Monday, March 5, 2018

Tis the season for Cold & Coffee : Sukku Kaapi

"Every food is comfort food for me at some point, maybe I just like to chew"
It's been bracingly chilly and the cold seems to have frozen my brains rock solid - I have been lying in the bed listless with a pounding headache... the hacking cough makes my ribs hurt and the sniffling cold is irritating to say the least....and then add in the cold from outside...but then I realize it's just my body that wants to kick back and hibernate for a week, no exercise, no socializing...yet this is the week when the husband has his busy schedule, the boy has his 3 basket ball games and his science fair project over the weekend and work has it's umpteen deliverables and I haven't really eased up on the working out in the gym to be honest. So I drag myself out of bed at 6.00 AM and start getting "the boy's lunch box ready".

I seem to be on auto-pilot as I take out the Sukku Kaapi mix from the bottle and put it into the IP...this was a simple mix that I had made last month to help with this incessant congestion, that has been plaguing  me this year. One sip of my cuppa and I am in a happy  throat feels soothed and I feel ready to take on the world...

What is it you ask me? 

This is a drink that originated in the South - anytime I had a cold/cough, indigestion or even stomach cramps (the monthly kind) - my mother would give me a cup of this elixir. It's made with a simple few kitchen staples and it almost feels like you are drinking a cup of coffee (heavily laced with ginger). Here's how I made my Sukku Kaapi powder (there are more complex versions that you can try but I have found that simplicity brings out tastes that take you back to the past).

You will need: 

  • 1/2 Cup Whole Coriander
  • 4 Cloves
  • 4 pods of Cardamom
  • 2 tbsp Whole Black Pepper
  • 1/2 Cup Dry Ginger Powder
  • Palm Jaggery - to taste ( you can add this later too)
Dry Roast the first 4 ingredients till golden brown. I usually grind in the coffee grinder  with the dry ginger powder and jaggery. This mixture can be stored for anywhere from 2-6 months. I try and use it up quickly because it tastes better when fresh.

How to make Sukku Kaapi?

Add 2 tablespoons of the mixture to your IP with two cups of water. Set on manual for 4 minutes. I usually strain (though there is little residue) and enjoy a cup once a day or whenever you feel like it.

Benefits of Sukku Kaapi
I think I would need two blog posts to cover why Sukku Kaapi is so awesome
  1. Lowers Blood Sugar
  2. Lowers Cholestrol
  3. Eases Digestive discomfort
  4. Decreases Blood Pressure
  5. Helps with Urinary Tract Infections
  6. Treats Cough, Cold and Sore Throat problems
  7. Helps with regulating the menstruation cycle and with reducing the pain from cramps
So how is your Monday Morning turning out?

Friday, February 16, 2018

新年快乐 - With a Chicken Curry Bowl

“May this New Year bring your way all that is the very best for you and your dear ones. “

In Santa Barbara, my husband and I had this hole in the wall curry shop  where we used to get our lunch almost everyday and our order was Chicken Curry over rice. We would walk over to the beach sit there for a few minutes and eat while we got a couple minutes breather from customer escalations and roadmap meetings. 

We were addicted to this dish and when we moved to the Bay Area we discovered yet another hole in the wall place near our house that made the dish the exact same way and the magic continued....about 4-5 years back I discovered that the secret to this curry were these  curry cubes. Honestly, there has been no looking back for me - I have made this recipe very successfully in my slow cooker in the past but for the past two years I have been making it in my Instant Pot (in about 25 minutes).

Chicken Curry Bowl

What you need?
  1. 1 tablespoon oil
  2. 1 tablespoon garlic
  3. 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  4. 1.25 pounds frozen skinless chicken thighs (boneless)
  5. 1.5 cups onion sliced thick
  6. red potatoes halved
  7. 3  Large carrots chopped thick
  8. 1.5 cups water
  9. Frozen Peas
  10. 1/2 Package Vemont Curry Cubes (6-7 squares)
Optional (but highly recommended)
How to make it?
  1. Turn the Saute function on in your IP
  2. Add the oil - when it is hot, add the ginger, garlic and onions
  3. Cook till the Onions are lightly brown
  4. Add in the frozen chicken (if the chicken is fresh, then you can use the poultry setting, I added 5 minutes more to allow for thawing the frozen chicken)
  5. Now add the carrots, potatoes , water and the Curry Cubes
  6. Set the IP on Poultry mode, no release (+ 5 minutes if it's frozen chicken)
  7. When all the pressure has released naturally, put the curry on Saute and add the peas (this step is totally optional but my two boys love peas) and the liquid aminos or soy sauce and ketchup.
  8. Taste for Salt (usually it should taste great by now or mine does πŸ˜‹) - if not feel free to add salt to taste
Enjoy with rice, quinoa (not recommended) or Noodles and wish your friends and family a happy lunar new year! Any plans for the long weekend - I don't have any other than helping my son a bit with his science project, read a couple books, cook a bit and watch black panther....bliss!

