Festival Recipes, Indian, Snacks, Sweets, Tiffin

Shakkar Para (Sweet Diamond Cuts)

Mildly sweet and crunchy deep fried bits. A snack for evening or to munch for no reason at all. Has a good shelf life. So you can make it and store it for Diwali or before guests are expected. This sweet is usually made of maida but I made this with whole wheat.

Wheat Flour – 2 cups
Jaggery – 3/4 cup
Ghee – 1 tbsp
Roasted Fennel seeds/saunf (optional)- 1 teaspoon
Cardamom Powder – 1/4 tsp
Water – 1/3 cup
Oil for deep frying

Preparation Time: 10 mins + 30 mins (Resting time for dough)
Cooking Time: 30 – 40 mins
Makes: 1 liter jar full of Sharkara para

Heat a pan and add water and jaggery. Heat until the jaggery dissolves completely. No need to bring to boil or thicken into a syrup. Filter the diluted jaggery to remove any impurities.
Take 2 cups of wheat flour, cardamom powder, roasted fennel seeds, and mix well. If you are adding baking soda, you may add now. This will make the shakkar para crispy.
Heat ghee to melt it. Add ghee to the flour mixture. Mix well. Add the jaggery syrup in small quantities, mixing it into the flour. Knead the flour to make a smooth dough. If the dough is dry, you may added small quantities of water. Keep aside to rest for for an half hour.
Take small portions of the dough and shape into lemon-sized balls.
Use a rolling pin and a smooth surface to roll them into thick chapathis. You can use dry wheat flour to dust the surface. Can be a little tricky as the dough is very dense and a little sticky because of the jaggery.
Use a dull-edged knife to cut the chapathis horizontally and vertically to cut them into diamond shapes.
Place a thick iron wok on fire and pour oil into it. When the oil is adequately heated, drop the diamond shapes into the oil gently taking care not to splash oil. Keep the flame low. Due to the presence of jaggery, the shakkar paras could get really dark. When they start turning darker and gets roasted, remove from oil and place on an absorbing paper to drain oil. Fry the remaining diamond cuts in batches.
Cool and transfer into an airtight container.

Note: You can make salty and spicy variations by substituting jaggery with salt, chilly powder, and asafetida.

Bachelor-friendly, Breakfast, Everyday Simple Recipes, Kerala Recipes, Snacks, South Indian, Tiffin, Vegan

Paal Kozhukattai (Steamed Rice Dumplings)

A simple and easy to make dish with just three ingredients. Good option for breakfast or evening tiffin. You will love it if you like natural uncomplicated tastes, mild flavors, and the use of minimal ingredients.

Raw Rice Flour (finely powdered/Idiyappam powder) – 1 cup
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Grated coconut – 1/4 cup
Hot water – 1 cup
Salt as needed

Preparation Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 15-20 mins
Serves 2

Boil water in a pan.
Crush the cumin seeds lightly to bring out the flavor.
Take raw rice flour (I used raw red rice flour and hence the color difference), lightly crushed cumin seeds, grated coconut, and adequate amount of salt needed in a wide vessel. Add water (at boiling point) into this mixture.
Use a ladle to stir the mixture well. Ensure there are no lumps. You can use your hand later after a minute or two when the dough cools down. Make a smooth dough.
Take small amounts of this dough and make small gooseberry sized balls. Place on a plate and keep aside.

Add 2 cups of water in the heavy bottomed pan. Drop the rice balls into this boiling water.
Let it cook for 10 – 12 mins in medium heat.

You will notice that the water is thickening and the rice balls are becoming firmer.
Transfer into a bowl and serve along with the liquid.



