Ria's Collection

Friday, April 12, 2019


Thakkali Pacchadi
Iam a huge fan of Pacchadi. The only Pacchadi that I grew up eating was the one made with Vellarikka which Jaanu Chechy made for us occasionally. It is also known as 'Banni' in Kannur. Jaanu Chechy is an expert at making Vellarikka Pacchadi & Kannur style Meen Curry that whenever we get a chance, we ask her to make it for us. Even now, whenever I go home the request never stop! If she is coming home to help, chances are that there will either be her Meen Curry or Pacchadi on the table by lunch time!

Thakkali Pacchadi
Later when I was in college, Mini aunty would make her special Paccha Manga Pacchadi for lunch which was extremely delicious! I would literally eat just that and maybe a spoonful of rice. It's made very differently from the way Jaanu Chechy made hers. It did not have the ground coconut & mustard paste in it.  So I used to be confused as to why it was called a Pacchadi!

Thakkali Pacchadi
When I moved to Minnesota, I've seen many call the usual salad that we serve for Biriyani, the raw onion-tomato-green chilli- yogurt kind of salad as Pacchadi. So basically a Pacchadi can mean different things to different people depending on where you were raised! :-) I got this recipe from 'Ente Tharavaadu Pachakam', a cookbook Amma gifted me close to a decade ago. It's the second most used cookbook in my collection, the first being Amma's handwritten family favourite recipe book for me.
Thakkali Pacchadi Serves 4-5

1 large tomato, diced
1/2 - 1 teaspoon red chili powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
A sprig of curry leaf
1 cup water

Grind together:
1/2 cup grated coconut
1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/2 cup thick plain yogurt

1 tablespoon coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 sprig curry leaves
2 dried red chilies

Method: Into a saucepan, add the tomatoes, red chili powder, turmeric powder, curry leaves, salt and water. Bring it to a boil and let it cook for 6-8 minutes or until the tomatoes are cooked and very soft. In the meantime, grind together grated coconut, mustard seeds & cumin seeds along with some water to a very fine paste. Add the yogurt and blend it for 30 seconds.
Once the tomatoes are cooked, add the ground coconut - yogurt mix to it and cook stirring continuously over low heat till the mixture begins to steam. Turn off the heat and set aside. Do not let it boil or else the mixture will spilt and it will look ugly.
In a pan, heat the coconut oil and pop the mustard seeds. Add the curry leaves & dried red chilies, give it a quick stir and pour it over the pacchadi. Adjust salt and let it sit, partially covered for 1-2 hours for the flavours to meld.
I made this for us just yesterday and now that Vishu is just around the corner, I thought I'd share this recipe with you all. This is a very easy side dish to make but you need to be careful about not letting the mixture boil. Once it splits, it looks ugly even though it will taste just fine. So just keep stirring it and as soon as the mixture begins to steam, turn off the heat. If you'd like, you can continue to stir it for another minute so that the residual heat doesn't let it split. I do that especially when I make Moru Kachiyathu where it's mostly yogurt.
We love this with Matta rice and a thoran on the side. I prefer to make Pacchadi a few hours before serving time,so that the yogurt gets a chance to turn a little sour. It kind of makes the Pacchadi taste even better, especially when you make it with Vellarikka.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019


