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The Masala Dabba (Indian Spice Box)

Ever since I began admiring and learning cooking, I never left any chance of learning aspects about cooking. Be it a new or an old recipe, I get inquisitive and excited about the outcome when I’m cooking something. It is an achievement if the outcome is better than the previous. Everyday I tend to look out for any kind of improvement in the kitchen too, be it utensils or cutlery. Any object that is kept in the kitchen gets utmost attention from me. I believe a kitchen is the soul of a home. Whatever you eat to make a living comes from the kitchen and it needs utmost care from our side. This is how my passion towards cooking gets stronger and stronger day by day.

There are certain things we need to do to make things easy in the kitchen, for example arranging proper containers for groceries and spices, keeping large containers for the monthly stock, space for the cutlery etc. Keeping similar ingredients and objects at one place is the best way I can think of having an organized kitchen.

Of late there is one thing that I have started loving, and that is, the Indian spice box that is found in most of the Indian kitchens. A traditional spice box (Masala Dabba) is a seven portioned box meant for organizing your daily spices/ingredients. I used to wonder if there was any convention to be followed while filling-in the spices. After a lot of observations I realized that it’s a personal choice and we could choose the spices as per our convenience.

Both my in laws are very good cooks and I observed that they used more or less the same seven ingredients at all times, five of them were in the box, two were placed separately. So I made a slight change and accommodated the two ingredients. Currently, these are our seven ingredients.

1. Turmeric powder

2. Cumin seeds

3. Unroasted peanuts*

4. Dry red chilly (Guntur chilly: Read this)

5. Channa dal*

6. Mustard seeds

7. Urad dal*

Ideally peanuts, channa dal and urad dal are not spices. You may wonder that they seem out of order. But, these ingredients go along with the mustard seasoning most of the time. Hence these three ingredients are included.

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Raagi Mudde (Finger-Millet flour balls)

I've grown up in an environment where food was confined to more of rice. But when recently I moved into a new life, there was quite a transition in the type of food I have started consuming. It is an obvious fact once a girl gets married. I slowly started realizing there is something other than just eating rice and sambar for meals. Believe it or not, I tasted Raggi Mudde just about recently and I really appreciate its power.

Finger Millets / Raagi on its own has a rich dose of nutrients. I would just wish to reproduce a part from wikipedia here.

Courtesy : Wikipedia
Nutritive value of Ragi per 100 g
Protein 7.3 g
Fat 1.4 g
Carbohydrate 72 g
Minerals 2.7 g
Calcium 344 mg
Fibre 3.6 g
Energy 328 kCal

It would seem a little absurd on my part to post a common recipe like this. But then, the goodness of this recipe kept pushing me to give it a little space on Food for Joy! :)

Raagi Mudde Recipe

Makes 3 raagi balls


1 cup (120 gms) of raagi
2 cups of water*
1 tsp Salt (To taste)
A wooden spoon


Step 1: In a wok, boil water.

Step 2: When the water bubbles, add salt and turn the flame to low and add raagi slowly, preferably through a sieve.**

Step 3: Use a wooden spoon or stirrer and stir gently avoiding lumps on a low flame.
Step 4: Once the mixture reaches a very thick consistency, turn off the heat and let it cool.

Step 5: Once the mixture is cooled, dip your hands in water and make raagi balls from the mixture. Serve hot with any sambar of your choice.

*The amount of water should be twice the volume of Raagi.
**It is always better to add raagi to the boiling mixture through a sieve. Sieving the flour before hand may not help as much.

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Mix Vegetable Upma

Mix Veg Upma

It is always a wonderful weather at Nitte. The best thing about Nitte is the lush green sceneries. The summers are not accompanied with the heat like that of Udupi or Mangalore. When it rains, the atmosphere becomes something that is above the levels of heaven. My husband and I always loved silent places with greenery and a cold weather.

Flower Bud

Cooking is a pleasure here, because I keep trying new stuff, sometimes its a hit, sometimes I fail, and I learn so much from these ups and downs. I always feared preparing dosas. But recently, I tried my hands on and it was good.

Talking about dosas, my mother used to be the best in all in preparing the dosa. Ever since we lost her recently, I realized there are so many things that I wanted to ask and learn from her. Her untimely death had a bad impact on everybody in the house. There was break from everything. Moreover, she knew certain things that just got swept away untold with her soul. Everything of hers just became a memory. I'm only happy with the fact, that her last happy moments were during my wedding. :)

All I learnt from last few days, is to keep a constant tab on ourselves, our diet, our cooking, our eating habits. Not only this, we need to keep our mental health in the right track. If you are mentally and spiritually unhappy, that may take away a lot from you.

Wheat Rava

I would say, depending more on the homemade comfort food is best option to stay healthy. A simple, but heavy breakfast that is accompanied with plain or flavored milk. Lunch that is rich in vitamins, greens and vegetables. Dinner, of course, should be a light meal. I used to be a coffee addict. Now, I guess it has been a long long time since I had a cup of coffee. Tea, is a better option, if you would love to switch over during your tea-time.

Talking about comfort food, Upma, the queen of a list of South Indian breakfast recipes, is the best form of a nice, peaceful morning. Upma / Uppittu is actually one of the most hated breakfast among most people, just because it gets a little bland sometimes. There is a nice way of making it interesting and tasteful.

I learnt this method of Upma quite recently. From every bite you get the crunch of vegetables and the fragrance of the seasoning. Apparently, I have seen most of my close relatives eating Upma with thick curd. I happened to try this and realized that its a winning combination and very comforting. My family loves this combo too.

