Ria's Collection

Tuesday, May 23, 2017


Atta Laddoo
I have a major sweet tooth and so does my family. So it's really fun to try out new things because it will be cherished by all including Zara. The only problem is that I am the only one who seems to be gaining the happy sweet weight around my belly. Jobin does his daily workout religiously be it Summer or Winter. Ian is very active and so is Zara. I am the couch potato in the family. I would be the happiest to curl up with a cookbook or my phone on the couch with something to munch on,especially something sweet. So the other day, after a full fledged mallu meal, Jobin asked me if there was anything sweet to eat and surprisingly, there was none!
Atta Laddoo

So yesterday, I thought of making something sweet for us. I wanted to make something Indian. So as usual, I checked out some of my reliable resources on the internet for recipes. I am not sure why but even after 8 years (almost 9!) of blogging, I still have only a handful of resources (literally viralil ennavunna) online when it comes to recipes. I stopped blog hopping around the time Ian was born. I barely had the time to show my face here.
Atta Laddoo
So I am still reading the ones I used to read before 2012. Some of my favourite food blogs have stopped updating,which is such a sad thing because I felt I was a part of their lives, reading about them and one fine day,there are zero updates. Manjula aunty's page is one of my most favourites and her recipes are fail proof! I am sure almost all of you know her for her simple,fuss free and tasty recipes. I have tried out so many from her site and they all have turned out the way it should.Delicious!
Atta Laddoo
Sarah,one of my close hostel friends, was known for her mother's Atta Ladoos because they were incredibly yummy! We would request her to bring it for us whenever she went home to Mangalore. As I was making these laddoos,I couldn't stop thinking about the fun we had in our hostel sneaking into each other's room and tucking in homemade special food without the hostel Warden seeing us.Some of my best memories and friends are made during my hostel days in Bangalore.
Atta Laddoo Makes 16

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup superfine sugar *
1/2 cup melted ghee
1/4 tsp ground green cardamom
Paper cups

Method: In a heavy bottom pan, roast the flour stirring constantly on medium heat for 6-7 minutes or until it starts to smell nice and toasty. Add the ghee,mix well and cook for another 4-5 minutes,stirring all the time  or until the mixture turns light brown in colour.It will be aromatic at this point. Take it off the heat and transfer the mixture to another heatproof bowl. Let it cool a bit until it is warm to touch. Add the sugar and cardamom and mix well. Form small balls right away and dip the tops in chopped pistachios if you like. Store them in airtight containers and serve them in paper cups if you have them.

*Make sure the sugar is super fine or else it will remain as is in the final product. You can go ahead and substitute it with 200 grams of icing /confectioners /powdered sugar. If that's the case, wait until the laddoo mixture,after adding sugar and cardamom is cooled down completely before forming laddoos. It's only because they will not retain the shape well when it is still warm.

Atta Laddoo
We literally inhaled these laddoos. They were incredibly tasty! I have a soft spot for Besan Ladoos and these will give a tough competition for them. Zara was super excited to give it a try and she happily ate the crumbs she got. Ian on the other hand never liked any Indian sweets we've given him so far. He is forever happy with his Chocolate Cake & Chocolate Chip Cookie. Well, that remind me of the pending order for some cookies from him. He does not like our cookie jar to be empty!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


