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Mar 262014


Just like there is no egg in eggplant, there is no melon in melonpan. Who would’ve thunk! As per the various blogs on the www, This much loved Japanese bread gets its name from the characteristic crosshatch shape the Japanese cut a melon in before serving. Here is a cute kiddie song that says there is anko (adzuki beans) in Anpan, Curry in Karepan but the melonpans don’t have any melons.


So what is a Melonpan? A type of Japanese sweet bread. The bread is a soft bun encased in a Pâte sablee . The delicate cookie-like crust, is moulded on top of the dough rolls. Since the Pate Sablee is fragile, the dough is simply pressed down into a circle and then wrapped on to the dough balls and the base of the dough left uncovered so that the dough can expand while baking. The top is then scored in a crosshatch pattern to represent the Japanese way of cutting and serving a melon. When the baking process completes, the top of the bread looks a bit crackly, just like a cantaloupe.


It is interesting to note that the name Melonpan is not of Japanese origin but rather a combination of the English word melon and the Portuguese word pan, meaning bread. The bread is popular throughout Japan.

The bread dough is typically made with flour, yeast, and sugar. These ingredients are mixed with butter, salt, and milk powder. The pastry layer includes butter, sugar, and eggs mixed with cake flour and baking powder.


Since my in laws are visiting and they are vegetarians, I could not use eggs to bake this bread which is part of the “We Knead to Bake” hosted by Aparna. I ended up changing the recipe a bit to make it eggless.

I made an egg replacer with flax seeds and put that into the bread and the pate sablee. The resulting bread tasted great, baked wonderfully and was moist with a good mouthfeel. I do feel that if I had used eggs, the resulting melonpans would have gotten a better oven spring. But nevertheless these were great!

Melonpan – Cookie Covered Bread Rolls

Melonpan – Cookie Covered Bread Rolls


    Bread Dough
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp milk powder
  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup cold milk
  • 45 ml flax seed egg replacer
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 25gm butter, at room temperature
  • For cookie dough:
  • 1 1/3 cups cake flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • A large pinch of salt
  • 60gm butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 45 ml flax seed egg replacer
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • Sugar for dusting


    Make the bread dough
  1. Whisk together the flour, powdered milk, yeast, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix the flax seed egg replacer and milk together until thoroughly blended. Add this liquid to the flour mixture in the bowl.
  2. Using the dough hook, mix at low speed until the dough comes together. Once the dough comes together, Increase the speed, and mix at medium speed for about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Slowly add the sugar.You will need to reduce the speed before adding this in. Mix until the sugar is fully incorporated. The dough will soften a little at this point. Increase the speed to medium, and knead the dough until it is glossy and supple.
  4. Now add the softened butter. Knead until mixed in, 2 or 3 minutes. Ensure the butter is fully incorporated into the dough.
  5. Transfer the dough to a lightly-oiled bowl, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let sit at room temperature until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  6. Make the cookie dough
  7. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar at medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping the bowl as necessary. Add the flax seed egg replacer and vanilla, and beat until combined.
  8. Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter and sugar mixture, mixing at low speed just until combined. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate while waiting for the dough to finish its rise.
  9. Lightly grease a large baking sheet, or line with parchment paper. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and gently deflate. Divide the dough evenly into 8 pieces. Round each piece into a ball, and transfer to the prepared baking sheet.
  10. Cover the dough balls loosely with lightly-oiled plastic wrap, and let sit at room temperature while you get the cookie covers ready.
  11. Unwrap the cookie dough, and divide it into 8 even pieces. Roll each into a ball, keeping unused pieces covered. Press each ball into a flat circle about, about 3 1/2 inches in diameter.
  12. Drape each piece of cookie dough over the bread dough, being careful not to deflate the rising dough. The cookie dough should encase the top and sides, but not the bottom, of each roll. With a sharp paring knife, score each round with a crosshatch pattern.
  13. Preheat the oven to 350*F. Let the dough balls rise for about an hour and then bake for 25 minutes, or until barely golden brown on top. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Eat the same day for the best taste and mouthfeel.

Mar 172014
Amaranth greens Saute

Sauteed Amaranth Greens


Sautéed Amaranth greens with green garlic and peppers. What is so special about this streaky leaf that doesn’t seem to be able to make up its mind if it is green or purple or red? Well for one it is easy to cook. If that isn’t reason enough, it is really delicious. And if you are greedy for more reasons – it is a Nutritional powerhouse with calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, riboflavin, zinc, and vitamins A, B6, and C. And here is one more – it’s fresh and cheap. You will find these at any Asian grocery store.