Friday, February 9, 2018

Ande Ka Funda...

A hen is only an egg's way of making another egg.
                                                                                                  --Samuel Butler

My son detested eggs till age 3 and for the life of me I couldn't figure out why...then I started taking him to the farmer's market and he warmed up to Ron our local poultry farmer and who has been my source of eggs for almost a decade and some years...he expanded Krish's egg horizon from chicken eggs to quail, duck, goose and once even age 4, he loved eggs and I was a happy mama. Why wouldn't I be - Eggs are an extremely nutritious food - high in protein, vitamin b12, vitamin A, folate, phosphorous, selenium - and yes! eggs got a bad rap for high cholestrol but there are studies which show that eggs do not adversely affect blood cholestrol - this was confirmed by my husband's primary care physician who has written the book - The South Asian Health Solution ( I would highly recommend this book to anyone trying to reduce or control cholestrol, diabetes or just trying to get healthy!)

So Eggs are a staple part of our diet, we don't overdo it but try to add 5-7 cage free organic eggs in a week to our diet. I remember singing the song - Ande ka Funda to my son when he was 5 years old, he would stare at me like I had lost it...I showed him the video (below) of Govinda and Sunjay Dutt in Jodi No.1 singing the song...and he found folks who seemed more crazy than his mumma 😜

My favorite way to eat Eggs are Indian Style Anda Bhurji, I am sure I have that recipe on my blog some place...a cup of adrak chai, a whole wheat English muffin and Anda Bhurji with an interesting chick-lit is honestly my idea of heaven...but I digress...I had to share with you this easy recipe for Anda Curry.

Anda Curry

What you need?
  1. 4 tablespoons Mother Sauce
  2.  1 table spoon Punjabi Garam Masala ( I use Roopak, but go with your favorite brand)
  3. 8 Eggs ( I boiled them in the IP with the potatoes)
  4. 1/2 Lb of boiled, peeled and quartered potatoes 
  5. Ketchup, Cinnamon  (optional but makes a difference in taste)
  6. Salt to taste
  7. Chopped Cilantro to drizzle on later
How to make it?
  1. Boil the Eggs and Potatoes in the IP ( I put it on manual for 4 minutes - people have mentioned 5 minutes, but 5 minutes gave me exploding eggs and mushy you have to see what works for you) - you can do this step in the morning and assemble the curry in the evening  which is what I did 😁
  2. Turn your instant pot to Saute
  3. Add 1 through 4 and mix well ( about 1/2 minute)
  4. Add about 1/2 cup of water
  5. Turn on the pressure on manual 3 minutes, no release
  6. Open and now add Salt, Ketchup and Cinnamon to taste
  7. Add the chopped cilantro
  8. Enjoy with Rotis/Brown Rice/ quinoa.
When I was about my son's age the TV always played this Anda you remember it πŸ˜‚

Would love to hear how this recipe turned out for you....

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

My Beautiful House...

"What I love most about my beautiful house, is who I share it with"

Let me tell you a secret - my house didn't look like this last week - it was a weird orangey brown, that I had kinda sorta gotten used to. When it came time to paint it, I was ready to go with status quo- honestly who wants to go through the hassle of deciding on a different color palette - definitely not this girl...and I had my hands full with work and home already to add in yet another layer of complexity. The husband put his foot down and said he couldn't live with status quo and we decided that plagarism was the best compliment we could offer our wonderful neighbor (she lives on the same lane) and had just re-painted her house and we decided to go with her palette - let me tell you we didn't know about approvals et.all from HOA etc...and thus began our HOA horror story. It's all fixed now, our house is a shade different from our neighbor's and our color palette was retro-actively approved by the HOA but here are some learnings from the experience that I wanted to share with you. If you live in an HOA community, this would be particularly of interest to you .

