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Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Once considered a fattening food, pasta is now recognised as an important part of a healthy diet. The variety of shapes is almost endless. Low in fat and high in complex carbohydrates, it provides plenty of long-term energy.
Pasta can be plain,made with egg, or flavored with ingredients such as tomato or spinach. Plain Durum wheat pasta is used for straight long shapes, such as spaghetti. Wholewheat pasta is made from wholewheat flour and contains more fiber than plain durum wheat pasta. It has a slightly chewy texture and nutty flavour and takes longer to cook.
Although pasta is itself a low-fat food, it is important to take care when choosing the accompanying sauce, as overloading on cheese or cream can soon transform pasta into a high-fat food.
A pasta dish is done in four stages. First cooking the pasta, then making the sauce, sauteing the vegetables and finally combining them. 
Cooking instructions are given on the packaging, but always taste just before the end of the given time to prevent overcooking. 
Pesto is a sauce, originating in the region of northern Italy, and traditionally consists of crushed garlic, basil and pine nuts blended with olive oil and Parmigiano Reggiano (cheese).There are other types of pesto that can be made. ( I will post the recipe when I make Pasta with Pesto and white sauce shortly)
 Another  popular sauce called Marinara sauce is used in this dish, which is basically a tomato pasta sauce cooked in olive oil along with onion, garlic and herbs. This can be made at home.( I am posting this recipe separately)
To add more flavor and taste to this dish, vegetables like green pepper, carrot, green beans eggplant,mushroom and zucchini are sauteed and used. Thus the benefit of a full meal is had.
Finally the cooked pasta, sauce and vegetables are combined and cooked in a pan on stove top and served hot with cheese sprinkled on top OR the dish is baked in the oven with cheese topping.
We made this dish with store bought Marinara sauce and roasted garlic Alfredo sauce, then after combining the cooked pasta with sauce, sauteed onion and garlic, baked in the preheated oven for 20min to 30 min.
I use to make this dish in a pan and place in a plate for each person, sprinkled with cheese as required and Microwave it for few seconds till the cheese melts.By doing so generous measure of cheese can be used for children and we should not mind as this dish is not frequently made.
This is an all time favourite to all kids and even grown up children.By posting this, I think I fulfilled the wish of my niece who is following my blog and I am sure the purpose of giving the detailed health benefits will help her  to make her mom prepare this for her frequently  and keep her energetic to perform good in her studies.
In fact this dish can be recommended to be served in all coaching centres for better results.Not a bad idea Ravee isn't it.But LESS cheese.Here is the recipe for you, which was as a draft for long time. I waited to make sauce at home and post it together hence the delay. I am sure we can also get the ready made pesto and  pasta sauce in Super market in Hi-tech city in Hyderabad. 


Pasta (fusilli)400 gm
Onion1 no
Garlic 3 cloves
Pasta sauce1 cup
Olive oil1 tblsp
Mozarella cheese1/2 cup
Dry basil1 tsp
Pepper1 tsp
SaltTo taste

Preheat oven to 375 deg F.Cook pasta as per direcions on the package, drain and set aside.
Heat oil in a pan and add crushed garlic, chopped onion and basil and saute.
When onion is done, add the tomato sauce, salt and pepper and mix well.( I used Marinara sauce and Roasted garlic Alfredo pasta sauce separately in two different pans) 
Transfer pasta to a baking dish along with cooked sauce.Add cheese(if using parmesan cheese too) and toss gently to coat.
Spread evenly and sprinkly mozarella cheese and bake until golden brown and hot thoughout,about 30 minutes.Serve hot.

Pasta should be cooked in a large pan of boiling water to allow the strands or shapes to expand, and stirred occasionally to prevent them from sticking together. Do not add oil to the cooking water, as it makes the pasta slippery and prevents it from absorbing the sauce.
The quantity and kinds of cheese to be used is at your discretion.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Pasta Sauce/ Basic tomato sauce/ Tomato and vegetable chunky sauce/ Tomato and vegetable pureed sau

A pasta dish is not complete without use of a sauce or pesto. The store bought sauce can be used for a quick preparation or the basic sauce can be made at home. This Italian sauce is called Marinara sauce as it is commonly used in recipe like Spaghetti. Fresh ripe tomatoes are used to make this. Alternatively cans of fresh tomatoes, cans of whole tomatoes and tomato paste combined together can also be used.
This sauce when made with vegetables tastes good either in pureed form or as chunks.Here is the recipe.


