Bok Choy-Moong Dal Gravy (Kootu/Masiyal)

PREP TIME: 10 Mins

COOKING TIME: 15 Mins (10 Mins to pressure cook moong daal + 5 minutes)

Bok Choy is a type of Chinese cabbage typically added to stir-fried noodles, stir-fried vegetables, and soups. Here I have given a South Indian twist 😉 by replacing Bok Choy with Spinach.



Bok Choy – 1 bag (3 bunches)

Onion – 1 small onion finely chopped

Garlic – 2 cloves

Moong dal – 100 grams

Cumin seeds – 1 teaspoon

Urad daal – ½ teaspoon

Dried red chili – 1

Salt – per taste

Oil – ½ teaspoon


STEP 1: Wash the moong dal, add peeled garlic, ½ teaspoon cumin seeds, and 200- 250 ml of water. Pressure cook until the dal is soft and mushy. It took me 3 minutes in the instant pot to pressure cook the dal.

STEP 2: Cut-off the ends of the bok choy bulbs, separate the leaves, wash the leaves thoroughly as there will be dirt stuck in the bottom.

STEP 3: Finely chop the bok choy and onion.

STEP 4: Heat oil in a pan, add the remaining cumin seeds, urad daal, red chili, and chopped onion. Sauté till the onion turns translucent.

STEP 5:  Add in the chopped bok choy and salt. Cook for 4 minutes. The bok choy will reduce to 3/4 the quantity initially added and leave water on the sides.

STEP 6:  Now add the cooked moong dal, mix well, and let the mixture cook for about 3 minutes or depending on your desired consistency. Cook a little longer if you prefer a thick gravy.

TIP: Add a teaspoon of gee/clarified butter on top for added flavor and aroma😋




Instant Pot Banana Bread

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PREP TIME: 15 Minutes

COOKING TIME: 40 Minutes + 5 minutes


Banana – 3 mashed

All-purpose flour – 2 cups (470 grams)

Sugar – 1 cup (235 grams) – I have used ½ cup organic coconut sugar

Baking Soda – 1 teaspoon

Baking powder – 1 teaspoon

Salt – ½ teaspoon

Butter – ½ cup (120 grams)

Vanilla extract – 1 teaspoon

Eggs – 2

Nuts – 10 Walnuts chopped (I have used cashews as I did not have walnuts)

Oil/Butter – 1 teaspoon (to grease the pan)

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STEP 1: Sift together the all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

STEP 2: Add sugar to the melted butter and mix well.

STEP 3: Add the eggs, mashed banana, and the vanilla extract.

STEP 4: Add the banana-egg-butter-vanilla extract mixture along with the chopped nuts to the flour and mix gently.

STEP 5: Grease a loaf pan or a stainless steel container with butter or oil. I have used a teaspoon of olive oil to grease the stainless steel container.

STEP 6: Transfer the banana mixture to the baking container and tap well.

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STEP 7: Turn on the instant pot and add 1 cup of water to the instant pot container.

STEP 8: In the stand/trivet (this accessory comes with the instant pot) place the baking container with the banana loaf mixture and close the instant pot lid. The trivet should be placed in the water.

STEP 9: The vent should be closed as shown in the picture below.

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STEP 10: Press the cake mode and hit start. By default, the cook time for cake is 40 minutes on high pressure.

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STEP 11: After 40 minutes release/vent out the pressure.

STEP 12: Remove the baking container from the instant pot and let it cool down for 5 minutes.

STEP 13: Gently flip the container and place it on a wire rack or a plate.

STEP 14: Gently tap the container to get the banana loaf out of the baking container.

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Banana Loaf is ready to be served:-)

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Southern Aroma, Markham – Restaurant Review

Southern Aroma

Address: #14 – 7200 MARKHAM RD., MARKHAM, ON L3S 3R7

Cuisine: Indian/Srilankan

Price Range: $50 – $60 (for a 3-course meal for 2 adults and a kid)

Hours: Monday – Thursday   11.00 am – 3.00 pm & 5.00 pm – 10.30 pm

Friday & Saturday       11.00 am – 3.00 pm & 5.00 pm – 11.00 pm

Sunday                            11.00 am – 3.00 pm & 5.00 pm – 10.30 pm

Excellent South Indian/Sri Lankan Restaurant serving delicious and innovative meat substitute dishes.

We (me and my family) had been to Southern Aroma restaurant in Markham for dinner a couple of weeks ago. The décor is different and beautiful with brass bells hanging from the ceiling reminiscent of an old Hindu temple. We have driven past the restaurant lot of times but never felt like going to this restaurant. Since it was not fully visible from the Markham Main road, what little was visible looked dark, even the “open” sign was not visible from the road.

