Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sambar Cheera Thoran Recipe / Kerala Style Ceylon Spinach Stir Fry

Ceylon Spinach or Sambar Cheera is a popular backyard spinach of Kerala and  rich in Vitamin A and C, calcium, iron, and dietary fiber. A handful of this organic spinach is chopped and stir fried with coarsely grounded coconut, a simple, quick and healthy side dish for lunch.

If you love simple Kerala style cheera thoran try this, it is perfect with hot steaming matta rice.

I  made an easy pulav with Ceylon spinach and I loved the way it turned out, the whole family loved it; one pot meals are a winner always.

I had mentioned about a surgery earlier and by the grace of God and your prayers, I could come home on the the 4th day. My surgery took 3 1/2 hours and my children and Homey was my strength. The surgery was scheduled at 9 AM and I was wheeled out at 4.30 PM to ICU and could briefly see my parents, kids, and Homey.

The night in the ICU is something which I will never forget, cannot have words to thank the two nurses who helped me ease my pain, to me they were my gaurdian angels that long night (thank you Anushree and Clara). On that sleepless night, I felt the busiest and happening place on earth was inside the ICU. The funny thing amidst the pain and suffering was a young boy maybe 19 or 20 was in the bed next to mine. He met with an accident, a head on collision with a truck. He was unconscious with a head injury and some other fractures to the limbs, ribs etc. When he came around, the first thing he asked was for his mobile phone!! and also wanted to check his Facebook! I could not help myself smiling at that.

Okay, back to the world outside and to this recipe, if ever you find this spinach/cheera in your backyard or even your friend's do not hesitate to pick it. I usually dry them out on a newspaper and refrigerate in a Ziploc bag. It does stay good for more than a week.

PS: Look for this pink flower if you are not so sure about the leaves.

I also added this spinach to eggs when I made this simple egg recipe. Try it, you will love it.

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Sambar Cheera Thoran,Ceylon Spinach Stir Fry

PREP TIME: 7 Mins    |  COOK TIME: 5 Mins    |  SERVES: 3-4

   CUISINE : Kerala     CATEGORY : Side Dish
Sambar Cheera Thoran


  • Ceylon Spinach/Sambar Cheera: 1 handful, chopped
  • Whole Red Chilies: 2 or 3, broken
  • Mustard Seeds: 1/2 tsp
  • Coconut Oil: 1 tbsp
  • Salt: 1/2 tsp or as needed
  • To Grind:
  • Grated Coconut: 1/2 cup
  • Green Chilies: 1 or 2
  • Shallots/Cheriya Ulli: 4 or 5, sliced
  • Garlic: 3 or 4, cloves
  • Turmeric Powder: 1/4 tsp


  1. Wash the spinach thoroughly and allow it to dry. Chop the sambar cheera (Ceylon Spinach)and keep aside.
  2. Add all the ingredients under "to grind" in a chutney bowl and grind coarsely; I like to put the shallots, green chilli, and garlic first and give it a coarse grind and then top with the coconut and turmeric powder and pluse for another 10 second.
  3. Heat a kadai or pan with coconut oil, add in mustard seeds, and whole red chilies.
  4. Add in the coarsely grinded coconut mix and stir fry in the hot oil for a min.
  5. Then dunk in the chopped Spinach/Sambar Cheera....stir well, add salt. Once the spinach is heated, water will start to come out and it will cook fast; keep mixing and stirring. After about 2- 3 minutes, the spinach will be nicely cooked and dry.
  6. Serve with rice.


  • There is no need to add water in most cases as the spinach has some water in itself and there is no need to cover with a lid though if you feel it is a bit dry, you can sprinkle some water if needed.

©Copyright Reserved 2010-2014, Nisahomey.com


Friday, August 15, 2014

Nadan Chembu Asthram, Taro Root Curry Recipe

Nadan Chembu Astharam, is a traditional Kerala style taro root curry made with coconut and curd (yogurt) and lastly seasoned with coconut oil. Typically nadan chembu (organic backyard taro root) is used, preferably smaller size (tender ones), though full grown bigger ones can be used, the baby ones (kochu chembu) are more tastier for astharam.

Chembu or taro is a common root vegetable found abundantly in Kerala. These curries are not so popular with the younger generation but the older generation simply love it. As I have mentioned earlier; I try to include traditional recipes as much as possible in our family meal and this is one such curry which I make whenever chembu is available.

This curry is most popular in my hometown Kottayam, I have not seen this in Malabar (North Kerala). I have memories of my grandmother making this curry as a child, which was passed on to my amma.....and after marriage, my MIL also makes the curry the same way....my son loves this very much and and hence I make it whenever taro is available.

