Monthly Archives: February 2011

Mixed Dried Berries Loaf


  • 6 oz dried mixed berries (example blueberries, cherries, cranberry, raspberry, strawberry etc)
  • 1 large orange
  • ½ cup castor sugar
  • 5 tablespoons butter at room temperature
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 2  cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup cashew nuts chopped


  • Preheat oven to 350° F.  Butter 9 x 5 loaf tin.
  • Place the dried berries in a bowl and add lukewarm water until it covers the berries  and leave for about 30 minutes
  • With vegetable peeler remove orange rind and chop them into fine pieces
  • Drain dried berries
  • Squeeze juice from orange and add enough water to make ¾ cup orange juice
  • Place the berries in a bowl and add orange peel and orange juice and set aside
  • Cream butter and sugar with a beater until soft
  • Beat in eggs until light and fluffy
  • Add almond and vanilla extracts and beat until well mixed
  • Sift flour, baking powder and baking soda and fold them in 3 batches into the butter mixture alternating with berry mixture.
  • Add chopped cashews and mix well
  • Spoon mixture into prepared pan and bake for about 50 – 55 minutes or a skewer inserted comes out clean

  • Cool in tin for about 15 minutes and transfer to a wire rack and cool completely
  • If the loaf becomes too dry (after cooling) wrap them in a foil to keep the moisture in.

Brussels Sprout and Carrot Stir Fry

The ratio between the carrots and brussels sprout can be changed according to your taste/preference.


  • 1 ½ cups shredded/chopped Brussels Sprout
  • 1 medium carrot shredded
  • 2 – 4 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 cup chopped red onion
  • Few curry leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon mustard seed
  • Couple of dried red chilies broken into 2 – 3 pieces


  • Add Brussels sprout to a saucepan and add salt, chili powder, water and cover and cook on medium flame until ¾ done.  If needed sprinkle a little water at time to prevent burning.
  • Now add shredded carrot and cook for another 1 minute
  • Set aside
  • In another skillet add oil and add mustard seeds.
  • One mustard seed start splattering add onion and sauté until golden
  • Add curry leaves and red chili and sauté for another minute
  • Add cooked Brussels sprout carrot mixture to the onion and mix well
  • Serve warm with rice

Raspberry Jam Filled Cookies

A couple of times I tried to make cookies in the past, but with no luck.  So I thought of trying this cookie out today.  The cookies came out pretty good.  But I still haven’t mastered the art of rolling the dough on a floured board.  I had to put so much flour to make sure it does not stick to the board.  But at the end, I was very happy to see these cookies nicely baked.


  • 5 oz ground almond/almond meal
  • 6 oz all-purpose flour
  • 5 oz butter at room temperature
  • 3 oz castor sugar (increase the amount if you like the cookie to be sweet, I don’t like too much sugar)
  • Grated rind of 1 lemon
  • ½ teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg white
  • Crushed/flaked almond
  • About 1 cup raspberry jam
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice


  • Cream butter and sugar until soft and fluffy
  • Stir in the lemon grind, lemon extract, and vanilla
  • Add ground almond and flour and mix well
  • Make the dough into a ball and wrap in a plastic wrap and chill for about 1 hour.
  • Preheat oven to 325F
  • Line 2 cookie sheet with parchment paper and butter them a little bit
  • Divide the cookie dough into 4 equal parts working with one section at a time
  • Roll out the dough to a thickness of about 3 mm on a floured board and
  • With a cookie cutter stamp out circles
  • Using a small cutter or a piping nozzle stamp small inner circles

  • Whisk egg white until lightly frosty
  • Brush cookies with egg whites and sprinkle with crushed almonds
  • Bake until lightly browned – about 15 minutes
  • To make the jam filling: in a saucepan heat jam and lemon juice until it comes to a simmer
  • Spread jam over the cookies and sandwich them together

Note: if you don’t have ground almond, you can use blanched almonds.  Grind them into a coarse powder.  Also when I make cookies or cake, I prefer salted butter.  In this way I don’t need to add extra salt to cookies or cakes.

Perfect Plantain Chips

Ash plantains are normally used in cooking in Sri Lanka.  But the plantains normally sold in stores here in US (NJ) are different from what we get in Sri Lanka.  These plantains are quite long and when peeled, orange in color.  But I found some plantains very similar to the ash plantains in the Indian Stores.  Ash plantains get this name because of its ash color powdery layer on its skin.  When peeled they are white and softer than the orange plantains.

The perfect way to make plantain chips is to first peel wash them before cutting (do not wash after cutting since it will clump when fried). Make sure plantains are completely dry before cutting.     Also after mixing with salt and chili powder, cut plantains should be dropped in hot oil one at a time. Make sure you don’t put a handful of cut plantains in the oil together.  Drop one at a time into the oil until the plantains cover half the oil in the saucepan.


  • 2 ash plantains
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil for deep frying


  • Peel and wash the ash plantains
  • Pat dry on a paper towel
  • Cut them into thin slices (rounds)

  • Add salt and chili powder and mix well and leave for about 5 minutes (the amount of chili powder can be adjusted according to your taste)
  • Heat oil in a heavy saucepan.

