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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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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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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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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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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Vadai

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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Avial

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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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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