Through The Looking Glass

"See the world through the eyes of a creative contributor who loves to illustrate the small
adventures that life creates. My hope is to put down in words and portraits especially those things that are apparent yet not always on parchment. Today unique thoughts, accounts, illustrations, and experiences may not remain distinctive but satisfaction can still be derived from the recognizable sentiment of them and from the faithful bonds they create."

Thursday, April 29, 2010

~Vegetable Beef Stir Fry~

Lately I catch a TV show called Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution which I strongly appreciate. This incredible man began his food revolution in the UK and now has come to the USA to continue his work. He strives to bring healthy food consumption to schools and portrays affordable ways to buy and cook food good for families, the general public, and especially for those who are struggling with weight and other health issues. His Season 1, Episode 4 had my mouth watering as he had 1,000 people cook delicious stir fry, and other goodies, according to a bet he had made to win over a previously antagonistic radio show host. Needless to say, after much struggle, he made a new friend and began the food revolution with a bang! The following is a recipe of his ( that I modified. It is so delicious and very worth a try! I tried to divide up the ingredients as you would use them and accordingly the different parts for what you need to do.

For Part One:
  • Egg noodles - 250g ~ was about half the packet we bought
For Part Two:
  • Olive Oil - few Tbsp ~ for stir fry
  • Garlic Cloves - 2 pieces ~ thinly slice
  • Fresh Ginger - thumb size piece ~ thinly slice
  • Green Chilies - 3-4 ~ thinly chop
  • Thinly Sliced Stake - 2 pieces
  • Beansprouts - 200g ~ was little less than half packet we bought
  • Soy sauce - a good splash
  • Sesame Oil - a good splash
  • Lime - 1 full ~ divide in half
For Part Three:
  • Ginger Garlic Paste - little less than 1 tbsp
  • Onion - 1/4 of one ~ finely slice into tiny cubes
  • Shiitake Mushrooms - 1/4 Cup ~ chopped medium
  • Red Pepper (capsicum) - 1/4 of one ~ finely chop into tiny cubes
  • Sugar Snap Peas - about 6 ~ slice each once lengthwise
  • Carrots - 2 medium ~ thinly sliced
  • Green Onion (spring onions) - 6 stalks (abt. two roots) ~ finely slice
  • Gold and White Corn - 2/3 Cup
you will need the noodles here and the other half of the green chillies as well as the other half of lime juice.

For Part Four:
  • Fresh Coriander Leaves - chop about 3 stalks
you will need the meat with juices back in here.

Part One
1. Boil water, then add Egg Noodles and salt and cook for a few minutes. Stir every so often, drain, and place aside. Be careful, these noodles cook quite fast.
2. Heat about 2 tbsp oil in non-stick (heavy bottom) pan. Add the sliced garlic, then ginger, then half the green chillies and cook for a minute. 
3. Add the beef and cook for just under 4 mins. (depends on quantity/amt. of meat).
4. Add the beansprouts and good splash of soy sauce, then sesame oil, then half the lime juice in the latter half of cooking. Be careful not to overcook the meat.
5. Place all the cooked ingredients above into a bowl for later.

Part Two
6. Now place the same pan back on the stove and heat about 1 tbsp oil. 
7. Add the Onions, spring onions, add mushrooms (cook for a min.), add ginger garlic paste and cook for a few secs.
8. Now add the other half of green chillies, carrots, red pepper, corn, sugar snap peas and cook for a good 2-3 mins. Toss and stir frequently.
9.  Add the noodles and toss and stir frequently until everything mixes very well for about 3 mins.
10. Place noodles vegetable mix into a dish and squeeze the other 1/2 lime juice over it.

Part Three and Four
11. Place the meat with juices back into the pan onto the stove  and heat for a bit (don't overcook). Add the coriander to this mix.
12. Arrange meat dish on top of the noodles with juices evenly poured over top. Garnish with coriander stalk.

