Cooking · India · Recipes · Sea Food · South India · Tamil Nadu · Tirunelvelli

Tirunelveli Simple Prawn Masala

Prawns are a family favourite .Ever since we discovered, frozen deveined prawns in our local supermarket, I always try to have some in my freezer so that I can make this recipe quickly. This recipe is so simple and and so easy to make , goes really with curd rice, sambar rice or with rasam and rice that I make it when I am lost for ideas to make for dinner.

Ingredients :

250 gms Shelled and deveined Prawns

1 cup chopped Red Onion ,( I like to use shallots or pearl onions)

1 cup chopped tomatoes

1 tsp Fennel seeds

1 tsp red chilli powder ( I use medium spicy)

1/4 tsp turmeric powder

1 tbsp ginger garlic paste

a handful of chopped coriander leaves

2 sprigs curry leaves if available

a little less than 1/4 cup water

2 tbsps sesame oil

Salt to taste

Method :

Heat oil in a skillet.

Add the fennel seeds and curry leaves if available. Let them splutter.

Add the chopped onions. Let them become nearly caramelised.

Add ginger garlic paste, sauté till the raw smell goes.

Add the chopped tomatoes, sauté until mushy.

Add in all the powders, sauté until the raw smell goes and oil separates

Pour in the water, let it cook for a minute

Add salt

Add the prawns, let the masala coat over them and the prawns turn a little pink.

Cover and let it cook for a few minutes.

Cook until the prawn are well cooked but not over cooked

Then open the cover , increase the temperature on the stove, ( or flame to medium high) let the water evaporate a little and the masala becomes semi thick.

Garnish with coriander leaves .Serve.

Cook Book Scribbles

Keep track of how much water you add by adding a little at a time as the prawns release some water too when covered.

I also used dried curry leaves because I did not have fresh ones at hand.

Edited to add the video version as well

Egg · Recipes


In our family, we love eggs in all forms…..scrambled eggs, omelette, in curries.When I was a kid, there was hardly a dinner without eggs at home………my grandfather bred hens as a hobby so there never was a dearth of eggs in our home.

Whenever I am stuck with the menu for the day,I would ask J and he would say make Muttai Kuzhambu. aka Egg Curry. It’s his absolute favourite.

In this recipe, the egg is broken into the curry , unlike the usual version where the egg is boiled separately and added to the curry.

This is a my mom’s recipe, which I altered a little to use the ingredients that were available to me. (She would use fresh coconut paste ) Also ,I like to blend everything in the mixie as in my opinion it saves time .



4 Eggs
1 tbsp Coriander Seeds
1 tsp Cumin Seeds
3 dry red chillies
1 medium sized onion
1 small Tomato
A tiny pellet (about an inch ) tamarind ( soak in a little water and squeeze out juice)
Salt to taste,Oil
A small amount Coriander leaves

To season

1/4 tsp Tumeric Powder
1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
1/4 tsp mustard seeds

2 cloves garlic (Chopped into thin pieces) small amount of chopped onions


Dry Roast Coriander seeds, cumin seeds ,red chilies till slightly golden in a skillet.

Blend the dry ingredients with onion,tomato in a mixie to a fine paste adding a little water.


Pour oil in a pan, add the garlic pieces, fenugreek seeds  and mustard seeds.

Add the chopped onions , the garlic pieces and allow the onion to brown slightly.

Then add the ground paste. Sauté the ground paste for a minute .Rinse out the mixie bowl with approximately two small  cups of water, Pour into the pan.

Squeeze out the juice from the soaked  tamarind, add the  tamarind water.Add salt to taste.Let it boil till oil separates.

After a minute, lower the flame add in the coconut milk..Allow to simmer .

Break the eggs into a bowl and gently without breaking the yolk, slide them into  the curry.

Close with a lid and let it simmer till the eggs become firm.When done and the oil separates , sprinkle with coriander leaves .


Serve hot with Rice and a vegetable kootu.