Tomato12 cups
Onion2 large
Garlic6 cloves
Dried herbs2 tblsp
Olive oil2 tblsp
Pepper powderTo taste
SaltTo taste

For Vegetable Chunky or  Pureed Sauce
Mushroom1 cup
Eggplant 1 cup diced
Green bell pepper/Capsicum1 cup
Celery1 /4  cup
Red chili flakes1 tblsp


Peel, deseed and cut tomatoes. Chop onion and mince garlic and keep ready.
Heat oil in a pan. Add onion and cook slowly, on medium heat until they start to caramelise. They should be evenly brown and soft. Cooking them this way brings out the natural sweetness in the onion.
Add the garlic, dried herbs ( basil,oregano, rosemary,thyme etc. mixed) and cook for 5 minutes.
Add the tomatoes with their juice and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer and cook on low, stirring occasionally for 2 hours. Add salt and pepper to taste.
The basic sauce is ready. This can be preserved.
When you decide to make Pasta dish using vegetables, saute the vegetables given under the table above in a pan, using little oil. Add red chili flakes, and required salt and cook till done.
This can be combined in the preserved tomato sauce (one cup of tomato sauce or as per taste can be used)
and added to pasta. Or the sauteed vegetables can be pureed in a blender/mixie and added to sauce.
The variety of vegetables to be added depends on your choice.( I used sauteed mushroom as it is and pureed other vegetables).
Home made pasta sauce is ready.(see 31st August pasta recipe post published)

Quick ideas for Pasta
To make a simple, but richly flavored tomato sauce, place some plum or cherry tomatoes in an ovenproof dish and drizzle with a little olive oil. Roast in a hot oven for 15 minutes, then add one or two peeled garlic cloves, and continue roasting for about 15 minutes more. Transfer to a food processor/mixie and blend with basil leaves. Season stir into cooked pasta.
Olives, mushrooms, eggplant, and artichokes bottled in olive oil make quick and delicious additions to pasta.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Aubergine/ Eggplant pickled curry

One more Aubergine/Kathrikai recipe. This is our favourite dish since 20 years.It is a wonderful recipe by Madhur Jaffrey. It was when she was hosting a cookery show in BBC, making Indian recipes from basics, this recipe was  prepared. I use to wait and watch this weekly show. Eggplant cooked in pickling style was something new then. The slices of eggplant requires deep frying and when it is combined with the tomato pickle(sauce) it tastes yummy. It is referred to as pickle or Achaar as the ingredient is cooked with the same spices used in the pickle. One more ingredient Kalonji or nigella seeds is used to give onion flavour. I used onion instead. Though the original recipe calls for deep frying the eggplant slices, I baked them in preheated oven sprinkling drops of oil on the slices spread on a baking sheet.
Today when I browsed for this BBC show there was lot of information about this recipe and it was adapted by her, from Lake Palace Hotel in Udaipur I learnt.
I am posting this recipe which is our all time favorite and we call it BBC kathrikai curry.


Aubergine/eggplant350 gm
Tomato 3 med size
Onion2 med size
Ginger n garlic paste1 tsp
Cumin/jeera1 tsp
Fennel seeds1 tsp
Turmericpowder1/2 tsp
Red chili powder/cayenne pepper1 tsp
Coriander powder1 tsp
OilFor frying
SaltTo taste

Cut eggplant into long thin slices. Chop onion  and tomato into fine pieces.
Heat oil and fry in batches, the eggplant slices till they turn reddish brown. Remove and place on paper towel.
Or the slices can be spread in baking sheet and baked for about 35 to 40 min in a preheated oven.
Heat oil in a pan, add cumin, fennel seeds and fry. If kalonji is used add and fry till cumin, fennel darken.
Add ginger garlic paste mixed with two tablespoon of water ( she makes fresh paste with chopped ginger and garlic using water in a blender).
Add onion pieces and fry ( I did not use kalonji). Then add chopped tomato and saute.( I blanched, peeled and pureed tomatoes using spatula)
Add turmeric powder, coriander powder, chili powder and salt and mix well.
Cook till tomato turns mushy and adjust consistency by adding water and cook till a thick gravy is formed.
Add the fried (or baked)eggplant slices in this sauce and gently mix. Cook for couple of minutes and remove.
Serve as side dish with rotis or hot rice.  

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Brown rice bisibela bath/ Brown rice in lentil and vegetable stew

