Oats Pongal


So with all the buzz on whole grains and eating right it does put a lot of pressure on us moms and chefs in the kitchen to ensure a healthy, balanced and yet delicious meal for the family! I always argue with my husband that our ancestors ate white rice all the time and did just fine. But the truth is, in today’s world our sedentary lifestyle is much unlike the hard physical work that our ancestors did. Not to mention that the white rice we get today is super polished and stripped of all its nutrients and fiber. We are in the world of plastic mixed with rice!! And god knows what other surprises! Feeding our families right is definitely a challenge today!
In an effort to eat healthy, here I am sharing with you a recipe for Oats Pongal. To be honest, it took me a long time to get used to the sticky texture of oats. But once you start eating it enough, you will actually begin to like it and even enjoy it. And this recipe is a great way to start if you like South Indian food and prefer Savory to sweet for breakfast!! Of course, this recipe is great for dinner too.


You will need:
Quick Oats – 1/2 cup (I have used whole food brand quick oats, you can use Quaker or any that is available)
Moong Dal – 3 tbsp
1 tsp Cumin seeds
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger (missing here since i ran out of ginger at home :-) )
a few curry leaves
1/4 tsp Hing or Asafoetida
Salt to taste
1 tsp Olive Oil (Alternatively you can use 1 tsp Ghee if you like)
a few pieces of Cashews (I have not used here, but it definitely adds taste to Pongal)

1. In a pan, bring about 2 1/2 cups water to a rolling bowl. Add the washed moong dal and allow to cook in open pan for about 15 minutes until the dal is fully cooked. You will the grains split. See below. Once the dal is cooked, keep aside. Do not throw the leftover water from the dal.
2. Meanwhile, in a mortar pestle coarsely powder the cumin and pepper. If you don’t have one, powder in a coffee grinder or mixer.

3. In a pan, heat the oil (or ghee). Add the coarsely ground cumin and pepper powder, hing and curry leaves and saute for a minute. At this point you may add grated ginger and cashews and fry. Then add the quick oats and mix well. Add salt and fry for about 1 minute.

4. Then add the cooked moong dal with all the water that is left in the dal. Add about 1/2 to 1 cup water if needed. Close and cook for about 5 minutes on a medium to low flame.

5. Open the lid and cook for 2 more minutes. Ensure that most of the water evaporates.

6. Hot and delicious Oats Pongal is ready to be served.


Your protein rich, fiber rich Oats Pongal for a great start to the day!!


Thanks for stopping by!!

Capsicum / Bell Pepper Curry


Today from the Masalamagic kitchen, I would like to share with you a very flavorful and delicious but yet simple Capsicum or Bell Pepper Curry.
If you are a family that eats lots of rotis or chapatis then the question is always “What Side dish?” Making the same side over and over again also does not cut it! My family gets edgy every time i make the same or similar curry. I am always on the lookout for simple side dishes. Time is of the essence especially on a busy weekday morning, so the simpler the curry the better it is :-)

This curry requires minimum prep time and will be ready in less than 10 minutes :-)


You will need:
2 Capsicum or Green Bell Pepper – Wash and chop into cubes. I usually get rid of the seeds in the middle, you can use them too if you like.
1 Large tomato – Wash, chop into rough cubes and coarse puree in a blender (just 1 round).
2 tbsp Roasted Peanuts – Dry roast 2 tbsp peanuts on a pan until golden brown, cool and remove the peel. Coarse grind into a dry coarse powder.
1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder
1 tsp Curry Powder or Sambar Powder
Salt to taste
1/4 tsp or 1 small piece Jaggery
1 tbsp Oil
Cumin, Mustard seeds and hing for seasoning

1. Prep the peanuts, Tomato and capsicum as mentioned above. Keep everything ready.
2. In a pan, heat the oil. Add the hing, cumin and mustard seeds. Allow the mustard to splutter.
3. Add the chopped capsicum and turmeric powder. Mix well.
4. Then add the Sambar powder or curry powder and salt. Mix well.
5. Add about 1/2 cup water and pureed tomato , mix and cover with a lid and cook for about 5 minutes.
6. Allow the gravy to thicken a bit. Then add the Peanut powder and Jaggery and mix well.
7. Serve hot with Rotis or Rice.



