Friday, 29 May 2015

Aai's easy Uttapam's

Well, as most of you know by now about our new launch of Tshirts for animal lovers a week ago under the name "The Woofy Tales", the branding is keeping me quite busy! Its all a "two-people show" since it is just a start-up! So, me and hubby have to do the publicity, marketing, track orders, ship them, click pictures, edit and the list goes on.. Managing all this and also our little paw-friends that i board gave me very little time to stand in the kitchen and cook some elaborate dishes! So mostly it would be a quick daal-chawal with the pickles (a whole lot of them i had mentioned in my earlier post, of which i still have to click pictures and blog about) or a simple stir fried sabzi and roti or at times, just a snack item like bhel or some heavy salad! Also, the temperature is rising here day by day , and even if i cook a small meal, I am always drenched in sweat! So that gives me even less motivation to stand in the kitchen for long hours!

Our logo 

So, to eat light in summers, our meals are small and we top it up with some milkshake or ice cream sundaes or Popsicles. Just like this watermelon Popsicle which remains our favourite. I make this with just 4 ingredients : Watermelon juice, lemon juice, black salt and sugar or honey if needed.

The recipe i am sharing here is one that i have learnt from my mother. She used to make these quick delicious uttapams with the readymade dosa batter. This recipe comes to my rescue when i have to spend less time in the kitchen, such as past few days! This is quite easy to make and the addition of red chilli powder is totally optional. I have made it in 2 ways - one just as my mom made it with onions, tomatoes and red chilli powder and the second one with green chillies, onions, tomatoes and cumin powder! You can even add corriander leaves if you like.


Readymade dosa batter - As needed. We normally use 1/4 kg  (a small packet that we buy from the store)
Onion - 1 small chopped
Tomato - 1 small chopped
Red chilli powder - according to taste (optional)
Green chilli - 1 chopped finely
Cumin powder - 1 tsp (or as needed)
Oil - 3-4 tbsp
Salt - to taste


Heat a non stick tava. 

Add little water to the dosa batter to make it to desired consistency. The batter should not be too thick nor too thin (like the normal dosa consistency). To make uttapams, it's best to have the batter a little on the thicker side but of pouring consistency. The readymade batter is too thick, hence this step. If your batter is already of pouring consistency, then skip this step.

Add salt to the batter as needed.

Put about 1-2 tsp of oil on the tava. Now, with a laddle ful, spread the batter on the greased hot tava in a circular motion to make the uttapam round in shape.

Reduce the flame and put little oil on the sides of the uttapam. Add about 1-2 tbsp of onions, tomatoes and red chilli powder or green chillies and cumin powder as needed.

When one side is cooked and becomes brown, flip it on the other side carefully and cook the other side as well.

Please note to keep the flame to minimum or else the toppings will burn and become black. It will give a burnt look and flavour.

Remove it in a serving plate and serve along with Naralachi chutney .

This dish is absolutely easy, quick and makes a perfect breakfast recipe or a tiffin recipe too. It is an absolute favourite of my hubby and taste delicious with the coconut chutney (Link mentioned above).

Happy Cooking and wish you all a great weekend ahead :)

Monday, 25 May 2015

A visit to the Sulabh International Museum of Toilets

"What??", "A museum for toilets", "Are you serious", "You are joking" - Those are the exclamations i heard when i spoke to friends about having visited a Toilet museum. To be honest, i had surprised eyes and a little laugh (i wonder if it was for appreciation or satirical) when i read about this one too! But a visit to this place would surely change your point of view about the work this charitable organisation is doing. 

We always talk about food!!! What to cook, where to eat, which new dish to try but always shy away (or rather feel disgusted) to talk about health and sanitation. There is this famous Modern Toilet restaurant in Taiwan we all have heard about but our very own Amdavadi (as they call it) people are no behind. 

According to scoopwhoop, Nature's Toilet cafe in Ahmedabad is India's first ever toilet-themed restaurant that has a toilet garden around it which boasts of a collection of more than twenty lavatories and urinals which date as far back as the 1950s. The signboard outside the loo carries the sign "Haash!". The founder Jayesh Patel is the son of Ishwarbhai Patel who established the toilet garden. He was strangely called Baby Toilet because of this weird legacy.

A replica of two-storey toilet to save space. It was said that the upper class people used to go for toilets upstairs and the lower class people downstairs.