~ You won't need a side dish with this. It is just so flavorful and very filling! Serves 4.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

~Cardamom Coconut Cupcakes~

I used the same basic cake recipe that I had posted earlier with a few minor subtractions (vanilla essence, sugar amt.) and a few additions (cardamom powder, coconut flakes) and created a new bake! Have these delights for dessert or with a warm beverage.

  • Butter - 1/2 cup ~ melted
  • Sugar - 3/4 Cup or to taste
  • Eggs - 2
  • All purpose flour - 1 and 1/4 Cup
  • Baking powder - 1 tsp
  • Cardamom Pods - 10 ~ finely powder
  • Salt - 1 pinch
  • Milk - little less than 1/2 Cup ~ enough to make cake-like batter
  • Unsweetened Desiccated Coconut - 1.5 tbsp
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 deg. Grease and flour dust a muffin/cupcake pan.
2. In a bowl, add warm, melted butter to sugar and mix.
3. Next add 2 eggs and mix.
4. Add the flour, the baking powder, cardamom powder, and salt and mix well until no lumps.
5. Add the milk and mix in well. Then add the coconut and mix thoroughly again.
6. Pour batter into muffin/cupcake tin and bake for approx 30 mins.
7. You can create your own icing or eat plain.

~ Makes about 10 cupcakes. Enjoy with a delicious cup of chai!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

~Fettuccine with Red Sauce Lunch~

The other day, I was craving pasta. Yes, there are some of us who crave that kind of thing. My eye caught the fettuccine pasta label and I thought, why not? Let's make this into a quick lunch. My hubby was quite happy with the taste and even I said, YUM!

  • Fettuccine noodles - 1/2 the box ~ boiled and drained
  • Oil - 1 tbsp
  • Onion - 1/2 medium ~ cut fine lengthwise
  • Salt - to taste
  • Green chilies - 2 or to taste ~ cut fine
  • Turmeric - 1/2 tsp
  • Black Pepper Powder - 1 tsp
  • Garam Masala - 1/2 tsp
  • Dry Basil - 1 tsp
  • Green Pepper - 1/4 of one ~ finely chopped
  • Green Onion - 3 stalks ~  finely chop (1 root has about 3 stalks on it)
  • Pasta Sauce - 1/2 cup (less or more) ~ We used tomato garlic sauce.
  • Cheese - for garnishing ~ choose your favorite. We went with pepper jack.
1. First add pasta to water and start boiling since this takes a while. Some people add a pinch of salt in hopes of cooking it faster. 
2. Heat oil and add onions. Add a dash of salt for the onions to cook faster.
3. Add the green chillies. Mix and cook for a few mins. 
4. Now add the dry spices, turmeric, pepper powder, garam masala, and dry basil and cook. Add a tsp of water if it threatens to burn.
5. Now add the green pepper and cook for about 3 mins. Then add the green onion and cook for 2 mins. Then add desired pasta sauce and mix in well for another 1-2 mins.
6. Add more salt, only if needed. 

~ Serve hot on top of fettuccine pasta, garnish with desired cheese, and get ready to adore the taste!

~Carrot Sabzi~

Given to me by a friend, (Jenny), this vegetable recipe is oh so easy to make and adds a nice, colorful side dish to any course.

  • Oil - 1 tbsp or less
  • Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
  • Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
  • Urad daal - 1 tsp
  • Curry leaves - 3-4 leaves
  • Medium Onion - 1/2 ~ cut fine
  • Green Chilies - 1-2 ~ to taste ~ cut lengthwise
  • Carrots - 2-3 ~ medium or large
  • Salt - to taste
  • Cilantro - 1 stalk ~ for garnishing
1. Grate carrots and keep aside.
2. Heat oil, splutter mustard seeds, add cumin seeds.
3. Now add urad daal until it starts to brown or turn an orangish color (do not burn).
4. Drop in curry leaves and fry for a min or two.
5. Now add the onion and cook until translucent. You can add a dash of salt to cook it faster.
6. Add the green chillies and cook for a few minutes.
7. Now add the carrots and salt and cook on low heat for about five more mins.
8. Garnish with chopped cilantro in the end.