Amaranth Leaves Sautee-2

It’s a beloved green leafy vegetable across India and most of the methods of cooking involve sautéing or simmering in some kind of soup or dal. It is considered a herb or a weed depending on who you are speaking with. But for many cultures it is a green leafy vegetable. It is common in Malaysia, India, Mexico, China and parts of Africa. It is usually paired with onions, garlic, peppers and very few spices. As is with so many fresh greens, amaranth greens need very little help in the form of spices and other ingredients. So how does it taste? It is almost similar in taste to spinach but renders a deep flavor and better texture after sautéing.

Amaranth Leaves Sautee

Eat it with some plain boiled long grain basmati rice. The red tinged amaranth leaves make a beautiful reddish hue around them when sauteed and it looks beautiful when paired with white rice. We also had a side of Gujarati dal to go along. Yes, I know. Many of you have been asking me for my family’s recipe of Gujarati dal and since the MIL is visiting, I have it ready for you in my next post.

Sauteed amaranth Greens

Till then Happy eating. Stay Healthy. Keep Smiling!

Stay Blessed!



Sauteed Amaranth Greens

Sauteed Amaranth Greens


  • 4 Cups Washed and chopped Amaranth leaves ( Packed)
  • 1 cup thinly sliced yellow onion
  • 1/2 c chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbs green garlic chopped (or use 2 tsp regular garlic)
  • 2-3 Thai Green chillies, sliced length wise ( keep seeds in for more heat, else remove the seeds)
  • 2 Anaheim peppers cut into roundels
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes (optional)
  • salt to taste


  1. Heat the oil, add in cumin and wait for it to crackle.
  2. Add in the onions and garlic and saute until translucent.
  3. Add in the tomatoes, peppers, green chillies, turmeric and sautee until slightly cooked.
  4. Now add in the amaranth leaves, salt and stir to combine and cook until completely wilted and the moisture dries up.
  5. Sprinkle the chili flakes if using, mix in and serve.


It is recommended to not heat the Amaranth leaves once cooked. So if you want to eat it hot cook it just before serving. they do taste great cold as well.

 Posted by on March 17, 2014 at 4:16 PM
Mar 092014
Sweet Potato and Black Bean salad

Sweet Potato Salad

For those busy days when time seems to fly, I rely heavily on salads. Especially a salad like  sweet potato and black bean salad. Filling, nutritious salads that look lively and feel like a smile on a plate are the ones I feel pulled towards. I love eating root vegetables and while I do make simple, everyday Indian curries out of those, I also love to use the root veggies in Salads. They are quick to cook , can be cooked ahead of time and the salads can be made ahead of time.

In addition to the root vegetables being really flavorful they are chock full of nutrition. The sweet potato and black bean salad with avocado lemon cilantro dressing is a quick grab and go meal that is also nutrient dense.  I usually keep a few sweet potatoes baked or boiled in the fridge and put together a dish using them, especially on busy days.  For this salad I  add in some creamy deliciousness of an avocado and earthy beans, some smoky cumin and let them have some fun together. Then bring in some lime, cilantro, salt and chillies and you have a lip smacking dish that you would be proud to present to company. Only that you may not always want to share.

Sweet Potato Salad

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Salad

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes


  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 C red onions diced
  • 1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Thai green chilli
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 c cooked black beans
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 Avocado diced
  • 1/2 tsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp roasted ground cumin


  1. 1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Put sweet potatoes and onions on a large baking sheet, drizzle with 1/2 tsp coconut oil (warmed) , toss to coat and spread out in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  2. Roast until potatoes begin to brown and are tender inside, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven; keep on pan until ready to mix with dressing.
  3. 2. Put the cilantro, chili and the olive oil in a blender add in lemon juice,some salt and pepper and the cumin. Process until blended.
  4. 3. Put warm vegetables in a large bowl with beans; toss in the dressing . Add in the avocado just before serving and toss once more.


 Posted by on March 9, 2014 at 11:11 PM
Mar 062014
Apple Tart

Apple Tart


You don’t have to do everything from scratch. Nobody wants to make puff pastry! Ina Garten

As much as I love to make things from scratch, there are times when one must NOT make things from scratch. Like when you have a bunch of friends coming over for a light lunch and all you want to do is to have fun. For times like those, I love recipes like these. Recipes that can be modified to be semi home made and yet equally delicious. Like this delicious Apple Tart by Ina Garten.