A replica of two-storey toilet to save space. It is believed that the upper toilet was used by upper class people and lower toilets for the lower class.

Mobile toilets
Our recent visit to this Museum in Delhi had our driver astonished. Thinking us to be some wierd people wasting time and having nothing else to do but to visit a museum of toilets, he dropped us and happily took a nap in the AC of the car. At first, it just looks like a display of toilets, and some newspaper cuttings explaining the toilet evolution from 2500 BC to present. But when the staff came over to explain us each of it in detail, our interest grew more intense and we happily spent about an hour in that small space of museum.

There were some quirky toilet posters on the wall, writings on the wall about the toilet story with reference to India's Harrappan civilization, a whole lot of knick knacks and collection of information which wouldn't have made sense to us without the staff's detailed explanation. The history behind each model of toilet is fascinating. On the outside, there were a few specimens of Indian styled toilets used in rural India. The whole purpose of this is to educate people about using toilets without wasting water or space and using the excreta to generate cooking gas, electricity, fertilizer etc. They also have a small lab facility, a biogas plant and shortly are coming up with a college which will have courses about boosting sanitation in the country.

A toilet designed as a throne for the king Louis XIV who used to attend matters while doing  nature's call, as was said the King took a lot of time to release excreta (2 hours or so). To save on the time, this was invented.

A replica of loo designed by French Royalty that marked an English classic
We also learnt about the World's Biggest Toilet -cum-bath complex at Shirdi in Maharashtra, where people come in large numbers for worship and meditation. It has an aesthetically exquisite and visually appealing, colourful toilet-cum-bath complex, spread over an area of over two acres at a total cost of Rs. 1.53 crores.

A replica of the World's Biggest toilet-cum-bath service at Shirdi

"The toilet complex provides a variety of facilities to its users including 120 WC's, 108 bathing cubicles, 28 special toilets, six dressing rooms, rows of urinals, immaculately laid out to avoid congestion. The complex is capable of serving approximately 30,000 users everyday. The self-sustaining complex has three excreta based, biogas-generating Sulabh plants which provide electricity to the entire complex for illumination and water heating. The water discharged from the complex is recycled for irrigating the beautifully laid out green area. To provide a sylvan touch to the complex a variety of trees have also been planted all around the area."

(Source : Sulabh International website)

Travel toilet which was also used as a table. The excreta was removed in the bucket and then discarded

Modern Tent toilet

So, this museum surely is a must visit for people who like to know about history, students learning health and sanitation, NGO's, people studying urban/rural planning and architecture or just someone like us who find different things like these entertaining as well as informative both.

Some useful information

You all must be wondering, what's a museum trip post doing in a cooking blog? But well, we eat and we excrete... all of us, each one of us, don't we? Its as simple as that! Just as food is important in our life, a clean/neat toilet is as important too. This post is just a little contribution to spread awareness about the "Swacch Bharat Abhiyaan" by our Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi. It is not only important to raise awareness in rural India but also in our own homes! I have seen some good people from good families throwing dirt (chocolate wrappers or cold drink cans) on the roads from their cars or their homes. Of late, i read an article that said "Mount Everest of Excrement". People like us go for trekkings and outings in the wild and leave our human waste there without bothering to clean it up. The waste piles up over years under the snow, giving off unpleasant odour. 

So before we start making this world into a dump of garbage and waste, it's time we do something! I saw a very beautiful video recently of Julia Roberts. Here is the link :

Yes, The nature doesn't need us! We need the Nature!!! There are so many things we can do on our own small level. We can make them as fun activities with kids, so they get educated too.

Its time we act, and we act now!!!

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Peru chi chatni : Guava chutney

In my last post of Cabbage Cake , I had mentioned that i served it along with "Peru chi chatni". Peru is guava. Though this is not the season for the fruit, and it's raining mangoes in the market these days, i am anyways posting the recipe before the pictures go in some "lost" folder in the laptop :)

If you are looking for some great Mango recipes, you can check :
1. Mango Kulfi
2. Amrakhand (Mango shrikhand)
3. Instant Mango pickle
4. Methamba

So, there are times when you are bored of your regular green chutney and you want to add a twist to it! I have tried the corriander chutney, corriander mint chutney, mint chutney, mixing these chutneys with curd and sometimes with spices, or sometimes with mayonnaise!!! But the last time when i had guavas in the refrigerator, i decided to try the guava chutney and i was surprised to see the results! I made this chutney in 2 ways :

1. I added just a hint of guava and more of corriander and mint leaves to the chutney 
2. I took more quantity of guava and less of corriander skipping mint this time.

