Can “fried” n “light” go hand in hand? Yes, of course and a Great Go it can be with this ‘Light Fried Rice’. Few ingredients….fabulous flavour. Believe me, it’s unbelievable! Serve it with a spicy curry…savoury that’s lip smacking when savoured! fried rice in red n yellow copy

Basic Ingredients: Rice, Vegetables, Oil.

Short and simple statement…yet feels too vast and vague an outline, right?  Since it gives rise to some very basic doubts like “Which oil should I use, which rice is better, which vegetables to choose ….etc.” and when asked, isn’t a reply like this highly likely…. “You can use any oil, any rice, any vegetables!” Simple answer, yet a complex set of doubts crop afresh clouding our misty minds furthermore! So, we at Sarapaaka try to list, in our recipes, (wherever required) choice of ingredients to choose from. If the list is long, it will be mentioned at the end, like in this case.


For cooking rice

Basmati Rice               1 cup

Water                          2 cups

Oil                               1 tsp

Salt                              a pinch

For stir frying:

Oil                               2 tbsps

Cumin seeds                ½  tsp

Onion                          2 nos. (medium size, cut to thin, long slices)

French beans               ¼  cup (cut into diagonal pieces)

Carrot                          ¼  cup (cut to matchstick size)

Capsicum                    ¼  cup (shredded)

Cabbage                      ¼  cup (shredded)

Turmeric                     Just a small pinch (it’s antiseptic…why miss it?)

Salt to taste                 2 tsps approx. (put it in pinches at different stages of cooking)

Pepper powder           3 tsps

For garnishing:

Spring Onion               ¼  cup (fine chopped)

Coriander leaves         2 tbsps (fine chopped)


Wash rice thoroughly in water. Drain out the water and keep rice aside for half an hour.

Wash vegetables thoroughly in water. Drain out the water. Chop or shred vegetables (as the case may be) as mentioned above under “Ingredients – for sautéing” and keep aside.

Cook rice in a pressure cooker along with the other ingredients listed under “Ingredients – for cooking” for upto 2 whistles.

A tip or two before you begin cooking….Rice has to be just cooked al dente. Cooking rice in vegetable broth adds to the flavour. Adding lime juice while cooking rice also adds to the flavour.

Heard 2 whistles…now switch off the flame. Let it cool.

While it is cooling….

Heat oil in a frying pan (or sauté pan) over medium heat. Swirl oil all round the pan to form a coat. The secret here lies in selecting a sturdy pan so that the veggies can be cooked evenly.

Put cumin seeds. When it splutters, add onions, a pinch of turmeric powder and salt. Sauté till it turns golden brown. (If you wish, you can keep this aside for garnish at the end). Now add all other vegetables and sauté. Also add pepper powder and continue tossing the veggies till they are cooked enough to be tender inside, crispy and crunchy outside.

By now, pressure in the cooker would have subsided. But has the rice turned cold….no, for sure.

(While you wait till it cools down readTechnique of cooling hot rice cold”  given  below under Chefs’Chat)

Now that the rice has cooled down, add a pinch of salt and mix well. Its time to heat it up! Add this to the cooked veggies in the pan or vice versa (i.e., transfer the cooked veggies on to the cooled rice). Mix them well. Garnish with fine chopped coriander leaves, fine chopped spring onions…many more choices listed a wee bit below.

Veg Fried Rice is ready to serve.

Also view in this blog recipe for “Vegetable Biryani

Chefs ‘Chat….about

Choice of oil, rice, vegetables, garnish and flavour; Basmati Rice; Technique to turn hot rice cold; Sauteing; Stir Frying; Saute Pan; Frying Pan.

Choice of oil: Olive, canola, dark sesame, peanut, soy

Choice of Rice: Basmati Rice, Brown rice or any long grain rice since they remain fluffy and don’t get clumpy.

Choice of Vegetables: (In addition to the ones listed under ingredients) Onions, Peas, Bell Pepper, Garlic, Ginger, Green soybeans, Baby beans, Baby corn, frozen Broccoli, Button mushrooms etc. Adding sugar retains colour of veggies. Whichever vegetables you choose, the time spent in the pan is short n sweet, so choose those that are tender by nature.

