Chennar Payesh | Bengali Cottage Cheese Kheer

Ugadi 2017 falls on March 29, 2017. On this day food rules the roost starting with traditional Ugadi Pachadi, and traditional favourites like Chintapandu Pulihora and Bellam Paramannam. As I was contemplating a “different type of payasam” I could make this day, I thought of the Bengali Chennar Payesh.

Bengali Channar Payesh made with reduced milk and paneer
Bengali Channar Payesh

Made with freshly made cottage cheese (Channa/Chenna), this dessert is rich and just perfect for festive occasions. I also like it because it is something different to serve, especially in a South Indian home.

The Chennar Payesh is very easy to make. All it needs is some patience because we have to make the Chenna (fresh cottage cheese) and then reduce the milk while constantly stirring. The result is absolutely worth it. 🙂

I will update this post with step-by-step pictures. I was just rushed off my feet this weekend.

How to Make Bengali Chennar Payesh


Bengali Channar Payesh (Chennar Payesh) garnished with dry fruits
Bengali Chennar Payesh

Bengali Chennar Payesh is a rich kheer made with freshly made cottage cheese (Chenna) and reduced milk.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Bengali, Indian
Servings: 4 People
Author: Aruna
  • 1.75 litres Full-fat milk
  • 3/4 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Large Pinch Saffron Strands
  • 4 tbsp Slivered Almonds and Pista
  • 1 tbsp Lemon Juice
Making Chenna
  1. Boil 3/4 litre milk.

  2. When the milk starts boiling, turn the heat to low.

  3. Add 1 tbsp lemon juice.

  4. Stir till milk curdles and the whey separates.

  5. Turn off the heat.

  6. Drain immediately into a fine soup strainer or a thin cotton/muslin cloth. Collect and save the whey; you can use it for soups or to knead roti atta.

  7. When most of the whey has drained, wash the Chenna well under running water to remove traces of the lemon. If you do not do this, the Chenna Payesh may curdle.

  8. Set aside so that the water drains out. Do not remove all the water, because then Chenna will become Paneer. 🙂 Just let it drain naturally and leave behind soft, pliable, Chenna.

Making Chennar Payesh
  1. In a heavy bottomed vessel, over medium flame, boil 1 litre milk.

  2. When the milk starts to boil, remove 2 tbsp into a small cup. 

  3. Add saffron strands to the 2 tbsp milk. Set aside.

  4. Continue to boil the remaining milk while stirring continuously till it reduces by 1/3. I cannot emphasise the keep stirring enough. If you do not, the milk will start sticking to the bottom of the vessel and char.

  5. When the milk has reduced, add the sugar and saffron milk. 

  6. Mix well till the sugar has dissolved.

  7. Crumble the Chenna and to the hot milk.

  8. Turn off the heat and keep covered for 15 minutes.

  9. Garnish with slivered almonds and pistachios.

  10. Chill.

  11. Serve cold.

Bendakaya Pulusu | Tangy Andhra Lady’s Finger Stew

Bendakaya Pulusu is a dish that my father is inordinately fond of. For him it is an integral part of his childhood memories and the food made by his mother. It is a dish that I learnt from Daddy and so it is dear to me too.

Bendakaya Pulusu is an Andhra Okra Stew

Bendakaya (called Bhindi in Hindi, Okra or Lady’s Finger in English, Vendakka is Tamil) is a popular vegetable in my home. We most commonly make a stir-fry called Bendakaya Vepudu, but in special occasions may indulge in Bendakaya Perugu Pachadi or Vendakka KichadiThen there is this recipe for Bendakaya Pulusu.

I like Bendakaya Pulusu because if I am make this tangy, spicy stew all that is needed to complete a meal is steamed rice and some papad. Also, because this Pulusu does not use any dal/pappu, it is very light on the stomach.

How to Make Andhra Bendakaya Pulusu

Lady fingers in a tamarind gravy
Bendakaya Pulusu
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
30 mins

This Bendakaya Pulusu is a spicy, tangy Okra stew from Andhra Pradesh. Pair it with some steamed rice and papad, and you have a complete meal!