Both ways, it tastes absolutely great and i would want all of you to try it out, once the guavas are back in season :)


Corriander leaves - 1 cup
Mint leaves - 1/2 cup
Guava - 1/2
Lime juice - 1 tsp (adjust according to taste)
Cumin seeds or cumin powder - 1 tsp
Green chillies - 1-2
Black salt - to taste


Wash the mint leaves and corriander leaves well.

Wash guava, and remove the seeds aside. Use only the outer portion of the guava discarding the seeds. Chop the guava roughly into small pieces.

Put all the ingredients in a mixer and grind to a smooth paste adding little water at a time till it reaches desired consistency. Don't make it too runny.

You can have this chutney as it is or try mixing it with curd or mayonnaise for a different taste.

The other method in which i made the chutney is similar but the ingredients are as follows : 

Guava - 2 (outer skin only)
Corriander leaves - 1/2 cup
Lime juice - 1 tsp
Green chilli - 1
Cumin powder - 1/2 tsp
Black salt - to taste

Note: This version of chutney will be slightly thicker. Add water if you want the consistency to be thinner but adjust the spices and salt accordingly then.

This chutney makes a great spread for parathas too to pack in tiffin.

Happy Cooking :) 

Friday, 15 May 2015

Wafola : Cabbage Cake

When i sent this picture to my sister in law in US, she said "Looks like dhokla"!! Well, yes, it surely looks like one, but this is more denser. Moreover, though the name suggests it to be steamed (Waaf in Marathi means Steam), this one is baked. Hence i think it is known as a Cabbage cake.

The recipe was new to me, i had not really heard about this one! We make "Kobichya vadya" with almost similar ingredients but we steam it. The tempering and garnishing remains the same. Here, in the cookbook of "The essential Marathi cookbook", this cake is baked. The author, Ms. Kaumudi Marathe, says - "During the years of food rationing around the Second World War, when semolina and refined wheat flour were hard to come by, gram flour based snacks were a great alternative. Traditionally, wafola was cooked over an open charcoal fire but these days, a conventional oven works just fine".

Wafolas make a perfect tea-time snack or a good breakfast dish too! What more? It is baked!!! That makes it super healthy too :) The addition of tempering on top takes the dish to a completely new level of flavours!!


Green cabbage : 1 n 1/4 cup grated
Ginger - 1/2 inch piece grated or made into a paste
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Salt - to taste
Green chillies - 2 (The recipe said sliced, but i prefer making a paste in a mortar and pestle)
Ajwain - 1/2 tsp
Sugar - 1/4 tsp
Oil - 2 tbsp
Asafoetida - a pinch
Besan (gram flour) - 1 cup
Soda bicarbonate - 1/4 tsp (optional)
1/8 cup yogurt + 1/4 cup warm water

To garnish:
Ghee - 1/2 tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1/4 tsp
Grated fresh coconut - to garnish
Corriander leaves - to garnish
Lime juice - to taste


Mix together cabbage, green chilli paste, ginger paste, salt, turmeric, ajwain and sugar in a bowl.

Heat 1 tbsp oil and add asafoetida to it. Mix this in the cabbage mixture.

Slowly add the gram flour and keep mixing it well.

Add the soda bicarbonate in the yogurt mixture and add this to the cabbage mixture stirring well.

If the mixture is too thick, add water as required to make the consistency as thin as a cake batter.

Grease a 9 inch baking tray with 1/2 tbsp oil. Put the batter in the baking tin.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Bake the wafola for about 20 minutes. Now brush a little oil on top and bake again for another 10 minutes or till the toothpick comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Now cut the cake into squares or as desired shape.

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a wok for garnishing. Add mustard seeds and let them pop. Then add the turmeric and chilli powder. Stir well and pour over the cut square cakes. Sprinkle coconut and corriander leaves on top.

Add lime juice if and as desired.

Tastes best when served with green chutney - Corriander chutney, mint chutney but i served it with Peru chi chutney (Guava chutney). I will upload the recipe in next post!