~ Enjoy!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

~Green Bean Thoran~

Aunty Samuel taught me how to make this simple and delicious thoran with coconut. So, let's see how it's done!

  • Oil - 1 tbsp
  • Mustard Seeds - 1 and 1/2 tsp
  • Medium Onion - 1/2 ~ chop lengthwise
  • Turmeric - 1/2 tsp 
  • Green Chilies - 2-3 ~ to your taste
  • Green Pepper (capsicum) - 1/4 ~ chop fine
  • Yellow Pepper - 1/4 ~ (optional) chop fine
  • Red Pepper - 1/4 ~ (optional) chop fine
  • Small Tomato - 1 ~ chop fine cubes
  • Frenchstyle Green Beans - 1 Cup
  • Coconut - 3-4 tbsp
1. Place onions in oil. Add a bit of salt to cook them faster, until translucent.
2. Add turmeric and mix, then add green chilies, and fry for a min.
3. Add the peppers and fry for abt. two mins.
4. Now add the tomato and cook until tomatoes are squished looking.
5. Add the green beans and cook till tender. Add salt as needed.
6. Add coconut in the end, mix well, and cook for a min. Do not burn!

~ I usually steam the green beans in the rice cooker while the rice is cooking just to have them cook faster. By the time the rice is ready, I'm ready to put the beans in. If you can't steam beans then just cook for longer. All the peppers add wonderful flavor or color but you can add just the Green Peppers too. Enjoy with some white rice or rotis.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

~Atta Diamond Cuts~

Today I wanted to surprise my hubby with something special from my childhood days. Aha! Idea Ammachi! I started craving for these just as soon as the idea showed up. Not only did I surprise my hubby, I impressed him so much that he said he could eat these for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!



  • Atta (wheat) flour - 1.5 Cups
  • All purpose flour (maida) - 1 Cup
  • Powdered Sugar - 2/3 Cup
  • Salt - a pinch
  • Water - as needed
  • Olive Oil - 2-3 tbsp ~ enough to shallow fry ~ alternative: use vegetable oil
1. Sift and mix well atta, all purpose flour, salt, and powdered sugar into a bowl.
2. Add small amts. of water, and mix with hand, until it becomes one large ball of dough.
3. Knead the dough for a min., then create tennis size balls which you should thinly roll out with a rolling pin.
4. Cut diamond shapes with a large knife (or whatever knife works).
5. Heat oil in a large pan, and place diamond cut slices into it until it browns. 

~I like to shallow fry, unless I really have to use more oil for something. This snack is quite healthy and palatable. 

You can create these without adding the sugar, instead add:
  •  two pinches of red chilli powder
  • two-three pinches ajwain seeds
  • another pinch or two of salt 

(mixing all three into the dry ingredients before creating the dough) to make it a nice salty snack!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

~Egg Curry~

One day my friend (Anna), who gave me this recipe, made Egg Curry and I caught my husband licking his fingers. When another time he asked me to cook this dish for him, I made him scrambled eggs because I had no idea how to make it! However, I am glad because this tasty dish is so simple to make!

  • Eggs - 4-6 ~ hard boil
  • Oil - 1 tbsp
  • Onions - 1 ~ chop lengthwise
  • Cinammon Stick - 1 whole
  • Ginger Garlic paste - 1 tbsp
  • Curry leaves - approx 6-8 leaves
  • Chicken 65 masala - 1/2 tbsp or less ~ to taste
  • Red chili powder - to taste
  • Tomato Paste - 2 tbsp
  • Ketchup - 1 tbsp ~ adjust as needed
  • Coriander leaves - 3-4 stalks - chopped fine
  • Salt - to taste
  • Water - optional ~ add more for more sauce
1. Hard boil eggs. 
2. Saute onions in oil - add a bit of salt to cook them faster until translucent. Add cinnamon stick after one to two mins.
3. Add ginger garlic paste, fry a bit, then add curry leaves, fry again.
4. Now add the chicken 65 masala, and red chili powder.
5. After about a min. or two, add the tomato paste and mix well.
6. After another min. add the ketchup and keep mixing.
7. Now add the coriander leaves and mix those and then add salt to taste. Continue to mix well so that the masala does not burn. Add a tiny bit of water if you have to.
8. After everything is mixed into a nice flavorful paste, cut eggs in half and add with yolk facing down. Slowly turn the eggs after a min. or two so that all sides will fry nicely in the masala. Be careful so that it doesn't burn.