You stay happy because you made a great dish or two without having to look like you just came out of a roller coaster and you actually get to enjoy the company of your friends because you are not oh so tired from all the work you have done. With   Julia Child recommending 73 layers for regular pâte feuilletée and 730 layers for pâte feuilletée fine (in Volume II of her Mastering the Art of French Cookingtextbook) , grab those car keys and buy some frozen sheets. Else it will be a long haul in the kitchen.

Apple Tart

The are a couple of attributions to who created the Puff Pastry. Also called the pâte feuilletée in French, Its invention is often credited to Claude Gelle, a 17th-century landscape painter and amateur cook. However, some say puff pastry was first created by Feuillet, the chief pastry chef of the Grand Condé, while the Italians claim Florence as its birthplace.

So what do you think about that? Who originally did invent the puff pastry? While you are mulling over that question, let’s take a look at what our Ina Friday friends have made for Desserts.


Apple Tart #Ina Fridays


  • 1 package (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, defrosted
  • 4 small (6 ounce) Granny Smith apples
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, small-diced
  • ¾ cup apricot jelly or warm sieved apricot jam
  • 3 tablespoons rum


  1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 400 F.
  2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Roll the defrosted pastry sheet. I simply cut it out where it was folded and rolled it long
  4. Transfer to the baking sheet.
  5. Prick the crust every with a fork to prevent air pockets from forming while it bakes. I left the sides without pricking to give it the air pocket structure.
  6. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  7. Cut apples in half through the stem. Remove stems, core and slice the apples crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices.
  8. drizzle some lemon juice over apples to prevent oxidation.
  9. Place the slices of apples slightly overlapping each other.
  10. sprinkle the sugar over apples, the dices of butter.
  11. Bake for 40 minutes and allow the apples to brown a bit.
  12. Remove from the oven. Brush with the Jelly mixture.
  13. Make the jelly Mixture
  14. Warm up the apricot jelly and the rum until bubbly.
  15. Eat warm.


 Posted by on March 6, 2014 at 11:59 PM
Mar 062014
Spicy Mint Lemonade

Pudina Paani - Minty Lemonade


The blazing, glaring sun appeared to have decided that that was the day it was going to burn everything down. The air was arid and the child, all of four years old, needed water. Having spilled the last remaining drops from the bottle, she was feeling the impact of the hot sun. The car was without an air conditioner. Most cars in those days in India were. At least the one I could afford then, definitely was. The highway driving and the scorching Hyderabadi sun was adding to the discomfort. It must have been a holiday of some kind as the very few shops we passed by were closed.

The little girl was doing everything in her power to not cry and beg for water. But I could see her in my rear view and I knew the look. She was really thirsty. And she was trying to be a good kid who doesn’t yell in the car while mommy is driving. But she was almost at the verge of being done with the good kid routine. My friend was trying to keep her interested in activities but I had to find water. And I had to find it fast.

Spicy Mint Lemonade

A few minutes later we passed by a small village and a road side cart. The vendors, a couple were standing under a blue plastic shade with rows of codd neck bottles filled with soda, rows of lemons and a big earthen pitcher. I hoped that the child would not see them But she did. She had been vigilant and she squealed – paaaaaniiii ( waterrrrrrrr .. yes exactly that way).

I worked my mind as fast as I could. What were the chances this vendor will have any water to drink. I knew she wouldn’t drink the soda, but I didn’t know if the guy had any packaged water for sale. By the time I arrived at a conclusion (I didn’t) the good kid had lost the patience and was now screaming. So I stopped the car, and told her that we will go ask the good people if they had water to sell. And if they didn’t we would move on. She agreed.

We turned back (it took a few moments to not arrive at a conclusion) and drove up to the cart. Before I could say anything, the kid spoke in her best voice, “Uncle, paani hai?” ( Do you have any water, uncle?) The vendor did have bottled water. What he also did have was the soda and the spiced mint and tamarind water. None of us had ever had that concoction. The couple told us that the spiced water helped with the heat and we must try it.  They were however a bit reluctant to have the kid have some.

So we gave the kid a small sip and she was over the moon. Oh Mirchi ( chilli) paani! Yummy! Four pairs of eyes were looking at the kid with wonder. It was spicy with heat from green chillies and she was drinking it with pleasure. When offered the bottle of water from their small cooler, the kid refused and insisted she wanted the Mirchi paani. The couple was so enthralled with her that they smiled big bright smiles and filled her bottle with some spiced mint water for free. The kid had a big bright smile on her face even when she dozed off a little later in the car on the way back home.