  1. You can cook this in diluted cow’s milk also. I have not tried this. But I am definitely going to try cooking this in diluted coconut milk and jaggery and elaichi to make a sweet version.
  2. It is desirable to have it while hot and fresh. If using after a while, add half a cup of water and reheat.
  3. It is very similar to Ragi Mudde, the famous Kannada breakfast.
Bachelor-friendly, Breakfast, Everyday Simple Recipes, Festival Recipes, Indian, Snacks, Tiffin, Vegan

Sabudana Upma / Khichdi

Sabudana / sago / Javvarisi is preferred food across India during fasting and for festivals. It is also a good snack item. Sabudana is nothing but tapioca pearls and hence mostly starch / carbohydrate. Sabudana pearls cooked in a tadka of cumin seeds, chilies, boiled and roasted potatoes added, garnished with grated coconut, coriander leaves, and lemon juice make a delicious item that can be easily cooked. Although easy to prepare, you need to understand the different kinds of sabudana available in the market – big pearls, small pearls, nylon variety are some. Each requires a different cooking method to get the perfect texture. If it is normal sabudana (not the nylon variety), I recommend soaking the pearls in water overnight. If using the nylon sago variety, 1-hr soaking time is sufficient.

Preparation Time: Overnight or 1 hr (Soaking time) + 10 mins
Cooking time: 15-20 minutes
Serves: 2

Sabudana – 1 cup
Potato – 1 medium sized
Capsicum – 1 medium sized (optional)
Oil / ghee – 1-1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Green chillies – 3-4
Curry leaves 1 sprig
Salt to taste

For Garnishing:
Crushed roasted peanuts (deskinned) – 1/4 cup
Lemon juice – 1 teaspoon
Grated coconut – 2 tbsp
Chopped coriander leaves – 2 tbsp

Rinse and wash one cup of sabudana pearls in water two to three times. If using normal sabudana (not the nylon variety), soak in two cups of water overnight. If using the nylon sago variety, fill water just enough to touch the top level of the sabudana pearls and soak for an hour.
Chop potatoes into small cubes. Cook the cubed potato in little bit of oil until well cooked and the sides turn golden color. Add salt and stir well. Remove and keep aside.
Add oil in a kadai. When heated, add cumin seeds and finely chopped green chilies. Shallow fry for a minute. Add curry leaves and chopped capsicum. Stir for a minute or so.
Add the soaked sabudana pearls into this. Stir well. Close with a lid and cook for about 5 mins. Keep stirring every 30 seconds in between. As the sabudana pearls get cooked, they start turning translucent. Check for this. If the sabudana pearls have become too dry and is undercooked, you can sprinkle water (very little).
When the capsicum gets cooked and the sabudana pearls start turning transparent and start sticking together, add salt, stir well. Add the roasted potato cubes into this and stir well. Add grated coconut and crushed roasted peanuts, finely chopped coriander leaves and stir well. Add lemon juice and serve hot.

Breakfast, Everyday Simple Recipes, Millet Recipes, South Indian, Tiffin, Vegan

Little Millet (Samai) Idli and Dosa

Little MilletMillets are one of the oldest food crop cultivated by man. Millets have much more calcium, protein, and iron than rice and wheat. These poor man’s grains are high in fiber, rich in minerals, low fat, and gluten free also. Millets are not just good for you but for the environment as well. Millets can grow in dry lands and even in poor soil quality. They need only one-fifth to one-tenth of the water that rice and wheat cultivation needs. As if these reasons werent enough, most millets are grown organically because they are naturally pest-resistant!
Yet, a word of caution. Just as too much of anything is not good, consuming too much millets is also not good for health. All millets, in general, have giotrogenic effects and hence people with thyroid related problems need to be careful about how much millet can be included in their diet. Please consult your dietitian/doctor about this.

Post World War 2, India experienced severe food scarcity. My mother still remembers having to modify their diet from the staple of rice to wheat and millets such as chama. Little millet / Chama can be used to make nutritious and tasty idli / dosa. The below recipe makes soft and fluffy idlis that remain so even after 4-5 hours.