Some traditional recipes I try to include in our meals are Chembu Ularthiyathu, Kachil Puzhungiyathu, Chena Mezhukkupuratti, and Unakka Kappa Curry (dried tapioca)

Do try to include traditional Kerala recipes in your diets.

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Nadan Chembu Asthram, Taro Root Curry Recipe

PREP TIME: 10 Mins    |  COOK TIME: 20 Mins    |  SERVES: 3

Kerala style chembu (taro root) curry, made with coconut and yogurt.
   CUISINE : Kerala     CATEGORY : Side dish


  • Chembu/Taro Root: 1/2 kg
  • Water: 3/4 to 1 cup.
  • Turmeric Powder: 1/2 tsp.
  • Kudam Puli: 1 small piece.
  • Salt: 1/2 tsp or as needed.
  • Curd/Yogurt: 3 tbsp.
  • To Grind:
  • Grated Coconut: 1/2 cup.
  • Coriander Seeds: 1/2 tsp.
  • Shallots or Cheriya Ulli: 7 to 8.
  • Turmeric Powder: 1/2 tsp.
  • Whole Kashmiri Chilli: 3 or 4.
  • Water: 2-3 tbsp.
  • To Season:
  • Coconut Oil: 1 tbsp.
  • Shallots: 3 or 4, sliced finely.
  • Mustard Seeds: 1/2 tsp.
  • Whole Kashmiri Chilli: 2, broken
  • Curry leaves


  1. This is the Chembu (taro root) I was talking about, the tender ones are best for this curry.Scrape the skin and clean thoroughly under running water, cut in 1 inch.
  2. Put the cleaned taro in a pan/bowl, add water, turmeric, salt, and kudampuli. Allow it to come to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes or until it is cooked.
  3. While it is getting cooked, put everything under "to grind" in a chutney bowl.
  4. And grind to a fine paste with water.
  5. Add this into the cooked taro.....stir well....simmer the fire
  6. Add in the beaten curd/plain yogurt....mix.
  7. Lastly, heat a tadka pan with coconut oil, add in mustard seeds, shallots, whole red chilli, curry leaves and pour over the curry. Close the pan with a lid, so that the flavor does not get out.
  8. Serve hot with rice. One of the best dish to beat the monsoon blues.
©Copyright Reserved 2010-2014, Nisahomey.com


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

How To Make Paneer/Cottage Cheese/Homemade Paneer

Learn how to make paneer at home. Paneer or cottage cheese is so easy to make at home that once you learn to make homemade paneer, I promise you will never buy them.

Since Homey loves paneer, I make them often; he loves paneer so much that he likes to eat them raw, my MIL says as a child he simply loved munching on it whenever she makes them. That's the best thing about paneer...it can be eaten raw and that means no aging or culturing is required, ah! yes! paneer is fresh cheese....and unlike other cheese, paneer does not melt when added in hot curries, skewer them, add in pulav/pilaf or simply fry them. So, next time you make palak paneer or paneer butter masala just plan ahead and make paneer at home.

Now-a-days, because of time constraints people like to buy everything off the shelf; but if you have a little planning .....in about 30-40 minutes preservative free and absolutely clean and homemade paneer can be made....If I plan to make paneer for dinner I make at about 5 in the evening (well, just mentioning that a little bit of pre-planning will help you save some bucks)

Making paneer at home is not much of an elaborate process; all you need to do is curdle whole milk and put the strained whey under some heavy weight, so that it will be pressed. Paneer is also known as cottage cheese, chhena, chhana, or sana. Sometimes, it is known as Indian Cheese. Milk is coagulated with food acid and the best part is making paneer is easy than any other cheese in the world.

As usual, I am showing step by step pictures, in most magazines or DIY tutorials you might have noticed that once milk is curdled it is wrapped in a muslin cloth and then hanged preferably over the kitchen sink for a long time or until the water is drained out.

In my easy method; I do not hang it in a muslin cloth or cheese cloth (I like everything easy in my kitchen) I allow the milk to cool down a bit and then pour into a sieve and after about 5 minutes in the sieve (I also gently press down with a spoon to help the water to be released fast) and then I transfer to a thin muslin cloth (I use "thorthu" as we mallus call our thin bath towel), squeeze it tight and put my stone mortar over it...and in about 30 minutes...perfect paneer is ready...though you can also do this at night and leave it overnight....much more easier.....bachelors are you listening!!

Bachelors, if you still dont have the patience to make paneer.....there is another easy recipe called paneer bhurji or paneer bhujiya; which is basically stir fry paneer and once the milk is curdled it might take about 5 to 10 minutes to make the paneer for bhujiya....its easy to make and perfect with roti or in sandwich.