Thanks for stopping by :-)


Chutney Magic

Chutney Magic

Today I would like to share with all of you two simple chutney recipes. If anything, Andhra Pradesh is known for its spicy food and finger licking chutneys aka “Pachadis”. Pretty much any vegetable can be converted into a delectable chutney.
True to my Andhra genes, I love spicy food and spicy chutneys. Mixed with hot rice and a hint of ghee will take you into a blissful state!! Of course for the conscious eater staying away from carbs, these chutneys can be used as a spread on whole wheat toast or inside a whole wheat tortilla to make a wrap or as a dip with whole wheat crackers! Take your pick on how you would like to eat these..but definitely don’t miss out on these super delicious chutney recipes!!

My first recipe is called “Cleaning my fridge out Chutney” :-) Which is actually an Onion-Tomato Chutney recipe that tastes great with Dosa, Idli, Rice, Bread, Rotis etc. any which way you want to eat it.

Onion-Tomato ChutneyDSC_0033
You will need:
2 Large Onions – Peel, wash and chop into chunks
1 Medium Tomato – Wash and chop into cubes or slices
4 to 5 green chillies
a handful of cilantro or coriander leaves
a few mint leaves
a small piece of tamarind (1/4 lime sized)
1 Garlic – Peel
Salt to taste
1 tbsp grated coconut (optional)
Oil for frying – About 2 tsp

1. Chop all the veggies as above.
2. Heat a frying pan with 2 tsp oil on high heat.
3. Add all ingredients except the salt and coconut as listed above together into the frying pan.
4. Saute for about 3 to 4 minutes on high heat until the veggies are slightly charred and roasted. (see in picture below).
5. Turn off the stove, add the grated coconut and cool.

6. Combine all the roasted ingredients in a food processor or mixer, add salt and grind without adding any water. Grind until coarse.
7. This chutney does not require any additional seasoning. If you would like, you can always season with mustard seeds, hing, curry leaves and dry red chillies.
8. Serve with hot rice as below or use as a spread.DSC_0035

Next on my list here today is a Zucchini Yellow Tomato Chutney. This super delicious chutney tastes great with just about anything. My family loves it and it is a great way to have your kids eat veggies!!

Zucchini Yellow Tomato Chutney


You will need:
1 Large Zucchini – Wash and Chop into cubes or slices
1 Large Yellow Tomato – Wash and Chop into cubes; If you don’t have yellow tomatoes, you can use a red tomato or a green tomato instead; Or you can even omit the tomato completely
2 pods garlic – Peel (This is optional, for those who do not like the taste of garlic just omit it)
4 to 5 green chillies
a small piece of tamarind
a handful of cilantro
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp Grated coconut (optional)
salt to tasteDSC_0322

A similar method as above.
1. Heat oil in a frying pan on high heat, add cumin seeds. Fry for a few seconds.
2. Add all the veggies except the salt, add the tamarind also.
3. Saute on high heat until slightly charred and roasted. (will take about 4 to 5 minutes)

4. Turn off the stove. Add 1 tbsp grated coconut, Cool.
5. Add salt and grind in a mixer or food processor with adding just about 1/4 cup water. Grind coarse.

6. You can omit seasoning or season if you prefer with mustard seeds, hing, cumin seeds, curry leaves and dry red chilli.
7. Serve with rice or as a spread.

Thanks for stopping by!! Happy Cooking..

Spinach Rice


Another simple, delicious and easy recipe from my kitchen. I like the look of this rice because of it’s wonderful, refreshing green color. It is also extremely easy to put together and can make for a satisfying meal.