~Serve with plain or fried rice, or chappatis, or parathas. 

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

~Swedish Pancakes~

My Mom-in-law gave me this recipe which my husband uses to create pancake yumminess. These pancakes are very close to the ones my dad makes at home, in India. He adds banana to the batter. These pancakes are nice and thin and can be made crispy if you like.

Plain but so good!

Fluffy Banana Pancakes!

  • All purpose flour - 1 Cup
  • Milk - 1 Cup
  • Eggs - 1
  • Butter - 1/4 Cup 
  • Sugar - small amt. ~ optional
  • Salt - 1/2 tsp
1. Melt butter, then add flour, milk, egg, salt, and sugar.
2. Spread on heated pan and make golden brown.

~Serve with maple syrup, honey, nutella and whipped cream, strawberries, bananas, or anything else you love!

For an alternative, you can add coconut and cardamom powder into dry ingredients or mashed banana for extra taste!

Monday, April 12, 2010

~Jeera Vellam or Cumin Water~

The other day I was complaining to my mom that I want to drink adequate fluids but really dislike drinking plain water. She gave me a great idea! The following is something we use in South India, especially since we don't drink tap water there, water has to be boiled carefully. I gave my husband some for the 'first' time (he forgot he had a taste when we were in Southern India about two years ago). After his first sip, my husband wanted me to put the teapot on again! Apparently he also wasn't the greatest plain water drinker! Now he wants some for everyday. The secret for this refreshment is very simple!

  • Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
  • Water - one teapot full
1. Add cumin seeds to water and boil.
2. Sift, serve, and enjoy :)

~ Water can be consumed warm, or cooled at room temperature. Note: water will be yellowish in color. Don't mind the spice dust on spoon from my chef's pallet! :)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

~A Chef's Pallet~

Cooking Indian food is a delight! It is sometimes more joyful when my spices are organized. Introducing the chef's pallet! I didn't have this in my early experimentation of Indian food but today it is a precious and very useful component of the artistry. Each little bowl holds the spices I use most and since this picture was taken, it has been re-arranged. At home, in India, a lot of the spices are prepared fresh off the stone, and finely powdered over the fire. Alas, that is not the case in my kitchen, so I have bought most of these spices at the Indian store. Different chefs may find other spices more important but here is what continues to work well for me.

  • Top right, at about 1 O'clock, (but now placed in the middle), Mustard Seeds: useful for letting you know when the oil is hot enough. Gives a pleasant aroma to the oil. Should splutter, otherwise give off a bitter taste.
  • At about 4 O'clock, Turmeric: applied on brides and even grooms before their wedding day to make their skin glow. It is used in nearly every Indian dish, in curries and pickles. Usually you only need about a tsp. for the color. Not too much more since it leaves a bitter taste and can cause your teeth to stain yellow! Try not to get it on any kitchen surfaces due to its staining action.
  • At almost 6 O'clock, Jeera or Cumin Seeds: Not to be confused for caraway seeds, cumin seeds are used for their distinct aroma. Used in many different curries and usually added with or after mustard seeds into the heated oil.
  • At 8 O'salt, Salt: Ah! Where would we be without this pure looking taste of food! But too much can eventually cause high blood pressure so please watch your salt intake and taste your cuisine frequently to add just enough.
  • At about 10 O'clock, Red Chili Powder: Adding spicy hotness to your curry! 
  • At about 12 O'clock, Garam Masala: Literally "Hot Mixture," are a blend of various spices and are made very differently in all parts of India. The masala shown (homemade from India) probably has cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, pepper corns, and other things, roasted into a fine powder over a hot gas stove. Garam masala is used in different curries but look for it in vegetable and other dishes I cook.
  • In the middle (but now to the side) Black Pepper Powder: This powdered pepper is derived from black peppercorns which are dried and crushed into fine powder. Pepper is used as a seasoning and can be added into different foods, including fried cuisine. 