  • Once the oil is hot quickly deep fry until crisp.

Vegetable Quinoa Pilaf

I found a quinoa recipe in the good housekeeping website.  (check recipe at Vegetable Quinoa Curry).  I took this recipe and modified to make it as a vegetable quinoa pilaf.

Quinoa (Red & White):

Quinoa is a grain like plant grown for its edible seeds.  Even though quinoa looks like a grain, it does not belong to the grass family (graminacea). Quinoa is closely related to spinach, beets, and Swiss chard.  The most common ones are the white quinoa which becomes transparent or off white when cooked.  But other varieties features colors as red, orange, brown etc.  Cooked quinoa seeds are very fluffy and crunch in taste.

When cooked, the bead like quinoa will have a tiny tail like protruding from the seeds.

Cooked Quinoa:

Quinoa is very rich in amino-acids as well as rich in manganese, iron, copper and phosphorus


  • ¾ cup quinoa
  • 1 ¼ cups water
  • 10 – 12 oz mixed vegetables (cauliflower, carrots, string beans etc)
  • 6 oz extra firm tofu baked
  • 2 teaspoons cooking oil
  • ¼ cup chopped onion
  • 2 – 3 cloves garlic chopped
  • ¼ inch piece ginger chopped
  • ½ teaspoon coriander powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin powder
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Couple of cashew nuts (about 10)
  • 2 teaspoons generous Greek yogurt
  • Salt to taste


  • Add quinoa to a saucepan and roast on medium flame for about 5 minutes stirring frequently
  • Stir water and salt to quinoa and bring to boil.  Reduce heat and cover and simmer until all the water is absorbed (about 10 minutes).  Set aside
  • Break the cauliflower into small florets.  Slit the carrot lengthwise and then chop diagonally into thick slices.  Cut green beans into 1½ inch pieces.
  • Add oil to a saucepan and add onion and sauté for about a minute.  Add chopped ginger and garlic and sauté until onion and garlic are golden brown
  • Add coriander powder, cumin powder and fry for a couple of seconds on low flame
  • Add vegetables, water and cover and cook on low flame until all the water is absorbed and vegetables are soft (if needed sprinkle a little water at a time to prevent burning)

  • Add cashew nuts, quinoa, baked tofu, Greek yogurt to the vegetable mix and mix well
  • Serve warm (serves 2 main dishes)

Kovakkai Gravy (Ivy Gourd Gravy)

Kovakkai (ivy gourd) is not that common in Jaffna, Sri Lanka.  But it’s a very common vegetable in South India.  I have already posted a recipe for Kovakkai — Kovakkai fry (Kovakkai Varai).  This time I am posting a recipe for Kovakkai Gravy or Kovakkai curry.


  • ½ lb Ivy gourd
  • 2 tablespoon oil
  • 2 teaspoons Sri Lankan Chili powder
  • A pinch of turmeric powder
  • 1 ¼ cups water
  • ¼  teaspoon tamarind paste
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons milk
  • 4 oz red onion
  • 3 – 4 cloves garlic
  • Curry leaves
  • Salt to taste


  • Wash and quarter ivy gourd lengthwise

  • To a skillet add 1 tablespoon of oil and when it’s hot, add cut ivy gourd and fry/sauté until golden brown
  • Slice onion thinly.  Cut each clove garlic into 2 pieces (lengthwise)
  • In a covered saucepan add the rest of the oil and add onion and garlic and sauté until transparent.  Add curry leaves and fry for another 30 seconds
  • Add fried ivy gourd, water, chili powder, salt and tamarind and cover and cook in a medium flame for about 10 minutes (by this time the gravy would have thickened)
  • Add milk and cook uncovered for one more minute
  • Serve with rice or pittu
  • Serves: 2 servings as a side dish

Collard Greens Fry (Varai)

In tamil we call this kind of recipe “Varai”.  Normally varai is made from different kind of leafy vegetables.  For example Kale, Collard greens, cabbage, Leek (which is not a leafy vegetable).  Also in Jaffna people make varai from vegetables such as carrot, beets, Banana flower, okra etc  Check out different fry recipe page for the recipes.  Other leafy vegetables used in Sri Lanka for varai are “Ponnangkaani”, drumstick leaves (Murungai illai), “Chandi illai”


  • 1 bunch fresh collard green (yields 8 oz chopped collard greens)
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tablespoon shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 cup chopped red onion
  • 4 cloves garlic chopped
  • 2 dried red chilies broken into 2 pieces


  • Wash collard greens thoroughly and remove the stems
  • Finely chop the leaves
  • Add chopped collard greens, water, salt, and chili powder to a saucepan and cover and cook for about 5 minutes in medium flame
  • Remove cover and lower the flame and cook until all the water is evaporated stirring continuously to prevent burning
  • Add coconut and mix well and cook for another minute or two
  • Set aside
  • Add oil to a skillet and when it’s hot, add onion and garlic and fry until golden
  • Add red chilies and fry for another minute
  • Transfer the cooked collard greens to the skillet and mix well
  • Serve warm with rice

Frozen collard greens can be replaced to fresh ones.  But when using frozen ones, reduce the amount of water used for cooking.