  1. If you are going with your existing color palette, all you have to do is find the right painter for painting your exterior - do try to get 2-4 paint quotes and recommendations from your neighbors. We went with a local painter on recommendations from our neighbor and couldn't be more happier with his work. 
  2. If you are planning on changing the color of your house - get the approved color palette from your HOA, then submit an architectural change request, only start the painting after you have approvals from your HOA in writing ( be ready that you could get a denial if your color is too close to your  neighbor's and have an alternate color palette selection). If you do not follow this process you might be asked to repaint your house (works out anywhere from $8000-10,000) or fined a penalty.
  3. Once you have approval and have painted your house - Enjoy your beautiful house! Your exterior paint lasts anywhere from 7-10 years! So pat yourself on the back on a job well done.
Two weeks back -  I had posted a blog post on one of my cooking hacks - my Indian ( life-saving) Mother Sauce. I make this by the truck load in my Instant Pot. I had a number of notes and private messages on what I used this mother sauce for - so today I am going to post my son's favorite recipe - Aloo Matar Paneer. I have a friend AB who said she has never ever made the combination - she has made Aloo Matar and Matar Paneer BUT never the three together...I gave her a wink and smile and you like the two...she said -  I said - why not think outside the box 😜

Aloo Matar Paneer

What you need?
  1. 4-6 tablespoons Mother Sauce
  2.  1 table spoon Punjabi Garam Masala ( I use Roopak, but go with your favorite brand)
  3. 1 lb Paneer (cottage cheese, I used the Nanak Brand)
  4. 1/4 lb Peas ( Trader Joe's)
  5. 1/2 Lb of boiled, peeled and quartered potatoes ( I used the red ones from my farmer market haul)
  6. Ketchup, Cinnamon  (optional but makes a difference in taste)
  7. Salt to taste
  8. Chopped Cilantro to drizzle on later
How to make it?
  1. Turn your instant pot to Saute
  2. Add the Mother Sauce 
  3. Add 1 through 5 and mix well ( about 1/2 minute)
  4. Add about 1/2 cup of water
  5. Turn on the pressure on manual 3 minutes, no release
  6. Open and now add Salt, Ketchup and Cinnamon to taste
  7. Add the chopped cilantro
  8. Enjoy with Rotis/Brown Rice/ quinoa.

Would love to hear how this recipe turned out for you....or about your HOA adventures.

Friday, January 26, 2018

He Says...She Says

He says Sports...She says Murder Mysteries,
He says fancy dinner...She says take-out with a movie at home,
He says Italian....She says Indian,
He says Chill...She says Clean,
He says Go with the Flow, She says To-Do Lists,
He says Coffee, She says Tea,

She makes him his morning oatmeal,
He takes her for long walks.
She taught him to eat veggies,
And he taught her to love the gym...

Polar opposites and yet things just seem to fit,
17 years....more to look forward to.

It's our 17th anniversary and I am not cooking today but made a quick batch of my bhuna masala to freeze for use later (gotta take care of the mundane things). I use this magic sauce in all my curries - chicken curry, kheema masala, rajma, chana, Aloo Matar Rasa, Gobi Aloo Rasa....and more. It cuts my cooking time on weekdays by almost half.

The Magic Mother of All Sauces (for Indian Curries)

What you need?

  • 2 Lbs of Tomatoes ( I use the vine-ripened tomatoes from the Farmer's Market) - peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 Lb Red Onions - peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp Turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin Seeds
  • 1/2 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1 Entire Garlic - peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 knob of Ginger (grated)
  • 1 tablespoon Avocado Oil ( you can use whatever vegetable oil you use, more if you need it)
How you make it?
  1. Turn the Instant Pot to Saute
  2. Add the oil, when the oil is hot add in the cumin seeds, turmeric and chili powder
  3. Now add the garlic, ginger and onions
  4. Saute till brown...add the tomatoes, add a little water if needed ( I didn't because the tomatoes had enough water)
  5. Now turn on the pressure on manual for 3 minutes, no release
  6. Grind the mixture in your blendtec/magic bullet
  7. Once it freezes, you can cool and use as required.
I will leave you with this thought "Marriage is not a noun; it's a verb. It isn't something you get. It's something you do. It's the way you love  and live with your partner every day. 