I have also shared a video of this Egg Curry on my YouTube channel

This egg curry also tastes good with roti or pita bread (kubuz)

If you decide to try it out,  please let me know what you think.

Food · In and around Christchurch


Idiyappam or string hoppers is a very common and a very traditional breakfast dish in my part of South India. It is a very simple dish to make. Made with roasted rice flour , water and salt,and steamed in pressure cooker or a steamer , it is a dish that is well loved by adults and kids alike. It  is also often prescribed by doctors as part of a soft meal diet for patients.
Idiyappam is one of those dishes that I never tried to make before I got married. Jacob however loved  Idiyappams and that meant I  had to learn how to make it , you know, the way to a man’s heart and all that, so I  called  my mom  straight away to get the recipe . As it turned out, making the dough was  a much easier task compared to coaxing  the dough out of the Idiyappam press.
However hard I tried, I could not manage to  get the dough out through the press. Jacob ever willing to help around the kitchen,offered to help me . But only ended up breaking the  Idiyappam press  one too many and left me flabbergasted  how  someone could break something that I couldn’t even get move an inch !
Then my mom discovered a ‘magic press “as she called it and Idiyappam making has been a breeze ever since.
As much as I enjoy cooking  for my friends and family , if there is a easy way to do something, then thats what I  go for.
So here goes.
Ingredients to serve 4
 1 cup Roasted Rice flour .  white or red ( I used Double Horse Appam/ Idiyappam mix , available at Yogiji Christchurch
3/4 _1 cup Boiling water
1tsp oil
Salt to taste.
Take flour in a mixing bowl, add salt . Pour boiling water slowly

little by little mixing with a wooden spoon to form a soft smooth dough

Pour in the oil

When it cools down enough to touch, form into soft dough .Taking care not to knead too much

Grease the hollow part of the Idiyappam press with oil and fill in the dough inside the press.

Fill upto the brim of the press hollow

In the meantime, grease the Idli mould with oil and keep aside.
Press Idiyappam presser onto greased idli moulds
Repeat until all the dough is pressed on to the moulds.
Steam in the pressure cooker without the pressure ,for 7-9 mins on medium  flame. Once done, let it stay covered in the pressure pan for a minute or two
When the steam stops coming out of the vent,open and transfer the cooked Idiyappam to a hot pack.
I like to serve Idiyappam with sweetened  thin fresh coconut milk or chicken stew. Ofcourse, chicken curry and mutton curry also taste great with idiyappam.
Cook book Scribbles :
  • when  the Idiyappam is cooked through is , it starts to look glossy.
  • Idiyappam tastes good served hot or cold.
  • Scrapped coconut can be sprinkled over the cooked idiyappam


Food · Home Making

How to make Fresh Coconut Milk at Home

Coconuts are abundant in my hometown , so it is widely used in our cuisine. Making coconut milk at home for using in Stew and some of the traditional dessert is very common, instead of using tinned coconut milk or powder.

Coconut milk is made in three stages. This first one being the thickest, the second one a little thinner and the third one is very light. The third milk  is usually used for cooking the vegetables or meat for the gravy . Personally I prefer to cook them in the third milk as it enhances the taste of the gravy.

(This is a recipe that can be tailored as per need)
To make one cup of thick coconut milk.
2 cups of grated fresh coconut
3/4 th + 1 tbsp cup of warm water
First, pulse the freshly grated coconut for a second.Then add the warm water and blend till the coconut is all ground and appears milky.
Squeeze out the milk by wringing or pressing the blended coconut really well with your hands through a sieve or cheese cloth.
The FIRST blend of fresh coconut milk  that is the thickest is the first milk.
Add water again to the the left over  squeezed out coconut pulp and  blend again , the consistency of the coconut milk gets thinner and this is the second milk.
Repeat the process and the third and Last blend is the thinnest coconut milk.
Cook Book Scribbles:
  • The most important thing to keep in mind when using the thick first coconut milk is to never let it boil (in the curry or stew etc)  as it will curdle  and spoil the taste.
  • If fresh coconut is not available, frozen fresh coconut can also be used . It is available at Yogiji Christchurch.
  • Dry desiccated coconut however, has not worked for me and Louise.


