicken or omelette ๐Ÿ™‚

Lemon Rice

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Lemon rice is a delicious South Indian rice dish that you can easily put together if you are in a hurry or if you are running out of your pantry stock ๐Ÿ™‚ Seriously, if you have some rice and lime at home, you can easily put together this simple dish. It is hot and sour and very flavorful rice item which would take less than 10 mins to prepare if you have some leftover rice. Since this dish is mainly seasoned with Lime juice and oil, it doesn’t spoil easily too. So this can be a good option to consider if you are one among those people who likes/prefers to eat homemade food (aka comfort food), when you go for road trips or are set for a journey.

Also, this dish doesn’t call for any side dish to go with it. You could just relish it with some fried appalams or papad. However, since this dish is little dry in nature, I prefer to have it with a side condiment. I had never thought of it before, but one day when my colleague got it with Chicken 65, I absolutely loved the combination. So now when I make lemon rice, I prefer to have it with chicken 65 or pepper chicken(dry) or something of similar kind ๐Ÿ™‚ You could make you own combination to go with it. Enjoy this simple, yet flavorful rice ๐Ÿ™‚

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INGREDIENTS:
Note: Cup used for measurement is US measurement cup, 1 cup = 237 ml

Rice(Raw rice/Basmati) – 1.25 cups
Lime – 1 no. large and juicy or 3 tbsp
Mustard seeds – 1/4 tsp, heaped
Cumin seeds – 1/4 tsp, heaped
Asafetida – 1/4 tsp
Chana dal/Bengal gram – 1 tsp
Urad dal/Black gram – 1/4 tsp, heaped
Curry leaves – 1 sprig
Dry red chilli – 2 nos
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Green chilli – 4 nos, chopped
Salt – to taste (apprx. 1/2 tsp)
Oil – 3 tbsp

METHOD:

1. Cook rice and keep aside in a bowl. While cooking the rice, put 2 drops of oil or 1 tsp lime juice so that the grains don’t stick to each other.
2. In a pan, heat oil. Put mustard seeds and let it splutter. Then add cumin seeds, chana dal(bengal gram), urad dal(black gram) and dry red chilli. Saute till the dals turn light brown.
3. Then add curry leaves, green chilli, asafetida and turmeric powder and saute till the raw smell goes off and remove from heat. Put the contents of the pan to the rice bowl.
4. Mix lime juice and salt well so that salt gets evenly spread to the rice.
5. Add the lime juice also to the rice bowl and give it all a good mix so that everything is spread evenly with the rice.

Serve with papad or Chicken 65 ๐Ÿ˜‰

Konju Peera (Shrimp with grated coconut)

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Konju Peera: Konju malayalam means prawns/shrimp and Peera is grated coconut. This dish is one of the easiest dish I have ever learnt to make. Peera pattichadu/vattichadu is not so common dish towards northern Kerala. Since it is not a dish made in my home ever, I wasn’t keen on making it also. However, one day I just happened to go through some cooking video of ‘Netholi(Anchovy) peera’. Looking at the ease of preparation method and the time it would take to cook this, I decided to try making it once and see how I would like it. By the way, Netholi Peera is a more common dish than Konju Peera ๐Ÿ™‚ The only reason I made Konju peera is because, I didn’t have anchovy in my fridge but had shrimp. And when I decide to make or do something, I have to do it then and there – Impatience!!! My loved ones aren’t very proud of this character on mine ๐Ÿ˜›

Anyway, long story short, I made this dish within 30 mins of watching that cooking video ๐Ÿ˜€ Such a traditional and authentic dish and it tasted yummmmm!!! This was my first ever ‘peera’ experience and this dish has definitely taken a place in my heart ๐Ÿ˜‰ It is a very simple dish with very simple, yet most authentic Kerala flavors ๐Ÿ™‚ It goes very well as a side dish with rice.

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INGREDIENTS:
Note: Cup used for measurement is US measurement cup, 1 cup = 237 ml

Shrimp/Prawns/Konju/Chemmeen – 100 gms or 12 large shrimps
Grated coconut – 1/2 cup
Ginger – 1/2 inch, chopped
Shallots – 3 nos, sliced
Curry leaves – 1 strand
Green chilli – 3 nos, slit
Kudampuli/Gambooge – 1.5 nos
Turmeric powder – 1/3 tsp
Red chilli powder – 1/4 tsp
Coconut oil – 1 tbsp
Salt – to taste (apprx. less than 1/2 tsp)

METHOD:

1. Wash and clean the shrimp/prawns.
2. Put all the ingredients mentioned above except for coconut oil, in a sauce pan or meen chatti(clay pot) and give it a good mix with your hands or a spoon.
3. Heat the sauce pan and pour little water(apprx. 1/4 cup) and let it boil.
4. Once it starts to boil, bring the flame to low heat and cook covered for about 10 mins(till the shrimp/prawns/konju is cooked).
5. Pour the coconut oil to the sides of the sauce pan/meen chatti and give a light mix. Do not stir the Konju peera too much. Remove from heat.

