Monthly Archives: January 2011

Healthy Brownies

I found this recipe in good housekeeping website (

I took this recipe and modified a little bit.  I don’t like strong cocoa taste or too much sugar.  So I reduced the amount of sugar a little bit and replaced ¼ cup of cocoa powder with all-purpose flour.  The brownies came out quite good.  But I had to keep them in an air tight container.  When I left them outside for a while, they became a little dry.

Here is how the brownie looks when cut:


  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil spread or cooking oil
  • 3 large egg whites
  • About 10 walnuts chopped (optional)
  • Butter of greasing baking pan


  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Butter a square (8 x 8 inch) baking pan
  • Add vanilla extract to coffee powder/granules and let it dissolve
  • Sift flour and combine cocoa powder, flour, salt, and baking powder
  • In a medium bowl whisk together oil, egg whites, sugar and coffee mixture until well mixed and smooth
  • Blend in flour mixture and walnuts and mix well
  • Spread in the prepared pan and bake for about 25 – 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean

  • Cool pan for about 2 hours
  • When cool cut brownies into squares
  • Sprinkle with powdered sugar

  • Makes about 16 brownies

Pasta with Sundried tomato & Pine nut sauce


  • 4 oz pasta (Rotini, penne etc)
  • ¼ cup + 2 teaspoons pine nuts
  • 12 halves of sun dried tomatoes
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ teaspoon pesto sauce (basil pesto)
  • 1 tablespoon parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
  • 3 oz baby spinach
  • ¼ cup whole black olives


  • Lightly toast pine nuts
  • Cook pasta and drain and set aside

  • Add ¼ cup pine nuts, 10 halves of sun dried tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, water, pesto sauce, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to blender and puree until smooth.  Transfer to a dish and set aside
  • Chop the rest of the sun dried tomatoes into very small pieces
  • Add olive oil to a skillet and add cherry tomatoes and sauté for about 15 – 20 seconds (make sure the tomatoes do not get over cooked and become mushy)
  • Add pasta sauce, cooked pasta and spinach to the skillet and continue to cook on very low flame until spinach is wilted.
  • Add black olives, chopped sun dried tomatoes and mix well
  • Sprinkle rest of the pine nuts on the top.
  • Serve warm (It’s best served immediately)
  • Serves 2

Black Beans & Spinach Stuffed Pasta Shells


  • 4 oz pasta shells
  • 14 oz can black beans
  • 10 oz package frozen chopped spinach
  • 6 oz chopped tomatoes
  • 3 – 4 cloves garlic chopped into small pieces
  • 1 teaspoons oil
  • 1 – 1 ¼ cups pasta sauce
  • Mozzarella cheese


  • Cook pasta and drain and set aside
  • Pre-heat oven to 350 F
  • In a skillet add oil and sauté garlic until browned
  • Add chopped tomatoes and cook until they are soft
  • Squeeze excess water from spinach and drain and wash the black beans (I wash them to remove any chemical or preservative added)
  • Add black beans and spinach to skillet and cook for about 5 minutes
  • Mash the beans lightly with the back of the spoon
  • Add pasta sauce to a baking dish and spread it evenly
  • Stuff the shells with the vegetable mix and arrange them on the baking dish
  • Sprinkle with cheese and bake for about 15 – 20 minutes or the cheese is melted and lightly browned

இனிய பொங்கல் நல்வாழ்த்துகள்

இனிய பொங்கல் நல்வாழ்த்துகள்

Thai Pongal is the harvest festival celebrated by tamils throughout India and Sri Lanka (nothern part of Sri Lanka).   According to the tamil calendar, January 14th (or 15th) denotes the first day of January.  So according to a tamil saying “தை பிறந்தால் வழி பிறக்கும்” means the comencement of January (தை) paves the way of new opportunities.  Also its  the first day of spring and farmers thank the god surya (sun) for the good harvest.

Pongal is celebrated by making sweet milk rice.  Traditionally in Jaffna, Sri Lanka pongal is made in a new clay pot early in the morning – during sun rise.  Milk is added to the clay pot and when it starts boiling over, uncooked rice is added to the pot and cooked.   When the milk boils over, its considered good luck and brings prosperity in the following year.  Traditionally the pot is placed facing east  when making the pongal (sweet milk rice).   When the rice is cooked Jaggery, raisins, cashew nuts, ghee and cardamom are added.