Chocolate & Orange Leopard Bread
This bread has been on my mind for atleast 3 years now. Everytime I've seen it, I wanted to try making it at home. Somehow, it got pushed until yesterday. There are so many different ways that you can make such breads and this is the most easiest pattern. Atleast that's what I think.The delight & excitement that I felt while slicing into it was incomparable! I really felt like a little child then. I must also mention that this recipe is eggless and does not use any food colouring!
Chocolate & Orange Leopard Bread
This bread is sweet,not very sweet but it is sweet if you compare it with storebought bread. I somehow felt that it's a cross between a cake & bread. The entire process of making this bread using this recipe was fun for me. I feel it would make a perfect activity for kids especially on a rainy /snowy day. Talking about snowy day...we are having a snow storm right now. Just when it touched 68F the other day and after 3 weeks of good weather...when the trees and plants have started to sprout! Hmm...that's how our sweet Minnesota is...unpredictable! I still remember the weather on Ian's First birthday party. It's usually pretty hot in July but that day, it went down to 40's! We had the party outdoors in a park and all of us ended up wearing jackets!
Chocolate & Orange Leopard Bread
Getting back to this wonderful bread...try it on a day when you need a 'pick-me-up'. It will definitely make your day! I don't know how it will taste if you omit the orange from this recipe. Initially, I did not want to but after tasting it, I felt that it was a good addition. It could be because I like orange in my baked goodies. I do not enjoy fruit filled chocolates though. I can never get myself to like them.
Chocolate & Orange Leopard Bread
When you read the instructions below, it can look a bit confusing at first. It's one of the simplest things to make in reality. You make one dough, divide it into three. Then you are basically rolling them and wrapping them around each other to form a sausage shape. Then you further roll them into long ropes, cut it, stack it and bake. You don't even need an egg wash for the top! It gets golden as it bakes.
Chocolate & Orange Leopard Bread Makes one loaf

1 cup warm milk
2 tablespoons (25 g) cornstarch
1 1/2 tablespoons (15 g) yeast
2/3 cup (70g) sugar, divided
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted & cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons orange zest
3 cups (375 g) all purpose flour

Dark chocolate paste:
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 tablespoon milk

Light chocolate paste:
2 teaspoons cocoa
1 teaspoon milk

Method: In the bowl of your standmixer using a dough hook, whisk together warm milk, cornstarch, yeast, 2 tablespoons sugar and set it aside for 6-8 minutes till it turns frothy. Add the melted butter,orange zest, vanilla extract and turn on the mixer on low speed. Add the flour by the cup and let it mix on medium high speed until it forms into a dough. Turn off the mixer and let the dough rest for 10 minutes. Then turn the mixer on high speed and knead for 8 minutes. Divide the dough into two equal portions. Let's name it A & B. Divide B two equal portions. Now you are left with three dough balls. A, B & C.

Make the dark & light chocolate paste by mixing together the given amount of cocoa and milk  in a small bowl. Tint dough B with dark paste and dough C with light paste. You may have to knead the dough for 2-3 minutes by hand to get them in a uniform colour. Wrap A, B & C in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.
After 1 hour, take out the dough balls and further divide each into 7 equal portions. So now you have 21 dough balls.

Using your hands, roll out the light brown dough into hot dog shapes, about 4 inches long. Set them aside.
Using a rolling pin, roll out the dark brown dough into a flat oval and wrap each of them around the light brown hot dog shapes. Use water to seal the edges.
Using a rolling pin, roll out the white dough into a flat oval and wrap each of them around the dark & light chocolate rolls. Use water to seal the edges.

Now you have 7 tri-coloured rolls. Using your hands, roll each of them into atleast 14-15 inch long ropes and cut them into the two. You will be able to see the beautiful pattern now.
Transfer them into a lined 8 X 5 inch loaf tin by stacking them on top of each other. Cover it with a tea towel and let the dough rise until doubled, till the top of the tin.
Preheat the oven to 375F and then reduce it to 350F as you put the bread in. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Let it cool in the tin for 5 minutes and then unmould the bread and let it cool completely on a wire rack.
Slice and enjoy!

I've tried my best to simplify the instructions. If you have any questions, do let me know in the comment section below.
We really enjoyed the bread. Ian was the only one who didn't like it. I am guessing he didn't like the chocolate-orange combination. Other than that, I must say it was a success! Zara calls it the Tiger Bread! :-) I cannot wait to try other designs now. It's really an exciting process, you should try it to experience it!

