Food blogs & sites that inspire me and a easy healthy recipe makeover

I enjoy watching cooking shows and videos and get inspired and cook when I do get time to try new things.

I thought of sharing some of my goto sites and inspirational sites.

The vah chef has so many good video lessons for a novice cook. It has helped me to a great extent to pick up some good cooking skills.

Manjula’s kitchen

She cooks many good vegetarian cooking. Simple and delicious and she is US based so helps with ingredients matches as well.


The 2 ladies are amazing teaching some simple tricks and some easy recipes as well. This was the first video based site I encountered and was impressed.


She cooks all Andhra meals which are my favorite. It helps me connect better with my friends and family and has a great collection of recipes.

Food food and Sanjeev kapoor videos

They have a great collection of recipes as well.


I love browsing and book marking all good recipes. I love baking and I enjoy browsing and looking for easy recipes.


She has a great blog and collection of recipes as well.

Other notable blogs and Facebook feeds

1. Babble
3. Monsoon cooking
4. Namma adugamane
5. Aggie’s kitchen
6. Oh she glows
7. Mansoon spice
8. Joyofbaking
9. Family fresh cooking
10. Thelady8home – a blog by a very good friend
11. Cooking with my kid

And not to forget family and friends who are awesome cooks too and I get to learn a lot from them. Some of them have turned some good old traditional versions to healthy options making then much more easier to consume without guilt.

One such recipe-

To make dosa or paddu

1 cup urad dal soaked
3 cups semolina

Grind the urad dal and mix semolina with water and then add the ground urad dal, salt and make it to dosa consistency and ferment overnight.

Enjoy with chutney or sambar by using the dough to make dosa or pancakes.

To make paddu add onions, grated carrots, green chille paste per taste and mix well into the dough. Use the paddu maker to make small and yummy paddu’s. Enjoy these with chutney’s too.

The above recipe was shared by a very good friend of mine. I thought she was super smart to do this.

The above recipe has replaced rice to semolina, which is a healthier option to rice. Enjoy these changes and share them with me 🙂

If you have some good options to replace the high carb or fat to healthier choices, do share them with me.

Healthy Grain – Quinoa

Have you tried this grain called Quinoa? As a vegetarian, I am always in lookout for various options for protein. It has good benefits with respect to high protein content (14%) and good source of fiber, phosphorus, magnesium and Iron. The grain has slightly bitter taste, but when eaten with good curry, the bitterness is negligible.


If you are not familiar with this grain, I would highly recommend you read this on wikipedia.

I use this as a substitute for rice. For few years, we used brown rice. The fiber content is higher on brown rice compared to white rice. It took us a while to develop the taste around Quinoa. I try various ways to incorporate this grain into our daily meal plans. It goes well with sambar or any curry on the side. I also use Quinoa in my soups to give more density to my soups. It becomes a full meal in itself. My kids can’t make out I have Quinoa in the soup, which works well.

I have seen people come up with creative recipes using Quinoa. You can substitute for rice, oats, potato or for adding additional density to your dish. This is one wholesome grain that we should check it out 🙂

For now let me share my soup recipe –

Quinoa – 1 cup
Mixed lentils -1 cup soaked overnight
Garlic – 4
Onion – 1/2 chopped
Red chille flakes – 1/2 tsp
Veggie broth – 4-5 cups
Canned tomatoes – 1
Zucchini – 1 small chopped into cubes
carrots – 1 medium chopped into cubes
Olive oil

Wash your Quinoa using a strainer.

In a pressure cooker, add 1 tbsp olive oil and add garlic chopped, red chillie flakes, add onions and saute till it turns transparent. Add your veggies, canned tomatoes, lentils, Quinoa, broth, salt and pepper and cover and cook in the cooker till 3-4 whistles. Check for taste for more salt and pepper. You can also add a spoonful of lime juice for additional flavor. This has been a favorite soup for the family..well I make it one as it has huge benefits of protein and a small carb ratio 😉

I have substituted Quinoa with pasta shells at times and that also turns out really good. You may want to add more broth if you like your soup more liquid.