I read this book "vegetarian" and found very useful information and facts about each food we eat. Most of the Asians/Indians whose staple food is rice, follow certain menu in the daily diet passed on by our elders and  which unknowingly suited our health and did no harm . In the present days even children are conscious about health and how they look. Here are some facts which I would like to share from what I read. We are often told to eat a balanced diet,but in the context of a vegetarian diet what does this mean? The key to good health is to eat a variety of foods that provide the proportion of protein, carbohydrates, fibre, fat, vitamins and minerals as well as water. Vegetarians need to ensure they eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, legumes,nuts, seeds, rice,bread,pasta and potatoes and some dairy foods.
A useful guide for nutrient rich foods  are whole grains and potatoes (aim for 6-11 servings a day),fruits and vegetables (aim for atleast 5 servings a day),legumes nuts and seeds(2-3servings a day),dairy foods (2-3 servings a day) and fats,sweets and snacks should be eaten sparingly.
I attempt to follow the above to maximum extent using many vegetables with green, orange,red and yellow in colour  and leafy vegetables in our daily preparations. One such attempt is the result of this weekend preparation which had all in one dish.
In the whole grains catagory is the brown rice which contain the most nutrients and provide starchy carbohydrates, fibre,protien, Bcomplex vitamins and minerals.It is highly recommended now-a days specially for rice eaters who cannot give up rice, to have brown rice in place of white.The cooking of this rice requires some care and normally it is advised to soak the rice long before it is cooked. I tried cooking this several times in different modes. I finally decided to soak it minimum 8 hours after rinsing and cook with the water soaked. It is not liked by all in the family but when made like a One Dish Meal, it is consumed by all.
Whenever I want to use brown rice, I decide to do this One Dish Meal - Bisi Bela Bath. By doing so I not only use the brown rice, but am happy that  I provide my family all nutrients packed in this One Dish Meal which is very yummy.
Bisibela bath which is Karnataka special is prepared in different ways.I have tasted  an authentic one, prepared by my canadiga friend, and I also tried the way my mother does in iyengar style.I have many recipes which I watched in Live Tamil channels and made a note of them. One famous chef in his programme told to use only pearl onions and to use sesame oil alone while cooking this recipe.
I recently prepared this dish following " Panchpakwan" blog post during March'11.The dish requires home made or store bought bisibela bath powder. Since I had this powder made at home I used it. The ingredients used were almost same with slight variation in quantity. I am posting the Bisibela bath powder ingredients here.


Corianderseeds/ dania1 palmful
Red chili8 no
Fenugreek/methi seeds1/2 tsp
asafoetida1/4 tsp
Pepper2 tsp
Cumin1 tsp
Dry coconut 1 piece
Curry leaves10 twigs
Split chick pea/chana dhal4 tsp
Red gram/tuwar dhal4 tsp
Split black gram/Uradh dal2 tsp
Roast all the above ingredients one by one in little oil/ghee and coarsely powder and store in an airtight container. This powder can be used as per the measure required in the rice recipe.

 For the  rice recipe here is the link.

 The grainy texture of the brown rice was covered by the dhal/lentils and vegetables and made it look mushy which is the normal texture of this dish.Thanks to the blogger for posting a healthy and tasty recipe.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Schezwan Rice

This recipe was tried and tasted by us several times since Fabruary '11.This has become popular and favourite  dish among children.The Schezwan sauce once prepared and stored is easy to use couple of times.I am posting this as I prepared during last weekend. I am sure my nieces and my friends will be happy to see this.
 I thank Mrs.Varunavi  for this post. Please click this link for the recipe.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Eggplant/ Aubergine/ Kathirikai Masala Kuzambu

The spicy side dish for Malli biryani is different in taste. The roasted flavor of the sesame seeds is dominant and in whatever way the eggplant/brinjal is prepared, it will  kindle our taste buds.One such preparation which tastes like Bagara Biangen is shared here after trying and tasting it. I am sure the recipe of Mrs. Revathy Shanmugam will be tried by many food lovers.

Eggplant/Kathrikai150 gms
Onion1 no
Tomato3 no
Ginger and garlic paste2 tsp
Green chili2 no
Tamarind extract1/2 cup
Red chilli powder2 tsp
Turmeric powder1/2 tsp
Salt To taste

To make powder

sesame seeds/Thill2 tblsp
Fenugreek seeds/methi1/2 tsp

To temper

Oil3 tblsp
Mustard seeds1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds1/2 tsp
Fenugreek seeds1/2 tsp
Pepper1/2 tsp
Curry leavesFew

Heat a pan/skillet and dry roast fenugreek/methi seeds and sesame seeds separately and make powder.
Heat oil in the pan, add mustard seeds and then pepper. Wait till pepper splutters. Then add methi seeds, and cumin and fry.
Add finely chopped onion and saute.
Add slit green chili, turmeric powder and little salt, just enough for onion and mix.
Add cut brinjal/eggplant pieces,and tomato pieces.
Add ginger garlic paste and saute well.
Add red chilli powder and mix.
Cook till oil separates on the sides of the pan and there is no raw smell.
Add the thick extract of tamarind and salt now.
Add little water too and cook till the raw smell of tamarind is not there.
Finally add powdered methi and sesame and mix well.
Tear curry leaves  to pieces and garnish.
Brinjal/eggplant masala kuzambu is ready. It can be had with hot rice too.