Little millet dosa

Little Millet (Same/Chama) – 2 cups
Whole Urad dal- 1/2 cup
Fenugreek seeds / vendhayam / uluva – 2 tsp
Beaten rice flakes / aval / avalakki / Poha – 1/2 cup
Water as needed
Salt to taste
Oil to grease the idli mould (I prefer sesame oil)

Preparation Time:
Soaking Time: 4-5 hours
Grinding Time: 20 mins
Steaming Time: 15 mins
Yield: About 30 idlis

Little millet idliPreparing the batter:
Wash the millet in water, drain, and soak in water overnight or for 4 to 5 hours.
Rinse, drain, and soak urad dal and 1½ teaspoon methi seeds together overnight or for 4 to 5 hours.
Five minutes prior to the grinding time, soak the beaten rice flakes in 1/2 – 3/4 cup water.

Drain the water from the soaked urad dal and methi seeds into a cup. Keep aside. You will need this while grinding.

Add the soaked urad dal and methi seeds into a mixer jar or a wet grinder. Add small quantities of the drained water from the urad dal and blend to make a smooth paste. Remove into a large deep bowl and keep aside.
Drain the water from the soaked millet. Discard the water. Add the soaked millet to the mixer/grinder. Add small quantities of water and grind to a smooth paste. Add soaked beaten rice flakes to this and grind well. Remove this mixture from the mixer and add this to the large deep bowl that contains the ground urad dal. Add adequate amount of salt. Use your right hand to mix the batter thoroughly. The batter should be neither too thin nor too thick.

Cover the bowl with a lid and keep the batter aside in a warm area for fermenting (approximately 8 hours but this may vary depending on regional temperature) If you live in colder regions, keep the area at a warm place, near a warm stove or place it inside the oven that was pre-heated to about 50 deg C and leave it overnight with the oven light on. The next morning, the batter would have risen well.

The next morning (or after 8 hours), stir the batter using a ladle and mix well.

Making idlis:
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAUse a cotton cloth to grease the idli molds with oil. Pour batter into each pit. Pour water into the steamer and gently lower the idli molds with batter into the steamer and close the lid. Steam for 12 to 15 minutes.
Remove the idli mold from the steamer and place the molds on the kitchen counter for at least a minute. This is important. If you try to nudge the idlis out of the mold while it is piping hot, you will break them.
After allowing the idlis in the mold to cool off for about a minute, use a sharp edged spoon dipped in water to nudge the idlis at the edges and gently remove them from the mold.

Serve hot, soft, and fluffy idlis with chutney, sambar, or the Kerala style vegetable stew.

1. You can use the same batter to make crisp dosas also. You may need to add a little bit more water to the batter.
2. You can make idlis only on the first day of making the batter. If you refrigerate the batter and make idlis the next day also, you may not get the same soft and fluffy texture. The next day you may use the batter to make crisp dosas.

Bachelor-friendly, Breakfast, Everyday Simple Recipes, Indian, South Indian, Tiffin, Vegan

Tamarind Rasam Style Oatmeal

Simple, easy, tasty, and healthy. This recipe was on the Quaker Oats cover and I tried it with slight modifications and the result was good. This is a very easy option and good for people who don’t prefer a sweet breakfast of oats cooked in milk and sweetened with sugar/honey/jaggery.

Rolled oats – 1 cup
Tomato – 1
Tamarind – small marble size
Pepper powder – 1/2 tsp (adjust as per taste)
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Garlic (chopped) – 1/2 tsp
Water – 3 cups
Curry leaves – few
Coriander leaves (chopped) – 1 tbsp
Oil – 1/2 tsp

Coriander powder – 1 tbsp
Jeera powder/crushed jeera – 1/2 tsp
Rasam powder – 1 tbsp

Preparation Time: 5 mins
Cooking Time: 10 mins
Makes 3 cups

Soak the tamarind in half a cup of warm water. Keep aside for 5 minutes. Squeeze the tamarind to extract all the juice discarding only the remaining pulp and retaining the water.
Heat oil in a wok. Add mustard seeds and let them crackle.
Add chopped garlic and curry leaves. Let the garlic turn light brown.
Add coriander powder (you may replace this with rasam powder also).
Immediately add chopped tomato.
Stir and then add plain water and tamarind water.
Add jeera powder and pepper powder.
When water starts boiling, add rolled oats. Stir and cook until the oats gets cooked and the mixture thickens (approximately 5 minutes).
Garnish with coriander leaves.
Serve hot.

