Mini Parfait

In the about page, I have mentioned that this blog is about helping Maanas and Navya learn cooking. I might be wrong, because I remember that I learnt to make Parfait, the basic version of this dessert, from Maanas a long time ago. He had attended a cooking class once at Whole Foods where he learnt to make pancakes and parfait. He was five years old then. Ever since, he has been in love with this dessert!

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Green Papaya Paratha (Green Papaya stuffed flatbread)

Once considered quite exotic, and was reputably called the “fruit of the angels” by Christopher Columbus, Papaya is now gaining in popularity worldwide as a fruit and is ranked third in total tropical fruit production after bananas and citrus fruits.

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A ‘Wholesome Plant’ Salad

Digging deep, I realized, only “u and i” separate soul from soil…

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Banana Chips of Kerala (Plantain Chips)

Nothing compares to the ‘Banana Chips of Kerala’. It could be the coconut oil in which the slices of bananas are fried that makes the difference, the banana itself, or maybe both. It could very well be the ‘red’ soil in which these are grown, that gives them such unique taste. Whatever it is, once you taste these chips (when they are still warm), you will never be satisfied with any store-bought ones!

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Rosemary focaccia

We are Touched by what we touch

We are Shaped by what we shape

We are Enhanced by what we enhance

– Thomas Berry

In short, this is what this rosemary focaccia is all about!

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Whoever said “a picture is worth thousand words” is so right! I don’t need to write one word about our lives in the northeast these days. It’s “all about that snow”.

With no school for kids and Manoj working from home, there was no rush in the morning. I finally got some time to roast the green coffee beans we had gotten a while ago. Grinding the roasted beans at home and making fresh coffee has been our ritual for a long time, but today we made the brew starting with roasting the raw green coffee beans. The whole house was filled with the wonderful aroma of coffee… is there anything more satisfying than making a fresh cup?

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Heart Cake

On friday, Navya came home from school totally excited, and the reason was she got to bring “Eli Monkey”, her class pet/toy, home. She had been waiting for this day for a very long time and finally got her turn. So this weekend was all about “Eli & Navya,” and we started the “celebration” with a pizza for dinner. The whole of saturday we did many things with, for and only for Eli. And since no celebration is a celebration without a cake, we decided to make one.

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Banoffee Pie

Constructed from the words banana and toffee, “banoffee” (also spelt banoffi) pie is an english dessert made from banana, toffee (boiled condensed milk) and cream, on a base made from crumbled biscuits and butter. Using ‘dulce de leche’ in place of boiled condensed milk makes this is a marvellous ’emergency’ dessert!

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No guilt chocolate cake

Apples, oranges, cranberries, raw chocolate (raw cocoa nibs), coffee seeds, almonds, thyme, coconut oil, maple syrup, spelt flour, baking powder, baking soda and a pinch of salt – not bad for a cake that tastes ‘amazing’, right? Isn’t it wonderful that we can bake, serve, and eat a cake without feeling guilty… that too a chocolate cake? Vegan too!!!

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Beet burger!

Leftover stir-fried cabbage mixed with a boiled potato has been our burger patties for a long time. Nothing might sound this unexciting, but the taste of cabbage and potato together is just amazing. The ease of making them and the way they hold together without breaking made me go back to it everytime, until I saw a beautiful picture of a beet burger. If the cabbage was all about its simplicity, the beet was all about its vibrancy. I just fell for it instantly… everyone else did too!

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Apple Crisp

When the days turn to cool and crisp, Maanas starts craving for the smell of cinnamon from the fresh baked apple crisp. One of my favorites to make, this could be as healthy and easy a dessert can get. The tartness from the fresh cranberries and pomegranates perfectly balancing the sweetness of the apples, the oats and the walnuts giving the perfect crunch, and the coconut oil making it vegan, this apple crisp is our favorite all natural, guilt-free dessert!

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A salad for autumn

As a kid, I never thought I would get into cooking. Not that I hated it, but it was just that there were so many things I felt very passionate about doing, and cooking was just not one of them. Also, I always enjoyed(I still do) eating all sorts of fresh fruits so much that I used to think there was no need to cook to live.

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Stuffed Baby Eggplants

I can’t think of any vegetable more versatile than eggplant and any dish made out of eggplant that’s tastier than this!

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Carrot Halwa Pumpkins

Why is it always “Trick OR Treat” and never “Trick AND Treat?” Well, that is what these pumpkins are all about; made using one of the most famous desserts of India, “Carrot Halwa,” and made to look just like little pumpkins. Perfect for Halloween; a wonderful dessert for the Thanksgiving dinner too!

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Wholewheat apple mini muffins

When life gives us lemons, we make lemonade, and when it gives us apples, we make… apple muffins! These tiny muffins are such a pleasure to make, absolutely delicious, and have always created fond memories.

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Apple Pesto

This could be the last pick of the basil leaves for the season, the signs of the cold nights are already visible on these fresh green leaves. Oh! I am going to miss them totally until next spring; that is how much I depended on them through out this hectic summer.

