My initial thought was to set the log cabins on point and do a border but I wanted the quilt to have a softer feel. As I was picking out all the dusty pinks and linen hues, some freckled berries rolled into my lap and they seemed to be just the thing, these summer roses were waiting for. After that everything fell into place.

Inspiration for this layout came from Kathy’s lions in flowers.
Kathy is so sweet & lovely and I feel so lucky to have come across her playful and light hearted quilts a little while ago.
I could just sit and gape and admire her endlessly fun compositions for all the minutes in a day…

She kindly sent a piece of Lion fabric along with some adorable bits to use in my string quilt. But I felt they definitely needed to be showcased in their very own quilt.
Till then I’ll just pet them and safely put them back.
Thanks a bunch, Kathy ( ' u ' )

Have a happy day! ( " v " )


rice and dal

Many moons ago when I first came to U.S., my repertoire was fairly limited to few stir-fries and dals. At times when I felt lost and longed for familiar comforts of home, dal is something I used to make. And after a hearty meal of spinach dal with a smidgen of hot pickle and fresh cup of homemade yogurt, everything would start looking rosy again and I am *home* ( " v " )

Steaming hot rice topped with sweet-tangy dal effusing a slight hint of ghee(clarified butter) is so comforting any day… it doesn’t take long to prepare and is full of nutrients.

Green gram dal (Moong dal with husk), Masoor dal, Toor dal

Dal meaning lentil can be sweet or sour; wet or dry. And any number of scrumptious combinations can be rolled out using leafy greens, tomatoes and even some vegetables.

Dals naturally have a mild sweetness to them, each one with a distinct flavor of its own. Considering that most Indians are vegetarians, they provide much needed protein and are low in fat; high in fiber.

top row: mustard seeds, cumin seeds, turmeric
bottom row: urad dal, chana dal, asafetida

Seasoning (infusing) the oil with spice seeds and red chilies is the base for many of the Indian recipes. For some recipes, it is the first step in the process while for others we add the seasoned oil in the end when the dish is done to give nutty texture and a smoky undertone to the otherwise soft stews and dals.

Depending on the dish you are preparing, the ingredients for seasoning slightly vary between mustard seeds, cumin seeds, urad dal (Black gram), chana dal (Bengal gram), red chilies, turmeric, hing (asafetida) and curry leaves (rich in iron).

~Mustard seeds pop and curry leaves splutter. So please hold a spatter screen or a lid over the pan for safety. But do not cover the pan fully or else the seeds will become soft losing their crunchy texture.

Cumin rice (Jeera rice)
Serves 2.

Rice seasoned with cumin seeds & curry leaves is very fragrant and goes well with any of the accompaniments you wish to prepare.

First step is to cook rice.

Add a tsp of salt to the water while cooking the rice to season it.

Fluff the rice with fork and transfer it to a wide platter and spread it out so that the grains would air a little bit and remain loose.

for seasoning

Oil - 1 tbsp
Cumin seeds - 2 tsp
Coarsely ground pepper - 1 tsp
Green chilies - 2 (slice them lengthwise)
Red chilies - 2
Curry leaves - 5
Cilantro - 2 or 3 sprigs

Take a wide frying pan. Put it on medium heat. Add oil.

When the oil is just hot enough, add red chilies.

After a min. add cumin seeds.

Cumin seeds burn quickly, so as soon as you see the seeds turning slightly brown, add curry leaves and green chilies. And sauté’ them once.

Then add rice and sprinkle ground pepper over it. Mix it with the seasoning taking care not to mush the rice. Stir fry for 3 min. on medium-low flame. When the rice is evenly coated with the seasoning, sprinkle the cilantro twigs and remove from heat.

~ Do not leave rice open for long as it dries out quickly. Transfer it to the platter just before you are ready to season it.

~You can easily adapt this recipe with your favorite herbs and any kind of chili peppers that you happen to have at hand.