Chopped beans

Chopped Capsicum and Tomato

Mix Veg. Upma Recipe


For 2-3 servings*

2 cups of Wheat Rava (Roasted in a wok or microwave)
2 medium sized chopped Onions
1 Capsicum
7-8 chopped beans
1 large chopped tomato
2 or 3 finely chopped green chillies**
1 tsp of turmeric powder
5 cups of water*
2 tsp of table salt (To taste)
2 tsp of ghee
2 tbsp of chopped coriander leaves


2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp of mustard seeds
1 tsp urad dal
1 tsp channa dal
10-12 curry leaves


Before starting the preparation, you need to cook the vegetables (i.e. beans, tomato and capsicum) separately either in a pressure cooker or an oven. Do not cook them completely. Let it be just-cooked.

Step 1: Heat a wok, and add oil. Once the oil turns hot, add mustard seeds. Now, turn off the heat, and add the remaining seasoning ingredients i.e. urad dal, channa dal, curry leaves.***

Step 2: Turn on the heat and add chopped onions, chopped green chillies and fry till it just starts turning transparent. Then add the turmeric powder.

Step 3: Add the remaining cooked vegetables to the wok and fry them along with the onions. At this stage you need to add salt. Mix well.

Step 4: Add water to this mixture. Keep stirring gently. Wait till the mixture starts boiling and bubbling.

Step 5: At this stage, reduce the heat to sim, add the wheat rava. Do not stir, you need to just fold the mixture. The upma neads to be airy, hence you need to fold and not stir.

Step 6: Add ghee over the top of the upma, fold in the upma, add coriander leaves on top and serve hot.

* For 2 servings of upma, I used 2 cups of rava and nearly 2 cups of vegetables. For 4 servings it would be close to 4 cups of upma and 4 cups of vegetables. I would suggest some more vegetables that could be added to this upma, viz. Caulifower, peas, carrots, potato and shallots. Water should be twice that of rava and one extra cup for the vegetables. As the quantity of rava and vegetables goes high, you may add a little extra water to ensure that the consistency is saved.
** I have added just two green chillies. This depends on my mood. If I want the upma to be spiced up, I would add 3 or may be 4. It is always better that a spicy upma is accompanied with cold and thick curd.
*** Once the mustard seeds start popping, it is always better to turn off the heat and add urad dal, channa dal and curry leaves. I use this method mainly to avoid the risk of burning the seasoning.

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Akki Rotti

Akki Rotti

I've always loved to try out new recipes. Soon after I got married, I've been learning a lot of tips and tricks on cooking and various methods of preparing sambars/rasams from my MIL and FIL ;) The best part now is I've learned to be a bit more quicker as well. Both my in - laws have unknowingly played an important part in helping me improve what comes from the kitchen.

Akki Rotti / Rice Rotti is a breakfast dish that I learnt from them. The best part of this breakfast item is that it can be prepared from left over rice too. I have come to realize that onions enhances the taste of the outcome. I know there are many people out there who do not prefer onions and garlic in their food. If you do not prefer to add onions to akki rotti, you can try replacing them with the stalk of coriander leaves.

The main reason that inspired me to write this post is the arrival of a new and first camera, a gift from that very special person! :) Thanks to him, I have started getting more closer to photography. These shots are some of my very first pictures. And I must admit, photography is something really adventurous.


Coriander leaves

A chutney made using coconut goes very well with akki rotti. Seasoning the chutney is very important as it introduces a very heavenly flavor in the chutney. If you are a typical South Indian it goes without saying that you and your family will love to have this as their breakfast.


There is one thing I always believe i.e. "The dish with few ingredients is more tasty."
The recipe of Akki Rotti is very simple. It just requires the most basic ingredients you'll find in any kitchen.

Akki Rotti Recipe

Makes about 10 rottis (Thin size)


Rice flour + Left over rice** (2 full cups of rice + 4 cups of rice flour)
2 medium sized chopped onions
3 chopped green chillies
1/2 cup chopped coriander leaves
2 tsp of salt (To taste)
2 tbsp of vegetable oil
Ghee or butter
Water - To knead the dough

1) If you add left over cooked rice to the mixture, you need to mix the cooked rice and flour in 1:2 ratio.
2) Ensure that the cooked rice is smooth enough to be knead along with the dough. If the rice is too grainy then you need to cook it in a pressure cooker for ten minutes.


Step 1: Mix the rice + rice flour, onions, green chillies, coriander leaves, vegetable oil, and salt and make a mixture.

Step 2: Make a soft dough by adding sufficient amount of water. Knead the dough till it becomes smooth as shown in the pictures.

Step 3: Let the dough rest for 15 minutes.

Step 4: Pinch off a small quantity of dough and roll it into a ball shape.

Step 5: Take a cold* dosa tava. Dip your fingers in water and then pat the dough ball into the shape of a rotti on the tava. Make few holes in the rotti as shown in the pic. This is to ensure that the ghee or butter reaches through the gaps. Now start heating the rotti in a high flame. High flame ensures that the rotti is soft enough.

Step 6: Once half the rotti is done it'll turn brown on the lower side. Add some ghee or butter to the rotti. You need to flip over the rotti to roast the other side. Once the other side also turns brown and crispy you may take it off the pan and serve it hot with coconut chutney.

1) You need to use a cold tava for patting the rotti, else you may get your fingers burnt. Keep dipping your fingers in water while patting the rotti on the tava to ensure that the dough doesn't stick to your fingers.
2) Once you are done with making a rotti, you can plunge the tava in cold running water, reduce the temperature of the tava and use it to make the next one.

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