When using tougher, thicker vegetables head them straight not into the pan for sautéing but for blanching them briefly (by cooking in boiling water). They are now ready to be mixed with the other softer veggies.

Choice of Garnish: Toasted slivered almonds, fresh coriander leaves, fresh lime juice, fried brown crisp onion slices.

Choice of flavour: White pepper powder preferred. Crushed red pepper gives a hint of heat (optional), Toasted sesame seeds (optional), Soy sauce

Basmati Rice:  A variety of rice that is long bodied with a unique aroma. Cooked basmati rice results in grains that are long, dry, light, fragrant, slender, separate and non sticky.

Technique to turn hot rice cold: The golden rule of thumb to follow while sautéing rice for “Fried Rice” and certain other rice varieties is to make sure that the hot cooked rice is cold. To cool down the hot cooked rice grains and keep it separate, spread it on a wide flat tray and let it become warm. Rub it with a spoon of oil and keep aside till you use it.

Sautéing is a cooking term that means “to cook food fast using minimum amount of fat on a fairly high heat” as against Stir Frying which means “to cook food fast using relatively higher amount of fat on a fairly high heat”. Food is tossed once in a way during sautéing whereas stir frying needs accelerated and constant stirring action. The word sauté originates from a French verb “sauter” which means “to jump”. Sautéing preserves the texture and flavour of food intact.

Sauté pan has a long handle with slightly taller sides compared to a frying pan. This permits stirring food easily without spilling or jumping out of the pan. Frying pan is deeper to accommodate larger quantities of fat for frying.

Summer drinks

Its cool and simple 😘

Cooking Without Limits


We had a wave of heat for a few days which killed me. I am not a big fan of the heat, so I had to do something to get me fresh all through the day. It is a simple recipe, healthy and makes  your day easy to  survive.


– 1 litter water

– 2 lemons

– 5 strawberries

– 5 mint leaves



Add the fruits and the mint in the water. Keep the water in the fridge or use ice. Make it 3 hours before serving. Enjoy!


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CARROT HALWA (Gajar Halwa)

Towering atop a host of Indian delicacies is this classic Indian dessert, Carrot Halwa, also known as Gajar halwa.

Carrot when consumed traverses quite a journey inside our body beginning with its rich content of beta-carotene (orange coloured pigment) converting itself into Vitamin A in the liver and Vitamin A in turn travelling right up to the retina where it transforms itself into rhodopsin (purple coloured pigment that enables vision at night)

The crux however lies in the crunch. Carrot when chewed behaves like a brush cleaning our teeth and mouth, piercing through that plaque to scrape it off, triggering saliva, a clear liquid and a vital contributor to a healthy body….

Can we afford to stay off from this delicious veggie that is low in salt and calorie, high in fibre, a natural body cleanser, age retarder, blood sugar regulator and much more?

Dish Type:  Indian Vegetarian Dessert Carrot Halwa copy

Preparation Time:  15 min

Cooking time:  45 min

Serves:  3 persons


Carrots                        8 nos. medium size (4 cups approx.)

Ghee                            3 tbsps

Milk                             2 cups

Sugar                           1 cup

Cashewnuts                 10 nos.

Raisins                         1 tbsp

Cardamom                  2 nos. crushed

Saffron            threads           A pinchful


Wash carrots (select sweet and juicy ones) thoroughly in water. Drain out the water. Peel the skin and grate the carrots. Soak saffron threads in a tbsp. of milk in a small bowl. Keep it aside.

Crush cardamom seeds just enough to release their flavour.

In a heavy bottom pan, melt ghee. Fry cashewnuts till golden brown, also fry raisins. Remove them from the pan and keep aside.