Tuesday, April 2, 2019


Bread Vada
don't know about you but I love Teatime! It's something we always cherished at home and I am trying my best to continue that tradition in our house too. I admit that it's a lot of work because it kind of happens right after you are done with the lunch clean up. It used to be a subtle affair earlier but now as the children are growing up, their appetite seems to be growing at lightening speed! No matter what I cook and how much I cook, everything gets over in no time at all.
Bread Vada
These days, I say a silent prayer while I cook. A one line prayer for the food to stretch for another meal so that I don't have to cook four times a day, everyday! So back to the topic... I cannot do a subtle Teatime anymore. It's full on...Boost, Tea, Coffee and sometimes even a glass of Green Juice for the little lady! Then the food. I honestly thank heavens because I enjoy cooking. If not, I would have walked out of the house already! :-)
Bread Vada
No one asks for it but if I make something around Teatime, it vanishes in two seconds. So I know, everyone is hungry! I try to make different things for 'naalumani' so when I came across this recipe by Lakshmi Nair, I made a mental note to try it sometime. Now that Jobin's mummy is with us, it's even more exciting to plan and execute THE snack for the day.
Bread Vada
While I was frying these vadas, Jobin reached back home from work and I immediately asked him if he could make some tea for us to sip while munching on piping hot vadas. While we were hankering around the stove, I told him about my prayer these days. He laughed and said that there's no way that the food I make can last long! I mean, seriously? But why? :-( He was like please don't even think that you can cook one day per week and stretch that food...because we LOVE to eat! I agree, all 4 of us live to eat.
Bread Vada
I sometimes dream of having a help in the kitchen like how Amma has. Like, there are days when I don't feel like touching another dirty cup! There's no paid help in our house and we do every chore ourselves. Kids have designated jobs to do everyday and they do it, luckily without hesitation.  Now that Spring is here, it's going to get extra crazy with ALL the yard work that's waiting for us outside. We have a huge wooded/ private backyard which is extremely beautiful throughout the year but maintaining it is work. When I am gone to India in Summer, Jobin is left with all the work in and around the house and he tells me that it's exhausting. I agree. But the satisfaction that you get when you do it for yourself is something worth experiencing!
Bread Vada
Bread Vada Makes 12-14 pieces

10 slices white bread, crumbled
1 cup yogurt,whisked
2-3 tablespoons water
1/2 cup rice flour (puttu podi)
4 tablespoons semolina
1 medium onion, diced
2 green chilies, diced
1 inch piece ginger, diced
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Cilantro, as needed
1 small sprig curry leaves, torn
Oil for deep frying

Method: In a large bowl, mix together the bread, yogurt and water and set it aside to soak for 5 minutes.In the meantime, heat the oil for deep frying. After 5 minutes,add the remaining ingredients to the soaked bread mixture. It should be like ' Uzhunnu Vada' consistency. Basically, if you scoop some batter in a spoon and tap the spoon, it should fall back into the bowl. If needed,add just enough water to get to that consistency. Wet your palm, pinch a small ball out of the batter, pat into the palm, mark a hole in the centre and gently drop it into the hot oil. Fry till golden on both sides,about 2 mins. Drain excess oil on tissue paper and serve hot!
It's a quick snack that you can make with easily available ingredients. Even though it doesn't taste like 'Uzhunnu Vada' it's a nice crisp snack with a faint sweetness from the bread and heat from the green chilies.You can serve it with Ketchup or any other spicy sauce of your choice. We really enjoyed it and as usual it vanished in under 5 minutes!

Tuesday, February 19, 2019


The kids and I love to spend a lot time in our home library as well as public library. Everytime we go to the public library , we end up spending way too much time and bring back home way too many books. No matter how many times this has happened, I still carry just one reuseable bag to bring the books home. And after checkout, there will be so many more to carry and I would struggle to bring them all to the car in one go,while making sure Zarakutty doesn't wander away in the parking lot. She sometimes asks me to carry her on my hips as well while I am struggling to carry just the books alone!
Anyway long story short, I've been cooking a lot from such borrowed cookbooks lately. I get bored very easily if I have to cook the same recipes over and over again. That list does not include our daily fare like Kachiyamoru, Meen Varuthathu, Thoran, Mezhukkupuratti , Beef Olathiyathu, Meen Vevichathu etc. Now you must be wondering what are the other things that can get me bored. Well, I like to have the above mentioned items for lunch and for dinner, something else. That's when I like to make to different things.
This dal recipe comes from the celebrated author Madhur Jaffery's cookbook At Home with Madhur Jaffery and it's fantastic! It pairs really well with rice as well as rotis. I like to serve this kind of dal with plain white rice where as the dal made with ground coconut, basically our parippu curry with Matta rice. So I always have stock of varieties of rice at home. Basmati, Jeerakashala, Matta, Sona Masoori, Idli Rice...these are my pantry staples!

