Basics – Sambar Powder and Brinjal, Okra Sambar

I typed, retyped and deleted already 5 times now, will not keep this post waiting for another day…all I have to say is I’m enjoying doing basic recipe’s. Fortunately or unfortunately I don’t get all required spice powder’s here, which has kicked the basic instinct in me to start everything from scratch. Thanks to coffee powder maker, it grounded my sambar powder beautifully. This post is heavly loaded with pictures…I did the shoot on a bright sunny day with good light diffusor (2 white curtains) and also made proper use of camera stand. Took the pictures in raw format and did minimal editing. Totally it was enjoyable recipe to make and to shoot!
Sambar powder recipe is from mom and aunt, it does’t taste like commercial or something from restaurants, but i can say it has simple, beautiful and fresh flavour. I’m proud of making sambar powder by myself, considering my limitations of vegetarian cooking ability!
Though there are so many varieties of sambar and every house has a unique way to prepare it, this is how its made at home. I prefer thicker consistency for rice and more runny for idly and vada.
Geek note: using camera stand brought great clarity and sharpness to pictures. Will stick to it from now on, can’t trust my wobbly hands anymore. Also thumbs up for pictures in raw formant, you can play a lot with it. Happy cooking peeps!

A guest post by Anamika Arun from Taste Junction – Aloo Paneer Kofta in Makhni Gravy

My fingers are still dancing on key boards non stop! I never thought that writing thesis would need creativity, it not only needs some but a LOT taking away all the oxygen and blood from brain. There is no realization of what day it is or if at all it is morning or night. Though I knew this how it will be, living thro’ it is very challenging. Am waiting for my mom to arrive to give me a hug and a bowl of warm food…sometime to get to kitchen for a simple dinner is like moving a mountain!
With this scenario Anamika of Taste Junction wholeheartedly volunteered to write a post for me. Not so long ago Anamika stopped by my blog, I visited hers just few time, sincere apology to her and to many others, since i’m doing no justice, but shall return back to normal mode within two months! Her blog as it says is a junction where cuisines from world meets. I was seriously surprised when she gave me options to pick for a guest post, she sounded like a pro chef! From all her great recipe dahi vada stole my heart, exactly what i would like to enjoy now …so why wait for here is very talent Anamika from Taste Junction. And thanks  bunches Anamika for understanding and coming over you saved my nerves
Just like any home reflects the personality of the resident; so do I feel about the virtual window or the blog. The moment I visit a new blog, I immediately personify the blogger with the cues of the space. And though technical aspects have a huge role to play in that, yet there are some sure sure-shot giveaways, like the choice of color schemes, fonts and writing style.
So the very first time I visited Ananda’s blog (which unfortunately was not too long ago), I felt a sense of calmness and aesthetics. And after lingering a little more than I needed to, admiring her beautifully captured images and thoughtfully prepared delicacies, I knew it was not going to be a short stay. 
So here I’m, pleased to take this appreciation a step further with a guest post, while she dedicated herself to some meaningful research. I’m sure her tired body and mind can get a bit re-engerised after having some home made comfort food.
I’m sharing with you all a popular North Indian curry – Aloo paneer kofta in makhi gravy. You might even be knowing this dish as “Malai kofta”. Difference is that malai kofta is sweeter with cashews/ rasins/sugar and richer with cream, while this is lighter and bit on the spicier side than sweet. But to offset the spicy koftas, I add it to sweet makhni sauce to get a good balance.
Koftas are deep fried dumlings of spiced and mashed vegetables. This one is made with potatoes and cottage cheese. But ‘kofta” of spinach, carrots and cauliflowers, lauki are also very popular. If you prefer you can bake the dumplings than frying, but of course the taste and texture will be little different.
Aloo Paneer Kofta in Makhni Gravy Recipe
Ingredients
For the Kofta:
3-4 large potatoes, boiled and mashed
3 tbsp of crumbled paneer
2 tbsp of grated carrots
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander
1- 2 finely chopped green chillies (as per taste)
3/4 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
½ tsp chaat masala (optional)
½ tsp red-chilli powder
Salt To Taste
Oil for frying
For the gravy
½ kg tomatoes – chopped
1 tbsp cashews
1 bay leaf
1 tsp cumin
2-3 black peppercorn
1 cinnamon
1 clove
2 tbsp milk
1 tbsp butter
Pinch of sugar
Salt as per taste
1 tsp red chilly powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp garam masala powder
1 tsp dhania powder
1/2 tsp kasturi methi
½ tbsp oil 
1 tbsp butter
Method – for kofta:
Heat oil for frying in kadahi/ deep pan. Mix all the ingredients of the kofta in bowl. With a lightly greased palms, make small balls of the mixture. 
Check if the oil is hot enough by putting a small drop of mixture. If it immediately comes on top, oil is ready. Now place koftas in it at high (gas mark 6) and then reduce it to medium-high (gas mark 4) to get crispy koftas. 
Once well browned on both sides, drain on tissue and keep aside. 
Method – for gravy:
Add ½ tbsp oil in a pan. Then add butter to it. Once butter melts, add bay leaf, cumin, peppercorns, clove & cinnamon. Let the cumin splutter 
Then add the cashews & fry it for a while till lightly browned 
Now add chopped tomatoes along with salt, sugar and all spices, except garam masala & kasturi methi 
Add milk & cook tomatoes till all pulpy. Remove from stove & let it cool. 
Remove the bay leaf and cinnamon and put in blender and blend it as puree with very little warm water (I like to keep some texture, but depends on you) 
Put it back in the pan and bring it to a boil. Add kofta balls and add garam masala and crushed kasturi methi. 
You can finish the dish with a tbsp of cream and chopped coriander. 
If serving later:
Always add koftas to gravy only 10-15 mins before serving, since once added to gravy, kofta becomes soft and breaks. You can even warm up the kofta and gravy separately before adding it so that they do not beak and are at same temperature.

