Cherry Achar(Pickled Cherry)


It is the season of berries and cherries 🙂 Some of our friends had gone for cherry picking couple of weeks back. And they shared some of their picks with us too 😉 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?? 😮 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 😛 , he failed to recognize that the cherries he bought were over ripe. They were too many in number too 😦 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 🙂 I am glad I could increase the shelf life of those cherries 😉



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)


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!!!

Veg Uthappam


Uthappam can be described as a pizza made of rice flour topped with your choice of toppings. It can be visualized as a savory pancake with some toppings too :-P. It is again a South Indian breakfast which is a popular item in all the tiffin type restaurants like Saravana bhawan, Uduppi etc. Uthappam is made using regular dosa batter. And though dosa was literally the breakfast in our home as far back as I can remember, Uthappam was never a part of our menu. We used to have it once in a while, during our road trips, when we make a stopover at one of those ‘thattu kadas’ (roadside fast food stalls) 🙂

One summer break, we were in our native place at my uncle’s house. And one morning, for breakfast, my ammayi(aunt) presented ‘Mama special breakfast’. And that was the first time I had a homemade uthappam and it tasted pretty good. We all praised his cooking talents and saw how easily he was making the uthappams 🙂 Well, after that, I have never had uthappams from restaurants. When I feel like having an uthappam, I make it at home 😀 The good part about uthappam is that you could customize it to your taste. That is, you could put the toppings of your choice. It could be just onions or onion and tomato uthappam. If you want to eat more vegetables with your uthappam, you could also try putting some grated carrots to your uthappam 🙂 Doesn’t it sound very simple?? Believe me, it is as simple to make it as it sounds 🙂


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

Dosa Batter –click for recipe – 3-4 cups
Onion – 1/2 of a small sized one, chopped
Tomato – 1/2 of a large sized one, chopped
Bell pepper/Capsicum – 1/4 of a medium sized one, chopped
Green chilli – 1 no, chopped
Coriander leaves – 4-5 stands, chopped
Salt – to taste(apprx. 1/4 tsp)
Oil – as needed


1. In a bowl, mix all the ingredients except, dosa batter and oil and give a good mix.
2. Heat the dosa tava/griddle. To check if your tava is at the right temperature, sprinkle some water drops on the tava and it should sizzle away and dry up immediately.
3. Grease the tava lightly with oil. Pour 1 ladle of dosa batter to the tava. Do not spread it like you would otherwise do for regular dosa. The dosa should be thick. Lightly spread it to look like a pancake.
4. Now, take a spoonful of the mixed vegetables and top it on the dosa so that it is spread out evenly. Gently press the toppings to the dosa.
5. Cover the dosa with a deep steel/glass lid/cover and cook in medium high flame till the dosa cooks through and it gets a light brown color at the bottom.
6. With an oil applicator, grease the top of the dosa and vegetables with little oil.
7. Turn the dosa over and let it cook for few seconds till the onions(and other veg) and dosa brown a little and get slightly crispy. This is why greasing the vegetables and the top portion of the dosa becomes important. If you do not grease it, the dosa will stick to the tava and the vegs won’t get the desired texture.

Serve with sambar and coconut chutney 🙂

Tomato Rice


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 🙂 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 😉 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 😀 And that night was a feast. We were left finger licking after literally fighting over the food 😉 Those days were awesome. I am getting nostalgic 🙂 I miss my friends 😦



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


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 🙂

Lemon Rice


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 🙂 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 🙂 You could make you own combination to go with it. Enjoy this simple, yet flavorful rice 🙂


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


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 😉

Uzunnu Vada(Medhu Vada)


Uzhunnu vada/Medhu vada is a deep fried snack made of black gram. It could be considered a savory doughnut 🙂 Whatever said, it is one of my favorite snack. This goes absolutely well with coconut chutney or sambar. For Sambar vada, you should dip/immerse your medhu vada completely in a bowl of sambar. Similar to how you would eat Mini idli and Sambar. Another way to relish this deep fried doughnut is with yogurt/curd. That combination is called Dahi wada or Thairu(meaning curd) vada.

