Weekend Kittaya and Friends

Chloe and Max
Kittaya’s Net Friends ~ Chloe and Max

Adorable Chloe
Chloe Drinking from Water Fountain at Her London Home

Kittaya Bird Watching
Kittaya Bird Watching

Thank you Ranjan for sharing the adorable Chloe and Max’s photos.


Mint Chai

Mint Leaves with Gunpowder Tea
Fresh Mint (Pudina) Leaves and Gunpowder Tea

In the midst of pressure-packed day, there is nothing like taking a breather with a warm cup of chai.

I wanted something new that would relax and refresh. Pudina chai sounded soothing.

A glass of water, a teaspoon of gunpowder tea, six freshly plucked mint leaves and few drops of milk. Ten minutes of gentle simmering on stove-top and then straining out the seeped mint-tea mixture. There it is, mint chai sweetened with honey. My ॐ for today.

Pudina Tea
A Cup of Mint Chai ~ For Jihva:Mint

© Recipe and Photos Copyright 2009 Indira Singari.
first published on March 14th, 2008 at my old website – link.
Tea Finds:
North African Mint Tea (Without Milk)
Green Tea (Gunpowder or Pearl tea) Health Benefits


Stuffed Karela ~ A 100 Year Old Recipe Pictorial

Stuffed Karela (Stuffed Kakarakaya)

Here is an offering, from my mother-in-law, that turns bitter karela into a bewitching morsel. As a new bride, she had learned this recipe from her mother-in-law at Nandyala half a century ago. Now, it’s my turn. I feel extremely privileged to learn first hand and share this centuries-old recipe tradition here on Mahanandi.

The ingredients and the cooking method are exactly as they were in the past. The only thing changed is the stuffing preparation. Earlier, they used to powder the ingredients in a mortar using a pestle. Now I use a Sumeet mixer.

In this recipe, the karela is subjected to steam cooking, stuffing and then sauteeing. The stuffing is ever desirable kobbari-pappula podi. Even children who would otherwise never touch a karela devour these tender karelas with a crisp outer shell and tasty stuffing. Stuffed karelas are excellent as a lunch or supper side dish, accompanied by daal, sambar or curd rice.

Stuffed Karela (Nimpina Kakara)

(Ingredients are for 6 karela. A steam-cooker and a wide, thick-bottomed skillet or pan are needed for preparation.)

Karelas – Young and fresh looking karelas, about hand or palm length are the best ones for this recipe. One or two karelas per person.

Stuffing – for 6 karelas, we need about half cup pappulu (dalia), quarter cup finely chopped dried coconut pieces, 6 Indian variety dried red chillies and half teaspoon each – cumin and salt. Take them in a mixer and grind to fine powder. Keep this stuffing in a cup on the side.

Then, follow the Karela pictorial.

Karela (Kakara Kaya)
Peel the Karela outer ridges lightly. Rinse under water.

Steam-cooked Karelas
Place a steam cooker on the stove-top. Fill the cooker to quarter with water. Add a teaspoon of salt to water. Place the karelas in a steam basket. Cover tightly with lid. Bring the water to boil and steam-cook the karelas to tender. Takes around five minutes. Pay attention to the process and do not overcook the karelas to mush. Remove the basket and let the karelas cool.

Seeds scooped out, steam-cooked karela ready for stuffing
With a sharp knife, cut karela lengthwise, keeping the ends intact like shown in the photo above. Scoop out the seeds and keep them in a cup. Prepare all of them this way and line them up for stuffing.

Karelas filled with stuffing
Fill the karela shell with stuffing. Add about a tablespoon of powder to each one, and spread along the length.

Threading the stuffed karelas
Bring the cut edges together and run a thread around the stuffed karela. Tuck the thread edges underneath a round. Karela will hold the shape and would remain closed during sautéing. There is really no need for tying the knot or needle threading.

Sauteeing the steam-cooked karelas and karela seeds
Place a wide pan on stove-top. Add and heat a tablespoon of peanut oil. Place the stuffed and threaded karelas in a single row. Also, on the sides, add the seeds removed from karelas. On medium-low heat, sauté karelas to golden, turning frequently. Take care not to blacken or burn them. The seeds also get grilled to crisp.

Stuffed Karela (Kakarakaaya) with Crisp and Crunchy Karela Seeds ~ Meal Today
Place the sautéed karelas in a serving dish after removing the thread. Sprinkle few tablespoons of remaining stuffing powder and also roasted karela seeds. Serve warm with rice, daal/sambar or yogurt rice.

© Recipe and Photos Copyright 2009 Indira Singari.
Ask First to reprint.


Green Almond Pasta

This is another recipe that I came up with green almonds. Slice the green almonds thin and add them to tomato-basil sauce and pasta. When lightly cooked, green almonds have a wonderful flavor and texture, providing quite a different experience from the raw ones. For those of you new to green almonds, this is how I’d describe Green almond’s taste profile:

Outer green skin: Bitter and sour, like how it tastes when you bite into an olive.