Bachelor-friendly, Breakfast, Everyday Simple Recipes, Snacks, South Indian, Tiffin, Vegan

Avalakki Upkari (Mangalore Style Dry Poha)

Avalakki UpkariWhy maggi when you can cook a wholesome nutritious meal from scratch in less than 10 minutes? Avalakki Upkari is a recipe of coastal Karnataka. I tasted this first and learned about it from my colleague (Yes, the best part of going to office is the lunch time 😀 ). I was completely hooked to the humble yet brilliant taste. A great breakfast or evening snack that is easy to prepare. Probably as fast as maggi but beats maggi in taste and nutrition! Pair it with boiled sprouts and you have a perfect meal. 🙂

Paper avalakki/paper poha/thin beaten rice flakes – 2 cups
Finely chopped onion – 1/4 cup
Coconut grated – 1/4 cup
Sugar – 1 tsp
Green chilli – 1
Coriander Leaves/Cilantro/Green Dhania – 2 tbsps
Salt as needed

For Tempering:
Coconut Oil – 1 tsp
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Curry Leaves – 1 sprig
Turmeric a pinch

Preparation Time: 5 mins
Cooking Time: 2 mins
Serves 2

In a large vessel, mix the beaten rice flakes, finely chopped onion, grated coconut, sugar, finely chopped coriander, and salt. Use your hands to mix the ingredients together.

Crackle mustard seeds in oil, add a pinch of turmeric, curry leaves, and chopped green chilly, and add this to the poha mixture. Mix well again using hands.

1. Serve with boiled green mung dal (sprout for better nutrition) with a pinch of salt garnished with grated coconut and a tempering of mustard seeds.
2. You may add roasted peanuts to the poha.

Bachelor-friendly, Everyday Simple Recipes, Millet Recipes, Snacks, Tiffin, Vegan

Jowar Sundal/Steamed Jowar Snack

SorghumJowar/Sorghum dates back to 3000 BC! Millets have been part of the Indian diet for thousands of years. When wheat and rice took over the markets, the humble millets got buried deep down. What was earlier eaten only by animals and the poor has suddenly gained a place among health foods. With nutritionist harping on innumerable benefits such as higher content of calcium, packed with iron, protein, and fiber, millets are climbing their way back up. Jowar is usually ground and the flour is used for rotis and in baking. Since jowar is gluten-free, making jowar rotis can be tricky. My friends at Aurovika organic store shared this innovative recipe. Simple, easy, and nutritious. Wish that restaurants would start serving stuff like this!

Although millets have a lot of benefits, a word of caution to hypothyroid patients. Please consult your doctor before consuming millets.

Jowar grains – 1 cup
Raw peanuts/groundnut – 1/2 cup (optional)
Cooking Oil – 1 tsp
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Urid dal – 1/4 tsp
Chana dal – 1/4 tsp
Hing/Asafetida – a pinch
Curry leaves – 1 sprig
Coriander leaves – 1 tbsp
Water – 1 cup
Grated/chopped coconut – 1 tbsp (optional)
Lemon juice as needed
Salt as needed

Preparation Time: 30 mins (pressure cooking time)
Cooking Time: 5 mins
Makes 4 cups

Jowar sundalMethod: Rinse and wash jowar in water. Drain and add a cup of water to the jowar and pressure cook 4-5 whistles. If you plan to use raw peanuts also, pressure cook the raw peanuts in a separate vessel inside the pressure cooker (not in the same vessel as the jowar).

Heat an iron kadai, add oil and mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds start to splutter, add urid dal and chana dal. When the dals turn pink, add hing and curry leaves. Add the cooked jowar and peanuts, add salt, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Turn off the fire. Add grated coconut. Sprinkle lemon juice and mix well. Serve hot as a snack.

You can also make variations to this by adding chopped onions, tomatoes, chopped coriander, chaat masala, and lemon juice to the cooked jowar and peanuts.

Recipe idea credits: Aurovika Organic Store, Bangalore.