Delicious and Refreshing Spinach Rice

Delicious and Refreshing Spinach Rice

 You will need:
1 Large bunch of Spinach Leaves
2 cups Rice – I use Sona Masoori Rice. You can even use Basmati Rice for this recipe.
6 to 10 Green Chillies (Depending on how spicy you like it, 10 will make it medium spicy)
Fresh Ginger – 4 small chunks (or 2 tbsp grated)
1 tsp Garam Masala Powder
Salt to taste

For Seasoning:
4 tbsp Oil
a few whole masalas (Cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, star anise, stone flower etc. )

1. Cook the rice in a electric cooker or stove top until done. I use the ratio 1 cup rice : 2.5 cups water for Sona Masoori Rice. If using Basmati, use 1 cup rice: 2 cups water ratio. After the rice is done, spread on a large platter or mixing bowl and allow to cool slightly.

2. Wash the Spinach leaves (Palak leaves) and keep aside.

DSC_0658DSC_06593. Combine the peeled ginger chunks (or grated ginger), washed green chillies and spinach leaves in a mixer or food processor. Add 1/4 cup water and grind into a smooth paste.

DSC_06604. In a pan, heat the oil. Season with the whole masala ingredients. Allow to fry for a minute.

DSC_06615. Then add the ground spinach paste. Mix well.

DSC_06626. To this add turmeric powder and 1/4 tsp salt. Saute and fry the paste for about minutes by stirring in between.

DSC_06637. Add the garam masala powder and mix well. Keep the stove on medium heat. You will see that all the water evaporates. This will take about 10 minutes. The paste will loose its raw smell and will come together. The oil will start to leave the sides.

DSC_0664DSC_0665DSC_0666DSC_06688. Turn off the stove. Then add the cooked rice and salt as needed.

DSC_06709. Mix well and gently. Mix thoroughly until well mixed.

DSC_067110. Serve hot with raita on the side. Here yummy spinach rice is served with cool and refreshing cucumber raita!!

DSC_0675DSC_0682Happy Cooking..

Brown Rice Khichdi


This delicious and nutritious Brown Rice Khichdi can be put together in less than 1/2 hour, is super tasty and is an ultimate comfort food.
We love Khichdi’s at home. A Khichdi is nothing but a one pot meal of Rice, Dal or Lentils and optionally vegetables. I make about 4 types of Khichdi and really this is one of those dishes that you can improvise and modify to suit your taste buds.
I especially like making this one pot meal when I am pressed for time and when the weather is getting colder, very comforting for the fall/winter weather.

You will need (Serves 4):
1 cup Brown Rice
1/2 cup Moong Dal
1/2 cup Masoor Dal
1 tbsp Channa Dal
1 Medium sized Onion – Peel, Wash and Chop into cubes
4 to 5 Green Chillies – Wash and chop fine
1 tbsp Grated Ginger
2 Medium Potatoes – Peel, Wash and Chop into cubes
1/4 cup Frozen or Fresh Green Peas
You can even add any other veggies of your choice

Combine the Brown Rice and Dals, wash and soak for about 10 minutes while you get everything else ready.

DSC_0627DSC_06322 tbsp Ghee
1 tbsp Oil (or use 3 tbsp Ghee if you like)
1 few cloves
1 Elaichi or Cardamom
2 small pieces cinnamon
1 star anise (optional)
1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder
1 tsp Red chilli Powder
1 1/2 tsp Dhaniya Powder / Coriander Powder
2 tsp Khichdi Masala (Optional) – I use this Khichdi masala. It adds a wonderful flavor to the Khichdi, but if you don’t have any, do not worry. The Khichdi will taste good even without this masala.
1. In a pressure cooker or pressure pan , heat the ghee and oil. When the ghee is hot add the whole masalas (cloves, cinnamon, elaichi, anise etc.). Saute for a minute. Then add the chopped onion, green chillies and ginger and saute until the onions are transparent.