We ordered “Colombo Calamari” from the appetizer menu (based on the server’s suggestion that she could substitute the calamari with soya). It was flavourful and crispy on the outside and juicy inside. It had a burst of sweet, tangy and spicy flavors.

Colombo Calamari

Colombo Calamari – Appetizer

Moving on to the main course we ordered some parotta, veechu parotta and poori(for our little one). We also ordered the Chettinad gardein chicken (alternative veggie option) and Chettinad mushroom. Personally, I was not a big fan of the Chettinad gardein chicken because it was a bit chewy and rubbery. Also, the masala/spice flavors did not blend well with the soya. The Chettinad mushroom was comparatively good and it did have the Chettinad garam masala flavors. The poori was over fried so it was brittle & dry in just a couple of minutes after being served (little one thought it was pappad ; -)). It was the same with the parotta and veechu parotta, it turned dry in just a few minutes.

Now coming to the most exciting and fun part of the dinner, desserts!!!

They had a separate desserts menu but most of them were not available. We were left with only 2 or 3 options so we picked Nutella Kulfi, which we had not tried before. It was good but tasted more like chocolate flavored kulfi rather than hazelnut – chocolate flavored.

Nutella Kulfi

PS: Since my husband loved the fact that they had mock meat dishes he wanted to go there again J. We ordered dishes that we did not order during our previous visit. We ordered Cauliflower pakora, Vegetarian kothu roti (had to return the dish as it wasn’t great but they made it again for us which was better than the previous version) and puttu combo with eggplant masala. The cauliflower pakora was delicious but only came with 3 pieces. We have never tried puttu – eggplant combo before so had doubts when ordering but surprisingly it was the hit dish that day. They had dessert specials so we ordered 2 desserts and got the third one for free. The desserts were pretty good. I don’t remember the name of the desserts we had but I have posted a picture of the desserts. They have a large dessert menu (a separate menu) with close to 20 desserts…Yumm Yumm:-)

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Recommendation: I would definitely recommend this place for vegetarians looking to try innovative Indian style alternative meat/mock meat dishes.


Food – 3.5 Stars

Ambience – 4.5 Stars

Service 3.5 Stars

Upcycled Skillet Chalkboard – Old skillet chalkboard

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Upcycled Skillet Chalkboard:-)

I had a couple of frying pans/skillets that had gone bad that I didn’t want to throw away. I was thinking of making something useful/a DIY project to put them to good use.

Voilà!!! Here it is….upcycled skillet chalkboard using an old skillet.

It is a very simple but amazing project (Good job to me ;-)). I just followed the instructions on the chalkboard paint bottle.

Materials Required

  • Old skillet/frying pan – 1 (any size)
  • Chalkboard paint – 1 bottle (any brand – I used “Color factory – Chalkboard paint”)
  • Satin Ribbon(optional) –1 meter (Any ribbon works fine)


STEP 1: Wash the skillet, wipe clean and dry.

STEP 2: Apply a coat of chalkboard paint and wait for a couple of hours before applying the second coat. Please follow the instructions on the paint bottle.

 STEP 3: Apply a second coat of chalkboard paint and let it dry completely. I let it dry for 24 hours.

STEP 4: I applied the third quote as I felt like 2 coats of paint was not sufficient and was worried the paint would peel off. But this is totally optional. Let the third coat dry for 24 hours.

STEP 5: Tie a ribbon making a bow on the handle of the skillet. This is just for decoration.

Pretty, super simple skillet kitchen chalkboard ready!!!!

TIP: Try and follow the directions on the paint bottle regarding the drying time.

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Handmade Spring Floral Wreath – DIY

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Handmade Spring Floral Wreath!!

Happy Spring Season 🙂

I was planning on making a DIY wreath for spring last year but never got a chance. This time I planned well ahead of time (spring hasn’t even officially begun and it is still chilly here in Ontario :->) made a trip to the dollar store and got supplies for making a spring wreath. The floral ring base, flowers and ribbon are all from the dollar store.

I am very happy with the way the wreath turned out. I spent $7.50 on the supplies which include the foam floral base, 2 bunches of yellow flowers, 2 bunches of white flowers and a bunch of decorative yellow berries. I already had the ribbons that I used to cover the floral base and the ribbon used to make the bow.