Moong dal
Serves 2.

Moong dal (green gram) is easy to digest and very cooling to the body, making it suitable for the coming summer days.

~As Moong dal cooks very quickly we don’t have to soak it before hand like we do for other dals.


Oil – 1 tbsp
(Yellow split lentils) Moong dal - ½ cup
Water - 2 cups
Small onion – 1 (thinly sliced, lengthwise)
Green chilies – 2 (slit lengthwise)
Grated ginger - 1 tsp
Turmeric - a pinch
Salt - ½ tbsp (adjust according to taste)
Chili powder – 1 tsp
Lime juice from half a lime

for seasoning

ghee or oil - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Red chilies - 1 (break into pieces)
Curry leaves - 5
Asafetida (hing) - a pinch (optional)

Check for any tiny stones or twigs in the dal.

Heat a frying pan. Add Moong dal and dry roast on low flame until the lentils turn pink and begin to give out a sweet scent.

before and after

(This step is not mandatory but I find that it removes the raw smell and makes the dal more flavorful)

Take water in a pan and add roasted dal. Cover the pan with a lid but leave it slightly ajar for the steam to escape. This avoids boiling water from spilling over.

Cook it on medium heat until soft. If necessary, add more water.

Mash it for a velvety smooth consistency (if you like some texture, you can leave it as it is).
Set aside.

In a small sauce pan, heat oil. Add onions, green chilies, grated ginger, turmeric, salt.

Sauté the onions until they are tender and translucent. Add dal.
If the dal is too thick, add ½ cup of water. Stir well.

Continue to simmer for 10 mins.

Sprinkle chili powder. Add chopped cilantro and remove from heat.

Stir in lime juice.

~Dal thickens some more even after we turn off the heat. So, it’s better to leave it slightly runny.

Seasoning the dal

Take a small frying pan and heat oil.

Add red chili. When its color is slightly beginning to deepen add mustard seeds and cumin seeds. After a min. or so, the mustard seeds will begin to pop and splutter.

Then add curry leaves and hing. Remove from heat right away. Do not let the seeds burn or brown too much as they turn bitter.

Now pour the seasoning over cooked dal.
Mix well.

Serve with rice ( ' u ' )

Add ½ cup of chopped tomatoes after the onions are tender and sauté them until soft.
Then add dal and proceed as before (you can skip lime juice here).

~Since we infuse the oil with spices, a neutral flavored oil like vegetable oil works well with Indian recipes.

~Turmeric tends to leave stains on clothes. Please be careful while handling it.

~We add asafetida in dals to aid in digestion. It has a pungent smell which can be overpowering. So, don't add more than a pinch.

~Red or green chilies are added to give heat to the dish. As they are incredibly hot, don’t bite into them. Leave them on the side.

Please feel free to drop me a line if you have any questions. I'm more than happy to clarify (* u *)

Happy cooking!

p.s. My friend Thanu is from Bangalore and she shares recipes from her home town at Thanu’s kitchen along with the ones she’s been collecting over the years.
I had the pleasure of savoring mouthwatering concoctions that Thanu whips up in her ‘real’ kitchen and each time I end up completely stuffed and plonk down on her couch with droopy eyes ^ . ^


cooking at home

Indian home cooking is very humble and simply prepared with seasonal vegetables, lentils, legumes, herbs and seeds. I agree that spices are a soul to the cuisine, but everyday dishes require very few of them.

Restaurants usually serve curries that are mostly based on a single red sauce, tossing in different vegetables or koftas, twisting and turning the same sauce into myriad of items that are required to fill a menu. So for many, Indian cuisine is 'curry'.

I guess they would want to play safe and stick to catering a tried and tested palate. There are few exceptions though like 'Tamarind Bay' in Boston that offers an insight into the regional fare.

If you were to take a walk along the culinary path, you would discover that each region that dots the map of India is as diverse as the language they speak and the cloth they wear. Each one has many fascinating stories to tell about its rich heritage leaving little or no trace as you move onto the next one.

