Murungai Illai (Moringa leaves) Sothi


Moringa leaves or in Tamil “Murungai illai” is from the tree Moringa Oleifera that is one of the most nutritious leaves that you can find.  You can read more about this tree here. Moringa tree has been used in traditional medicine for a long time.  It bears the vegetable called “Drumsticks” in English or “Murungaikai” in Tamil.  But the most nutritional part is the leaves.  The leaves are rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin A and Calcium.  It also has 3 times the pottasium of bananas.  Traditionally these leaves are used in various dishes.  The most popular one is the murungai illai varai (called poriyal in India) which is stir-fried leaves with coconut and sauteed onions.  Unfortunately it is extremely expensive and difficult to get these leaves in the North East of USA.  I will be posting the varai recipe hopefully some day when I get these leaves.

The leaves are a bit difficult to wash.  Since they are so small, when washing they tend to stick to your wet hands.  After washing dry them in paper towel to avoid any clumping.

Normally when sothi is made with murungai illai, other vegetables are not added.  But I added these vegetables to make it a wholesome side dish and more nutritional.  It actually turned out pretty tasty.  You can eat this side dish with rice, but goes very well with string hoppers (Idiyappam)


  • 1 small potato
  • 1 small Chinese eggplant
  • 2 green chilies split lengthwise
  • 2 pearl onions peeled and quartered
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • Salt to taste
  • pinch of tumeric
  • Strand of curry leaves
  • ¼ cup drumstick (Moringa) leaves
  • Lemon juice



  • Peel and cut potato into about ½ inch cubes
  • Split eggplant lengthwise and then split lengthwise again. Chop them into about ½ inch cubes
  • Wash drumstick leaves and dry in a paper towel.
  • In a covered saucepan add potatoes, eggplant, water, salt and cover and cook for about 7-8 minutes (until potatoes are three-quarter cooked)
  • Add curry leaves, tumeric, and coconut milk and bring to a boil and cook uncovered for about 2 minutes.
  • Now add drumstick leaves and cook just one minute uncovered
  • Add lemon juice just before serving.

Yields: about 2-3 servings as a side dish with Idiyappam


Cranberry Scones

It has been so long since I posted any recipe.  From now on, I will be posting regularly for my viewers.  Work, new jobs and other things kept me so busy that I never tried any recipe.  It has been the same old same cooking – what ever I have been cooking on a regular basis.

Any way, coming back to the recipe, I am a bit skeptical when it comes to making scones.  When I was a kid, the only way I learned that there are some baked goodies call “scones” is via story books.  I still remember those story books I used to read by the author Enid Blyton “The Secret Seven” and “Famous Five”.  My first encounter of scones was not that pleasant.  It was dry, chewy and almost tasted like eating chalk.  So with that I totally forgot about the scones.  Then a few weeks ago some-how the topic Scones came during dinner time and I thought I must give it a try again.  So this time I went over a couple of websites and read recipes for different scones.  Finally I came up with this recipe where I have substituted regular milk with almond milk since I have to make it diary free.

After making I gave it to my husband to taste and asked him how does it taste?  To my surprise, he said this taste really good like a real scone.  Well finally I made my own scones.  So here is that recipe and enjoy!


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons castor sugar
  • ¼ cup margarine cold (or butter)
  • 2 eggs (preferably large)
  • 1/3 cup almond milk (or regular milk)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon lemon extract
  • ½ cup dried cranberries


  • Preheat oven to 400 F. Lightly grease a cookie sheet and set aside
  • In a large bowl combine together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • With your fingers mix the margarine/butter with four mixture until the texture looks like coarse crumbs
  • In a separate bowl lightly beat the eggs. Mix in the milk, vanilla and lemon extracts.
  • Blend the egg mixture into the flour mixture to form a moist and soft dough.
  • Fold in the cranberries.
  • Turn out the dough on a to a lightly floured surface. Do not knead.  Just make into a large rectangle shape and about one inch height.
  • Cut cross wise into triangles and place on the cookie sheet and bake for about 12 – 15 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and cool on wire rack to room temperature.

Yields: 8 scones.

Raisin Bran Muffins


Bran is the outer shell of the grain that has high amount fiber.  Wheat is not grown in Sri Lanka due to warm climate.  But Sri Lanka’s primary food crop is rice.  When rice is milled the husk/out shell is usually thrown away or used as cow feed or to use as manure for crops.  But after coming to the US, I realized how healthy bran is – well a little bit introduction of the bran.

So let’s come back to this recipe.  Now a days I have been avoid diary in my dishes.  It was a challenge to make my own diary free butter milk and yogurt.  After searching on google, I found how to make my own quick butter milk.  To make non-diary butter milk, add one tablespoon white vinegar to 1 cup measuring cup.  Add regular almond milk to the cup.  Mix and transfer to a bowl and let stand for about 10 minutes.