I have bookmarked so many other recipes from this book to try. Her recipes are so simple and easy to follow.
Serves 4-5

1 cup masoor dal *, washed and drained
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 packed cup chopped cilantro
1/2 -3/4 teaspoon red chili powder
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 medium onion, chopped
10-15 fresh curry leaves
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 big grated clove of garlic

Method: Pressure cook the dal with 3 cups of water and turmeric powder for 4-5 whistles. Once the pressure has settled, open the cooker and mash it completely.
Add the tomatoes,salt, cilantro and red chili powder. Bring to a simmer. Cover, turn heat to low and simmer for 10 mins.Stir and turn off the heat.
Pour the oil into a small pan and on medium heat pop the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Add the onions and curry leaves and fry till the onions start to brown. Add the ginger and garlic and stir for a minute. Then empty the contents into the cooked dal and stir to mix. Serve hot!

* You can use 1/2 cup masoor dal and 1/2 cup moong dal instead. This is what I used and it was delicious!

Whenever I share pictures of my dal on Instagram, I get questioned as to how I make it. Well, this is one way of cooking some delicious dal and it's incredibly easy as well. It pairs really well with white rice, chapathi, poori etc. I really hope you enjoy this curry as much as we did!

Friday, February 15, 2019


Smith Island Cake 2
Hello everyone! I am back and I have lots to tell you! January was a busy month for us since we were travelling back and forth. We came back from Atlanta and then in less than two weeks, we flew to Los Angeles and then embarked on a cruise ship to Ensenada, Mexico. It was a fun filled trip and we came back home with lots of good memories to last a lifetime! Then the mighty winter storm hit us along with Polar Vortex and all I wanted to do was to hibernate until June. Jobin left for India on work for two weeks just hours before the storm began. This year, we've seen a huge amount of snow.
Smith Island Cake

 Today, we complete 9 years of married life. I cannot believe how fast the time has flown by. It feels just yesterday that I was talking to you about our wedding preparations. Now times have changed. We both don't seem to be that enthusiastic about it but Ian on the other hand was just too excited about our wedding anniversary. He has made three cards for us and even decorated the house in whatever way he could. When I was planning on what cake to bake, he insisted that I should sit back and relax while he bakes it for us. He even wrote down a recipe that he found in a cookbook in his own words. It was too cute to see how much our little offspring has grown. Zarakutty just repeats whatever her Cheta has to say and follows him around the house. She is turning out to be a non-stop talker.
Smith Island Cake
I found this recipe in a cookbook called Perfect Cakes that I borrowed from our library. It has some very special recipes for simple and elegant cakes...just the kind I like to bake for us on our special occasions. Nothing over the top fancy for us please. This recipe may seems daunting to you but trust me, it's a very simple one. It's funny how so many people have a feeling that I make complicated things where as in reality, it's really simple. Just read through the recipe and you will know what I am talking about.
Smith Island Cake

Smith Island Cake 2 (1) Makes one 9 inch 9 layered cake

10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened

2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 large eggs,separated plus 3 large yolks, room temperature
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
pinch cream of tartar

Frosting: Place chocolate in a large bowl. Heat cream, sugar and salt on medium heat stirring occasionally until sugar melts and the mixture begins to bubble around the edges. Take off the heat and pour over chocolate. Whisk to combine. Add vanilla and butter and whisk well to combine. Cover and chill for 1 hour until the icing is firm but still spreadable.

Cake: Preheat oven to 350 F and generously grease two 9 inch round cake tins, line with parchment paper, grease parchment paper. I used four 9 inch round tins, so it was much easier.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and 1 1/2 cup sugar. In another bowl, mix together melted and cooled butter, buttermilk, eggs, vegetable oil and vanilla.
Pour the butter mix into the flour mix and beat on low speed for 1 minute. Scrape and beat on medium speed until well combined, 15 seconds. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy. Add remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until glossy stiff peaks form. Fold the whites into the flour mixture in two batches.
Pour 2/3 cup batter into the cake tin and bake for 11-12 mins until golden around the edges and firm to touch. Let it cool in the tin for 5 mins and then remove cakes from the pan. Let it cool completely. Continue baking the remaining layers the same way. I got 9 layers.

