Baklava - This awesome middle eastern pastry sweet was completely new to me when I tasted it for the first time a month ago. I was craving for some Indian sweets but ended up getting this, did not have much hopes on first look, but when I took a bite, it was yummmmmmm.

Recently got the recipe for this and tried at home, it was great. You need Fillo pastry sheets to do this.

Hunting for the Fillo / Phyllo dough was not difficult too. If you are not already aware, the Fillo sheets are very very very thin, that it needs a very gentle and careful treatment. I guess the Athens Fillo brand is the quite common one and I could easily spot it in the International shop, they say it is also available in Walmart and some other super markets in the frozen section.

As such the recipe is no big deal, Arrange the fillo sheets, butter them, stuff them with nuts, bake them. Make a simple syrup, pour it on top of Baklava and let it set. Process is simple but handling the Fillo sheets is the challenging part which might be difficult the first time, but result will be definitely worth it. And am sure when u repeat it, it becomes an easy job.

I think this is one super-duper sweet for Give-Away's or Pot Luck.

Things you need:-

Fillo Dough (Contains Thin sheets of Fillo Dough) - 1 Packet
Melted Unsalted Butter - 1 or 2 sticks depending on how much u make
Knife (A serrated edge, not the plain edged knife)
Pastry Brush (You really cant do without it)
Nuts (Pistas/Almonds/Cashew/Walnuts) - 1 cup
Sugar - 2 to 4 sp (per taste)
Cinnamon Powder - A pinch

For the Syrup:-
Honey - 2 Tbsp
Sugar - 2 cups
Water - 2 cups
Lime Juice - From half a lime


1) Thaw the Fillo sheets per instruction given by the manufacturer

2) For stuffing, you can use any single or combination of nuts, I used cashews and walnuts. Take 1/2 cup of each, grind to coarse texture, add couple of spoons of sugar to taste, pinch of cinnamon. Mix well. Now stuffing is ready.

3) Keep ready the melted butter in a cup with pastry brush, Grease the baking pan with melted butter. And once all of those are ready, take the fillo sheets from the refrigerator, cut the sheets per pan size, place the remaining ones in box and put back in freezer. With the cut fillo sheets, place a plastic sheet on top of it and a damp towel on top of fillo sheet to avoid it from drying. Preheat oven to 350'

4) Carefully pull one sheet , place it on the greased pan, brush it thoroughly with butter using pastry brush, pull another sheet from the set and place it on top of first buttered sheet, brush it with butter, then one more on top and like this arrange about 8-10 sheets.
After 8-10 sheets are layered after buttering, spread half of the prepared nut mixture evenly on the sheet. Repeat placing the sheets on top of the nuts and butter each one for about 3-4 sheets. Again spsread the remaining nut mixture as even layer and cover it with 8-10 more sheets of buttered fillo as the top covering.
This process might take time, to carefully set them and butter them. It is NOT an issue if some sheets are getting torn, as with so many layers in the sweet, the wear and tear will be barely visible in the end result.

6) After arranging the layers, use a sharp serrated knife to cut them (till the bottom, taking care not to cut the pan) to squares of required sizes. This has to be done before baking, as after baking if u try to cut, it will splutter to pieces.

7) Bake this for about 20-30 mins or till top is golden brown. The time really changes with the number of layers and all, so best is to keep a watch for it to get a light brown color. In some of the pics, mine looks more golden due to lighting, ideally it will be a creamier brown.

8) For the Syrup: In 2 cups of water, add 2 cups of sugar, 2 tbsp of honey, a juice of half lime and bring it to nice boil. Lower the flame and boil till the syrup thickens little bit. Set this aside.

9) Once baking is done, let the baklava rest for about 30 mins, once its cool, pour the syrup all over the baklava such that it reaches every corners and sides. Let this set overnight (for best taste) and the next day can be refrigerated. This can be kept oustide for couple of days or refrigerated for a month or more. Make sure Baklava is cooled down when u add the medium hot syrup, else it becomes very soggy.