If you are looking to cook Quinoa to substitite for rice, just wash the Quinoa and use 1:2 water and cook it covered till it boils. Cover partially and keep mixing till water disappears.

Here are some good recipe links to try:

Quinoa Salad
Quinoa Upma
Quinoa Pancakes
Quinoa Vegetable Pilaf
Quinoa Patties
Black bean Quinoa burgers

If you are aware of more, feel free to share it with me..would always love to try something with this grain.

Banana Nutella Turnover

I wanted to try something with phyllo dough. I have never worked with phyllo only because I was nervous and knew it would be a challenge for me. I have bought couple boxes and tried not to dare. Phyllo is very delicate to work with and of course I had challenge making this sweet dish. I wanted to try something new and finally I decided to use chocolate with Phyllo. A good combination to make the turnover with chocolate is strawberry or bananas.

My turnover is using Banana and Nutella. You could always replace this with Strawberry and Chocolate chips or Nutella.

Phyllo dough


Thaw the phyllo dough and unroll the dough and place this on a flat surface and cover with a damp cloth or towel to prevent from drying.

Make a paste of all purpose flour and water.

Take one to two sheets at a time and brush it with butter and place 1-2 sheets more on the top.

Cut and make the sizes for your turn over ready.

Place a spoonful of Nutella and 3-4 small pieces of banana chopped.


Apply the all purpose flour paste on the sides and seal the turnover by folding.

Apply little more butter and place them on the baking sheet.


Preheat oven at 375 or 400 F or as per the instructions on your phyllo dough.

Place the prepared turnover in the oven and bake them for 10-15 mins or till you see lite golden brown.

Serve them hot..they are delicious.


An alternate way to make this is to use wanton wrappers and deep fry them. They are delicious that way too. This version I prepared today was more health friendly and I could eat 4-5 guilt free ;-D

I wanted to make something as I was getting ready for 2013. This is for you all. A visual treat ;P

Try them and hope you like them as well.



Almond & Cranberry clusters

It is the holiday season and it is beautiful and fun times of the entire year. Christmas lights all around and very festive atmosphere in my neighborhood and at my work place. People have always been very thoughtful giving gifts with no expectation back. I just adore their spirit of festival and sharing. Since I have been in this country, probably a year or so I may have missed the yummy goodies.

This year I wanted to make something for my friends and colleagues as well. I was truly motivated from Diwali and now Christmas.

What can be more decadent than chocolate. Chocolate almond & cranberry clusters screams Christmas. This is very easy to make and very yummy as well. You can make so many variations with this. Mix your favorite nuts and change how you like.

Here is what I followed-
2 cups semi sweet chocolate
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1 cup chopped almonds
1 cup cranberries dried

In a double broiler melt the chocolate chips till the consistency is smooth. Add cinnamon powder, chopped nuts and cranberry and mix well. Take this off from the stove top and on a tray either use a parchment paper or aluminum foil and take a spoon ful and drop them like a cluster. Keep some distance between each and continue to use a spoonful of mixture as a single cluster. This measurement made 30 clusters for me and plenty enough for me and my son in the end to wipe of the bowl 😉

It is a must try. You will love it. Use milk chocolate and semi sweet mix if you don’t like bitter. Use dry grapes instead of cranberry or use pista as nuts. Mix and match the nuts as per your taste.

Chill this in the refrigerator for at least couple hours before serving.

My son and me cannot wait to try them. My son has requested to save some for him.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays!!!





Recreating memories from Sanfrancisco – crapes

Couple months back we visited Sanfrancisco and enjoyed various street foods available on Piers. One of my absolute favorite was crapes. I could not get enough of them.

I have been trying to find the ready to make crapes for a while and not able to get..finally decided to try on my own. To be frank I was nervous as I knew I cannot make it as thin as the experts do. My version turned out OK and I was able to cherish and reminded me of my memories from SFO trip.