2. Then add the chopped potatoes and green peas (and other veggies) and saute for about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the dry powders and mix well.

DSC_0636DSC_06373. Saute for about 5 minutes. Then drain all the water from the soaked rice and dal. Add the soaked rice and dal into the veggie mixture and fry well for about 4 to 5 minutes.


4. After the rice and dal mixture is sauteed well, add salt and mix well.

5. Add about 4 cups of water and mix well. Optionally in this step you may add some grated coconut. This usually gives a very nice flavor to the Khichdi.

6. Close the lid of the pressure cooker and cook for 3 whistles. After 3 whistles turn off the stove and allow the pressure to cool completely before opening. The yummy Khichdhi should be ready :-)

Khichdi is ready!!

Khichdi is ready!!

Garnish with chopped cilantro/coriander and Serve delicious piping hot Brown Rice Khichdi with some papad. Here Brown Rice Khichdi is served with Cucumber salad and papad.

Delicious Brown Rice Khichdi served with Cucumber Salad and Papad.

Delicious Brown Rice Khichdi served with Cucumber Salad and Papad.

DSC_0651Happy Cooking!!

Lunch Box Series – Part 1 “Let’s Wrap it up!!”


I am sure most mothers will relate to this post. As a busy working mom, I find it very hard in the mornings to innovate and plan something new everyday in my kid’s lunch box. Not to mention the fact that kids nowadays are such picky eaters!! I have 2 girls at home, one who loves Indian food but is an extremely slow and picky eater and the other will try her best to get away from eating homemade Indian food every meal!! Also for kids here in the US the peer pressure is tough and having to explain what’s in your Indian lunch box is an added apprehension. I have always told my kids, that they should stand by what they believe in and should not feel pressured to eat or not eat something that they don’t want to. But it’s easier said than done.
So with all of the above constraints, packing lunch boxes is a nightmare for me!! Back when I was growing up, my lunch box every day consisted of some kind of mixed rice (most South Indians can relate to this) i.e Lemon Rice, Tamarind Rice, Tomato Rice etc. you get the picture. Or on occasions it would be Idli, Dosa, Upma etc. And when it was “Noodles” on very rare occasions in the lunch box, I would feel special and be sought after!! There were no two ways about it, it was eat it or leave it. And if you leave it then be prepared for a lecture in the evening :-P

So all that said, I want to start this lunch box series on my blog. I am by no means an expert. But this is a way for me to chronicle some tried recipes that even i forget i had put together. I always struggle in the morning, so this will help me plan and prep for all needed ingredients and hopefully make this nightmare a little less scary!!

My kids love taking wraps in their lunch boxes, because its easy to eat and no fuss.
So my first post on this series is all about “Wraps”. Pardon my pictures in this, since some of these are phone pictures but will help get the job done.

Falafel Wrap:
This wrap seems like a lot of work for a busy weekday morning. But if you prep ahead, then this is such a breeze!!

20150924_065148For the Falafels:


Prep on Sunday morning:
Soak 1 cup white channa (Garbanzo beans) in water through the day

Prep on Sunday evening:
Pressure cook the channa with enough water for about three whistles in a pressure cooker. Drain and place the channa in a food processor.
To this add 2 green chillies, salt, 1 tsp chilli powder, 1/2 tsp pepper powder, 1 tbsp Dhaniya or coriander seeds, 1/2 tsp cumin or jeera and 1 tbsp sesame seeds/til.
Pulse on medium until all of the above is a coarse paste.
Take the coarse paste in a mixing bowl. Add finely chopped onions (1), chopped spring onions (green onions), chopped cilantro and chopped parsley.
Add 2 tbsp wheat flour to this paste. Form into round balls with your hand. Alternatively you may shape into cutlets.
These falafels can be made and refrigerated in a airtight box for 2 or 3 days.

