My first fund raising cooking class

I am so excited about my upcoming cooking classes presented by Mingei International Museum. The museum is an art / cultural museum in San Diego’s Balboa Park. One of my past students asked me to participate in this event. The three 1 day classes will be held at Bloomingdale’s in the Fashion Valley mall.

If you live in the area and want to attend the class, please call Mingei Museum 619-239-0003, x133 or go www.mingei.org/indiancooking website to sign up.

Class schedule:

  • Tuesday, September 22nd  5:30 – 7:00pm
  • Tuesday, September 29th  5:30 – 7:00pm
  • Tuesday, October 6th  5:30 – 7:00pm

Bloomingdale’s Fashion Valley, The Main Course on 3

$50 per ticket is tax deductible

15% discount when purchasing all three sections.

Open to 30 participants each session.

Non-members will receive two tickets to Mingei International Museum


Why do I use Sooji (samolina flour)?

Many of you ask why I like to use sooji. For many of my recipes I add sooji to add crispness or to give flour a coarse texture.

When I use sooji with all purpose flour (plain flour or maida), it adds crispness and flakiness to dishes like samosa, kachori etc.

I also like to use sooji with basen (gram flour), when a more coarse basen is required. I don’t stock and I don’t expect you to keep or buy coarse basen as it’s rarely required. For example coarse basen is used for basen burfi and boondi ladoo. It’s easier to add sooji to regular basen as a substitute to coarse basen.

For the same reasons I add sooji to whole wheat flour.

Jain Festivals

Paryushan and Dash Lakshan are two of the most important festivals for Jains.

Right now we are observing Paryushan which is an 8 days spiritual retreat that started on August 17th and will end on August 23rd. Through this festival an attempt is made to put an end to all vices, passions and lustful desires in thought, speech and deeds. Usually, Jains will fast many different ways which includes not eating and drinking for a day or designing a personal customized fast in order to live simply.

As paryushan will be ending then Dash Lakshan will start from August 24th to September 3rd. The festival is the observance of ten universal virtues. Some of these virtues which I understood and have been more meaningful for me are Forgiveness, Contentment, Truthfulness, Self-control, and Detachment.

I believe Jainism is more of a philosophy then a religion. I remember when I was young my father telling me God is within you. Always justify your actions to your self while you are working towards your goal.

Both festivals end by asking forgiveness from all. I do not have any animosity towards anybody, and I have friendship for all living beings.

Forgiving others uplifts the soul.

100th Video Recipe

It has been two and a half years since my first video was uploaded on to YouTube. I am looking to making my 100th video very special. I have decided that 100th video recipe will be a Kaju Burfi (cashew fudge), which is a very simple and a very festive dessert. This burfi is a universal favorite for Indians as it made in all parts of India. Kaju burfi is a staple dessert found in all sweet shops. It can be refrigerated for many months, so you can cook it now and serve later. Kaju burfi is vegan and you can never go wrong serving this burfi to your friends and family.

Whenever I make this burfi my grandkids want more and more! My husband who loves all types of nuts has an excuse why I should make more often!

I am always looking forward to preparing this video recipe!!!

By the way this is typed by my granddaughter!!!

My 61st Birthday

Yesterday was my birthday and I had a great time with my family. I am sixty-one years old and I feel great. I am one of the lucky ones who have been able to live the life as I wanted with the support of my family and especially of my husband. Like everybody, I had my share of up and downs in my life but at the same time I have so many reasons to be thankful. Especially with what I am doing now, doing these cooking videos and web site. The success of this website has given me one more joy to be thankful about.I have made it a family ritual for all the family members on their birthdays, anniversary’s and holidays that we have a casual family get together and have dinner together.  Yesterday we all had dinner with my younger son.

In this photograph three people are missing. My two grand kids who went to sleep and of course my husband. He is the photographer.

Manjula 61st Birthday

Learn More About Asafetida

As you can tell I haven’t been blogging for a while. It’s been difficult to get the ball rolling again.

I wanted to share with you a great article about Asafetida that my student, Allison, shared with me. Asafetida is a popular Indian spice that I use in many dishes to season vegetables and lentils. The article describes Asafetida’s history, popularity, and medicinal values. The article is published in the Saudi Aramco World magazine. Link to article: http://www.saudiaramcoworld.com/issue/200904/devil.s.dung-the.world.s.smelliest.spice.htm

Pineapple Cake Trials And Errors

Hello everyone, I hope you enjoyed my latest recipe: Eggless Pineapple Cake. As I have said before I am not very big on baking, but one good thing about doing this website is that I am learning more as I try to show you new recipes. Alex (my husband) is a big help because he will not video the recipe until he is  happy with it. So now you know, you all are trying the food he approves.