After a recent turbulent health scare, I am scheduled for a surgery and hence I might not be available for sometime; so your comments and queries may not be replied as expected by you. I have scheduled some posts to keep this space alive and happy...thanks a ton for stopping by my little space.

Step By Step Tutorial On How To Make Paneer:
Heat milk (I used two packets Milma Milk) once it starts to boil, reduce heat and simmer....milk should look foamy. Squeeze the juice into it (make sure you remove the seeds or you can squeeze the juice out and add in). You can also add 1 tbsp vinegar or curd.

Add in salt, this is important....salty paneer tastes yum...well all cheese have a bit of salt in them. I hope you can see that the milk is starting to curdle.

Once the milk has curdled completely....switch off the fire.

I usually allow the milk to cool down a bit maybe 3 minutes and then pour into my sieve which is place on a bowl.....if you have a steel sieve then you can pour it immediately....and allow it to stay there for another 5 minutes....and also press them lightly with a flat spoon.
Tip: You can use the cooled whey/water to mix chappathi dough.

See the whey is almost gone. Now, this is the perfect stage to make Paneer Bhujiya or Bhurji. You can see the whey/water is almost nil.

Put it into cheese cloth/muslin cloth/thorthu....whichever is available.

Bring the cloth together and squeeze it into a tight roll.

I place it in a plate and put another plate on top of it and then placed a stone weight on it...perfect!!
Just 30 minutes is needed or if you do this at night...you can leave it overnight.

This is how it looks like after 30 minutes.

Cut them into your preferred shapes. Add them to your favorite Paneer Dishes.

Note: Fresh paneer does not stay good in the refrigerator, so it is best to use them up as soon as possible...or make them just 30 minutes before you plan to use them in curries.

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How To Make Paneer(Cottage Cheese)Homemade Paneer

PREP TIME30 Mins    |  COOK TIME7 Mins    |  SERVES250 gms paneer

    CUISINE : World     CATEGORY : Main, Side Dish
How To Make Paneer


  • Whole Milk: 1 Liter
  • Lemon Juice: I used juice of one lemon, about 2 tsp
  • Salt: 1/2 tsp


  1. Heat milk and once it starts to boil, reduce heat and simmer, milk should look foamy. Squeeze the juice into it. You can also add 1 tbsp vinegar or curd
  2. Add in salt, this is important....salty paneer tastes yum...well all cheese have a bit of salt in them. The milk will start to curdle.
  3. Once the milk has curdled completely, switch off the fire.
  4. Once the milk has cooled down a bit maybe 3 minutes,then pour into a sieve which is placed on a bowl; if you have a steel sieve then you can pour it immediately. Allow it to stay there for another 5 minutes....and also press them lightly with a flat spoon.
  5. The whey will be almost nil. This stage is perfect to make paneer bhurji.
  6. Put this into cheese cloth/muslin cloth/thorthu....whichever is available and bring the cloth together and squeeze it into a tight roll.
  7. I place it in a plate and put another plate on top of it and then placed a stone weight on it or any heavy weight. Just 30 minutes is needed or if you do this at night...you can leave it overnight.
  8. After 30 minutes the paneer would be set and you will have homemade block of paneer.
  9. You can cut the paneer into your desired shapes.
  10. Paneer stays fresh 3-4 days, if refrigerated.


  • You can use the cooled whey/water to mix chappathi dough.
  • It is best to use fresh homemade paneer for curries.
©Copyright Reserved 2010-2014, Nisahomey.com


Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Nadan Potato Roast-Aloo Roast Recipe (Kerala Style)

Nadan potato roast, or aloo roast is a spicy and easy Kerala style side dish. This is my go to side dish when I want to whip up something quickly. Potato is known as "urulakizhangu" in Malayalam and "aloo" in Hindi.

A no oninon, no garlic, no ginger, no tomatoes... easy peasy dry potato dish.

This tops my kids lunch box menu as it goes well with roti and rice. Aloo is a very versatile vegetable, and is one of my favorite and its a surprise to me that I have not posted much potato recipes here on the blog other than aloo-baigan and aloo cauliflower.

I will try to post more simple and easy recipes which will help both the novice cook and bachelors. Here, in this recipe aloo is cooked in  Kashmiri red chilli powder, you can also use boiled and cooked aloo, but there is a slight subtle change of taste when using boiled potatoes.

 To make this dish, all you need is some potatoes, Kashmiri chilli powder and coconut oil (and salt ofcourse!). Oil is heated and then reduced or switched off while adding the chilli powder so that it does not get burnt or the color/flavor changes....potatoes are immediately added in and the fire is switched on.....you can sprinkle a wee bit of water and then cover and cook...once the potatoes are cooked through....roast them in the pan....for 7-10 minutes (or more) or until done....it can't get any simpler than this.....seriously!