Serve the wafolas warm, and am sure they will be relished by everyone in the family :)

Happy Cooking! :)

Monday, 11 May 2015

Bel-phal Sarbat

Adding colours to the city: Colour plays a very important role in our lives. Experts in Colour therapy say that each colour has an energy and hence it affects us on a physical, emotional or psychological level to some extent. I don't have much knowledge about the therapy, but i know for the fact that colours do affect us at personal level. Though being a fan of monochrome images, i must admit that certain colours really brighten up my mood. A very important image i have impressed on my mind of "colour" is that of the girl wearing a red coat in the movie "Schindler's List". I am sure most of us have seen this classic! The idea behind showing that bright red coat (that too a little girl wearing it and walking alone amid the horror and panic) has made a lot of impact. 

I really adore artists who paint (one thing which i always lack- i can't even draw a decent elephant, haha). And even though i have very little knowledge about understanding a canvas, i just love hopping into some or the other art gallery and check the beautiful works of some artists. My use of colours is limited to clothes, home decor or food but for some people, the world is their canvas. They see a plain wall and their mind would be bouncing with ideas. They would see a plain car, and they would just know right how to elevate it with colours. I have even seen people draw some amazing stuff with pens or pencils on a tissue paper. During our recent walk in Connaught place in New Delhi, we walked through the streets of Shanker Market and saw some amazing art work of students from Jamia Millia Islamia and College of Art. 

Street art is catching up a lot in India now with students painting park benches, walls or even trash bins. Delhi Street Art (DSA) is working in promoting art on the walls. Here is a glimpse of the creativity we saw :

We wish many such walls get painted and we see a colourful town as colours surely make us smile. You can see the whole street is painted like that :

Walking through this lane and enjoying our shopping at Janpath, our throats started getting dry with the scorching heat. As thirst quencher, my mother-in-law suggested we have the "Bel-juice" on a stall we saw nearby. The name went bonkers to me. The fruit surely looked interesting but not sure of the hygiene of the stall-walah, we gave it a pass. When home, we bought that fruit from the sabziwalah, as i was keen on knowing the taste. The fruit looks like this:

(Please excuse my pictures, as i have clicked them all in a hurry with a phone :)

Belphal, as my in-laws told me, is also known as Kaveeth in Marathi. It is known as a very sacred fruit as it is used to worship Lord Shiva. Known as Wood Apple in English, this fruit is eaten to beat the heat in summers. Eaten fresh or in dried form, my mother in law told me the recipe of Bel-murabba that my husband's granny used to make. The pulp when mixed with milk makes a lip smacking milkshake but i was keen on having juice. So, all we did was just cut the fruit, added water to it and kept in refrigerator. The fruit leaves it's flavour in the water and this juice is said to treat all problems of stomach.

Bel-phal has a lot of benefits as mentioned in Ayurveda: It treats constipation, best for urinary infection, helps reduces cholesterol, to treat indigestion and above all, makes a refreshing drink. So, here's presenting Bel-phal Sarbat (Sherbet) :


Belphal fruit - 1
Water - As much required to completely immerse the fruit (Keep adding water everyday as you remove the sherbet. Once you see clear water coming, its time to discard the fruit. Mine lasted for almost a week to 10 days). 
Black salt - to taste
Sugar - to taste (You can add jaggery too)


Cut the fruit and keep in a bowl with a lid. Add water as much required that the fruit is completely immersed. Keep refrigerated. 

Next day (or after 8-10 hours), remove the water (strain it in a glass), add black salt and sugar according to taste.

You can have it without sugar if the fruit is too sweet. So add according to taste.

Add more water to the fruit, cover with lid, refrigerate again and use the next day!

Another way of making the sarbat is :

Break the fruit and remove pulp. In a bowl, take sugar (as required) and add water to it. Bring it to boil, then add the pulp. Mix well and again bring to a boil. Put off the stove and let it come to room temperature. Transfer the syrup in a clean bottle and refrigerate. Use as and when require adding water to the concentrated syrup and a pinch of black salt.