Before I started on the cake, I used Google to find a few recipes that  looked good, but I knew I would have to modify them. First I followed this recipe from allrecipes.com which I liked the most but I thought it was too dry so I decided to add pineapple. I pureed the pineapple and added it to my next cake. My son was visiting so he tried the cake and said it was too bland and tasteless. In my third attempt, I added crushed pineapple and pineapple juice as you see and cardamom powder. It was better then before but still too dry. I decided to spread a few spoons of pineapple juice over the cake but by that time the cake was cold. It worked but wasn’t good enough. I felt I should have put the juice while cake was still warm so that’s what I did on my fourth attempt and yes — THIS cake got the Alex approval. Now he was ready to video.

You must be wondering what I did with all this cake. First one I trashed. I sliced the second and third cake into small cubes. Then I softened some vanilla ice cream and mixed the cake and ice cream together. It tasted great and I took that for a potluck lunch. Everybody enjoyed it.

Yesterday, Alex did the video for cabbage Kofta which is now on the website. This one is my granddaughter and grandson’s favorite for now, although their favorites keep changing.

I Have Been Busy

It has been awhile since my last post because I have been busy with family and with cooking classes.

I feel very energetic and very satisfied doing these cooking classes. I have wanted to share my cooking experience for years, and now I am able to do that through classes and videos.

It is a good feeling.When visitors to the site make a comment that I remind them of their mom, to me that’s the best compliment someone can give me. Many years back my close friend told me I should stop being a mother figure to people, but the other day she called me after reading one of the comments on the blog and said with a smile now it is the right time to be a Mom.

I don’t do much baking but many of you have requested an egg less cake so I have been trying different recipes. After trying a few and making a few changes, I think I have come to a recipe my husband and I agree on. So let me give it one more try and then I should be doing posting it on the site in next three to four days.

I love to do all the recipes you ask about. But many of the dishes I have never heard of and some I only know by name. Slowly I will try to learn more recipes.

Don’t forget when we cook we try to use the ingredients we have on hand. For example if I wanted to make matar (green peas) paneer but at the last minute I find I don’t have green peas so I use instead a bag of mixed vegetables, or I don’t have tomatoes so I decide to do a yogurt gravy. Experiment and share and do come up with a fancy name for the dish.

Happy Holi

Holi, a favorite holiday of mine, is coming up on March 11, 2009. Holi the festival of colors, traditionally a harvest festival, celeberated all over india.

Holi celebration begins with lighting up of bonfire on the Holi eve to cleanse the air of evil spirits and bad vibes, the victory of good over evil.

Holi celebration makes the festival more exuberant and vivid when people rub ‘gulal’ (variety of color powder specially made for this occasion making sure it will not hurt physically) on each other’s faces and cheer up saying, “bura na maano Holi hai” witch is translated to “please don’t mind today is Holi”.

The colorful festival bridges the social gap and renews relationships. On this day, people hug and wish each other ‘Happy Holi’.

Like every other holiday Holi has some of the specialty food people will make. A special drink called Thandai is served (main ingredients are milk almonds various spices and sugar). Usually lots of dry snacks are made like gujhia, khasta kachori, namak para, shaker para, basen ladoo and mathries and more. They are easy to offer to the visitors who come to play Holi with you.

I just love holidays they just bring very positive vibes and something to look forward.

Great News!

I am now officially a grandma for the third time and I’m absolutely in love with my precious granddaughter! I have been with her since her birth and am loving taking care of her. These past few weeks have been really busy for me. I have to say my granddaughter is cute as a button and it will be fun to watch her grow.

With a new baby, it is important for new moms to eat well and more importantly eat the right foods. These days I’ve really been working to convince my daughter-in-law and son just how important diet is for new moms. It’s been a struggle trying to get my daughter-in-law to not eat foods she loves such as breads, pastas, and snack foods. Although, I have to say my son is harder to convince than she is as he just brought back her favorite ice cream and snack food from the grocery store!

Watch For New Upcoming Recipes

Hi, so far the New Year is going as planned. I have been successfully de-cluttering my home but it’s taking a little longer than I planned. I keep on finding things that I have forgotten about but they bring back lots of memories. Basically that’s what takes so much time. I have saved lots of things for so many years thinking I may need them. I am now saying to myself if I have not used it for four years I am going to let it go.