Materials Required

  • Foam floral ring base – 1
  • Decorative ribbon – 5 – 6 meters (to cover the floral base) – I used green color mesh ribbon which I already had. You can use any color, material ribbon that goes well with the flowers.
  • Flowers – 2 bunches (yellow or any color of your choice)
  • Flowers – 2 bunches (white or any color that looks nice with the other color flowers)
  • Decorative faux berry bush – 1 bunch
  • Decorative Ribbon – green with white polka dots – 2 meters (Any ribbon works fine)
  • Door hanger
  • Hot glue gun


STEP 1: Wrap the decorative ribbon all over the foam ring completely without any gaps and secure with hot glue wherever needed.

STEP 2: Cut the stems of the flowers and remove each flower (with 5 – 7 cm stem) from the larger bunch.

 STEP 3: Repeat the same with the white flowers.


STEP 4: Place the flowers at the bottom of the floral base and once happy with the arrangement start inserting/tucking in the flowers. As the stems are made of metal wire it is easy to insert them in the foam floral base. If required hot glue the flowers on the base.

STEP 5: Cut the berry bunches to the desired length and insert it on one side of the flower arrangement. This gives a little bit of height and will look nice along with the flowers.

STEP 6: Attach/tie a ribbon at the top of the wreath for hanging. Make a large bow with the same color ribbon and hot glue it just below the ribbon used for hanging.

Beautiful Spring themed floral wreath ready!!!!

TIP: You can use any kind of decorative ribbon or any flowers to create a design based on your creativity.

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Sweet corn soup – cream style corn soup



Sweet corn soup


PREP TIME: 5 Minutes

COOKING TIME: 20 Minutes


Cream Style corn – 1 Can (398 ml)

Fresh or frozen corn kernels – 150 grams

Carrot – 150 grams (Shredded and chopped finely)

Shredded Cabbage – 150 grams

Fresh or frozen Green peas – 150 grams

Corn Starch – 1 teaspoon

Black pepper powder –1 teaspoon

Salt – as per taste

Oil – 1 teaspoon


STEP 1: In a microwave safe bowl add washed green peas, corn kernels and water and microwave for 5 minutes.

STEP 2: Heat oil in a pan, add shredded carrot and cabbage. Cook on high heat for 5 minutes.

STEP 3: Add the microwaved green peas and corn to the cabbage-carrot mixture and cook for 5 more minutes.

STEP 4: Add cream style corn, salt and 3 cups of water. Cover pan and cook for 5 minutes.

STEP 4: In a bowl mix 1 teaspoon of cornstarch and water. Mix well until there are no lumps and add to the boiling vegetables. Cook for 5 minutes until the soup thickens.

STEP 6: Add a teaspoon of pepper, mix well and turn off the heat.

TIP:  Mushrooms, spring onion or finely chopped green beans can also be added to the soup.







Pasta Payasam – elbow pasta – pasta kheer

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COOKING TIME: 25 Minutes


Elbow Pasta – 100 grams

Cashews – 10

Sugar – 150 grams

Almond paste – 5 teaspoons

Saffron – 15 strands

Cardamom – 1

Milk – 750 ml (3.8% fat)


STEP 1: Soak 15 almonds in hot water for 1 hour, remove the skin, add 1 teaspoon of milk and make a fine paste.

STEP 2: Cook the pasta till it turns soft. Drain and run the pasta through cold water and keep it aside. (Optional: chop the pasta into smaller pieces)

STEP 3: In a deep pan add milk. Once the milk comes to boil add saffron strands and almond paste. Mix well and cook for 5 minutes.

STEP 4: Add the cooked pasta, sugar and cardamom. Cover the pan and cook for 10 minutes by stirring a couple of times in between to avoid the payasam from getting burnt.

STEP 5: Heat 2 teaspoons of ghee in a pan and fry the cashews till golden brown.

STEP 6: Add the roasted cashews, mix and turn off the heat. Once the mixture comes to room temperature, refrigerate and serve chilled.

TIP:   Instead of whole milk and sugar, sweetened condensed milk can be added.





3 Millets Kesari-Varagu-Samai-Thinai




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Prep Time – 5 Mins


Cooking Time – 20 Mins


Mixed millets – 240 grams (80 grams each of foxtail millet, little millet & Kodo millet)

Sugar – 12 teaspoons

Cashews – 10

Raisins – 10

Saffron – Few Strands

Ghee – 6 to 8 teaspoons

Cardamom – 1

Salt – 1 pinch

Water – 600 to 700 ml


STEP 1: In a non-stick pan heat 2 teaspoons of ghee. Fry the cashews and raisins until golden brown. Remove cashews and raisins from pan and keep aside.

STEP 2: Wash the millets thoroughly, about 4 – 5 times and drain the water completely.

