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Tamil Ven Pongal - Peasant but Divine :)

Tamil Ven  Pongal - Peasant but Divine :)

Pongal is a harvest festival celebrated in Tamil Nadu and dedicated to the Sun God. Intrinsically pagan, it is a four day festival that marks the celebration of everything related to agriculture. The day celebrating the harvest itself is celebrated throughout the country but the other days are unique to the Tamils. The word ‘pongal’ means boiling over and many of the offerings of this festival involve just that - from milk to new rice.

We typically make sweet and savory offerings to our Gods and on this day, it is typically two different rice dishes, akin to sweet and savory puddings/porridge - chakkarai pongal (jaggery-rice pudding) and ven pongal (white pongal or rice-lentil porridge. The savory version, I love!

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Rice and Sprouted Mung Bean Crumpets

Rice and Sprouted Mung Bean Crumpets

Anyway, out of hopelessness is borne love, nay?! One of those creations was this crumpet. To be fair, it started out as an yeasted pancake experiment that I had thought of the night before but, restless as I am and thinking on the spur that a crumpet would be nicer, I decided to go with that. So, this small bite came together as gluten free crumpets made with rice and sprouted mung bean flour, smeared with hummus and topped with lamb Proscuitto (from my butcher) and fresh mint. Mind blowingly good!

It is surprisingly light for being a bean heavy dish and for that protein packed reason, leaves you feeling rather satisfied while that and the rice gives you a spurt of energy to face the morning with something approaching enthusiasm. Hey! It is Monday after all! As to the flavors, lamb and hummus behave like couple souls while the mint looks upon the lot with a doting sprightliness that only makes you feel rather fond of the whole dish and envelops you in a cheery outlook! 

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The Little-Big Matter of Food Waste

The Little-Big Matter of Food Waste

I want to talk about Food Waste. You see it falls within a subject that is very close to me - global sustainability. This is a post that I have been debating for a while on phraseology. Because, I really don't want to get preachy or gratingly hipster-y on you. Yet, it is an important topic and should be given due  gravity. Especially because, it is also one those incredibly, slip-through-the-cracks variety of unsustainability that each of us, however, good we are, always have room to be better about.

I am going to give it a go by telling you my experience and how I am still shocked at how much I still waste. And, I would love to hear from you, about your perspective and we can trade notes! What say?

And, I have recipe for a repurposing leftover takeaway brown rice - vegan and gluten free Enchiladas,  beet infused stuffed collard greens in tomato sauce, that are not just good for you, it makes you feel good too, from the heart right to the belly!


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Cauliflower Fried Rice

Cauliflower Fried Rice

No, this is not another recipe for the new trend of crushing cauliflower to make rice because of Paleo or some grain free diet. This is really rice with cauliflower.

This idea was borne out of a nagging conscience. I am as you know deeply involved in making conscious eating choices. After all that is the entire premise of NOURISHED and FOODLY. However, I am not a saint. I do waste food and throw away leftovers sometimes because they have been languishing at the back of the fridge for far too long and because I had a new idea for a recipe that required a completely different set of ingredients. Yes, I am not perfect.

Nevertheless, in a effort to govern myself, I decided that I would not let anything go to waste, ok, really, atleast reduce my waste by half. I would make something with the leftovers and what else was available in my pantry and fridge....

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Hallowed be thy Halwa

Happy All Hallows Even ! :)

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Cracked Rice Saffron Halwa

And may we remember the martyrs, saints and blessings in our life tomorrow. For the we live and life is a treasure.

No, I am not turning soft. I am though fascinated by the history and culture and have been doing a bit of reading on this day that now stands for anything other than the solemnity in which it was originally conceived. Did you know, that the history of the day is marked by Pope Gregory III, who in the Eighth century, designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints and martyrs. This day is name All Hallows Day or All Saints Day.

Beginning as a celtic tradition, the evening before, the day straddles pagan and Christian beliefs. The day before, hence became All Hallows Eve. In Scottish (I have developed a rather sudden and intense crush on Northern Scotland and hence my enthusiastic researching on all things to do with Celts), the word for Eve is 'even' and is slanged to e'en or een. So, thus was Halloween.


Jack O'Lanterns were representative of souls that belonged to neither Heaven nor Hell. Traditionally, on this evening, fires were lit to guide these souls on their way and deflect them from haunting honest Christian folk. In Scotland and Ireland, it was marked by carving turnips because that was the harvest of the season. This festival was called Samhain, or "Summer's End" in Old Irish, marking the end of harvest season and beginning of Winter and the colder/darker part of the year. In parts of Northern Scotland, winter days are so short that daylight was but a few hours and everything was dark, gloomy and bitterly cold.

The association of Pumpkins began in the Americas, where they are harvested at this time of the year, and these squashes took the place of the turnips. As a casual immigrant I was well taken in by the concept as is the modern application of it here. Since, it typically coincided with Diwali, the festival of Lights for Indians, I was happily taken in by all the glittering pumpkins.

Cracked Rice Saffron Halwa

In fact, I still love it for that reason, rather than the dressing up. I like the idea of light up the way for souls. Diwali is celebrated to bring light into our lives and about appreciating family and friends, those who enrich us and make us thankful. Kind of parallel thinking, eh! :)

Anyway, in honor of all that is Hallowed, and appreciating the confluence of several cultures,

May the Light Shine Through You!

And, I share a recipe for a typical Saffron Halwa that is made on many festive occasions, especially in the South, where I come from. Since I am gluten free, I made this halwa with finely cracked rice, called rava, which, is available in Indian stores. You can also use fine semolina or very fine corn meal to make this. The flavors will be accordingly slightly different but the essence quite the same.

Saffron Rice Halwa

Cracked Rice Saffron Halwa

1 cup Rava, cracked white rice

1-1/2 cups whole milk, warm

3/4 to 1 cup cane sugar

1/4 tsp saffron threads

1/2 cup mix of nuts and dried fruits

5-6 T of ghee, clarified butter + more for the mold

In a heavy bottomed pot, warm about 4 tablespoons of ghee on low heat. Add the rava and sauté the rice until ever so lightly browned and it does not taste raw, approximately 4 minutes.

Add the sugar and sauté for a few minutes. Add in the milk and whisk briskly to prevent lumps.

Increase the heat to bring the mixture to a quick boil and reduce it back again to medium-low. Cook, stirring continuously, until most of the liquid is absorbed and it is of the consistency of porridge. Fold in the remaining ghee into the cooked halwa.

Spread a little ghee at the base of a 8 x 4 inch baking dish. This will be the mold. Spread the halwa evenly on it and press in to the mold. While the halwa is resting, gently roast the nuts and fruits in ghee until fragrant and golden.

Pour the nuts and any ghee in the pan over the halwa layer and press into it. Let the halwa cool to room temperature. Unmold the halwa on to a plate and cut into pieces to serve.


Share your creations tagging @ashafsk on Instagram and hashtag #MadeFromFSK