Warm chocolate has been my weakness. So I created Nutella and chocolate chips crapes.


1 cup all purpose flour
1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
2 eggs

Stuffing –
Nutella or chocolate chips
Banana/ Strawberry/ blueberry
Powdered sugar

In a bowl mix all the crape ingredients and until it blends into a smooth batter. Take a round skillet with little edge on the side. Pour a ladle full of batter when hot and flip around to allow the batter to flow to make it as thin as possible. It really cooks fast. Flip over after a min and let it for another 30 seconds and put it aside on a plate. Continue to make the rest of them in the same fashion.

When your crapes are all made, on the same plan take one crape at a time and drop chocolate chip on a semi circle and add chopped banana/ strawberries and fold over and fold over again to make it look like a triangle. Sprinkle powdered sugar and serve hot.

I made variations. I added Nutella as well instead of chocolate chips. I also made savory version with my tomato chutney. They were all yum and delicious!

I was glad I was able to recreate my favorite dish and reproduce memories from SFO. Give it a try!!!






Home made Hot Chocolate for a cold evening

Suddenly temps have fallen down this week. Last week was upper 80-90 F. With a good Sunday afternoon nap and not wanting to wake up, the thought of hot chocolate from Max Brunner tempted me. My cousin in Boston got me introduced to Max Brunner. Gosh the dark hot chocolate is to die for 😉

I have been wanting to try this at home and have been trying to look for good quality chocolate to replicate something close to what I drank in Max.

Well I had gieradelli semi sweet chocolate chips and wanted to give it a try. It was delicious and creamy. My little princess helped along and added little more sweetness that was needed 😉

3 cups milk 1% milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup or more semi sweet chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla essence

In a pot bring milk and cream to boil and stir in chocolate chips and whisk slowly to melt the chocolate. Add vanilla essence and mix. Pour into your mug and enjoy with a cake or just as is.

You can make this richer with whole milk or 2% if you would like. I try to cut calories where I can.

Also try this with milk chocolate or darker chocolate for variations you like.

This was delicious and creamy. Yum ho!



Tomato chutney

I call myself an imitation cook, as I know I am not talented like my mom or grandmother to come up with creative versions.I have neither learnt the basics..I copy 😀

I have struggled years to come up with a good version of idli batter..and I still can’t get it right. Sounds simple for some but I think this is also to do with “haath ka jadoo”.

Anyways coming back to why I am imitation cook I said I copy. Now I am always on the look for good recipes that inspire me and I try my best to add my twist and replicate. I am getting better in few aspects 😉

I tried this tomato chutney and absolutely loved the taste. I applied this on my sandwich and grilled like a panini..that was yum! So if you were thinking about how to replace your mint chuntey..try this with Tomato chutney.

All is what I did to prepare my Tomato chutney 😀 Enjoy!!!

Ingredients –

Olive Oil – 1 tbsp (I am bit stingy on oil intake..add 2-4 tbsp for your version)
Cumim seeds – 1/2 tsp
mustard seed – 1/2 tsp
Red Chillies – 3-4 (add more if you like spicy)
Corriander leaves – 1 small bunch
Hing – pinch
Garlic – 4-6
Ginger – 1/2 inch
Green chillies – 2
Almonds – 8
Urad Dal – 2 tbl sps
Tamrind – 1 small lemon size
Tomatoes chopped – 6-8 (I had a box of cherry tomatoes and I used them all)
Mint – 1/2 bunch

In a pan add oil and when it is hot, add the above ingredients in the same order. Cook the tomatoes till the water evaporates and it is mashy.
Cool this and make a paste like chutney.

Next for tadka – heat oil again another 1 -2 tsp (;P), add urad dal and curry leaves and pour this tadka over chutney and enjoy with bread or rice. I also love this with yogurt rice.

You can keep this for more than a week in refrigerator as it is well cooked.

Hope you all try and let me know how you like it.