Food · Uncategorized

Meat Croquettes aka Meat Cutlets Indian Style: Step by Step Tutorial

DSC_0987This is a season of parties. Christmas party, Year End party, New Year party, BBQ party and one dish that will be a hit as a party appetiser, I promise, is the Meat Croquettes (or Meat Cutlets).DSC_0991

Although these are called Croquettes here and the rest of the world, growing up in South India, we have only known these as cutlets. They make a great tea time snack and my early memory of having these croquettes was at a beach. Cool sea breeze, soft swash of the waves and the scent of the sea in the air, chomping away on hot cutlets, playing catch and digging our feet into the grainy sand vividly stands out in my memory. Food always takes me down memory lane.

My kids love these meat croquettes. I make them in a batches and freeze them to use when they ask for it. The meat croquettes are easy like that. It can be made ahead, frozen and fried just before the party. Its just so crunchy to bite into, so lip smacking good, that they will disappear in no time! Ask my family and they will tell you. These are a huge hit every time I’ve made them!!

I had been making  meat croquettes a different way for  a long time. Then, by chance I happened to make croquettes with meat left over from Mutton curry I had made earlier…. and  everything changed!!
I really liked the texture of the meat I got as a result and haven’t gone back to the old one.
I have made this on several occasions . For parties, picnics, travel, camping. I serve it as a snack or as a side dish. I also use it as a burger and make sandwiches too.




500 gms Lean Meat ( we get stew meat here, which is very handy)
3 medium potatoes
1 large onion (chopped finely)

2 green chillies ( chopped finely)
1” piece ginger (chopped finely)
a little coriander leaves (optional)

 To Marinate:
1tbsp ginger garlic paste
1tsp pepper*
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 tsp coriander powder*
1 tsp chilli powder (mild)*
1 tsp Garam Masala powder (you can buy Garam Masala from the Indian store to save time. I prefer Eastern Royal Garam Masala)
2 eggs
Curry leaves, a few (optional)


1 1/2 -2 cups bread crumbs
Oil to shallow fry, saute

Salt and Pepper to taste.


Marinate the meat with the chilli powder, coriander powder, ginger garlic paste, salt and pepper, keep aside for half an hour.

**Then pressure cook for 20 mins with no water or very little water.
When done and cooled put it in a mixie (food processor) and pulse it , coarsely DSC_0942This is the texture you are going for.DSC_0945.jpgBoil the potatoes, remove the skin and mash it well with a potato masher.DSC_0943Beat the eggs lightly , mix with salt and pepper to taste and keep asideDSC_0967

Mix the meat and mashed potato well together.Keep aside.DSC_0951.jpg

Pour oil in a skillet and saute the finely chopped onion, when they turn limp add the finely chopped ginger and chopped chilli.DSC_0956Saute for a couple more minutes till the onions turn pink. Switch off stove. Allow to cool for a few minutes.DSC_0957.jpgMix the sauteed onion mixture with the mashed potato meat mixture.DSC_0958Roll into balls.DSC_0965Flatten them to your desired shapeDSC_0971.jpgDip in the Egg mixtureDSC_0978Roll out in bread crumbsDSC_0974Deep fry in  oil. When they turn golden brown, drain and remove on to paper towels.