The middle white part: Sour and sweet, like tender green mango.

The inner undeveloped almond seed part: Sweet and jelly like, similar to toddy palm seeds (Taati munjalu).

Green Almonds

Green Almond Pasta

1 teaspoon peanut oil or ghee
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup thinly sliced green almonds (like shown in the photo above)
2 cups mixed vegetables like carrot, zucchini, peas and corn
2 cups tomato-basil sauce
salt and chilli powder – to taste
Whole wheat pasta – enough to serve for four

Bring a pot of water to boil. Add pasta and cook to al-dente. Drain and keep aside.

In a large pan, sauté the onion in oil or ghee until translucent.
Add the green almonds and vegetables. Saute until tender for 5 minutes.
Stir in tomato-basil sauce, salt and chilli powder.
Cover the pan and simmer the sauce for about 10 minutes, stirring often.
Add the cooked pasta to the simmering sauce. Toss the ingredients well. Serve hot.

© Recipe and Photos Copyright 2009 Indira Singari.

Green Almond Pasta
Green Almond Pasta ~ Meal Today


Oil-Free Salad with Green Almonds

Green almonds, Green Mango and Black Pepper
Finely Chopped Green Almonds, Green Mango, and Black Peppercorn

Today’s recipe is inspired by yesterday’s thought (post) . Green almonds and Green mango sounded like a natural pair. Before the idea expired, I had to try the combination. Green almonds and green mango were cut to small pieces. Black pepper and salt were added. When I had a taste, the flavor combination tasted awesome. Unripe almonds and unripe mango complemented each other without overwhelming and overpowering each other’s sweet and sour qualities. Parents also liked this simple, oil-free salad and praised the good ruchi.

Oil-Free Salad with Green Almonds and Green Mango
(makes about 4 half cup servings)

12 green almonds
1 small green mango
6 peppercorn
1/4 teaspoon salt

Wash the green almonds. Trim the edges and finely cut them to tiny pieces.

Peel the green mango skin. Cut and remove the seed. Finely chop the mango to tiny pieces.

Take peppercorn and salt in a mortar. Pound to coarse powder.

Put the chopped almonds and mango in a bowl. Sprinkle the pepper-salt powder. Combine and serve.

© Recipe and Photos Copyright 2009 Indira Singari.

Green Almond Salad
Oil Free Salad with Green Almonds and Green Mango ~ Meal Today


In Season ~ Green Almonds

Green Almonds (Hara Badam)
Green Almonds

Green almonds (Hara Badam) are a rare and raw delicacy in India. I was very happy to see these precious gems again here in Houston at an Indian grocery shop. For us, like I mentioned they are a rare and raw delicacy. Short season and high price makes them a treat. We usually cut the green almond to half lengthwise, sprinkle salt and eat. Skin, seed and all. The sweetness of green almond has a delicate quality to it. Like the valley’s mist in early morning, the sweetness is ethereal and enthralling. You know the vadu manga? Very tender, bud size unripe mango, which is baby sweet with adult sourness just palpable. Green almond’s flavor is almost like that. They are really a delight, and I enjoy them greatly.


Garden Log: May 09


In late 80’s, I read an article in a Sunday magazine of The Hindu newspaper. I still remember vividly its title and some of the pictures published in it. The title was, “Stunning Beauty in the Wild” and it was about the beautiful flowers in the wild and had some really stunning pictures printed. I saved that copy and it took me nearly over a decade before I could clearly understand how these pictures were shot, what type of lens were needed and also to shoot some pictures myself.

That article caught my attention and I was so fascinated by the beauty of the nature’s creation in the form of flowers and the ability of photographic equipment to capture that beauty.

I found such stunning beauty in my own backyard and tried to capture it through the lens.

Nikon Micro 105mm/f 2.8
Nikon D70s


Rock Rose Pavonia
Rock Rose Pavonia


Nooru Varahaalu (Ixora)

Pooja Pushpam ~ Mandaram


On the Plate

Polls are over and we still have to wait for another three days before any results are announced in Bharath. Parents with first hand elections experience from home are here with us now. Getting together at the dining table with a plate of decent meal can always be a good place for a lively discussion about current happenings. That’s what had happened this afternoon at home. We had a typical Andhra bhojanam (Annam, avakaya, tomato pappu, beerakaya kura and on the side cherry tomatoes and carrots from the garden, along with coriander rasam and curd) and a lively chat. What was on your plate today?

Meal Today
Meal Today


Green Papaya Kura

From yesterday’s leftover green papaya, I made some curry for today’s meal. Peel, cube, do tadka, add onion and papaya. Flavor with traditional Bharath seasoning. We had this type green papaya before, but this is the first time for our parents. They liked it.