In to the same pan, put grated carrot and sauté for few minutes stirring constantly over gentle flame. Now add milk and let it boil on medium flame. When it begins to boil, reduce the flame, let it simmer, but keep stirring and scraping the sides. If not, milk can scorch. Also make sure the spatula is dug deep down to the bottom of the pan while stirring. Add the soaked saffron threads.  Continue simmering till the quantity reduces to a third. At this stage, the milk should nearly be not seen and the mixture should look thicker. To this mixture, add sugar. The mixture becomes watery again. Keep stirring at intervals till the sugar is completely dissolved and the dish starts thickening once again and changes colour to deep red. Switch off the flame. Add cardamom powder, fried cashews and raisins.

Serve it hot, warm, cold or at room temperature. A blob of hot carrot halwa over a scoop of vanilla ice cream makes for a great hot n cold combo dessert!


Unsalted Pistachio nuts, blanched almonds can be used for garnishing.

Regular milk, sugar and ghee can be replaced by Almond milk, date paste and cashew butter respectively.

Adding sugar early i.e., along with milk prevents halwa from gaining a soft texture.

Khoya or mawa lends a soft, creamy texture to the halwa. Either sweetened or unsweetened variety can be used, but quantity of sugar has to be adjusted accordingly. Khoya has to be added and allowed to mix and melt before adding sugar.

Condensed milk makes for a richer, creamier, sweeter halwa. Again it calls for adjustment of sugar quantity.

Shorter route to making carrot halwa:

Cook carrot in pressure cooker.

Use condensed milk instead of skimmed milk and sugar.

 Shredding vs Grating (in brief):

1 medium size carrot when shredded measures ½ cup.

Vegetables, when shredded, look like long strips (long and thin similar to noodles) whereas, when grated, the result is very tiny pieces to the point of being powdery.

Time taken for cooking is longer when shredded as compared to gratings.

Shredded vegetables look smoother and uniformly textured whereas gratings appear uneven.

Taste however doesn’t alter.

Sweet Corn Song


(penned by Mangala Madhuchand)

Grand Old Corn

Bright when born

Shows up when husk is torn

So so sweet to taste

Yes, can be cooked in haste

Wow… so great! Please don’t waste

This beautiful, dear corn

Lest it feels forlorn.

Spice them up with corns of pepper

How about grated mozzarella

For a scatter?

Sprout them, grind them

To a superfine flour

Mix it to a dough, roll it flat though

To make a tempting tortilla.

Oh I see…you still have

Some kernels leftover?

Oh so sweet….use them up

As filling for quesadilla

Hey, did I hear you say

“Idella namage gothe iralilla!!” *

* This  sentence  is written using kannada language. In English, it means “We didn’t know all of these”


Cooked as curry, served as snack but called by the name of “kosambari”!

Sweet Corn, which has created a niche for itself as a splendid summertime food, is a genetic variant of the maize family and is also known as Sugar Corn. It contains healthy levels of vitamin B complex and minerals, especially iron and is a rich source of fibre. Fibre helps to alleviate digestive problems and stabilize blood sugar levels.  Well known for contributing to overall nourishment, especially when combined with legumes like peas, beans, nuts etc. it is a must add to everyone’s diet.

Sweet Corn, true to its name, is sweet for the tooth and especially when cooked al dente, its tender outside and crispier inside makes one crave for more and more.

Dish Type:  Indian Vegetarian Curry Sweet Corn Kosambari

Preparation Time:  5 min

Cooking time:  15 min

Serves:  4 persons


For boiling:

Sweet corn kernels     200 gms

Water                          (200 ml approx.)

For sautéing:

Oil                               2 tsps

Cumin seeds                1 tsp

Onion                          1 no. (medium size, fine chopped)

Turmeric pwd             A pinch

Salt to taste                 1 tsp approx.

Carrot                          1 no. (medium size, grated)

Sweet corn                  (steam boiled kernels)

Chilli pwd                    1 tsp

Jeera pwd                    ½ tsp

Coriander pwd            ½ tsp

For garnishing:

Coriander leaves         1 tbsp (fine chopped)

Lime juice                   1 tsp approx.

Pomegranate seeds    2 tbsps


Wash carrot, coriander leaves and sweet corn kernels thoroughly in water. Drain out the water and keep aside.