DSC_0982Serve HotDSC_0989.jpg

Cook Book Scribbles :

  • Make sure the meat/ potato mixture is dry and not too loose.
  • The Oil needs to be almost smoking  hot  to prevent the croquettes from breaking
  • Also make sure the oil covers the croquettes completely, again to prevent the cutlets from breaking.
  • If you want to make it Gluten Free, you can dip the croquettes only in the egg mixture, skip dipping in the bread crumbs. You will not have a crispy outer cover but the taste does not differ much. OR use Gluten Free Bread Crumbs.
  • I use the term Meat Croquette because you can either use beef , mutton, or chicken
  • *The spice levels with the chilli powder, coriander powder and the pepper powder can be reduced to half  (or increased) according to taste
  • ** If you do not have a pressure cooker, use a thick bottomed pan, keep the heat on medium to medium high. Close and let it cook without adding any water for 20- 25 mins. The Meat will cook in its own juices.
  • The croquettes freeze really well,so you can make a big batch  of the bread crumb coated croquettes , days before a party or dinner or just so you have them handy for hungry kids and fry them straight out of the fridge without thawing…. in that case, take care not to burn the croquettes.
Crochet · Free Pattern


I saw a decal snowflake stuck to the glass at one of the shops in the mall . Inspired, I made my own interpretation of the snowflake.

I wanted to keep it as simple as possible and so there are no fancy stitches.

Skill Level:
Size 10 thread ( I used a Crochet cotton 2ply satin from a company called Sullivan)
Sports weight yarn
Hook:  1.75 mm/3.75mm
This pattern is written in American Terms



Sc= Single Crochet

Dc= Double Crochet
Shell Stitch= 2dc ch2 2dc
Bigger shell stitch = 3dc ch3 3dv
For starting shell, start with 3ch which counts as first dc
Picot= 3ch ,insert hook in the third chain from hook, yarn over , draw through the stitch. For a bigger picot, 5ch .
Round 1: Ch 4, in the 4th chain from hook, make 17 more dc ( count as 18dc). 
                    Pull the tail tight , close with a sl st on to the 3rd chain of the beginning Ch3.
Round 2: Ch3, Dc in the same space, Ch2, 2dc, skip2dc, in the next dc, make shell stitch, around .(6 ,shell stitch )
Round 3:Sl st in to the ch 2  of the previous round, Ch3,2dc,Ch3,3dc. In the next Ch2 space, make the bigger shell stitch, around. Close with sl st on the 3rd Ch of the beginning Ch3.
Round 4:Sl st into the Ch3 sp of the previous row . Ch3, 1dc,3chain picot, 2dc,Ch4, sl st into the 3rd Ch from hook ,(3 ch picot) , Bigger picot, (5ch picot) ,3ch picot, sl st into the first picot base,Ch 1,2dc, Ch3 picot, 2dc, Ch3, dc in the 3rd ch from hook,2dc in the next 3ch space,Repeat around. Finish off , Block.
Now for the step by step:

Round 1: Ch 4, in the 4th chain from hook, make 17 more dc ( count as 18dc). 

Pull the tail tight , close with a sl st on to the 3rd chain of the beginning Ch3.
Round 2: Ch3, Dc in the same space, Ch2, 2dc, skip2dc, in the next dc, make shell stitch, around .(6 ,shell stitch )
Round 3:Sl st in to the ch 2  of the previous round, Ch3,2dc,Ch3,3dc. In the next Ch2 space, make the bigger shell stitch, around. Close with sl st on the 3rd Ch of the beginning Ch3.
Round 4:Sl st into the Ch3 sp of the previous row . Ch3, 1dc,3chain picot, 2dc,
Ch4, sl st into the 3rd Ch from hook ,(3 ch picot) , 
Bigger picot, (5ch picot) ,
3ch picot, sl st into the first picot base,
Ch 1,
2dc, Ch3 picot, 2dc, 
Ch3, dc in the 3rd ch from hook,
2dc in the next 3ch space,
Repeat around. Finish off , Block
I haven’t gotten around to blocking my snowflakes, but the pattern is here for you make and Enjoy.
Here is the one I made with Bali cotton yarn and 3.75 mm hook into a coaster