Saturday, April 10, 2010

~Basic Vanilla Cake~

After we got married, my husband and I tried baking more than four different types of cake. We followed each recipe to the point but none of those fancy cakes came out right. In fact one started shrinking as we took it out of the oven while another turned out to be a hard inedible brownie! I went back to the basics and finally baked a cake that was not only edible, but also deliciously tasty!


  • Butter - 1/2 cup ~ melted
  • Sugar - 1 Cup (or less)
  • Eggs - 2
  • Vanilla essence - 1 tsp
  • All purpose flour - 1 and 1/4 Cup
  • Baking powder - 1 tsp
  • Salt - 1 pinch
  • Milk - 1/4 Cup
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 deg, grease and flour dust an 8x8" pan
2. In a bowl, add warm, melted butter to sugar and mix.
3. Next add 2 eggs and mix.
4. Add the vanilla essence and keep stirring.
5. Add the flour, the baking powder, and salt and mix well until no lumps.
6. Add the milk and mix in well.
7. Pour batter into pan and bake for 35-40 mins.
8. You can create your own icing or eat plain.

~I am not sure whether I will add icing recipes because I am just not an icing person. Plus, I am too impatient to wait for the cake to cool completely before taking a little taste! This cake was so easy to create, it made a baker out of me :)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

~Egg Fried Rice~

A friend in India (Becky) told me it was very easy to make egg fried rice and it was simple to cook it for her family. I didn't try any recipes until I found this one and modified it. My husband loved it!

  • Oil - 1 tbsp ~ I use Olive
  • Onions -1/2 ~ chopped thin/lengthwise
  • Green Chillis - 3 ~ chopped widthwise
  • Ginger Garlic Paste - 1 full tsp 
  • Green Pepper - 1/4 ~ chopped fine
  • Carrots - 4 mini ~ chopped widthwise
  • Eggs - 2-3 ~ whisk first
  • Pepper Powder - 1 and 1/2 tsp
  • Salt - to taste
  • Rice - 2 cups ~ cooked, works well for leftover rice
1. Heat oil in non-stick pan.
2. Add in onions, bit of salt, and then green chillis and fry till golden brown or transparent.
3. Add Ginger Garlic paste and fry for about 1 min.
4. Add green pepper and carrots and fry for 2-3 mins, until peppers are slightly cooked.
5. Now add the whisked eggs, cook, then scramble.
6. Add the pepper powder and some salt, as needed.
7. Add the rice in and stir, cook for 5 mins.

~This recipe is good for two persons and you can make another main or side dish or even absolutely nothing else to go with this since it is filling. You can add any other veggies to this, but adjust the other ingredients accordingly. Enjoy! :)

Saturday, April 3, 2010

~Malabar Style Kerala Chicken Curry~

This South Indian chicken curry is sure to be a hit. Make it with cuts of chicken thigh or breast and spice it up with as much chilli as you desire. 


  • Chicken - 2.2 lbs (cut into medium sized pieces)
  • Oil - 2 tbsp ~ for frying
  • Mustard seeds - 3 pinches
  • Onions - 1 
  • Curry Leaves - 1 stalk or more
  • Ginger Garlic Paste - 2 tsp
  • Chilli Powder - 1 tsp OR green chillies cut small
  • Coriander Powder - 2 tsp
  • Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Garam Masala Powder - 1 tsp
  • Thin Coconut milk - 1 Cup
  • Coconut - cut in thin pieces
  • Water - as reqrd
  • Salt - as reqrd
  • Red Wine - a splash
  • Thick coconut milk - 1/2 Cup ~ optional
  • Fresh Coriander Leaves - 2 stalks
1. Heat oil in pan.
2. splutter mustard seeds.
3. fry onions till golden brown.
4. add curry leaves.
5. when color changes add garlic and ginger paste.
6. add chicken, chillies, coriander powder, turmeric, garam masala.
7. mix well and stir for a few mins.
8. add the coconut milk (thin) and or coconut pieces.
9. add water (not too much) and salt to taste.
11. add a splash of wine.
12. when chicken is fully cooked - add thick coconut milk if wanted...