To cook sweet corn kernels, bring water to rapid boil in a vessel. Quantity of water must be just enough for the kernels to be covered. To this rapid boiling water, add sweet corn and a pinch of sugar. Let it cook for about 5 min. Switch off the burner. To retain its sweet taste, do not overcook the kernels. Remove the steamed kernels from water and keep aside.

While water is boiling (i.e., before putting sweet corn)….

Heat oil in a pan. To this add cumin seeds. When it splutters, add chopped onion, turmeric and a pinch of salt. Sauté till onions turn transparent. Now put grated carrot and resume sautéing till carrot gratings are partially cooked. Add boiled kernels, salt, chilli powder, jeera powder, coriander powder and mix them well. Switch off the flame.

Garnish with fine chopped fresh coriander leaves, lime juice and a tiny blob of butter (optional).

Sweet corn kosambari is ready. Serve it warm or cool.

A bit of thought for a bite of food:

To pick fresh corn, just prick a kernel. It should squirt whitish juice. Husks should appear as fresh, tender and green like grass. Size of kernels need to be on the plumper side and spaced snug fit in the cob. Colour of corn is not a determinant of quality.

Cooking corn by steaming for just the optimum time required is considered to be a healthy way of cooking since loss of nutrients is minimized to the maximum extent while still retaining its color and enhancing its taste and texture.

Please do read “Sweet Corn Song” in this blog where you also get to know few other ways of using corn.

THAMBITTU (Sweet Wheat Flour Laddus)

Light brown coloured laddu (ball shaped Indian sweet), daintily dotted by cashews and raisins, its soft appearance adorably spoilt by strands of dry coconut gratings. Popular prasadam dish especially in South Karnataka. Makes its way into many homes as part of “Exchange Programme” customary to festival rituals. Its consistency can be described as a cross between typical laddu and halwa. Fat content minimal when compared to “desserts” in general. Dish sweetened by….

A wonderful, delicious, blood purifying and cleansing agent, enemy of anaemia, gives cool company during hot summers, makes your skin flawless, lovely and charming. Hello to this healthy darling called Jaggery, which blends beautifully with wheat flour and transforms into rolls that make you rock!

Dish Type:  South Indian Dessert Variety  Thambittu

Preparation Time:  5 min

Cooking time:  10 min

Cooling time:  15 min

Yield:  8 nos. approx.


Wheat Flour                1 cup (125 gms. approx.)

Water                          ½ cup

Jaggery                        ½ cup (grated or powdered)

Fresh coconut              ¼ cup (grated)

Ghee                            ¼ cup

Cardamom                  1 no. (powdered)

Cashewnut                  1 tbsp (pieces)

Raisins                         1 tbsp


Heat 1 tbsp of ghee in a small kadai. Fry cashew pieces in it till golden brown. Also fry raisins.

Switch off the flame. Keep them aside.

Heat 1 tbsp of ghee in a medium sized pan. Roast wheat flour in it on low flame, slowly till the raw smell disappears and you feel the fragrance of the roasted flour. Caution: Do not over roast the flour! When done (4 to 5 min. approx.), the flour changes colour to light brown. Switch off the flame, transfer the flour to a bowl and keep aside.

Pour water on to a kadai.  Add grated jaggery to it. Stir continuously till it dissolves completely. Now add grated fresh coconut, cardamom powder, fried raisins and cashews. Also add rest of the ghee. When the syrup starts boiling, add roasted flour slowly and stir continuously till it forms a unified mass without any lumps. Cover the pan with a lid and let the mixture get cooked for another 4 to 5 min. Maintain the low flame all through. Switch off the flame. Let it cool for about 15 min. Then grease your palms with ghee, take a handful of the mixture and roll it either into balls or flatten them as patties. Garnish with dessicated dry coconut if you wish. Arrange them on a flat plate and keep it open for about an hour. Store them in an air tight container. It remains fresh for a day or two. It stays for about a week if stored in the fridge.


In case the mixture appears very dry, sprinkle a few drops of water. Mix well and let it cook for another minute or so. If it appears watery, let it steam off. However, this adjustment is possible only if the margin of error with respect to water: flour ratio (1: 2) is negligible.

Thambittu can also be prepared using rice flour / roasted gram flour.