Make on Monday morning for Lunch box:
I usually bake my falafels at 400 F for about 30 minutes. (First thing i do in the morning is to stick these in the oven).
Alternatively, you may shallow fry in a pan with little oil or if you prefer you can even deep fry. They taste great when deep fried :-P

Meanwhile, chop some tomatoes, peppers of choice (green, yellow or orange), some spring onions (i ditch the onions for lunch box), tender cucumbers.
Toast a tortilla on a tava/pan. I buy uncooked tortilas from Costco. But you can even make a roti at home and use those.

On the inside of the tortilla, spead some cream cheese (if you have any), place 2 baked or fried falafels, top with chopped veggies, some ketchup and mayonaise (optional).
Wrap one side, then bottom, then other side, roll into a foil, close on top and pack.

If you prefer to send these in Pita pockets (which i sometimes do), fill all of the same inside a pita pocket and wrap in a foil and send.
This tastes delicious either way.

20150923_192917Tip: Once you have the falafels made on Sunday, these are so easy to get together. You can even pre-bake or fry the falafels and just before packing toast on a tava.

If the above Falafel sandwich seems too much work for you :-) Then Mom, you will appreciate the next one.

Roasted Potato Wrap:

IMG_20150825_065726This is extremely easy.

Prep on previous night:
Boil 2 potatoes in a pressure cooker for 1 whistle. Cool and Peel. Refrigerate the boiled potato.

Next Morning:
Chop the potatoes into cubes. In a pan, heat a few tsp of oil. Add the boiled, cubed potato. Add some turmeric powder, chilli powder or paprika, salt and toss well. Roast for a few minutes until slightly golden.
Meanwhile chop veggies of choice – I use tomatoes, bell pepper or any colored pepper available and some cilantro.
Toast a tortilla or roti on a tava. Spread with cream cheese, top with roasted potato. Top with veggies, a sprinkle of some pepper powder, some grated cheese (i use a mexican cheese blend of cheddar, monteray jack and pepperjack cheeses). You can use whatever is available. Squeeze some ketchup and mayo and wrap.
Wrap in foil and pack!

Delicious and Easy Sweet Corn Wrap:

This is one of my favorite wraps to make because it easy, healthy and the kids love it.
I buy frozen American sweet corn for this recipe since it makes my life easier :-) If you are ambitious then you can even use fresh corn on the cob.
If you are using fresh corn on the cob, then peel the cob and use a knife to chop the kernels of the cob. Rinse and use.

1 cup shelled sweet corn.
A handful of chopped lettuce or fresh spinach leaves
1 Medium tomato – Chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Grated cheese
Mayo (optional) – I have one kid who loves it and one who detests it :-P
Tortillas or Rotis

1. In a pan bring water to a rolling boil. Add the shelled corn and cook for about 5 to 7 minutes. Drain and keep aside.
2. In a pan, heat about 1 tsp butter. Add the drained, cooked corn and toss on high heat for about 2 minutes. Spinkle salt and pepper and mix. You may even add chaat masala if you like.
3. Toast your tortilla or roti
4. Spread cream cheese or any cheese spread or green chutney (if your child prefers spicy) on the insides.
5. Top with tomatoes, chopped lettuce or spinach, the roasted corn, some cheese, ketchup and mayo.
6. Wrap it up and pack :-)


With cheese!!

And if you want to do sandwiches instead of wrap, you can use the same filling inside a sandwich. Do not toast the sandwich. Toasted bread gets soggy and tastes bad after a while. You can send a cold sandwich with this filling. It tastes great.

Yummy Corn and Spinach sandwich

Yummy Corn and Spinach sandwich

None of the above ingredients are set in stone. You can add or omit as your child desires. I am just providing my ideas that I use for filling.

Hope you enjoyed my post.