The muffins came out really good, soft and lightly moist which is the consistency I wanted.  But you can always use regular butter milk and butter instead of oil which may give additional flavor to muffins.


  • 4 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • ¼ cup castor sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk (made from almond milk)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Juice and zest of ½ lemon
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup wheat bran
  • ½ cup raisins



  • Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a muffin tin with paper casing and set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl lightly beat the egg. Add both sugars and mix well.
  • Now add oil, vanilla extract, juice and zest of lemon and the butter milk and thoroughly combine.
  • Sift together all-purpose, whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
  • Transfer the sifted flour into the egg mixture and slowly combine (the mixture will be quite liquidy so be careful not to spill).
  • Now add the wheat bran and combine thoroughly. Add raisins.
  • Spoon batter into muffin cups and bake for about 15 – 20 minutes
  • Yields: 8 muffins

Note: when making muffins, I always use paper casing to line the muffin tins.  It makes it easy to remove the muffins without breaking and decreases the cleaning time.

Tropical Fruit Crepes with Chocolate Drizzle



I have never had or even heard of “crepes” when I was growing up.  After I came to US, with the internet and so many recipe websites, blogs and recipe books I started making dishes that are not native to my place.  Initially I was into pancakes but as time went by I got a French cooking book as a gift.  That’s where I saw my first crepe recipe – a simple crepes with orange sauce – nothing fancy.  I started reading that and it was explaining how to swirl the pan to coat the crepes into a thin layer.  After reading that recipes, I wanted to make my own crepes and with that my crepe craziness started.  I started with simple crepes and overtime came up with ideas for filling and sauces.

With the weather warming up, I thought this would be the best time to make some crepes with tropical fruit filling.  Since I could not find any good quality fresh mangoes, I used frozen ones.  When it comes to pineapple, I am a bit lazy to peel and cut them and remove all the corky and thorny stuff.  So I used canned pineapple.  But if you can get the fresh fruits, I would say it will taste really amazing.




  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • ½ almond milk
  • ¼ water
  • ½ teaspoon orange extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon butter melted
  • Pinch of salt

Fruit Filling:

  • 2 cups cut mango cubes
  • ½ cup pineapple chunks
  • Little water
  • Sugar (optional)

Orange Sauce:

  • Juice of 2 large oranges
  • ½ teaspoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon dark brown sugar


  • 2 tablespoons flaked coconut toasted until lightly browned
  • Powdered sugar for sprinkling
  • Chocolate sauce



  • Sift flour into a large bowl and make a well in the center
  • In a different bowl whisk together egg, melted butter, almond milk, water and orange extract
  • Gradually whisk the egg mixture into the flour and mix until the batter is smooth and free of lumps
  • Let stand for 30 minutes
  • Heat a small crepe/non-stick pan and brush lightly with butter.
  • Pour a little batter into the pan and swirl quickly to cover the base of the pan in a thin layer
  • Cook for about 30 seconds or until the edges begin to curl. Turn and cook the other side until lightly browned.
  • Transfer to a plate and cover with a towel.
  • Repeat with the remaining batter to make about 10 crepes. Stack the crepes between grease proof or parchment paper to prevent sticking.

Fruit Filling:

  • In a small saucepan add cut mangoes and pineapples and add a little water and cook until slightly mushy. Drain off any excess water and cut the fruits into tiny pieces.
  • If you prefer you can add a little bit sugar to enhance the flavor.

Orange Sauce:

  • In a small saucepan add butter and brown sugar. Once hot add orange juice and cook on very low flame until to sauce consistency.  Adjust the amount of brown sugar according to orange’s tartness.

To Assemble and Serve:

  • Place a spoonful of fruit mixture one-third from the edge of a crepe.
  • Fold the crepe into a cone leaving a little bit fruit mixture exposed.
  • Drizzle orange sauce around and on top of the crepes
  • Top with toasted coconut and sprinkle with powdered sugar
  • Drizzle with chocolate sauce

Yields: 10 Crepes

Kollu (Horse Gram) Chutney


Kollu or Horse gram in English which I have never heard of until I came to the United States.  I believe it is quite common in India but no one knows this lentil in my family or town.  I saw this lentil in one of the Indian grocery stores and bought a packet which has been sitting in my cabinet for more than 6 months.  I have been searching for kollu recipes to finish off this bag.  Finally I saw few recipes and I took them and modified it according to my taste.  It was the first time I ever tasted some thing made with Kollu.  I have to say I kind of liked taste of Kollu it but wouldn’t say “Oh it was so great…”

This side dish is very easy to make and of course it is Vegan.  All together it took only about 20 minutes for me.  I used this as a Chutney with Idli.  I think it can also be used as a side dish for Dosas.