I am also working on some new recipes. The recipe for Peda that is milk based candy is ready. The recipe for Matar Mathi Malai (fenugreek leaves with peas and creamy cashew nut sauce) is looking good. I need to test the recipe one more time, as this will be my first recipe where I will be using a cashew-based sauce. Also I’m working on a recipe for Atta (whole-wheat) Ladoo with Gaund (edible gum). I am trying different techniques, as the current recipe requires more ghee than I would like to use.Watch for new upcoming recipes.

Why I Am Late For New Videos

It has been a while since I have posted a video. I am getting over a bad cold that I’ve had for  few days. My husband (my video grapher and person responsible putting every thing together) is quite busy this week. He will be available this weekend, so I will make sure to take a video this weekend.I will suggest to my friends, students in my class and every body else how to take care of a cold by using home remedies. But when I get a cold, I become very careless and don’t follow my own remedies, which result in a slow recovery.

Many viewers have questions about making dough, such as how much rolling or kneading to do and why the Roties they make are not soft. Soon I will be preparing a video on Roti again. This video will emphasize making dough, rolling, and provide tips on how to make sure the Roti comes out soft.

For making dough or batter, water measurements given in the recipes must be used as guidelines only. I think it is impossible to give the exact measurement of water because there are many factors that change how much water is needed. The brand of flour you are using, how the flour was milled, and how old the flour is are just some of the things that can change the amount of water you need. Just remember it is very important to get the right softness of dough and the dough must be kneaded enough. That helps to roll the roti or paratha and after cooking stays soft

My granddaughter loves to help me in kitchen she loves to roll the roti; she does a great job. The first time I was just amazed to see how good she rolled, but you know why she did so good — she was not worrying about making a mistake. I am telling you this to maybe help in your own cooking; just try and maybe they won’t be perfectly round but who cares. When my granddaughter rolls roti, we consider her rotis pieces of art and of course her Dadu (grandfather) just loves eating them. Roties rolled by her just taste so much better.

Taking Care Of New Moms

As I mentioned before, my younger daughter-in-law is pregnant and is due at the end of January. Everyone in the family is very excited about the new baby!

The postpartum period begins after the delivery of the baby and ends when the mother’s body has returned close to its pre-pregnant state.

I am looking forward to taking care of my daughter-in-law and of course taking care of my future granddaughter! New moms deserve special attention to rebuild their strength after giving birth. Nutrition and plenty of rest are essential to new moms to help their bodies recover.

Eating light, easy to digest food is important. Green vegetables, vegetables from the squash family, moong beans (dal), and whole-wheat bread are all good choices. Avoid cabbage, beans and lentils are considered harder to digest and create gas in the body. Also avoid anything sour, like tomatoes, tamarind, lemon, and oranges.

I am compiling a list of remedies that will be useful after coming back from the hospital. My list is based on these traditional beliefs, which may help new moms below are some of the home remedies:

1) Turmeric helps heal internal wounds – Take a half-teaspoon turmeric powder every day with lukewarm milk or water. Turmeric has many other health effects.

2) Fenugreek seeds are great to help prevent and ease back and joint pain. Fenugreek seeds or fresh fenugreek are also taken to help nursing mothers increase their breast milk supply. Fenugreek is also available at many health food stores.

3) Ajwain (carom seeds) helps soothe pain due to gas or indigestion. Every morning boil four glasses of water with two tablespoon of carom seeds (ajwain). Let it cool down to room temperature and drink this water throughout the day. Add ajwain as an ingredient when making roti or cooking vegetables.

4) Dry ginger powder also known as sauth; take with food. Ginger offers health benefits, including anti-inflammation effects, and can also be found in health food stores.

5) Gaund (or Gond) is an edible gum resin that is extracted from the bark of the tree. Gaund provides heat to our body and is usually eaten in cold winter months. Gaund and whole wheat ka ladoo is normally prepared for the nursing mother to help with lactation and provide nutrients for the baby. The main ingredients are whole-wheat flour, butter, nuts, gaund, poppy seeds, and sugar.

6) Lastly, I will be making “Panjeere”, which is a mixture of nuts and a variety of ingredients. Panjeere and whole-wheat ladoos are a must for new moms. Stay tuned, as I will be posting both of these recipes in the near future.

Happy New Year!

This year has flown by quickly! I am looking forward to 2009 and will be posting many more video recipes. Your support means a lot to me. This year I would like to receive more feedback and interaction from you, the viewers. I may not be able to address all of your suggestions, but I will do my best!

I talked briefly before about New Year’s resolutions…well this year my resolution is to de-clutter and organize my house. I know that it will feel good both mentally and aesthetically! But maintaining a clutter-free house can be hard. So this year, my husband and I have decided to tackle one room at a time and finish by the end of the January. This is one resolution I think can keep. Stay tuned for my progress!

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