This was the beginning of a tradition for the kid and me. We had to stop at a similar vendor’s to drink ‘mirchi paani’ or eat some Paani puri every Sunday after swimming. Now that the vendors are in a land far far way, the little big girl asks for this every now and then. The bonus is she does all cleaning afterwards.

Though technically this is more salty and spicy than sweet, but since it has lemons and sugar it does sort of fall into a spicy mint lemonade category. The teen still calls it “Mirchi Paani”.

Try it at your own risk!

Spicy Mint Lemonade – A Hyderabadi Thirst Quencher


  • 1 lemon/lime
  • 1/2 tsp tamarind pulp
  • 1/2 c mint leaves
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 thai green chili
  • 1/2 tsp roasted ground cumin
  • 16 oz cool water
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black salt.


  1. Blend the tamarind, water, mint, sugar, cumin and green chilli.
  2. Divide up into two glasses. Add in juice of half a lemon in each. Add in salts. Stir and Sip.


This is an acquired taste. consider yourself warned.


 Posted by on March 6, 2014 at 1:27 PM
Mar 032014
Chaaman Kaliya-5


Chaaman Kaliya

Chaman Kaliya – Cardamom and fennel scented paneer cooked in a whole milk. Rich, creamy and with the right notes of spice. A dish that is so very easy to put together that you might like to make it more often. And often it is made in Kashmiri homes, especially when there is a Vegetarian feast. Kashmiri Wazwaan cuisine is fabled for it’s meat dishes, but the vegetarian cuisine when done right, is in fact quite amazing as well.


A couple of days ago, it was the festival of Shivratri. This is the most important of festivals for Kashmiri Pandits. Called Herath in the local language, the festival of Shivratri marks the beginning of the spring season in the valley. Kashmiri Pandits have been followers of Shaivism for eons. Back in the days, it used to be a fortnight of celebration starting with ‘Hur okdoh’ which was the day that homes would be cleaned and prepped for the upcoming festivities.

Chaaman Kaliya

On the thirteenth day of the festival, a fast is observed and the “Vatak Pooza” begins. Along with flowers, fruits, milk, yogurt an offering of rice flour bread and food is offered to the ‘Vatuk’.

When I was a kid, the most important part of the festival was the day after after the Puja. It was the day when the morning started with my Grandpa giving us fresh currency notes as a “Herath Kharach” ( Money to spend ) You can compare this to opening the presents on Christmas morning. All elders gave money to kids on this day. All we had to do was go from one elder to the other and say, “Herath Mubarak” ( May your Herath be blessed) The elders would in return give us the money and bless us.

We would count and recount the money and keep a tab on if any of the siblings got more. Then we would sit and play a game with sea shells. We all had our own small bags of “haar” or sea shells and we would sit in a circle and play. When it was time for lunch, we all would quickly gather our winnings and sit for lunch. Food was another highlight for me on Herath. My mom made at least a dozen dishes and on that first meal she served them all. The leftovers were eaten on subsequent days one at a time, but this one meal was when we got to eat it all together – just like in a feast.

This Chaman Kaliya was my mom’s signature dish. I made it for Shivratri this year along with some Dum Aaloo, Nadir Yakhin and few other dishes. Dinner was good. The leftovers were finished the next day. We leave no trace :)

Chaman Kaliya – Cardamom and fennel scented Paneer

Chaman Kaliya – Cardamom and fennel scented Paneer


  • 400 gms Paneer (home made)
  • 2 C Milk
  • 2 cloves
  • 3 Green cardamoms
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 1 Tbs Ghee
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric
  • 1 1/2 tsp fennel powder (saunf)
  • A pinch of saffron
  • 1/8th tsp ginger powder
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 tsp Kashmiri Garam Masala ( Or use your favorite brand)


  1. If you have freshly made Paneer cut it into squares or rectangles.
  2. If you have store bought paneer, Soak it in hot milk for at least 30 minutes before cooking the dish. (this milk is in addition to the two cups you need to make the dish)
  3. Heat ghee and add the cumin, cloves and the cardamom. It helps if you slightly whack the cardamom with a pestle or a heavy spoon.
  4. Add in the milk, bring it to a boil add in the rest of the spices, except saffron and garam masala.
  5. Simmer this for about 2- 3 minutes , then add the paneer and bring to a rolling boil.
  6. Bring to a simmer again and let it cook undisturbed for 10 - 15 minutes or until the paneer looks creamy, yellow and soft.
  7. Finish off with Garam masala and saffron and let it stand for 30 minutes before serving. Reheat gently and serve with rice.



 Posted by on March 3, 2014 at 6:08 PM