    ….and winner is….for Culinary Smackdown Battle Zucchini Time.

    …end of the run, only one can be a winner and how hard it is to select one among many best.
    When I started the competition, thought to follow the thumb rule, order all you guys, followed by request, cajole then beg….but believe I didn’t proceed after 2nd rule, would have helped for more spread of words!. Anyway thanks folks for taking effort to cook for this event and sending it thro’. Never thought 9 recipes will be submitted, it was fun to sit down and get into each and everyone’s recipe and select one. Can’t believe I’m judging a cookery competition fantastic feeling it is, though I laugh at it sometimes, you already know I’m still an amateur cook! 
    Here are the recipes in the order of submission and added one special thing I liked in the recipe
    Una carbonara speciale from Ely’s Nella cucina di Ely – addition of saffron in pasta is interesting!
    Fruit nut palooza zucchini cake  from Devaki’s Weave Thousand Flavour, olive oil  and spices in cakes can get me down on my knees! 
    Zucchini Fritters from Akheela’s Torview like the Indian flavour there!
    Makkai ka zucchini from Deepika of My Life and spice, use of corn meal healthy version!


    Ridge gourd and egg delight from Priya Sreeram of Bon Appetite, never had egg with veggies, it’s interesting!
    Zucchini bread with toasted almonds from Nutan of Rice N Spice, liked addition of cinnamon and nutmeg in bread!
    Zucchini pineapple ginger cupcake with maple cream cheese frosting from Zesty South Indian Kitchen,  maple cream cheese yum!
    Zucchini banana bread from Treat and Trick, banana in it perfect for breakfast!
    Zucchini kefta from My Tasty Treat never thought of making kefta with Zucchini !
    And Now The WINNER you would have already guessed, it is Fruit nut palooza zucchini cake  from Devaki’s Weave Thousand Flavour. Congrats Devaki! send me your address, your gift is waiting to be despatched :) 
    Congratulation all others as well. Wish to send you all those gifts packs may be next time will try to be more generous ha ha ..but will try all ur recipes soonish!
    Now it is turn for Devaki to host the event for June, so lets tune in to see what theme she comes up with.
    Catch you all in next post till then ciao from still sunny and beautiful Jyvaskyla, Finland!

    PS: apologies for using all ur pic’s without permission..hope it is ok with you guys! If not let me know, shall remove it! 

    A Little Reminder – Bunch of Zucchini recipe ideas!

    Things get evaporated out of my brain easily, wanted to make series of zucchini post, but couldn’t get it done. Moreover the fact that I’m organizing an event flushed out of my brain…oh btw hello peeps…..
    I’m heavily clouded at work, so unfortunately kept my blog starving! Thought instead of making a full post on one recipe, here are pic’s of all recipes I wanted to share, promise to post few of those in following days…
    Sail in zucchini boat with shrimp, pine nuts, rosemary, cherry tomatoes and parmesan cheese on top!