I love this recipe as its so versatile. The whole recipe can be modified to suit your taste, you can alter the number of layers, you can alter the nut mixture per your choice and also the syrup to suit ur taste by adding more sugar or less or no honey or more honey and lime etc. So play with it..

Alternative to the square ones, you can also take thin rectangles , 3-4 sheets, butter them, place 1 big spoon of nuts, towards the wider edge of rectangle and roll this tight like cigars. This will be like cigars/spring rolls. This could be further cut into bite sized pieces too. This will be much more easier to make.

But make sure different shapes are sitting in differnt pans as with the number of layers, the baking time differs.
Pastry brush is really really required to butter the thin fillo sheets. Its not quite expensive, a dollar fifty or max $2 in walmart. Get the one with soft bristles.

Thaw the Fillo as per instructions given in the box. Thawing in Refrigerator is better option. Usually an overnight thawing is required.

Remove the thawed fillo sheets from the box, carefully unroll them, they will be a set of 20-30 thin rectangular sheets . Place your baking pan on top of the sheet and cut the required size of the fillo sheet. Place the rest of the Fillo immediately inside the pack and freeze it back.

Always cover the fillo sheets with a plastic sheet and a damp towel. Once fillo gets dried up, it sticks.

Celery Chuney/Thogayal

This is the first time I am making Celery thogayal and I am satisfied that it is indeed a great way of taking celery. I experimented with this recipe, and it turned out to be good.

Chopped Celery - 1/2 cup
Chopped Coriander - 1/2 cup
Grated Coconut - 1/4 cup
Tamarind extract - 1 sp
Red chilli - 4-5
Methi powder - 1/4 sp (opt)

To temper:- Mustard - 1sp

Wash well and chop celery and coriander. In a spoon of oil, saute them for couple of minutes.
Take this in blender, add red chilli, coconut, tamarind pulp, and salt and grind fine.
Heat the pan, add tablespoon of oil, temper mustard, add the grounded paste and fry for about 10-12 minutes till the mass thickens and leaves the oil.
Serve hot with Rice and ghee.
It was tasting great with Rice, I guess it will go well with Idly/Dosas too.

Pori / Marmaralu / Puffed Rice Upma - A quick filling snack

Most of the times I'll have pori stocked at home. So when hunting for a quick snack, this recipe comes quite handy.
This may not be a substitute for tiffin, but it sure is a filling snack.

Pori / Marmaralu (Puffed rice) - 2 cup
Onion - 1
Tomato - 1
Turmeric - a pinch
Red chilli powder
Tomato Ketchup

To temper :

Keep a bowl of clean water ready.
In little oil, temper mustard and cumin.
Fry the finely chopped onions till brown
Add chopped tomatoes, close and cook till they are done. Adding 1 sp of tomato ketchup at this stage is optional.
Immerse the pori in the bowl of water, squeeze to dry and add to tava.
Add turmeric, red chilli powder, salt
Simmer, Mix well, Switch off.
Serve it with tomato ketchup, it goes excellent with ketchup.

Baingan Bartha

Baingan Bartha is a spicy vegetarian curry made from Eggplant. Eggplant is baked/cooked on direct flame to impart a smoky flavour to it and the same is cooked with other spices and vegetables. It really is a great side dish to Rotis. I got this recipe from my friend Jahnavi.

Eggplant - 1
Tomato - 2
Onion - 2
Cumin/saunf - 1/2 sp each
Turmeric- pinch
Garam Masala - 1 sp
Cumin Coriander Powder - 1 sp
Red chilli powder - 1 sp
Curd - 1 Tbsp
Cilantro/Coriander - to garnish

Apply a spoon of olive oil on the egg plant all over, poke some holes using fork and bake it in 350' for about 30-40 minutes or till done. Peel the skin off from the eggplant.

Mash it or chop it coarse depending on how you want to feel the eggplant. Set aside.