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Soup for the Soul : Vegetable Sweet Corn

“Writing is a lot like making soup. My subconscious cooks up the idea, but then I have to sit down, put it all on paper and make sense of it" 

I was sitting in my office and it was pouring rain the whole afternoon and by the time I was ready to leave for home, all I could think of  was a BIG warm bowl of soup ( I have been having a lot of these "soul soup" kind of days lately). I guess I am one of those "solar powered people" who needs the sun to keep merry and happy 😁

So before I even went upstairs to get changed and comfy, I turned my Instant Pot on and got this vegetable sweetcorn soup going...

What's in it?

  • I used pre-chopped vegetables - 4 big stalks of broccoli, cauliflower leaves  and a few florets ( I save all my green leaves and use them up in soups), 5 big carrots, 1 bag of Trader Joes super sweet corn, 1 can of creamed corn
  • Better than Bouillon Chicken Stock (they have a veggie version too) - use about 2-3 large tablespoon
  • Grated Ginger (small knob)
  • Water - 2 Quarts 
  • Bragg's Liquid Amino
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste
How I made it?
  • Put all the ingredients above in the Instant Pot (except the salt and pepper)
  • Manual on 3 minutes (no release)
  • Stir...add Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Sit Back - Turn on the TV or pick your favorite book and ENJOY!
This is about 12 servings. 
This soup  has < 200 calories and > 6 grams of Fiber.   True is the saying  "Soup is Cozy"

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Fighting the Cold Season : Green Soup!

It is health that is the real wealth, not pieces of gold or silver or stones.... 

The gym has been a part of our life for a long time now but I started taking my exercise routine rather seriously 5 years back and even though I exercise a lot I didn't really see the weight slide off till I started paying attention to my diet.

One key thing that I have drilled into my psyche is getting the right amount of vegetables into my body..I got into the habit of eating a  salad and drinking a green smoothie most days...but let me tell you after I  had the flu, a cold salad or a cold smoothie just did not cut it...I was on the phone complaining about this to "my sister from another mother" who is a couple continents away...she suggested this awesome heart and soul warming soup. This will definitely be a keeper in my kitchen.

I love this soup and the best part I can make about 12 servings of the soup.

How to make the green soup?


  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp Avocado Oil ( you can use whatever oil you have on hand or even ghee
  • 2 tablespoons or more Braggs Liquid Amino
  • 2 Cartons Vegetable/Chicken Broth ( I used Vegetable Broth this time around and the brand was Saffron Road)
  • Chopped Vegetables -  1 medium sized Opo Squash ( lauki), 1 medium sized Cauliflower, 1 bunch of parsley, 1 bag of Kale, 1 Onion roughly chopped, 2 roma tomatoes roughly chopped, minced garlic ( I used the Trader Joe's kind)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste


  1. Turn the IP to Saute and add the oil/fat
  2. Add the turmeric powder when the oil is sufficiently hot
  3. Now add the minced garlic and onion - saute till lightly browned
  4. Add the chopped tomatoes and the rest of the vegetables
  5. Add the Broth and the liquid aminos
  6. Set on "Porridge" - No Release
  7. When it's all done use an immersion blender and puree the soup
  8. Add Salt and Pepper to taste
Drink a large glass of this every day. Not only does a glass give you two plus servings of vegetables - it has < 100 calories and 5 grams of fiber. 

Some interesting facts 
  1. Did you know lauki (Opo Squash) helps soothe digestive issues, urinary tract infections, reduces inflammation of the liver and keeps your heart healthy.
  2. Parsley is anti-diabetic and cleanses the system and builds your immune system
  3. I can write rhapsodies about Kale and Cauliflower - 2 things that I have been cooking with for years now ( even before they became a fad)...
  4. Liquid Aminos contain 16 of the 20 Amino Acids and is mostly for exercise recovery or protein supplementation ( highly recommended for vegans or vegetarians) - it is also a flavor enhancer.

So true is the saying that the first foundation of success is Good Health! With my Green Soup I feel like I am taking a step in the right direction.