The day after Thai pongal is called “Maattu Pongal” which means honoring the cattle that worked in the fields with the farmer.  In  Jaffna, Sri Lanka on the Maattu pongal, cows are bathed and their horns are painted.  Then pongal is made for the cows and they are worshiped.



Adai is not that common in the Jaffna Tamil cooking.  It’s healthier than normal Dosai since different kinds of lentils are used. This is quicker in comparison to dosai because this does not need fermentation.


  • ½ cup long grain rice
  • ½ cup urud dhal (lentil)
  • ¼ cup chana dhal (lentil)
  • ¼ cup toor dhal (lentil)
  • ¼ cup mung beans (split mung beans – dhal)
  • 2 dried red chilies
  • Couple of curry leaves
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 1 small green chili finely chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil for skillet
  • Sesame seed oil or butter or ghee (clarified butter)



  • Wash the rice and lentils and soak in water together for about 4 – 5 hours
  • Add rice, lentils and red chili to a grinder/liquidizer and add 1 cup of water and grind coarsely (the batter should be thick – not like the dosai batter).  If the batter is too thick and difficult to grind, add little water at time and grind
  • Transfer the batter to a bowl and add chopped onion, green chili and salt and mix well
  • Heat a skillet or tava and with a paper towel spread some oil on the skillet

  • Add a spoonful of batter to the skillet and add about ½ teaspoon sesame seed oil or ¼ teaspoon butter and cover and cook.
  • Lift the dosai slightly to check whether the bottom is nicely browned.

  • Turn over the dosai and cook the other side until golden brown
  • Serve warm with sambar or coconut chutney
  • Makes about 8 adai

Bitter Gourd Fry (Pavakkai Porial)

Bitter gourd, as its name implies has bitter taste.  Due to this bitter taste, a lot of people do not like this vegetable.  But in Sri Lanka, especially Jaffna bitter gourd is a very common vegetable and bitter gourd curry is consumed with rice.  Bitter gourd can be fried as below and be eaten with rice.  The recipe below reduces the bitterness because of the red onion.


  • 6 oz bitter gourd (after removing seeds)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt (for bitter gourd)
  • ¾ teaspoon mild chili powder (for bitter gourd)
  • Oil for deep frying (preferably canola oil)
  • 4 oz red onion
  • Little bit of salt and red chili powder (for onion)
  • 3 – 4 cloves garlic
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 3 – 4 dried red chilies broken into 2 – 3 pieces
  • Curry leaves
  • About 1 tablespoon oil to sauté onion


  • Slit bitter gourd length wise and remove the seeds

  • Slice each half into thin slices
  • Add salt and chili powder and mix well and let stand for about 10 minutes
  • In a vessel add oil and when it’s hot, add bitter gourd and fry until crisp and golden brown (bitter gourd has a tendency to lose its crispness very quickly, but it’s ok for this recipe)
  • Drain in a paper towel and set aside
  • Peel onion and cut them into very thin slices and then cut them diagonally into 2 pieces
  • Add salt and chili to the onion
  • In a skillet add oil and add onion and sauté until translucent
  • Peel garlic and chop them into very small pieces
  • Add garlic to the skillet and fry until onion and garlic are golden brown
  • Add red chili, cumin seeds, curry leaves and fry for another minute
  • Turn off the heat and add fried bitter gourd to the onion mixture and mix well
  • Serve with rice.

Beets Fry (Beetroot Varai)


  • 1 large beet
  • ½ teaspoon Sri Lankan chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • ½ cup red onion chopped finely
  • 1 strand curry leaves
  • 2 – 3 dried red chilies broken into 3 pieces
  • Salt to taste


  • Peel and wash the beets thoroughly to remove any soil particles.
  • shred the beets carrot scraper or shredder
  • Add beets, chili powder, salt and water to a non stick skillet and cook on a low flame for about 7 minutes
  • Add shredded coconut and cook uncovered until all the water is evaporated or about 2 minutes
  • Set aside
  • In the same skillet add oil
  • When the oil is hot add chopped onion and fry until golden brown
  • Add red chilies, curry leaves and fry for another 2 minutes
  • Add cooked beets and mix well and fry on low flame for another 2 – 3 minutes
  • Serve with rice

Yields: 2 – 3 servings as side dish