Baked Mac & Beans
I did my undergrad from Mount Carmel College in Bangalore and pretty much anyone who've studied there around that time would be familiar with Raj shop on Loafer's Lane / Vasanthnagar. He makes the best ever Mexican Chaat and he is the only person whom I know that makes it. It was one of our indulgence during the hostel days when we would try to restrict our spending within our pocket money. My other indulgence was the Sweet Chariot's Chocolate Mousse Cake which I later mastered in making and was super duper thrilled about it . You can read about it here...my post from way back in 2009.
Baked Mac & Beans
In February, while Jobin was in Bangalore for work, we joined him and spent close to 2 weeks roaming around town dining at new restaurants and revisiting our old favourite restaurants.So one day, I asked him if he could take to me Raj's shop to eat a Mexican Chaat. I was not really sure if the joint was still open. When we reached there, the shop was open and Raj was inside bossing around the girls who came to buy the goodies from his store. He is known for the way he talks with the college girls. When I asked him for a Mexcian Chaat he was like,'What are YOU doing here now?'. It's been 11 years since I last visited that store and nothing has changed. Nothing at all!
Baked Mac & Beans
One of my favourite past time is to play some videos on Youtube while I cook or pretty much do anything around the house. Cooking videos are my current favourite and I happened to chance upon this one by Ruchi. She made me want to give it a try at home and I am really glad that I did! As I was eating spoonfuls of the piping hot pasta just out of the oven, I was reminded of a very familiar taste. I couldn't for some reason figure out what that was and then when I reached the rock bottom of the bowl, while scraping out the leftover baked sauce I realized that it tasted like Raj's Mexican Chaat!
Baked Mac & Beans
Ruchi makes her Bechamel sauce a.k.a White sauce in a different way. It's much easier and tastes good. I couldn't find the proportions to the ingredients for her recipe so I have added and decreased the ingredients the way I thought we would like it. It's a very forgiving recipe, so feel free to play with it. With all the beans and oregano in it, it does have a Mexican taste to it.
Baked Mac & Beans Serves 2-3

1 1/2 cup cooked macaroni

1 tablespoon cornflour
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup milk

1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup chopped onions
2 large cloves garlic, made to a paste
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup frozen sweet corn
1/2 cup baked beans (tinned)
2 tablespoons tomato ketchup
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
A few dashes of hot sauce (like Tabasco,Cholula)
Salt & pepper

Shredded Cheddar, as needed

Method: In a saucepan, mix together cornflour, butter and milk. Cook on medium heat till it boils becomes thick. Set it aside.
In a saute pan, heat the butter and saute the onion till soft and translucent. Add the garlic paste and give it a mix. Add the remaining vegetables and saute for a minute or two. Then add in the beans, ketchup, oregano, red chili powder and hot sauce. Cook for 2-3 minute or until it thickens up. Turn off the heat and mix in the white sauce. Add the cooked pasta and mix well.Season to taste.

Transfer this mixture into a small baking dish and top it with cheese. Bake at 180 C/ 350 F for 10-12 minutes or until the cheese has melted.
Serve hot and enjoy!

So Zara thinks no matter what I cook, it is all for her. She will not keep quiet until I let her taste it. So today,she got her first share of pasta. She wasn't very sure about the texture of the pasta so she gave me a wide toothless grin while chewing it.It's really funny to see her push the food back into her mouth if it happens to comes outside.She is seriously one joker who loves to try everything. She thinks we all need to eat the same food,adult food that is! I am waiting for Ian to get back from his Montessori to listen to his 'dialogues' about this dish. He loves pasta,so he might like this too.

Saturday, May 6, 2017


So we are back in Minneapolis after a glorious 6 month long holiday in Kannur. If you ask me if it was tough coming back, honestly, it was like a new life because I totally forgot that I had a life in Minneapolis before! Staying with your parents is the best thing ever because it's like you never left home and you are at the place where you can truly be yourself.Everything around you is at the most familiar,the places and faces that you saw growing up, the aroma of your Amma's food, the most familiar voices... I hope one day Ian & Zara will have the same fondness for their sweet home as much I have for mine.
So before we left Kannur, Ian had asked me if I could bake some Chocolate Chip Cookies for him. I promised to do so but it totally didn't happen till he asked me again yesterday. We were out of chocolate chips, sugar and flour (oh yes, being away for 6 months can make that happen!) then so Jobin & I took him along with an excited little Zara to do some shopping at Target. We strapped them both onto the shopping cart and Zara couldn't stop giggling and smiling. She thinks that's the coolest thing ever,for now. Let's see how long that will last! Anyway,we came back home with a big haul of goodies to make his cookies.