In our childhood, mom used to make this often. It always amazed me how the hole came in the vada 😉 I din’t know for a long period how to get those round, crispy fritters with a hole in the center. And when I learnt how, for a long time, I was scared to take my palms near the hot oil for dropping the vada. For those of you, who are scared like me to do this frightful task :-P, let me give you a good alternative. If you have a long flat spoon/serveware, replace it for your palm. Instead of dipping your palm in the water bowl, dip the flat surface of the spoon. Put the batter on the spoon. With you finger make the hole, and then slowly drop/slide the vada into the oil. That way, you don’t have to be scared if the oil splashes. Isn’t it a brilliant idea 😀 Well, it definitely helps me!!! Good luck for getting those perfect vadas. If you ask me, the only trick mainly is the thickness of your batter. You should grind the urad dal with as less water as possible. Seriously, that’s the only way to get non-oily, crispy vadas.


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

Whole urad dal/black gram – 2.5 cups
Black peppercorns- 1 tsp
Curry leaves – 1 spring, finely chopped
Onion – 1/2 no, chopped
Green chilli – 3 nos, finely chopped
Ginger – 1 inch piece, finely chopped
Salt – to taste(apprx. 1.25 tsp)
Water apprx. 1.25 cups
Oil – enough for frying the vada(apprx. 2-3 cups)
Note: Some recipes call for baking soda. I haven’t used baking soda because, it might make the vada more fluffy, but it also makes it very oily.

1. Soak urad dal for 2-3 hours. Then grind the urad dal into a smooth thick paste in a blender/mixie using as little water as possible.
Note: Adding more water could result the vada to absorb more oil. Also, it would be difficult to put the hole in the vada if the batter is watery
2. In a deep kadai, heat oil for frying the vada. The oil should be heated well.
3. In the meantime, mix black peppercorns, curry leaves, onion, green chilli, ginger and salt to the batter and mix well.
Note: Add onion right before frying the vadas. Else onion would leave out some water and the batter could turn watery
4. Keep a bowl of water next to you before shaping the vada and dropping it into the oil.
5. This is the tricky part. To make a hole in the vada, first wet you palm by dipping your palm into the bowl of water. I would wet my left palm since I am right-handed 🙂
6. Take a spoonful of batter into your palm. Dip your index finger into the bowl of water and using that finger, put a hole in the batter.
7. Then slide the vada into the hot oil. Fry the vada in medium high flame. Fry till its golden brown on either sides.
8. Place the vada on a kitchen towel for few mins to drain excess oil.
9. Repeat steps 5-7 for each vada. Remember to wet your palms each time, to prevent vada from sticking to your palm when trying to slide it to the oil.

Yummy crispy uzhunnu vadas are ready to be served with coconut chutney or sambar. Or you could make it into Thairu vada/Dahi vada.

For Thairu vada/Dahi vada, take some yogurt/curd. Add salt as needed. Pour it on the vada and sprinkle some red chilli powder for taste.

Mini Idli ‘n Sambar


Mini Idli and Sambar is a killer combination. I had never seen mini idlis till I came to US and went to Saravana Bhavan with my colleagues. As an appetizer they ordered the 14 piece mini idlis and I thought I wouldn’t like it. But to my surprise, I loved it. The small idlis looked so cute. And when served with a bowl of delicious sambar and ghee, mouth is watering already 😛 Ever since, I have always ordered this appetizer when I go there.

Though I had bought idli plates, I had never used it. To be honest, I wasn’t a great fan of idli ever. I always thought it is to be eaten only when you are sick 😉 But now, I wanted to buy mini idli plates. I went around all the Indian grocery stores and finally got what I wanted. Though I am not a fan of idli, I somehow like mini idlis 🙂 But you should get your idlis right. It should be soft and fluffy. If it is hard, then it won’t taste good.