~Serve with basmati rice and garnish with coriander leaves for an authentic taste!

Friday, April 2, 2010

~Tuna Cutlets~

This recipe is derived from (Golda) a friend's instructions. I tried it out recently and it was fabulous. A milder yet very tasty snack or side dish.


  • Potatoes ~ 2 medium ~ chopped fine
  • Olive Oil ~ few tbsp
  • Jeera (cumin seeds) ~ 1 tsp
  • Onion ~ 1 medium ~ chopped fine cubes
  • Ginger Garlic Paste ~ 2 tsp
  • Salt ~ to taste
  • Turmeric powder ~ 1/2 tsp
  • Indian Green Chillies ~ 1 or 2 to taste
  • Red chili powder ~ to taste or optional
  • Coriander powder ~ 1/2 tbsp
  • Fish Curry powder ~ 1 tbsp
  • Garam Masala powder - 2 tsp
  • Coriander leaves ~ few stalks ~ chop part with leaves
  • Tuna in water ~ 3 cans ~ drained
  • Eggs ~ 2 ~ whip
  • Bread Crumbs ~ enough to roll
  • Water ~ as needed

1. Wash, peel, chop potatoes, and boil in hot water until soft. You can continue with the other cooking while potatoes boil. Drain and set aside in mixing bowl.
2. Next pour 1 tbsp oil in non-stick pan.  Place Jeera in oil until you see them dance. Add onions.
3. Add small bit of salt on onions to make them cook faster and wait until you see them become translucent. Add turmeric powder, mix, then ginger garlic paste. Fry for 1 min.
4. Add the finely chopped green chillies, fry a bit, then add tomatoes, give it 3-4 mins, stir so mixture does not burn.
5. Add red chilli powder, coriander powder, fish curry powder, and garam masala powder. Mix well and add small amount of water if it threatens to burn. Cook for few minutes. 
6. Add tuna to mixture and cook for another few minutes. Not too long since the tuna is already pre-prepared. Add coriander leaves. Adjust salt and other powder/masala content as needed.
7. After a few minutes, take the tuna mixture and add to the potatoes. Mix well.
8. Wash the non-stick pan if using the same, or take another non-stick pan and heat 2-3 tbsp oil.
9. Take tuna-potato mixture and spoon out balls. Create desired shape and flatten a bit. Dip in egg and roll in bread crumbs. Shallow fry the tuna cutlets. Drain excess oil. Place on paper towels. 

~Enjoy hot with ketchup or chili sauce. 

~Coconut Burfi in Mango Sauce~

A heavenly delight, these simple coconut burfis can be made in minutes for dessert.

  • Cardamom ~ 5-7 pods ~ shell then pound seeds to produce fine powder
  • Finely shredded unsweetened coconut ~ 1/4-1/2 cup
  • Condensed Milk ~ 4-8 tbsp
  • Mango Pulp ~ 2-3 tbsp
  • Oil ~ if needed
1. Place coconut in non-stick pan. If no non-stick pan, heat small amt. oil first, then add coconut.
2. Stir consistently until you smell the coconut. Do not brown.
3. Add the cardamom powder and mix well.
4. Now add the condensed milk until every bit of coconut sticks together. Mash together for 1 min.
5.  Take coconut and place on plate or pan where it can be evenly flattened. Cut into desired shape or roll with hand to make small balls.
6. Place in desired dish and add small amount of mango pulp. 

~Serve warm or cooled down. Burfis may be served without added mango pulp.