                                                     Zucchini chocolate cake with walnuts

    So guys, so far I have 5 interesting entries, make my life more tough to choose the best one, send in yours for Zucchini Battle. Here some ideas for you, you never know may be it can help you to formulate (physics is running high in my blood) kick ass recipe.
                                       Spiced ricotta cheese zucchini rolls with olive oil and balsamic vinegar

                                                             Simple zucchini shrimp masala

    Guess wat? I completed my first cake order. Yes first cake order for my colleague defence party on Saturday, was pretty excited, since whole group and few other from the department were present. It went fine, made choc caramel cake and black forest cake. Now after completing my PhD if I don’t find a job, I know what to do! 
                                                                           Chocolate caramel cake

                                                                          Black-forest cake

    And Devaki darling from Weave Thousand Flavors is organising a exciting food trip to Sicily : An Epicurean Voyage to Sicily, sounds fun right. Hop into her blog and join all the foodies on a fantastic journey to Sicily!! 
                                                      Cheery tomatoes, prawns zucchini pasta 

                                                                         Want some?

    It’s all yours – Culinary Smackdown Battle – Zucchini Time!

    There isn’t anything better when you get reward after all the effort given in. I won the dessert book for the Layered Mango Mousse Cake! Hurray! I won for the first time for food, did you hear that? Exactly after one year of blogging was a cherry on the cake! Thank you Tanvi from Sinfully Spicy for graciously stating my recipe as a winner! Love you girl!
    Following the myth, now it my turn to host the May edition of this event. I have no experience in hosting neither I’m good in organising an event. But at some point a start has to be made. Considering it as a great opportunity, have selected Zucchini as the theme for the battle. 
    All you have to do is, don your cooking cap, chop, grind or grate Zucchini and bring out creative Zucchini side in you!
    For all the effort you are going to put in, I have some reward for you from Pentik, my fav brand for kitchen stuffs and accessories. I’m more than happy to share with you, spring collection, kitchen towel, table mat, oven gloves and paper towels. 

    Here are few annoying rules that is to be followed!

    • Culinary Smackdown Battle – Zucchini time will be held throughout the month of May on A Pinch of Love. Entry submission starts from 3rd May 2011 till 30th May will go according to Pacific Time.
    • I will select and announce one winner who will also host the next month’s edition of this contest on June 1st 2011.
    • Only One entry per person please, if you have two very interesting recipe I shall consider!
    • It is compulsory to link back to this post on your blog.
    • The entry does not have to be a new post.It can be an archived post
    • The Smackdown Battle is open to anyone, anywhere in the world. 
    • More than a contest, the purpose of this battle is to reach out to lots of bloggers and foodies around the globe, share culinary ideas and have fun.

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    Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

    While you submit ur entries in this link, I would appreciated if you send me an email to ananda(dot)apl@gmail.com with one of ur food picture attached. I shall acknowledge the same soonest!
    So what are you waiting for?  wave your wand and bring out a magic, since the the gift is all packed waiting to reach you.
    Oh ya! I’m not exactly sure if zucchini is available in all cites in India, if not you could use ridge guard.
    Any more queries, do drop me a mail at rananda(dot)apl@gmail.com  or just comment here….
    Looking fwd to see ur creation
    1st entry Una carbonara speciale from Ely’s Nella cucina di Ely, all Italian food lovers this place is for you! yum pasta’s!
    2nd entry Fruit nut palooza zucchini cake  from Devaki’s Weave Thousand Flavour filled with fun posts and wonderful recipes, I adore all the good looking prawns there!
    3rd entry Zucchini Fritters from Akheela’s Torview, a creative place with straight fwd recipes!
    4th entry Makkai ka zucchini from Deepika of My Life and spice, who bring interesting stories with recipe!
    5th Entry Ridge gourd and egg delight from Priya Sreeram of Bon Appetite, hop in for some more of innovative recipe
    6th Entry Zucchini bread with toasted almonds from Nutan of Rice N Spice, pretty new blog for me know sure to enjoy!
    7th Entry Zucchini pineapple ginger cupcake with maple cream cheese frosting from Zesty South Indian Kitchen, I admire how she always takes efforts to post step by step pic!
    8th Entry Zucchini banana bread lady who brings crisp and interesting post!
    9th Entry Zucchini kefta very new for me recipe and blog got to get in too see more!