Serve with rice ๐Ÿ™‚

Mango Ice-cream

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In India, Mango is considered the king of all fruits. In different states/regions, you get different varieties of mango. If you want to get the best mangoes, summer is the time for it. Some varieties of mangoes that are available in India are irresistible ๐Ÿ˜€ They literally melt in your mouth and are sweeter than honey!!! One thing I really miss in the US is good mangoes ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

I haven’t met anyone so far who doesn’t like Mangoes. So its always safe to make any form of Mango dessert/dish like Mango lassi, mango pudding, mango ice-cream or even mango cheesecake. I am glad that we get good mango pulps in the stores. As I mentioned earlier, in India, Mango is the King of all fruits and among all those different varieties of mangoes, Alphonso holds the prime place! This easy ice-cream uses alphonso mango pulp as its main ingredient. Super easy to make and guaranteed compliments from anyone who relishes this ice-cream. It would take 10 mins of your time to come up with this mouth watering dessert that is just perfect during summer! Wondering why am I posting this during winter then??? Well, I think I myself am confused ๐Ÿ˜‰ Having said that, no season is a bad season for such awesome ice-creams ๐Ÿ˜›

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INGREDIENTS:

Alphonso Mango pulp – 825 gm
Whipped cream(topping) – 225 gm
Condensed milk – 2 tbsp
Alphonso Mango(optional) – 1 no, cubed into small pieces

METHOD:

1. In a bowl, mix mango pulp, condensed milk and whipped cream. Whisk/Mix it lighly till the ingredients mix well.
2. Transfer it to a container in which you want to freeze the ice-cream(should be air-tight container).
3. Freeze it for an hour. Put the mango cubes into the ice-cream mix and give a light stir. Note: Skip this step if you are not using mango pieces.
4. Continue for freeze for 3-4 hours before serving.

Oats Puttu

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Puttu is one of the traditional breakfast items in Kerala. I havenโ€™t heard of any other place which makes this dish. It is usually made of rice flour and can be briefly described as Steamed rice cake. But this recipe uses oats to replace the traditional rice puttu. Keeping the health benefits of oats in mind, this is a good option to make for breakfast. I got introduced to Oats puttu, when my friend told me about it. She told me it is very easy to make and is very tasty with Kadala curry. I was tempted to try it. And voila! She was right!! ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you Moneesha for sharing the idea ๐Ÿ˜‰

Both me and DD donโ€™t like puttu. I used to hate those days when mom would make puttu. I used to feel its soo dry that it wonโ€™t go down my throat. Though I never thought I would โ€˜everโ€™ make puttu in my entire life, coming from Kerala, I had the Puttu maker handy, just in case ๐Ÿ˜› Ya, thatโ€™s right, you need a special mould for making puttu. Even if you donโ€™t have the traditional pot for it, you should atleast have the cylindrical mould. And you could place it on top of a cooker. Am glad I had it handy. Coz after making this oats puttu, I know for sure that my Puttu maker is not going to be unused ๐Ÿ˜‰

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INGREDIENTS:
Note: Cup used for measurement is US measurement cup, 1 cup = 237 ml

Oats – 2.5 cups
Water – 1/2 cup apprx.
Salt – to taste(apprx. 3/4 tsp)
Cardamom powder – 1/4 tsp
Shredded coconut – 6 tbsp

METHOD:

1. Pulse the oats in a blender to coarsely grind it.
2. In a bowl, mix oats, salt and cardamom powder well. Sprinkle water little by little over the oats mix and mix well with hands. When you add water, note the below point.
Note: The amount of water added to the oats mix is very important for the puttu to come out well. Extra water would make the puttu very sticky and hard. Less water will not let the puttu to hold together. When you make a ball with the oats mix, the ball should retain its shape. So add only as much water as is required for the oats mix to hold together. The mix should be moist.
3. To make puttu, boil some water in the puttu pot. Meanwhile, layer the puttu kutti(cylindrical shaped mould). Put the perforated disc on the mould and add 1 tbsp grated coconut, then put the oats mix till the puttu kutti is half full. Add another tbsp of grated coconut. Fill the puttu kutti again with the oats mix. Again put a layer of grated coconut.
4. Close the lid of the puttu mould and fix it on the pot of boiling water. Since the water is already boiling, steam it only for 3-4 minutes. When you see the steam coming out from the lid of the mould, you know that your puttu is ready.
5. Open the lid and slowly slide the puttu onto a plate by pushing it with a skewer or something.

Serve with Kadala(Whole Bengal gram) curry or banana.