So Zara is that Baby who loves to eat. She is just like how Ian was at 7 months...she will wake up when there's food around her! I am not kidding one bit...when we took her to India, she was barely two months old. She was a very sleepy baby who would sleep throughout the day and night except when the food was being served. She would wake up crying when the air-hostess brought us our food. Amma and I observed it for a couple of times and we laughed out so loudly once we figured it out. It's still the same and I am not complaining one bit because it's so easy to raise a child who loves to eat! I have warned Jobin that I might have to start a home canteen pretty soon since the 4 of us live to eat!

She sleeps the best on our couch during the day,so with her 'swabhavam' like that, I was pretty sure she would wake up when I was taking pictures of these cookies. And she did. She just rolled over to her side, opened her big wide eyes and saw me sitting with a plateful of cookies. She just pounced at me with one hand stretched out to grab them! How one earth did she know they were edible? :-) Well,the next 10 minutes were spent in sharing some cookies with her. Luckily, Jobin came home early from work, so I could continue taking the pictures without the Baby Cookie Monster lurking around!
Coming back to these cookies. They are super tasty and so awesome! I've been eyeing them ever since Lindsay posted it on her blog a couple years ago. If you are looking for a crisp cookie,like the Parle Hide 'n Seek we get in India, this is not the recipe for you. This particular cookie is soft all the way. There are no crisp edges with a soft center. If you want a recipe for that, please check out my old take on the Chocolate Chip Cookies. They are very good too!

113 grams / 8 tablespoons salted butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon  baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups chocolate chips*

Method: Preheat the oven to 350F and keep a cookie sheet ready. You don't have to line it.
Melt the butter in the microwave for a short 40 seconds, you just want to melt it and not heat it up. Add both the sugars to it and beat with a hand mixer until creamy,for a minute. Add the egg and vanilla and beat just until it's mixed and turns pale,about 30 seconds. Do not over beat,mixture will become stiff. Add the dry ingredients and mix with the hand blender till it forms a crumbled mass, 20-30 seconds. It will be a soft non sticky dough. Add in the chocolate chips and fold it in using a spatula or your hands. Divide them into 12 balls and place them on your cookie sheet 2 inches apart. Bake for 9-11 minutes. Do not over bake. They will puff up and look pale at the end of 11 minutes. Take it out of the oven and leave it to cool on the cookie sheet for 30 minutes.
Enjoy! Store the extras,if any in an airtight container.

*The chocolate chips we get here in the United States are fairly huge compared to what we get in India. So please add more chocolate chips,if you want to. If I were you, I would add atleast 1 1/4 cups.
It was Jobin's birthday two days ago,on the 4th. As always, I made Lamingtons for him and Butter Naan with Green Chicken Kurma for dinner. It's funny because everytime I make Lamingtons for him, it feels just like yesterday.Years are flying by and when you have kids,it's like a whirlwind just hit you. You just don't realise what's going on until you stop in your path,breathe and look around.My Monkeys are keeping me on my toes and since that's pretty much the only exercise I get these days,I will happily take that!

Saturday, April 1, 2017


Dark Chocolate & Beet Cake
Tea party is something that Ian & I are very interested in. A well laid out table with pretty crockery and finger food is my fancy description of a tea party. Ian just wants a teapot filled with hot water, a cup and saucer and some 'Elly's' cookies. He loves watching a cartoon called ' Pocoyo' on YouTube and 'Elly' is an Elephant who is Pocoyo's friend. She bakes cookies and hosts tea party but refuses to share the cookies she bakes with anyone else. So one day, Ian asked me if I could help him make some 'Elly's cookies', which I did and you can make it too! It's just the Thumbrint Cookies that I've shared with you all here, one million years ago. Well,maybe not one million but during my initial days of food blogging which feels like a million years ago to me!
Dark Chocolate & Beetroot Cake
Dark Chocolate & Beet Cake
While I was taking pictures of this decadent cake,a cake that I've been eyeing for months together, Ian sat right next to me and Zara in her walker, eyeing all that I was doing and trying to host a tea party in between with all the crockery that I had pulled out. That was Ian. In the meantime, Zara wanted to somehow get her tiny chubby fingers on that chocolate cake!