Please note that we are vegetarians so I will be able to only share vegetarian wrap or sandwich recipes. If you are a non-vegetarian you can improvise the same with chicken or turkey as you prefer.

I also use Paneer extensively as a filling in my wraps and sandwiches. All you have to do in terms of prepping is make the paneer filling ahead to use while you pack lunch on a busy morning. Some paneer wrap and sandwich recipes on my blog are:

Paneer Kati Rolls

Paneer and Potato Paninis

Hot Spice Mix Rice


Today’s recipe is a quick rice dish. This Navratri has been busy with Golu hopping from one home to another and eating a lot of sundal!! :-P
Decided to make this Spicy Rice dish instead of the regular sundal for “Neivedyam” or Offering for my pooja. Started out making “Yellorai” or “Ellodharai” – which is by the way is one of my favorite quick fix rice prasadams to put together. And not to mention it is also Krishna’s favorite (Like in Lord Krishna :-) )
But, I added some additional spices and made this slightly different and it tasted superb! Made a slightly bigger batch to serve visiting friends that evening.
Unfortunately, i did not take step by step pictures. Will have to take them when I make this again next time. Until then, here’s the recipe :-)

Delicious Hot Spice Mix Rice for Neivedyam

Delicious Hot Spice Mix Rice for Neivedyam

Hot Spice Mix Rice (Just gave it a random name :-) )

DSC_0549You will need:
2 cups Sona Masoori Rice (If you want to make a smaller batch adjust accordingly)
Citric Acid crystals – 1/4 tsp or you may use juice of half a lime
1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder
a handful of curry leaves
3 tbsp Seasame Seed Oil or Til Oil

For Seasoning:
1 tsp Mustard seeds
1 tsp channa dal
1 tsp Urad dal
1 tbsp broken cashew
1 tbsp Ghee or Butter

For the spice mix:
Group 1:
2 tbsp Black Sesame Seeds (Black Til, Black Nuvvulu)
2 tbsp White Seasame Seeds (While Til, White Nuvvulu)

Group 2:
4 tsp Urad Dal

Group 3:
4 tsp Jeera or Cumin
2 tsp Black Pepper
8 Dry Red chillies

1. Cook the rice in an electric cooker. I use the ratio 1 cup Rice: 2.5 Cup water.
2. After the rice is done, spread the rice in a large platter or mixing bowl and cool.
3. To this rice add turmeric powder, citric acid or lime, salt to taste and some raw curry leaves. Mix gently and keep aside.
4. Meanwhile, In a pan add group 1 ingredients up above and dry roast until the seasame seeds start to pop. Ensure that they dont burn. Once they start popping transfer to a plate.
5. In the same pan add Group 2 ingredient i.e Urad dal, add a few drops of oil and roast until golden brown. Ensure not to burn the dal.Once golden brown, remove onto the plate along with the toasted sesame seeds/ til.
6. In the same pan, add Group 3 ingredients and few drops of oil and roast for 2 to 3 minutes. Cool along with other roasted ingredients.
7. Dry grind all the roasted ingredients in a food processor or mixer. Grind into a almost smooth powder.
8. Mix this dry powder with the already prepared rice from Step 3 above. Add salt as needed and mix.Add the seasame seed oil / til oil and gently mix into the rice. The powder and oil should be mixed well into the warm rice and should be well coated.
9. In a pan, heat the ghee (you may use oil if you prefer). Season with mustard seeds, some more hing, urad dal, channa dal and broken cashew. When the dals are golden brown, add a few curry leaves and broken dry chilli pieces. Mix well and pour this seasoning on the rice and mix well.
10. Serve delicious hot spice mix rice!!

Super Tasty Spice Mix Rice is Ready!!

Super Tasty Spice Mix Rice is Ready!!

DSC_0566DSC_0567Thanks for stopping by!

A Request to my readers, if you do try any recipes I would love to hear from you. Nothing keeps a blogger going more than the feedback from their readers. Look forward to hearing from you.