See my post on Idli to get those perfect soft idlis. I have seen, with idli and dosa batter, many people use many variations to get it right. I also had to go through some experiments, to finally get my perfect batter. Whatever method you follow, as long as it works for you, thats all that matters 😉



Idli Batter – as needed
(click for Idli batter recipe)
Sambar – as needed
(click for Sambar recipe / click for Palakkadan Sambar recipe )
Ghee – 1 tsp


1. In steamer, keep some water for boiling.
2. Grease the mini idli plates with oil.
3. Using a spoon, pour/drop the idli batter into the moulds. Stack the plates.
4. Once the water boils, lower the idli plates into the steamer and steam it for 4-5 mins.
5. Once ready, let the idli cool down a little. Using a knife or sharp spoon, scoop out the idlis into a plate.
6. In a bowl, take hot sambar and add ghee into it.
7. Before serving, put the mini idlis into the sambar bowl.

Serve hot!



Sambar is one of my all time favorites. So is it for DD 🙂 From my childhood, this is one thing that I have consistently liked. Usually in my home, mom mostly prepares Palakkadan Sambar. Taste-wise, no doubt I like that better, but when it comes to ease of making it, the regular sambar is the best. Especially because I just make it all in one shot, in pressure cooker. There would be rarely any South Indian family that doesn’t have sambar atleast once a week 🙂 These days, things are a little different though, specially when you are in other countries 😛

Though there are various curries that could be used with rice like rasam, moru, dal etc. etc., according to me, there is no replacement for sambar. Till I met people from other states, I was thinking that Sambar is made of assorted vegetables and thats the only way it could be made. But from friends and colleagues, I came to know that they make Drumstick sambar, Raddish sambar, Okra sambar etc. Its individual preference, but atleast the place I come from, Sambar is a lovely combination of lentils and all kinds of assorted vegetables. The aroma of sambar can awaken your pallets. The best part is that it is such a healthy dish to have. I don’t know why I didn’t post this recipe earlier 😮


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

Toor dal(yellow dal) – 1 cup
Shallots – 4-5 nos
Asafoetida – 1/4 tsp
Tamarind – 1 inch sized ball
(If you are using tamarind extract – 1 tsp)
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder – 3/4 tsp
Sambar powder – 1 heaped tsp
Tomato – 1 no, cubed
Assorted vegetables cut lengthwise:
Carrot – 1/2 no
Drumsticks – 1 no
Green Beans – 9-10
Raw banana – 1 no, small sized
Baby brinjal – 2 nos
Salt – to taste (apprx. 1 tsp)
Coconut Oil – 3 tbsp
Mustard seeds – 1/4 tsp
Dry red chilli – 2 nos
Curry leaves – 2 strands
Coriander leaves – 3 strands


1. Soak toor dal in water for sometime, say 30 mins. Boil it in cooker and give 3 whistles. Mash the cooked dal to form a thick smooth paste.
(For those who do not know how much quantity of water to use to boil the dal, use 1:1.5 ratio of dal vs water)
2. Soak the tamarind in warm water for few mins and extract the tamarind juice.
3. In the same cooker, to the dal, add shallots, asafoetida, tamarind, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, sambar powder, tomato, all the cut vegetables, 1 spring curry leaves and salt. Add 3-4 cups of water also.
4. Close the pressure cooker and cook sambar in high flame. After 2 whistles, keep in simmer/low flame for 5 mins.
5. Once all the steam escapes, open the cooker and mix the sambar well. At this time, you can adjust the consistency of the sambar by either adding more water or boiling it for some more time to make it thicker.
6. In a pan, heat coconut oil. Add mustard seeds, let it splutter. Then add broken red chillies and curry leaves to it. Switch off the stove and add this tempering to the sambar.
7. Garnish with some chopped coriander leaves and sambar is ready in no time.

Serve with Idli / Mini Idli / Dosa or rice!