STEP 3: In the same pan that was used to fry the cashews, add 3 more teaspoons of ghee and add millets. Fry till the millets turn slightly brown.

STEP 4: Add water to the mixture and cover the pan. Wait till the millets turn soft but not mushy.

STEP 5: Open the lid, add saffron strands and cardamom. Add 12 teaspoons of sugar and keep stirring till the Kesari stops sticking to the pan (if required add 2 more teaspoons of ghee to avoid sticking). Add a pinch of salt at this stage.

STEP 6: Add the ghee fried cashews – raisins and mix well. Garnish with saffron and cashews before serving.

TIP: Millets Kesari tastes good when served hot or warm. The consistency of the Kesari will be different (hard) after a couple of hours microwave the Kesari before serving.


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Tomato Pulav/Tomato Rice



PREP TIME: 15 Mins


Ingredients – to roast & grind

Fennel Seeds – ½ tea spoon

Bay leaf – 1

Cloves – 2

Cinnamon stick – ¼ inch piece

Roasted channa dal – 1 teaspoon

Onion – 1

Tomatoes – 2

Green Chillies – 3

Ginger – 2 inch piece

Garlic – 5 pods


Cashews – 15 (broken to small pieces)

Curry Leaves – 15 – 20 Leaves

Basmati Rice – 1.5 Cups washed & soaked for 15 minutes

Chilli Powder – ½ teaspoon

Salt – to taste

Oil – 5 teaspoons


STEP 1: Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a pan, add fennel seeds, roasted channa dal, green chillies, ginger, garlic and onion. Once the onion turns golden brown, add tomatoes, bay leaf, cinnamon and cloves.

STEP 2: Cook till the oil separates from the onion – tomato mixture. Let it cool down completely and blend it to make a fine paste.

STEP 3: Heat 3 teaspoons of oil in a pressure cooker, add cashews and curry leaves. Add the onion – tomato masala paste and cook for 5 minutes.

STEP 4: Add the required salt and ½ teaspoon chilli powder and cook till the raw smell from the chilli powder goes away.

STEP 5: Add the washed and soaked basmati rice to the pressure cooker along with 2.5 cups of water.

STEP 6: Pressure cook the rice for 10 – 12 minutes (It took 10 minutes/4 whistles in the pressure cooker for me)







Vendaikai – Mochai Mandi/Okra-lima beans Gravy – Spicy – Tangy – Chettinad special

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“Vendaikai-Mochai Mandi” (Okra – dry lima beans gravy) is an easy to make, spicy & tangy gravy traditionally prepared in the chettinad household. To make this dish we need to prepare arisi mandi (Mandi is the water that is collected by washing any uncooked white rice). As this recipe requires 2 – 3 cups of arisi mandi it’s good to try this recipe when we soak rice to make Idly batter. Arisi mandi gives the dish a thick consistency and unique taste.

Arisi mandi preparation – First clean the rice by adding 3 cups water to 4 cups of rice, mix well using your hand, drain the water completely and discard. Add 2 cups water to the rice, mix well and save this water in a cup. Repeat the process again by adding 1 more cups of water to the rice to get more arisi mandi.

PREP TIME: 10 Mins



Mochai (Lima beans) – 1 cup

Vendaikai (Okra) – 20 (washed and cut into rondelle – I used 2 inch pieces)

Onion – 1 cup (you can also add shallots)

Mustard – 1/2 teaspoon

Urad dal – 1/2 teaspoon

Garlic – 3 – 5 pods

Curry leaves – 15 leaves

Green Chilli – 5

Arisi Mandi – 3 cups

Tamarind water – ½ cup

Salt – per taste

Oil – 2 teaspoons


STEP 1: Soak the mochai in hot water for 3 – 4 hours or in room temperature water overnight. Pressure cook the soaked mochai until it softens (usually I cook till I hear 4 whistles in my pressure cooker).

STEP 2: Take a ½ cup of the arisi mandi and soak the tamarind. Mix well and discard the tamarind pulp after few minutes.

STEP 3: Heat oil in a pan, add mustard, urad dal, chopped garlic, curry leaves and green chillies.

STEP 4: Add the chopped onion and cook till the onions turns golden brown.

STEP 5: Add okra and cook in the oil for 5 minutes, then add the pressure cooked mochai from “Step 1”.

STEP 6: Add the arisi mandi from “step 2” and the remaining 2.5 cups of arisi mandi to the pan. Mix well, cover and cook for 10 – 15 minutes on high flame till the gravy condenses and the vegetables get cooked.