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Andhra Recipes, Indian
Servings: 4 People
Author: Aruna
  • 2 Cups Chopped Bendakaya, Okra Cut them 1" pieces
  • 3/4 Cup Sliced Onions
  • 1/2 Cup Cup Finely Chopped Tomato
  • 1 tsp Finely Chopped Garlic Optional
  • 1.5 tbsp Thick Tamarind Pulp
  • 2 Cups Water
  • 1 tsp Chilli Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Tumeric Powder
  • 1 tsp Avalu, Rai, Mustard Seeds
  • 1/2 tsp Jeelakarra, Jeera, Cumin Seeds
  • 1/4 tsp Menthulu, Methi Seeds, Fenugreek Seeds
  • 2 tbsp Oil Sesame Oil preferred
  • Salt to Taste
The Preparation
  1. Dilute the tamarind paste in 2 cups water.

  2. Set aside

Making the Bendakaya Pulusus
  1. In a kadai, heat the oil.

  2. Add the mustard seeds and wait till they splutter.

  3. Add the cumin seeds and fenugreek seeds.

  4. Stir-fry till the cumin and fenugreek seeds start to change colour.

  5. Add the sliced onions and fry till they are transparent.

  6. If you are using garlic, add it now and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes.

  7. Add the bendakaya/okra pieces.

  8. Stir-fry till the bendakaya/okra pieces and onion just start to brown.

  9. Add the tomato pieces and stir-fry till the tomato pieces start to stew.

  10. Add the turmeric and chilli powder.

  11. Mix well.

  12. Add the tamarind water.

  13. Cover and cook till the bendakaya/okra pieces are cooked.

  14. Add salt and mix well.

  15. Serve with steamed rice and Saggubiyyam Vadiyalu or Pela Vadiyalu.


Andhra Bendakaya Pulusu
Andhra Bendakaya Pulusu

Savoury Ragi Ambli | Ragi Malt: A Summer Cooler

Ragi Ambli (also called Ragi Malt) is one of those recipes that I forgot to blog about because it is oh-so-common in my home. Today, I was reminded of it by Pushpita of Ei Gi Chakhum who requested the recipe.

Pushipita’s blog is a treasure trove of Manipuri Recipes and I have been learning enormous amounts about an Indian cuisine I had no knowledge of!

Savoury Ragi Malt
Savoury Ragi Malt

Ragi (Finger Millet) is very popular in South India because of its high iron and calcium content, and is savoured in many different ways. I have already posted the recipes for Ragi Dosa and Ragi Sangati (Ragi Mudde). And today I am writing about Ragi Ambli.

The onset of summer means that Ragi Ambli is made virtually every alternate day in my home because of its legendary cooling properties. There are two versions of Ragi Ambli; sweet and savoury. This is the recipe for my favourite version; the savoury one that uses buttermilk.

Having Ragi Malt regularly ensures that you are never anaemic and ensures you have healthy bones. These are only two of the manifold benefits of this humble drink made with millets. Another great thing about Ragi Ambli is that it is also very filling and so makes for a low-calorie breakfast. Isn’t that a weight-watchers boon. 🙂

This is the salty version of Ragi Malt. I will post the sweet version made with milk soon!

How to Make Savoury Ragi Ambli | Ragi Malt

Ragi Ambli | Ragi Malt
Ragi Ambli | Ragi Malt
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
20 mins

Ragi Ambli is a low-calorie yet highly nutritious drink that is loaded with iron, calcium, fibre and other nutrients. It also cools down the body and is often drunk in Summer to keep cool.

Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: Indian, South Indian, Vegetarian
Servings: 4 People
Author: Aruna
  • 4 tbsp Ragi Flour
  • 3/4 Cup Curd
  • 1/4 Cup Finely Chopped Onion (Optional)
  • 3 Cups Water
  • 3/4 tsp Salt
  • 1 tbsp Finely Chopped Coriander (Optional)
Making a Paste of the Ragi Flour
  1. Add the ragi flour to a bowl.