Merry Christmas ,my dear friends.
Crochet · Free Pattern


This pattern has been in my head for quite sometime now. I really liked the end result
Super excited , I decided to share the pattern with you all.
Skill Level:
Kirakira Cotton ( from Daiso) * of course you can use any cotton yarn corresponding to the hook size * 
Hook:  2mm 
This pattern is written in American Terms



Sc= Single Crochet

Dc= Double Crochet

3dc bobble =3dc bo

 {For a 3 double crochet Bobble stitch, do each double crochet without completing the the last step in the same stitch 
(you would have 2 loops after the first dc, 3 loops on the hook after the  second dc, and 4 loops on the hook when all all three dcs are completed. Then yarn over and draw through all the loops. That is the Bobble stitch.
For starting bobble, start with 3ch which counts as first dc}
Shell Stitch= 2dc ch2 2dc
For starting shell, start with 3ch which counts as first dc
Picot= 3ch ,insert hook in the third chain from hook, yarn over , draw through the stitch. For a bigger picot, 4ch .
Round 1:Start with magic ring , make the starting  3dc bobble,into the magic ring ,( 3 ch,3dc bobble 3ch) , repeat five more times. Join in the top of the starting bobble  (6 (3dc bobble, 3 ch ) )
Close the magic ring by pulling the thread.
Round 2:On top of the bobble stitch of the previous round, Make a  starting shell 2 ch 2dc shell. Skip the next 3 ch and make a shell on top of the next bobble around. Join In the third ch of the beginning shell.
Round 3:Sl st in to the ch 2  of the previous round, starting shell in the 2ch space , 2 ch, sc in the space between the shells of the previous row , shell in the next shell . (shell Stitch,2ch, sc, 2ch) around. Join in the third st of the starting chain .
Round 4:Sl st into the 2ch sp of the previous row . Sl st, 3chain picot, 4 ch picot, 3 ch picot , slst, 3ch, sc, 3ch picot, sc in the sc of the previous row, 3 ch {(slst, 3ch picot, 4ch picot,3ch picot ,slst). 3ch( sc 3chpicot,sc) 3ch} repeat { }  around. Sl st into the sl st of the beginning picot. 
Finish off.
In an effort to make it easier for people to follow, incase my written instructions don’t make sense, I  decided to do a photo tutorial of the pattern too.
Round1: Start by making a magic loop .Into the magic loop, make a starting 3dc bobble, 3 ch ,( 3dc bobble ,3ch) five times around.( 6( 3dc bobble 3 ch). Close magic ring by pulling the thread.
Join with sl st on top on the first cluster
Round 2 : On top of the bobble, starting shell ,2ch,2dc shell.Skip the next 3 ch and make a shell on top of the next bobble. Repeat around.
Join in the third st of the beginning shell.
Round 3:Sl st into the ch2 space, Starting shell in the ch 2 space , 2ch , sc in the space  between the shells of the previous round, (shell in the next shell , 2ch , sc , 2ch) repeat around.
Join in the third st of the starting shell.
Round :4
Sl st into the 2ch space of the shell of the previous round.
Sl st , 3ch picot, 4ch picot, 3ch picot, sl st, 3ch,

sc, 3ch picot, sc in the sc of the previous round

3ch ( slst 3chpicot,4chpicot,3chpicot slst)
{3ch (sc 3chpicot sc) 3ch (sl st 3ch picot, 4 ch picot, 3ch picot, sl st,) 3ch }* repeat around
Sl st in to the sl st of the beginning picot.

Finish off.
Enjoy! If you find any mistakes, please feel free to let me know.