Dark Chocolate & Beet Cake
To be honest, this is the fussiest cake I've ever baked my entire life! Fussy in the sense, the way it's directions were. Nigel is amazing but the directions kind of made me want to skip baking the cake altogether.I am not a person to follow fussy recipes usually but if the end result was anything like what it turned out to be, I really don't mind being fussy! Jokes apart, this cake turned out to be really moist and fluffy.
Dark Chocolate & Beet Cake
If you are really reading this post to know if this cake tastes anything like beetroot, yes it does. It kind of smells like it and tastes 10% like a beetroot somewhere,especially in the first bite. After that, you would be surprised to know that it only tastes of chocolate! I am not a beetroot lover. I like them in my Beetroot Pachadi, Beetroot & Dates pickle, Beet & Ginger Lemonade so far and now this wonderful,moist cake.
Dark Chocolate & Beet Cake Makes one 8 inch round cake

8 oz beetroot
7 oz dark chocolate, chopped small
1/4 cup hot espresso
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoon butter, cut up very small
5 eggs, separated
1 cup + 2 tablespoon flour
3 tablespoon cocoa
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup superfine sugar

Method: Preheat the oven to 350 F and line an 8 inch springform tin.
Chop the beets, steam and puree them to a coarse paste using a mixie. In a large bowl, over a pan of simmering water,melt the chopped chocolate just until it begins to melt. Then add in the hot espresso and give it just one mix. Add the butter and push it down so that it goes underneath the chocolate. Let it melt a little bit and turn off the heat and mix to incorporate the butter with the chocolate. Let it cool just a little bit and then mix in the beaten egg yolks. Fold in the beet puree after that.Sift flour,cocoa powder and baking powder together into a small bowl. Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks and then fold in the superfine sugar *.

Fold in the egg whites into the chocolate mixture using a metal spoon in a large figure eight motion. Do not over mix. Then gently fold in the flour mixture. Tip the batter into the tin, reduce the oven temperature to 325F and bake the cake until moist crumbs cling to the cake tester. Let it cool in the tin and remove from the tin once cooled completely. You can top it with a ganache or just plain melted chocolate like I did.

*I just measured out 1 cup sugar and ground it using a mixie until it was superfine,not completely powdered.
Dark Chocolate & Beet Cake
I really wanted to share a cake recipe here for the longest time because it's one of my favourite things to make and write about. It's one of your favourite things to make from my blog too,so I just went ahead,baked and took pictures of it juggling two kids in a row but the net connection...it just didn't work in my favour. Anyway. Here's the recipe and I hope you enjoy this cake as much as we did. Try it even if you are not a beetroot lover,just to know how you can incorporate such a vegetable into your diet in a tasty way!

Friday, March 17, 2017


This recipe comes from the cookbook Malabar Muslim Cookery that Appa gave Amma way back in 1995. That's the very first time I heard about Mrs. Ummi Abdulla. I also very quickly learnt that she is our family friend's mother! I met her for the first time sometime in the late 90's and I remember how exciting it was because I finally got to see that person who wrote one of Amma's favourite cookbooks for real! Little things, right? But those little things make up my life for the most part.
Amma has been making this recipe for the longest time. She first served it with a 'Kadachakka Bajji' / Breadfruit Bajji and it was so so good! Even though I've made many other North Indian versions of this sauce, I think I still have a soft spot for this Malabari condiment. There's something about the tangy,sweet, spicy kick that the sauce gives you. It pairs very well with Chaats,Dahi Vada & it's extra tasty even just to lick it straight out of that shot glass. I did just that after I was done photographing them. It was just so good!
Those glasses I've used in the photographs were the ones I used in 2011,when I won the title of Vanitha Pachakarani. I used them for making my dessert in the final round. When I am home, I find these little little things that reminds me of so many good things. It's like I am reliving my past. Hmm. I am not complaining one bit!
We hosted a YWCA meeting at our home the other day and we served Crackers with Green Onion Topping as the appetizer and  an Orange & Watermelon soda as the welcome drink. The mains were Paneer Mousakka, Dahi Vada (on which we lavishly drizzled this wonderful Chakkarapuli), Vegetable Biriyani & a Cucumber-Mint Bread Salad. The desserts were Tiramisu (with homemade Mascarpone), Triple Chocolate Walnut Pie & Petite Boston Cream Doughnuts. By the way,have I told you guys already that I am on Instagram and I pretty much live there? Follow me on Instagram if you haven't already!