  2. Gradually add 1/2 cup water and mix well.

  3. Ensure there are no lumps.

  4. Set aside.

Cooking the Ragi Paste
  1. Boil 1 cup water with 3/4 tsp of salt.

  2. If you are using onions, when the water starts simmering, add the onion pieces.

  3. Simmer for 5 to 7 minutes till the onion pieces soften.

  4. Turn the heat to low.

  5. Add the Ragi paste to the simmering water and mix well.

  6. Turn the heat upto medium and cook the Ragi paste till it thickens. Mix continuously as otherwise the Ragi paste will stick to the bottom. 

  7. When the raw smell of the Ragi flour disappears and the Ragi paste becomes shiny, turn off the heat.

  8. Let the cooked Ragi paste cool.

Putting Together the Ragi Ambli
  1. In a large vessel, add the curd and beat well.

  2. Add 1.5 cups water and mix well.

  3. Add the cooled Ragi paste and mix well.

  4. Garnish with Coriander.

  5. Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes
  • Onions are optional. I add them because they lend a crunch and onions by themselves are cooling in nature.
  • You could also add a tempering of cumin seeds, curry leaves and green chillies.


Pesara Sunni Undalu | Andhra Style Moong Dal Laddu

I have been lazy and lax about blogging in recent times and I am hoping to remedy that now. I am using the upcoming Telugu New Year celebrations on Ugadi (March 28, 2017) to give me the impetus. 🙂 My first post in this series is Pesara Sunni Undalu.

Pesara Sunni Undalu | Andhra Moong Dal Laddu
Pesara Sunni Undalu | Andhra Moong Dal Laddu

Pesara Sunni Undalu are Moong Dal Laddus made in Andhra Pradesh for festive occasions. On Ugadi, there a lot of goodies to savour but it always helps to have laddus on hand to cater to unexpected demand or those in-between-meals hunger pangs. (Though given how much we eat at the festive meal, hunger should be at bay for a few days. 😉 )

I have already posted the recipe for Minapa Sunni Undalu (Udad Dal Laddu) and so this year I thought of making Pesara Sunni Undalu. These laddus are very easy to make, need only 3 commonly found ingredients and can be stored for a few days. As a result, you can make them in advance of the Ugadi (or Diwali) celebrations.

The best part about these Moong Dal Laddus is that they are protein-rich, what with all the Moong Dal and Ghee in them.

How to Make Pesara Sunni Undalu | Andhra Moong Dal Laddu

Pesara Sunni is a laddu made with Moong Dal in Andhra Pradesh
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
40 mins

Pesara Sunni Undalu are Moong Dal Laddus made in Andhra Pradesh for festive occasions like Diwali and Ugadi. These are very easy to make and have a shelf-life of a few days. So make these protein-rich goodies in advance and enjoy the festivities. 

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Andhra Recipes, Indian
Servings: 8 Laddus
Author: Aruna
  • 200 Gms Pesara Pappu, Moong Dal
  • 100 Gms Powdered Sugar
  • 50 Gms Ghee
  • 6 Cardamom Pods
Making the Moong Dal Powder
  1. Over a medium flame, heat a non-stick pan.

  2. Add the Pesara Pappu to the warm pan.

  3. Dry roast the Pesara Pappu till it turns golden brown. Mix constantly while roasting.

  4. Transfer the sauteed dal into a plate and let cool to room temperature.

  5. As the dal is cooling, peel the cardamom.

  6. Add the cardamom seeds and cooled Moong Dal to a grinder.

  7. Grind to a fine powder. It will still be a touch coarse at the end.

Making the Pesara Sunni Undalu
  1. Mix together the powdered Moong Dal and sugar.