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Thair Vadai

‘Maanas’ and ‘Manoj’ are written all over these; I can’t tell which one is more though! And, till it gets over, I don’t have to think about preparing any other food for them. That’s “Thair(means yogurt or curd) Vadai”, the savory lentil donuts soaked in an exotic yogurt sauce, these two relish till the very last drop!

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Corn Chowder

For Maanas, if last year had been a year of carrot soup, this year has been all about corn chowder. He seems to enjoy this ‘pale golden soup, with the hint of sweetness’ so much. So when we picked our first corn, there was nothing much to think but make his favorite corn chowder. A perfect ending to the summer!

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Chocolate Biscuit Cake


Six months flew by… fun, joyful, exciting, thrilling, and extremely satisfying are some of the emotions we went through together during these days. Of course I am conveniently forgetting those frustrations, who wants to remember them any way? This journey has been absolutely rewarding for us. The best definitely has been the support and encouragement we are receiving from all of you. With our hearts filled with gratitude, we thank each one of you for taking us this far!

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Brown paper packages tied up with strings…have always been one of my favorite things, and a few warm, crisp biscotti make such a package even sweeter! Who can resist a crunchy biscotto dipped in a hot cup of coffee in the morning?

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Three delicate herbs… three delicious dishes

Aug 14th, the day before India’s Independence day, I was standing in our kitchen wondering how to create an image of the national flag of India, just from vegetables and herbs. I had in front of me, heirloom tomatoes in all sorts of beautiful colors, garlic, onion and a few curry leaves, the herb I have seen the most as a child, growing up in the southern most state of India, the beautiful Kerala. The picture below is the best that I could come up with. Happy Independence Day, India!

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Who can resist a crispy, fluffy, deep fried yet not so oily snack ever? Made using the highly nutritious “Black Gram/Urad Dal”, Vadai is one of the well loved South Indian snacks. Though they can vary in size and shape, it is traditionally shaped as a doughnut, measuring about 6 cm across, the hole in the center being the defining feature. All the ingredients needed to make vadai are typically available in any South Indian kitchen at any given time and that, I guess, would be one of the reasons why it is so commonly prepared at home. Also, in spite of being deep-fried, it is not oily if we get the consistency of the batter right. Just the thrill of getting the shape right is an absolute reward for attempting to make these!

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Watermelon, feta, and blueberries

Wishing you a very happy 4th of July with a simple mix of watermelon, feta, and blueberries…

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No feast is a feast without “Avial”, I guess, for any vegetarian from Kerala. Prepared with vegetables mostly native to the region, avial, with its simple, subtle flavor remains as a signature dish from this beautiful southern state, also known as the spice capital of India. With its strong tradition of Ayurveda practice, Kerala cooking is so healthy, colorful and light compared to the rest of India. For those who are not familiar with the dish, it is more like a “Vegetarian Thai Green Curry” using less ingredients to make the paste. Another way of looking at this dish is like a salad made of cooked vegetables, seasoned with coconut paste, curry leaves and coconut oil.

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Strawberry Cake With Barley

Through out the winter, Navya was so worried about her strawberry plants in the backyard. Once they lost the green leaves, she was afraid they might never come back. Mother earth couldn’t keep her sad for too long. In spite of the very cold weather in early spring, tender green leaves began to appear on her strawberry plants and she was dancing around joyfully. A few weeks later she started picking her own fresh, fragrant, red, juicy strawberries, every morning.

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Phulka (Wholewheat Flatbread)

What can be more satisfying, at the same time more basic than making a bread at home from just two ingredients – flour and water? Watching the dough turn from a lumpy mess into a silky mass is absolutely fascinating and relaxing. That is what these flatbreads are all about. Like any other bread, time and heat take care of the rest.

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Kaju Burfi (Cashew Burfi)

One of the most loved indian sweets and Maanas’ favorite, he decided to make it yesterday “all by himself”. Even after a small burn on one of his fingers, he didn’t give up. I must admit his kaju burfi turned out to be the best we have ever tasted!

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A Salad for Spring

This winter we had a “blast”… the snowman and the snow fort in our front yard never melted, the snow fights never ended, and the roasted marshmallows never stopped melting in our mouths. The best winter ever!

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Wholewheat Cupcakes with Sucanat Buttercream Frosting

Hooray…”handfulofrecipes” is two months old now! Can you believe it? We just can’t thank each and everyone of you enough for all your encouragement and support. The journey so far has been truly amazing. To celebrate, we would love to share these cupcakes with you. Quite a simple and undemanding recipe, using wholewheat flour and sucanat yet giving excellent result. Hope you would enjoy!

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Carrot Soup

It was almost the end of last November, but we still had so many carrots to be picked, thanks to Navya, who is so obsessed not only when it comes to eating those raw, crunchy carrots, but also while planting the seeds.  She had planted the seeds all around the small vegetable patch in our backyard like a border; and from Summer till late Fall we ate a lot of carrots every single day, in every possible way too! Both Maanas and Navya would eat raw carrots, but “ewww” was their immediate response if they had to have any dish with cooked carrots until…

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Gobi(Cauliflower) Manchurian

Isn’t this the most loved indo-chinese appetizer ever? Just the name makes many of us drool, I’m sure:). We enjoy this as an appetizer, side dish and main course, all at the same time; that’s how much we love ‘Gobi Manchurian’!