For instance, I’m from Hyderabad. It is only a small part of a state called Andhra Pradesh. Since Mughals and Nizams ruled this city for hundreds of years, the cuisine here slowly evolved soaking in the aromas of Persia, flavors of Mughlai and cooking methods of Awadh, all the while seasoning it with a good dash of local spices.

If you walk a few paces into the next town, you’ll be surprised that the saffron scented Biryanis and the sweet delicacies of Hyderabad are nowhere to be found but of course you are sure to discover some local delights that tickle your taste buds.

I’ve been meaning to share simple recipes that I cook at home, but somehow just now getting to it. Probably eagerness of Stephanie and few friends is quietly prodding me… Thank you, friends! (* u *)

Rice is a base to most of the accompaniments... so, I thought I would start off with a very easy way to cook rice.

For every day use, we get medium-grain rice called 'Sona Masoori' from the Indian groceries.
But for pilafs and any special rice dishes we use Basmati rice which is very aromatic and blends well with the fragrance of spices.

Even without a rice cooker you can easily cook rice on stove top just as my grandma used to do it on her open stove in our backyard. The smoke from the twigs and dung cakes crackling in the fire underneath used to bring out an earthiness to the rice that is unlike anything I’ve ever tasted.


Rice - 1 cup
Water - 1 ½ cups (also depends on the kind of rice you are using and the type of pan)

~Sauce pan with a heavy base is preferable to avoid scorching the rice at the bottom.

Wash rice. Washing the rice removes loose starch & makes the grains less sticky. (I rinse it only once so as not to wash away the nutrients)

Soak it for 30 min. to 1 hr. Soaking allows the moisture to reach the center of the grain quickly. When the outside and inside of the grain is cooked at the same time, it improves the texture and the rice doesn’t get mushy.

Discard water. You can use a sieve or strainer to drain the rice.

Boil water in a sauce pan. Then pour rice into it.
When it comes to a boil, cover the sauce pan and let it simmer on low heat. It probably takes 15min.

When the rice is done, turn off the heat. Keep it covered for another 10min. and let it steam some more.

Then take a fork and fluff the rice and transfer it to a serving bowl.

~You can add a few drops of vegetable oil or butter to the water if you feel that your rice is coming out a bit sticky. Adding a tsp of lime juice helps too.

~If your sauce pan is not very deep, leave a slight opening (very tiny slit) while covering the pan to avoid boiling water from spilling over.
When some of the water is absorbed, then you can cover the pan completely.

~You can always add little more water towards the end, if you feel that you want it cooked some more. Some like the grain to be firm and some like it very soft. I’m sure after one or two trials you’ll know how you want it to be.

~You can add some salt (maybe 1 tsp) while the water is boiling if you want to season your rice. Taste the water to check for the saltiness. I don’t add salt when cooking plain rice that we eat with the side dishes.

~Whole wheat rice can be cooked in the same way with little bit more water. Soaking the wheat rice for a longer period reduces the cooking time.

Thank you so much for patiently wading through this lengthy post with me ( ' u ' )
Next week I’ll post a simple rice dish flavored with cumin seeds and a very easy 'moong ki dal' (yellow lentils) to go with it.

Have a lovely weekend! (: v :)


Colorful Spring

I knew spring has arrived as soon as Crocuses began to bloom and Northern Cardinals began to sing their mating calls. I was quite happy that we put out a bird feeder in winter which made otherwise bleak and gray season colorful with visiting Cardinals and Blue Jays to munch on the black sunflower seeds and peanuts respectively. We noticed one Blue Jay gobbling up about 8 peanuts in one go! Here are some pictures that I took of first blooms commonly seen in Boston.

Hope the rest of the year will turnout to be as colorful as these flowers for all of you. Enjoy the warm weather and Happy Easter everyone.

~ Kalyan