  2. Melt the ghee and add to the powder.

  3. Mix well.

  4. Divide the mix into 8 portions.

  5. Shape each portion into a round laddu by pressing it between your palm and fingers.

  6. Store the Pesara Sunni Undalu in an air-tight container. 

Recipe Notes
  • You can use a touch less ghee (about 35 gms) to get drier Moong Dal Laddus.

Dadpe Pohe | A Healthy Snack from Maharashtra

Maharashtrians celebrate Poha or beaten rice like no other state in India. Kanda Pohe, Batata Pohe, Vangi Pohe, Kolache Pohe, Peas Poha … I can go on and on with the list of the recipes. Today it is the turn of another recipe called Dadpe Pohe.

Dadpe Pohe | A Snack from Maharashtra
Dadpe Pohe | A Snack from Maharashtra

This is a simple recipe made with thin pohe (patal pohe) and involves no cooking apart from the tempering. It makes for a great tea-time snack and can be made quickly when you have unexpected guests as well.

I had originally posted this recipe in 2012, when I learnt of it from Swapna Shirwalkar. Today I made it again and decided to include a step-by-step pictorial and also update the photos. 🙂

Thank you Swapna for this recipe of Dadpe Pohe that has now become a staple in our home.

How to Make Dadpe Pohe

Dadpe Pohe | A Snack from Maharashtra made with Poha, Tomato and Onion
Dadpe Pohe | A Snack Recipe from Maharashtra
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
20 mins

Dadpe Pohe is an easy to make snack made with beaten rice in Maharashtra. It involves no cooking (apart from the tempering) and is as healthy as it is delicious.

Course: Snack
Cuisine: Indian, Maharashtrian
Servings: 4 People
Author: Aruna
  • 2 Cups Patal Pohe, Thin Poha
  • 1 Cup Finely Chopped Onion
  • 3/4 Cup Finely Chopped Tomato
  • 2 tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • Salt to Taste
For Tempering
  • 1 tbsp Oil
  • 1 tsp Mustard Seeds
  • 1 tsp Cumin Seeds
  • 1/3 Cup Peanuts
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric
  • 2 Large Pinches Hing, Asafoetida
  • 2-3 tsp Finely Chopped Green Chillies
For Garnish
  • 1/3 Cup Grated Coconut
  • 1/4 Cup Finely Chopped Coriander
Getting Started
  1. In a large bowl, add the onion, tomato, sugar, and salt.

  2. Using your hand, mix well while mashing the onion and tomato a bit. 

  3. Set aside.

The Tempering
  1. In a pan, heat the oil.

  2. Add the mustard seeds and let them crackle.

  3. Add the peanuts and stir-fry till the peanuts start to pop.

  4. Add the cumin seeds and stir-fry for 10 seconds.

  5. Turn off the heat.

  6. Add the green chillies, turmeric, and asafoetida.

  7. Mix well.

Mixing the Dadpe Pohe
  1. Add the tempering to the onion-tomato mix.

  2. Mix well.

  3. Add the lemon juice and mix well.

  4. Add the pohe.

  5. Using a light hand, mix well till the pohe and the onion-tomato mix are integrated. Ensure that you use a light hand or the pohe will disintegrate.

  6. Garnish with grated coconut and coriander.

  7. Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes
  • I forgot to add the coriander to the final garnish so it does not appear in the photos. 🙁
  • If you want to make this in advance, then keep the onion-tomato mix, tempering and pohe separate till just before you want to serve. Because we use the thin variety of pohe here, the Pohe will disintegrate if kept too long.
  • If you cannot find the thin variety of beaten rice, then use the regular pohe. Sprinkle about 2-3 tbsp water (ideally coconut water) on it, mix and set aside for 5 mins.
  • In my recipe, I added the tempering and lemon juice to the onion-tomato mix. Traditionally, these are added after the onion-tomato mix and Pohe have been mixed. I do this for two reasons. 1. I find that the flavours are better incorporated into the Dadpe Pohe. 2. I don't like to mix this pohe too many times as the thin beaten rice is rather delicate.