  • ¼ cup kollu
  • 1 tablespoon channa dal
  • 1 teaspoon urad dal
  • 3 tablespoons shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 3-4 dried red chilies
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Tamarind extract
  • Salt to taste
  • ¾ cup water at room temperature
  • For tempering: oil, curry leaves, ¼ teaspoon hing, mustard seeds.


  • Dry roast kollu on low flame until a nice aroma emits. Transfer to a dish and let cool to room temperature.
  • In the same pan, dry roast chana dhal, urad dhal, garlic, and red chilli together for about 3-4 minutes on low flame. Let cool
  • Add all the roasted kollu, roasted dals, garlic, chili to a food processor with water, salt, and tamarind and puree until smooth. It can be slightly granular which will give a nice crunchy taste as well.
  • Transfer the chutney to a serving bowl.
  • Add a little oil to a skillet and when hot add mustard seeds.  Once mustard seeds start spluttering add curry leaves and hing and fry for about 30 seconds.  Remove and add to the chutney and mix well.

Note: I have not given the exact amount of tamarind to be used.  Tamarind is sold as a ready to use paste (in bottles) or as tamarind pulp in packets.  If you are using tamarind paste, you can add it directly to the food processor with other ingredients. If you are using tamarind pulp, you have to add a small amount of pulp to a small bowl and add warm water to soak.  Then you have to squeeze it with your finger to extract the juice.  So depending on what you use, you may have to adjust the taste while grinding.

Coconut Almond Granola with Matcha Yogurt



Here is a quick and easy breakfast – if you are in a hurry to run to work or to run errands, here is what you can do (actually that is what I do).  Have a bag of granola in your office or home.  May be keep a small carton of plain yogurt in your office fridge as well.  When you run out of the door make sure to grab some berries and nuts.  That’s all.  Once you are settled just mix and match the ingredients to make your wholesome breakfast.  That is how I eat breakfast on a week day.  But I take my yogurt in a small rubber maid container.  You might be wondering why?  Because I always make yogurt at home.  Home made yogurt has a distinct taste and flavor as opposed to any store bought yogurt.  Trust me, I have bought several brands of yogurt including the organic ones.  But none came close to a home made yogurt.  I will be posting a recipe on that soon.

So back to this recipe.  Recently when I went to Trader Joe’s they were giving samples of their organic toasted coconut granola.  I tried and bought a bag.  Until now, it has become my favorite granola. Unlike other brands this one has so much of ingredients in there, especially they are so generous about each ingredients. To mention a few lot of dried flaked coconut, toasted chopped almonds etc. Below is an image of that bag.  Now I am so hooked to this granola, I have been buying only this one for the last few months.

Now to the matcha green tea powder.  I have heard a lot about this green tea powder. But I thought to give it a try after reading a blog from Vegan needs  for a breakfast smoothie which used the matcha green tea powder.  So I tried it with my special granola bowl. It was heavenly delicious.  I topped with blueberries and goji berries.  But you can use other berries such strawberries, raspberries or even blackberries.  Since the granola had a lot of nuts, I did not use any nuts.  If you prefer you can top with your favorite nuts. In the recipe below I have not given the amount for the topping since I will leave it up to you.



  • ½ cup coconut granola
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt
  • ¼ teaspoon matcha green tea powder
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar
  • Blueberries for topping
  • Goji berries for topping


  • Mix yogurt, Matcha powder, and agave nectar together
  • Set aside about 1 tablespoon granola. Put the rest of the granola in a small bowl
  • Pour over the yogurt and sprinkle with the reserved granola
  • Top with blueberries and goji berries
  • Serves: 1 serving

Walnut Cake

I have to say, this is one of the best cakes I have ever made.  It does not require any butter or baking powder.  So the egg whites that is beaten to a frothy consistency make this cake looks as if it has risen when baked.  The cake is very dense but soft.






  • 6 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 cup castor sugar
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoon each nutmeg and cardamom powder
  • 1 ½ cups ground walnuts


  • Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 9 inch spring form pan and set aside
  • Separate eggs. Beat eggs yolks and sugar until light in color.
  • Add flour and spice mixture and add ground walnuts and mix well.
  • In a separate dry bowl beat egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff and form peaks when the whisk is removed from the beaten egg white
  • Fold beaten egg whites to the cake batter and mix carefully until well incorporated
  • Pour into the prepared pan and bake for about 45 minutes. Cool on wire rack
  • Once the cake is completely cooled to the room temperature, to decorate place a paper doily on top of the take and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Remove the paper doily carefully not to spill over any of the remaining sugar on the paper.