Chakkarapuli Makes about 1 cup

100 grams tamarind
150 grams jaggery,grated
10 dry red chilies
6 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 tablespoon oil

Method: Soak the tamarind in about a cup of water for 1 hour. Break it down with your fingers,knead and squish to take out the pulp. Strain it into another bowl. Grind together the red chilies, garlic and salt using about 1/4 cup of water.
In a medium saucepan, heat the oil and crackle the mustard seeds. When it begins to pop, add the tamarind pulp, jaggery and the ground paste. Bring it to a boil* and take it off the heat. Let it cool completely and use as needed. Leftovers can be refrigerated and should be consumed within 2 weeks.

*If you had to use more water to extract the tamarind pulp or to grind the paste, that's OK. You will have to boil the mixture just a little bit more to get it to a thick sauce like consistency.

So exactly a month ago, we celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary in Bangalore. So I didn't make a cake for us this year. Aaaaannd last year,for our 6th, we were in two different countries,so I didn't make a cake for us. So two years back to back with zero cakes! Too much,right? :-) We are still in Kannur and we are planning to head back after Easter. So maybe this year for our birthdays, we might go all out with cakes! :-) Aaaaand Zara turned 6 months old yesterday! She even uttered a first word about 5 days ago and that first word was....guess what? Cheta!! Ian was SO over the moon then! She is one fast learner, can hold and stand up for like 5 minutes and blabbers non stop already. Ian & Zara are going to be quite a talkative pair for sure! I wonder where they got that trait from? ;-)

To get updates like these along with food pictures, follow me on Instagram!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017


Iam having the time of my life here in Kannur. I don't even remember the last time I planned a menu. Amma does all the cooking and I get to eat all the deliciousness made with love! Ian on the other hand is enjoying a lot more than me. He has some kind of a fascination towards lighthouses and since we have one very very close to our home, Appa takes him there everyday. You should really see that glow on his face when he comes back home after that!
Zara kutty is 5 months old now and she is growing up very fast! She can crawl all over the place,in a caterpillar like fashion and can sit up too! She has been introduced to her first solid food and totally loves it! She even cries when I take the bowl away. I hope she grows up to be a foodie like Ian,then things will be awesome in that department.
So yesterday when Amma made these totally scrumptious Orotti for breakfast, I immediately told her I need to tell you all about it. I am sure some of you must have eaten this at some point in your life. We make this 'palaharam' either for breakfast or for tea time and it's always cherished. The aroma while making Orotti's are simply awesome! So the Orotti's you've been seeing here were made by Amma. I just took some photographs of it. ;-)
Orotti Recipe source: Amma

2 cups fine roasted rice flour (Appam/Idiyappam podi)
1 cup water
Salt to taste
1 cup grated coconut
Coconut oil

Method: In a heavy bottomed sauce pan, bring the water and salt to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and add the roasted rice flour all at once and mix well.Take off the heat, add the coconut,cover the pan and let it sit till it's warm to the touch. Pinch off tennis ball sized dough balls and flatten it in your palms.
Heat some coconut oil in a flat bottomed pan, a tablespoon or two and put the flattened disc of dough over it. Pat it out a little bit more to make that dough disc to 1/4 to 1/2 inch thickness. Cook till the bottom side is golden. Before flipping it over, smear some coconut oil over the second side. Cook till the second side is golden. Take off the heat and transfer it to a hotbox till needed. Serve it with some honey/paani or some spicy curry.
All those who make it at home, do you call them the same? Do you make it the same way ? There are so many ways to make one dish, right? I am intrigued to know if it's the same with Orotti. Anyway, give this a try sometime and let me know what you think! I need to be honest, it feels good to come back here to share a recipe with you all! Thanks for sticking by! I haven't forgotten about sharing Zara's baptism photos, will do so very soon!
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