Try not to add too much water, if you are not that health conscious then the more the oil the better the taste....but here I did add about a tablespoon or two of water....and the trick is to cook in low flame....or should I say, roast in slow flame. This is always my go to dish to wrap roti/chappathi.

Looking for more "wrap" ideas??

Author: Nisa Homey
Serves: 2-3
Cooking Time: 15-20 min.

Potato: 4, medium Chopped.
Kashmiri Chilli Powder: 1 tsp heaped.
Coconut Oil: 2-3 tbsp.
Salt: 1 tsp or as needed.
Water: 1-2 tbsp or as needed.

I used these not so good looking potatoes.

Then chopped them and rinsed them out, so that the starch does not hamper my dish.

Heat coconut oil in a kadai or a pan (nonstick works perfect) and then switch off the flame. Add in Kashmiri chilli powder, if using ordinary chilli powder reduce by half....though you may not get the nice red color.

See how quickly the color changes when added to hot oil....sometimes, after switching off the fire... I count to 20 before adding the chilli powder because if the oil is very hot...the chilli powder might get burnt and also if you allow the chilli powder to stay too long in the hot oil it might change into a darker color,  so it is best to add in the potatoes as quickly as possible...keep them near you.

Once you add in the potatoes switch on the fire and mix...add in salt and mix again.You can sprinkle some water on top. Cover and cook on low flame and open and stir in between, so that it does not get sticked to the bottom.

Once the potatoes are cooked....roast them for 7- 10 minutes, spreading them out in the kadai and mixing on and off.

Serve with rice or roti.
You can add curry leaves or coriander leaves to garnish.

Notes: To make a North Indian version; just add 1/2 tsp Jeera to the oil (use refined oil) and proceed, lastly adding a dash of amchur/dry mango powder would be perfect....dont forget to use coriander leaves.


Monday, August 04, 2014

Tofu Matar Masala Curry Recipe

Tofu matar masala curry is a quick and easy every day peas curry with "tofu" or "doufu" otherwise known as soya paneer.

Tofu is made by coagulating soy milk and has a subtle flavor and hence can be used in curries and sweet dishes. Tofu is low calorie and is cholesterol free but has high protein. It is said that tofu originated some 2000 years ago in China (wow!!).

I have been making some really good things with tofu and when I made this two days back, I thought I'd share this recipe which is just an everyday curry where I added peas and tofu. I did not fry tofu as I wanted it to be as healthy and low calorie as it can be. This is a no frill recipe, just the basic curry which most of us make at home for dinner.

For that extra flavor, I add crushed whole coriander seeds to the curry and that made the curry unique and super yum!

Author: Nisa Homey
Cooking Time: 30  min.
Yield: 3-4 servings.

Tofu: 250 gms.
Frozen peas: 1/2 cup.
Onion: 1 large, sliced.
Ginger: 1 inch, sliced.
Garlic cloves: 6 or 7, sliced.
Kashmiri Chilly Powder: 1 tsp.
Coriander Powder: 1 tsp.
Turmeric powder: 1/2 tsp.
Tomatoes: 3, chopped.
Salt: 1 tsp or as needed.
Crushed Coriander Seeds: 1 tbsp.
Cloves: 4.
Cinnamon: 1 inch stick.
Whole Kashmiri Red Chilli: 3 or 4, broken
Oil: 4 tbsp.
Coriander leaves to garnish.
Water: 1 cup or as needed.

Wash and clean the tofu under running water and squeeze out or according to the instructions in the packet.
I used fresh frozen peas.

Heat a pan or kadai with oil, add in cloves, cinnamon, and whole red chilli,

 Add in the sliced onion, ginger, and garlic. Mix well.

Once the onion starts to brown, add in the Kashmiri chilli powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, mix well.

Add in the chopped tomatoes and little water (about 2 tbsp), so that the tomatoes gets mushy and cook up fast. Simmer the fire and keep stirring on and off until oil starts coming out.

Now add in the frozen peas.

Add about 3/4 cup water. Cover the pan and simmer for 3 minutes so that the peas gets cooked. Open the pan and add in the tofu and let it simmer so that the flavors seep in.

Lastly, add in freshly crushed/grounded coriander seeds and garnish with coriander leaves....So easy!

Serve hot with whole wheat roti.

Tips: You can use paneer instead of tofu.
You can add in a tablespoon of cream for a richer and creamier gravy.
You can also substitute water with milk.
Check out Paneer Recipes.