For those of you new to green papaya or hesitant to try this veggie-fruit: raw has cucumber like taste and cooked has Chayote (Cho Cho) like taste. Firm flesh, mild sweet flavor and minimal papaya smell. It’s easy to like green papaya even if you don’t like ripe papaya fruit. Give it a try.

Green Papaya Kura

Green Papaya – 1 small fruit. Half is enough for this recipe.
Red onion or shallot – 1
Green chilli – 2
Turmeric – 1/4 teaspoon
Coconut – 1 tablespoon, grated fresh
Salt – 1/2 teaspoon or to taste
Peanut oil – 1 teaspoon
from Masala dabba: tadka ingredients

Cut papaya to half and remove the seeds. Peel the skin. Chop the white flesh to small bite sized cubes (about 3 cups). Finely chop onion and green chilli to small pieces.

In a large skillet, heat a teaspoon of peanut oil over medium heat. From masala dabba, add a pinch each – cumin, mustard seeds and few curry leaves. Saute for few seconds to fragrance. Add onion, green chilli. Saute for couple of minutes till onion becomes translucent. Add green papaya. Cover the skillet and cook on medium-low heat, until papaya is just tender. Takes about 6 to 8 minutes.

Add the turmeric, coconut and salt. Cook and stir for two minutes or more.

Serve warm with chapati or roti. Makes about 4 side dish servings.

© Recipe and Photos Copyright 2009 Indira Singari.

Green Papaya Curry with Sorghum Roti
Green Papaya Kura with Jonna Roti ~ For Meal Today

Kura (Telugu) = Curry (English)


Green Papaya Kosambari

It was an odd day. We bought green papaya thinking it was red sweet papaya. When cut open, realized that it was really a “green” papaya and not a red papaya. Not going to waste such pretty fruit, I prepared all-raw papaya kosambari by adding mung bean sprouts, onion, tomato and green chilli. Green papaya has cucumber like taste and made a fine appetizer to our afternoon meal.

Green Papaya
Green Papaya

Green Papaya Kosambari
(makes 4 servings)

Green Papaya – 1 small fruit. Half is enough for this recipe.
Red onion or shallot – 1
Green tomato – 1
Green chilli – 1
Mung sprouts – 1 cup
Salt to taste
Lime Juice to taste
Few coriander leaves

Cut green papaya and remove the seeds. Peel the skin. Cut the white flesh to bite sized cubes. About 2 cups.

Finely chop onion, tomato and green chilli.

Take them in a big cup. Add mung bean sprouts and coriander leaves. Sprinkle salt and lime juice. Combine. Serve.

© Recipe and Photos Copyright 2009 Indira Singari.

Papaya Kosambari
Papaya Kosambari ~ for Meal Today

Kosambari: Indian equivalent to western salad. Usually prepared with raw ingredients.


In Season: Fresh Amaranth with Green Chickpeas

May be it was the long gap of time we had or may be it was the long and tedious journey they did, but they looked much tired than we had expected. Our visual for my parents-in-law is almost four years old now. When we last saw them, they were very energetic and much stronger. I think it was the long tiring journey they had from India. After about ten days, they are now refreshed and active again. More than anything we are happy to see them after a long time and to be with them here. They are also enjoying the new home, place, and people around.

They have also given us hope that it is possible to age gracefully by living happy and eating healthy. That makes us feel better. Well, everything is related to food by some degree. One of the recipe techniques I have learned from them at Nandyala during my one year apprenticeship some ten years ago is pairing green leafy vegetables with some kind of legumes/beans. You can find countless recipes of this type at my old website. Here is one more. This time it is seasonal fresh amaranth leaves and fresh chickpeas. The recipe is simple, tastes great and makes a filling side dish for chapati or rice and dal combination.

Fresh Amaranth Leaf with Green Chickpeas
Fresh Amaranth Leaf with Green Chickpeas

Amaranth with Chickpeas

1 bunch fresh amaranth
1 cup fresh chickpeas, shelled or frozen
1 red onion and 2 green chillies
1 tablespoon grated coconut, fresh
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
From Masala dabba: tadka ingredients

Wash amaranth and finely chop leaves and tender stems. Chop onion and green chillies to small pieces.

In a large skillet heat a tablespoon of peanut oil over medium heat. From masala dabba, add a pinch each – cumin, mustard seeds and couple of curry leaves. Saute few seconds to fragrance. Add onion, green chilli. Saute for couple of minutes till onion becomes translucent. Add amaranth and fresh chickpeas. Cover the skillet and cook the leaves until they collapse and chickpeas are just tender, for about 6 to 8 minutes.

Add the coconut, salt and turmeric. Cook and stir for two minutes or more.

Serve warm with chapati or rice and dal. Makes about 4 to 6 side dish servings.

© Recipe and Photos Copyright 2009 Indira Singari.

Amaranth and Chickpeas Kura with Chapati ~ Meal Today


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