In 2 spoons of ghee/oil, splutter cumin,saunf, add chopped onions and saute till pink. Add tomato and cook till done. Add tumeric , Garam masala powder, Cumin Coriander powder, Red chilli powder and salt, top it with a table spoon of curd and give a good mix.

Add mashed or coarsely chopped egg plant and cover cook for couple of minutes till the flavour blends.

Garnish with coriander/cilantro. A spoon of lime juice is optional.Serve hot with Rotis.

Gobi Manchurian

Reposting with pictures..

Gobi Manchurian - Who doesnt love it. I got this super good recipe from my friend Jahnavi. I do not have soy sauce with me. And I had this feeling, that without soy sauce, Gobi manchurian cannot be Gobi manchurian. But I was so wrong. I dare tried this recipe without soy sauce or chilli sauce or vinegar and such stuff. Believe me, no one ever found any difference. It was gobbled up in minutes.


For the Gobi fry:
Cauliflower Florets - 1 cup
All purpose flour/Maida - 1 cup
Corn flour - 2 tbsp
Oil - to deep fry
Ginger Garlic Paste - 1 sp
Turmeric - 1sp
Red Chilli powder - 1 sp

For the sauce:
Tomato Ketchup - 2 Tbsp
Onion - 1 small (Finely Chopped)
Garlic - 5-6 pods (Finely Chopped)
Green Chilli - 3 (Finely Chopped)
Ginger - 2 sp (Finely Chopped)
Corriander Leaves - Few (Finely Chopped)
Red Chilli powder - 1 sp
Corn Flour - 1 sp
Lime juice - 1 sp

Soak the florets for about 10 mins in hot water (With little salt added to it).
Mix all purpose flour, corn flour, ginger garlic paste, chilli powder, salt, turmeric and make a thick paste.
Dry the florets and add into the batter.
Deep fry them and set aside.

Mix 1 sp red chilli powder in little water. This is to avoid adding raw chilli powder to the sauce.
In a hot tava, add little oil, fry onions,garlic,ginger,green chilli well till onion appears nice brown and little crisp.
Add tomato ketchup, redchilli paste, salt.
Add corriander leaves and lime juice.
Let it simmer for few minutes.
If the sauce doesnt appear thick, add a spoon of corn flour mixed in cold water.
Once done, add the deep fried florets and mix well till they all get coated in sauce.
Let it boil on low flame to absorb the sauce. Switch off.

You might also have a look at Baked Gobi-Manchurian

Potato Halwa - Quick and unusual dessert

Yes ! It is potato, not sweet potato.

When I first saw about Potato Halwa I had my own apprehensions about it and never gave it a try, but few days back, I was talking with my cousin and she encouraged me to try it and said it will taste awesome. Thanks Brindha !

I was so surprised with the results, it was truly awesome. And a quick dish too. You will not feel the potato taste at all. I would have loved to add a bit of almond essence to it, as it was already fooling me for Badam Halwa. But I did not have it handy.

Mashed potato - 1 cup
Sugar - 1 cup
Clarified butter/Ghee - 4 Tbsp
Milk - 1/4 cup
Ghee roasted Cashew/Raisins - few

As I was in a hurry, I preferred Slightly Cooking, mashing the potatoes to Grating and Sauteing to cook directly, but would like to try that way once.
I pressure cooked 2 big potatoes for one whistle.

In a Low flame, add 1 Tbsp of Ghee, add mashed potatoes and fry well. Keep frying this very well for ten to fifteen minutes. More this is done, less the potato taste.
Keep adding Ghee little by little when the mass seems to stick to the bottom.
Add the milk and sugar, continue to saute.
In about 10-15 minutes, the whole mass will thicken to halwa consistency .
Top it with ghee roasted cashews,raisins. Let it set for a while.

Back after Vacation

Was on a trip to Niagara falls, NY. Needless to say I was spellbound by the beauty of it..