Sandwich the cake layers with 1/4 cup of frosting and spread the remaining frosting on top and sides of the cake. Decorate as you please.
The response I got when we cut into the cake was phenomenal. Imagine, you slice into a cake and when you gently pull it out, 9 super thin slices sandwiched using a sleek chocolate frosting comes out? It's so exciting and I must say, this cake is mighty delicious. I will really consider making it again. It's simple to make yet so fantastic to look at. The four of us couldn't stop with one slice. Nothing fancy yet incredible!

Sunday, January 20, 2019


I know it's been a short while since I've posted something here. Let's just blame how crazy December gets and how lazy we can get after all the crazy busy days! We've been travelling quite a bit after Christmas and life in general has been extremely busy at our end. But today, I am back with an excellent recipe for a chutney that will steal your hearts...be warned! It's so quick to make and tastes fabulous!
Amma never really made Tomato Chutney when we were kids. It used to be just the good old,regular Coconut Chutney sometimes with an addition of yogurt to go along with our Dosa's, Vada's & Idli's. The only time we would eat or get an opportunity to eat Tomato Chutney was when we would travel outside Kerala.I must also mention that I was not quite fond of tomatoes other than in Ketchup while growing up. So I don't recall asking Amma to try recreating the chutney's we ate at restaurants outside Kerala. But when I grew up, I slowly started developing a major liking towards all things made with tomatoes and with tomatoes alone.
Tomato pickles were one of my most sought after things during hostel days. That pickle along with some steaming hot white rice and dal would satisfy the hunger pangs on most days! Tomato Rasam was another favourite.
Offlate, I've been making this particular chutney to go along with our Dosa & Idli for breakfast. It has kind of replaced the coconut chutney that I grew up eating. This is an extremely easy chutney to make and has a great texture and body to it that it makes an amazing dip to serve alongside an assortment of crackers besides breakfast items. It hold up well without making the crackers soggy.
When I was contacted by The FeedFeed to know if I would like to partner with Muir Glen to try out their tomato products, I was super excited because it brought together many of my favourites! I've been a long time fan of TheFeedfeed & Muir Glen tomatoes. We buy them from Wedge, our local co-op. Wedge is our most favourite co-ops to shop for groceries because of their quality products and excellent service. We've been shopping there for almost 9 years now and it's one of my favourite places in town to buy fish as well. So when this opportunity came along my way, I decided to make our current favourite Tomato Chutney using Muir Glen Organic Petite Diced Tomatoes with Roasted Garlic. Their stuff is too good, and they even have a sale until January 29th for 10/$10 14.5oz canned tomatoes! Muir Glen has a wide range of tomato products and they are easily available at your local co-op stores. Find you local co-op here using their store locator!

My own recipe
Prep time : 5 minutes
Cooking time : 10 minutes (including the cooling time)
Yields approx 1 1/4 cups

1 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon urad dal
2 dried red chilies a few curry leaves
1/2 cup chopped onions
One 14.5 ounce can Muir Glen Organic Petite Diced Tomatoes with Roasted Garlic, drained
1/4 cup fresh or frozen grated coconut

Method: Heat oil in a saute pan on medium high heat. When hot, add the mustard seeds and let it pop. Then add in urad dal, dried red chilies, curry leaves and onions. Stir them well and let it saute for 1 minute. Add the drained tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes or until the moisture has mostly evaporated,stirring occasionally. Add the grated coconut and mix to combine. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool. Grind it using a blender or food processor. Add salt to taste and serve it at room temperature along with crackers of your choice.

This post is sponsored by Muir Glen and TheFeedfeed, but all opinions are my own.

We love this chutney and it always manages to vanish in no time at all! So these days when I make it, I make it in bulk and leave the rest in the fridge. You just have to warm it up in the microwave for a few seconds before serving it. I think these would make terrific tea sandwiches as well!
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