I love when we use more of natural-fruity sarbat's and syrups than getting the ones from the market. Like Kairiche Panha is an all time favourite in our home, just as the Kokum Sarbat. You can also see my other posts on summer drinks :

1. Luscious Litchi
2. Watermelon Cooler

Also since yesterday was Mother's day, I would like to wish you all, a very Happy Mother's Day! Check out this post and blog of my school friend Shruti who's daughter just turned 2. She has penned down some beautiful writing about her journey as a mother :

Her blog :

Happy Cooking :)

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

The "Chaat" trail on the streets of Old Delhi

Past few weeks, my home looked as if i am running some papad-achaar business. Thanks to my Mother-in-law who had come for a short visit and left teaching me all the good-old days activities of women. The arrival of summers and women in those days would get ready to make all different kinds of pickles, chutneys, papads, wafers etc etc. Though some of it's process is tedious and lengthy and would invite boredom if making all alone, i would post pictures and recipes of each of them one by one. The pickles are surely worth making, as they were a specialty of the nani's and dadi's of my husband.

During their stay here, we went to visit Chandni Chowk - one of the oldest markets in New Delhi and the largest wholesale market in India. Chandni Chowk, though crowded has it's own charm, not only for the shopoholics but also for foodies like us. Chandni Chowk was a market visited once by merchants from China, Turkey and even Holland. You think of a type of fabric, or a book, or some household or lifestyle item, or a spice or cooking ingredient and you have it all here! During my 2 year stay in Delhi, this was my 4th visit to Chandni Chowk, and i feel there is still so much more to explore.

For food lovers, this place literally awakens your senses. The aroma of the food when you walk around is so inviting, that you can't miss eating some food that has retained their taste all over the years. Going beyond the regular Karim's and Moti Mahal or Al-jawahar, this time we ditched non-vegetarian food and decided to head on a chaat-walk. The first stop was :

Natraj DahiBhalle wale : Imagine the month of may, sweat rolling all over your body, tired legs from shopping, and crowds of people till your eyes can see. Suddenly a plate of some tangy tamarind chutney floating on some rich, creamy, smooth curd arrives in front of you! You take a dip in that curd with your spoon and you find a soft bhalla inside loaded with masala. You take a bite of that Dahi-bhalla and an ocean explodes in your mouth. Suddenly you no more feel the scorching heat or smell the sweat-marks. Priced at INR 50, this dahi-bhalla is a must-try if you visit Chandni-chowk. They serve bhalle since 1940, hence ask any person where the "bhallewala" is, and you will get the right address!

Our next stop was the Jung Bahadur Kachori wala : Located just near the parathe wali galli, this is a roadside stand serving some crispy kachoris with some hot and spicy aloo sabzi. Just thinking about the urad daal kachoris is making my mouth water right now. Served just at INR 20 for 1 kachori with sabzi, you can't afford to miss this place if you love some spicy stuff.

Just a small walk towards the metro station and we found a tiny looking shop of the famous Shri Balaji Chaat Bhandar : We tried the Kalmi bada as the name sounded interesting. Kalmi vadas are basically deep fried gram dal crispies. Here, they were topped with some awesome chaat. The guy serving us (Raju bhai) was one interesting guy who gave us water to wash our hands and insisted that we eat with our hands. He feels that a "chaat" tastes best when you literally lick your fingers clean. True to his opinion, we simply licked our fingers and plate clean. Their papdi chaat is must-try too. But we had Gol-gappe (again on Raju's insistence that the gol-gappe water is made from bisleri and that he serves it the best in town). Again, we will second his opinion that the green water was one of the best we have tasted in a long long time! It had the perfect flavours of sour, sweet and tangy. What more! It was cold - perfect for the season! 

On our way to Khari Baoli - the wholesale spice market, we came across Bishan Swaroop chaat bhandaar : who has been running the place since 1920. His aloo chaat is very famous, but we were too full to stuff ourselves with carbohydrates, so we tried the Fruit chaat. Reluctant to tell me what his secret spices were, he mentioned he adds chaat masala and chutney to the fruits. Priced at INR 40, this chaat adds a nice zing to your regular fruits and worth a try if you like a little spice to your fruits. I personally prefer my fruits plain, so i would avoid this the next time!

After stuffing so much of food in our stomachs in a span of 1 hour, we definitely needed some medicine for the stomach!!! What better way than to have a glass (rather kullad) of Lassi. This lassi was fresh, sweet and refreshed us, preparing us for our journey back home in all that hustle bustle. Running the shop since 1981, Pandit Gyan Prasad Madan Mohan 's Lassi priced at INR 45 is a hit amongst the travellers. Their Malai cake is delicious too, so grab a parcel of it back home!

There are many other places we have missed, but were too full to try more! So until next time!!!

Happy travelling :)