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Blueberry Scones

Ten years back we took the first bite of a blueberry scone ever, while enjoying an absolutely delicious breakfast at “Linden House”, a bed and breakfast plantation in Virginia, run by Ken and Sandy Pounsberry. What a beautiful place! Even better, there was  no cable or dish connection for TV, no signal for mobile phones. Can anyone ask for a better place for vacation:)  A wedding anniversary ritual, we chose Linden House that year for our bed and breakfast stay.  After a yummy breakfast, we roamed around in D.C. area, with Maanas mostly in the sling.  A beautiful day we will always remember!

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Tabbouleh Burrito!

We love good vegetarian mexican food. So it was no surprise that we were totally excited when Chipotle, the mexican restaurant opened close to us. Within the first month of their opening, we were there two or three times and every time, everyone ordered burritos. But soon the kids started getting uncomfortable with the large size of the wrap.  So, we “mini-sized” it. Continue Reading →


Spicy Tangy Salsa

Absolutely mouth-watering, isn’t it?  Such a refreshing salsa…. simple, fresh ingredients, very easy to make. Tastes superb! What more can we ask for?  More of a summer time favorite when the tomatoes are so abundant, but equally enjoyable on a cold winter day like today …… when it’s snowing outside.

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Y’day, we really wanted to bake a cake…. we had all the reasons! Only to find out our oven was not working. Two days earlier we used it and it was perfectly fine. Anyway, we couldn’t  wait for some one to fix the oven and then bake a cake; so simply chose to make a ‘Tiramisu’ instead. Since there was no cooking involved, Navya decided she would make it “all by herself” and she enjoyed thoroughly all the way – from the beginning till the end. It’s that simple a recipe. No cooking, no baking, no egg. Tastes yummy…a sweet delight to any celebration!

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When my kids come running to the table screaming, “oooh….it’s channa…” the joy on their faces become the greatest delight. “Wow! Really?  I’m a mom!!” I still feel so ready to be in my mom’s kitchen on my way back from school trying to guess just from the smell, all that she had made and kept hot for me. Enjoying every single bite, I would pour out everything that happened at school that day. Beautiful memories!! And I am so thrilled to be able to create such memorable experiences in my kids’ minds too…..

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Quinoa Raspberry Muffins

This recipe caught my immediate attention while browsing through a very interesting and beautiful book “Cooking with Quinoa” – Rena Patten. But li’l did I know about ’2013′ being declared as the “International Year of Quinoa” at that time.

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Strawberry Almond Raw Cake


Is it the stunning pictures or the quote next to it ( “It is the sweet simple things of life which are the real ones after all.” – Laura Ingalls Wilder) … or is it as simple as the beautiful handwriting in which it is written… or is it the pure raw organic ingredients? I still don’t know … ever since I visited roostblog, this raw cake found its way staright to my heart!

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Appam is a bowl shaped crisp crepe with a small pancake in the middle, made of rice, cooked on one side only, in a curved metal pan:) For those who are familiar with “Dosa & Idli”, the two famous breakfasts of South India, appam is like a small crisp dosa with an idli in the middle. Soft, fluffy and spongy in the middle, thin, crisp and lacy on the side, this dish is usually served with a coconut based curry.

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Wholewheat Blueberry Muffins

Don’t you feel a ‘muffin’ is just like a home – in both cases a good one must be made; not bought! This blueberry muffin absolutely fits into that category. So light….. crunchy outside, moist and fluffy inside, the beautiful rich color of the blueberry ‘juice’ finding its way out anywhere it can …. Oh! Never have to worry about the cooling time:)

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Potato Stew

The simplest, easiest, quickest, tastiest….. this potato stew remains as one of the most favourite dishes of Maanas. May be because, it matches his personality so well – “less or least effort…. more comfort”:) The perfect combination of ‘ginger’, ‘black pepper’, ‘curry leaves’ and that one li’l spoon of ‘pure coconut oil’ in the end, it indeed is very flavourful.

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All the kids in the neighborhood including ours love guacamole and I love making it for them. It is a pure joy watching them enjoy something as simple as that… especially my ‘one year old baby neighbor’ with her big smile, showing her two teeth, who enjoy walking all around with one chip dipped in guacamole…On hot days, we will have impromptu get togethers with chips, salsa, guacamole and some fresh lime juice; when we put out the sprinklers and the pool on our front yard. The kids have lots of fun; watching them parents too. A blessing to have such wonderful neighbors!

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Pizza with ‘cherry’ on top!

Grow your own food, leave out what isn’t necessary and enjoy what you have…….this is all that comes to my mind when I think about this pizza.  May not be the best pizza in the world….but pure joy for the eyes…. who wouldn’t get excited about all those tiny little warm flavorful cherry tomatoes – coated with a mix of herbs , thyme, rosemary and oregano in extra virgin olive oil, some olives, the bubbly melting cheese, the crispy crust…… It takes such a little effort and no fancy gear, but the reward is so huge. A simple yummy food!

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