Pepper Mushroom Masala

Growing up in the southern most part of India, I had only heard of edible mushrooms in storybooks and seen them  in picture books. The ones that appeared out of nowhere during rainy season in my hometown were usually very tiny. We were warned not to touch them as they were poisonous and so we never did .
By the time I was in college, my family had moved to a town that was dry for the major part of the year and mushrooms were rarely seen around.
The University Of Agriculture which was situated in a village nearby was conducting an one day training course for growing Oyster Mushroom in homes. They were promoting it as a small business idea for small scale farmers.
My mom’s friend and our neighbor (whom we lovingly called Lawyer aunty because her husband was a Lawyer), is a science teacher and she wanted to go and learn the process of growing mushrooms for profit at home. She wanted company and asked me if I wanted to go, when my mom couldn’t get leave from work. I tagged along with her because I could skip college .
I must confess that although I went there without expecting much, I came away very fascinated by what we learnt there.
Along with the training on how to grow mushrooms at home, each participant was given a little booklet with detailed instructions of all that we learnt there and some recipes plus a bottle of spawn.
I promptly got to work. All the stars aligned. Amma let me use the little shed outside our home. Since it was harvest season, there was plenty of hay from our paddy fields which  I used to sow the sample spawn I got at the University, to grow my very first batch of mushrooms .
pepper mushroom masala-2
I was so thrilled when those pristine white oyster mushrooms appeared on the little hay bundles I had prepared for the mushrooms to grow! For you see, the green thumb thing completely skipped me even though I was born into a family of agriculturists.
After a bountiful harvest we didn’t know how to cook the mushrooms so we gave some to friends and neighbours and Amma added them to the curries she made.
One day, I decided to try a recipe from the little booklet we got at the University. The recipe was rather simple but quite tasty! And quickly became a regular in our home. DSC_0474Later, I found out that our farm help on my dad’s farm also used this same recipe to cook wild mushrooms. The only spices used here in this recipe are pepper and cumin.
The original recipe used Oyster Mushrooms, but I’ve substituted button mushrooms and the taste does not differ muchDSC_0008


250 gms Mushroom (chopped )
1 tsp pepper
1 Onion (chopped)
1 small tomato
1 tsp grated coconut (optional)
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp mustard
1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
Curry leaves, salt to taste


Heat oil in a skillet.

Add Cumin, curry leaves and mustard seeds. Let it splutter.

Add Chopped onions, cook till they are pink in color.

Then add the tomato pieces. Saute well till mushy.

Add salt and pepper.

Now add the Mushroom. Saute well.

Sprinkle a little water. Cover and let it cook.

Add chopped corriander leaves.

Cook till the mushrooms are soft and well cooked but still firm .

Sprinkle grated coconut.

Serve as a side dish for rice.

Cook book scribbles: Without the coconut, this masala can also be used as a sandwich filler.



Fish · Recipes · Sea Food · Uncategorized

Onion Fish Fry

This is one of my mom’s special dishes .Its a personal  favorite.


King Fish 1/2 kg

2 Medium sized onions (cut lengthwise)

1 Tomato (Cut into cubes)

4 Green Chillies(slit)

2 Small pieces Cinamon

1/2 tsp Fennel

5 Cloves

5 Cloves Garlic

Corriander Leaves Curry Leaves a little

Oil enough for frying.

Ingredients fish fry

Make into a Paste

2tbsps Chilli Powder

1 tsp Cumin Powder

1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder

1tsp Lime Juice

Salt to taste

Wash and Clean the fish pieces. In a bowl mix into a paste the ingredients given in make into a paste. Smear over the fish and keep aside foe 15 minutes.

Masala marinated fish filets
Heat oil in a skillet and fry the fish lightly and keep aside.

Lightly fried fish filets

In the same oil, add curry leaves, fennel , cloves, cinnamon, garlic, onion and sauté till the onion becomes slightly brown

Saute onion green chilli and spices
add tomatoes, coriander leaves, and salt and sauté a for few minutes.

Add in the tomatoes

Lower the flame .Place the fried fish pieces one by one arranging being careful not to break them. After a few seconds, turn them over slowly

Allow the fish to fry well

Do this for a few more minutes, till the fish filets are all evenly cooked. Serve .

.Fish fry

Cook book Scribbles:

Also is a great recipe to use up left over fried fish.