Mor Kulambu

One of my favorite flavor profiles is creamy, sour, and spicy – this dish hits all those nodes. I guess you could describe this as a classic South Indian yogurt soup, that takes a versatile range of vegetables, and sometimes features some mouth watering vadas (fried doughballs). Every household has a slightly different recipe, and here is just one variation.

Servings: 4



  • 2 cups of plain yogurt at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp white rice, soaked for 2 hours
  • 1 tbsp chickpea flour
  • 1/2 cup water

Tempered spices

  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida

Ginger paste

  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 fresh, sliced Asian chilis (Bird’s eye will do just fine)
  • 1 tbsp toor dal, soaked for 2 hours
  • 1/2 in piece of ginger, sliced
  • 1/4 cup grated coconut
  • 1 sprig of curry leaves (10 leaves)

Set this aside

  • Your choice of cooked vegetables (blanched, boiled, etc.) – e.g. zucchini, eggplant, okra, or vada
  • cilantro for garnish
  • some cooked rice


  1. Churn the Mor mixture well
  2. Add the tempered spices to the Mor mixture, adding some water to thin it (up to 1/2 cup)
  3. Separately blend the ginger paste with a blender or food processor
  4. Mix the Mor and the ginger paste well in a sauce pan and bring it to a boil
  5. Add the vegetables, cook for about 5-6 minutes, until tender
  6. Add salt to taste
  7. Garnish with cilantro
  8. Serve with rice or rotis

Zucchini Bread

I met some resistance from our resident Indian on the notion of using zucchini in a sweet dish, but by the end of the third slice, we rounded up another zucchini bread convert.

Servings: one 8×4 in loaf pan


  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg (about half a nut)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup melted butter (100 g)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract, or beans from 1 vanilla pod
  • 1 cup of grated zucchini (~ 1 small zucchini)


  1. Preheat the oven to 160 C
  2. Grease the loaf pan
  3. Mix the eggs, zucchini, sugar, butter, vanilla in a bowl
  4. Separately combine the dry ingredients
  5. Gradually incorporate the flour mix into the egg mix; stir well to prevent a lumpy batter
  6. Pour the batter in the loaf pan and tamp it
  7. Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick/chopstick comes out clean
  8. Cool for 30 minutes before attempting to unmold

Lemon Basil Orzo with Goat Cheese and Toasted Sunflower Seeds

The delicate flavors in this easy pasta salad were a hit with our German friends, but left something spicier to be desired with our resident Indian (Swamy’s two cents: “It’s no Bachelor Boys, I’ll tell you that”)

Serves: 4-6


  • 2 cups of uncooked orzo pasta (250 g)
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 150 g goat cheese
  • 1 cup of fresh basil, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 75 g sunflower seeds


  1. Cook the orzo pasta according to package directions
  2. Dry roast the sunflower seeds (toast the seeds in a pan on the stovetop, no butter/oil needed)
  3. Stir all ingredients together

Blueberry Almond Coffee Cake

I love the way the nutmeg and almond flavors play off of each other in this recipe. For next time – the blueberries are so sweet that using less sugar would bring better balance to the cake (adjusted recipe below).

Serves: one 22 cm cake pan, or 8 slices (I used a springform cake pan – very easy to release the cake)


  • 50 g melted butter (around 1/4 cup)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup of sugar
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 100 g almond slivers
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup quark and 1/4 cup plain yogurt (possible substitute: 1/2 cup of sour cream)
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 3/4 cup fresh blueberries
  • half of a nutmeg (ground) – I would estimate this is between 1/4 – 1/2 tsp
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • sliced almonds, to sprinkle on top


  1. Preheat the oven to 170 C, using the convection setting (without the convection setting: 175 C)
  2. Combine the butter and sugar; mix it until the sugar is dissolved
  3. Add the egg, almond extract, milk, yogurt, and quark
  4. Separately mix the dry ingredients together
  5. Gradually add the dry mix into the wet mix, making sure to incorporate the flour smoothly in the batter
  6. Fold in the blueberries and slivered almonds
  7. Spread the batter in the cake pan
  8. Bake for 22-25 minutes, or until a tooth pick inserted in the cake comes out clean
  9. Sprinkle sliced almonds on top
  10. Let the cake rest for about 20 minutes before trying to unmold it

Puff Pastry Almond Pear Tart


I’ve been on a baking kick lately. I think it’s because I’m immersed in a culture that loves sweets more than Americans. Pears and almonds complement each other so well, and they are in abundance in Germany. This tart came together surprisingly fast because the puff pastry crust was store-bought. I’m not ashamed. I used a 26 cm springform, which yields around 8 slices of tasty.


  • 1 package of puff pastry (“Blättertieg”), thawed
  • 200 g marzipan
  • 1 cup of almond meal
  • 4 small ripe pears, peeled, cored, and halved
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C.
  2. Line a 26 cm springform with the puff pastry.
  3. In a mixing bowl, combine the marzipan, almond meal, eggs, butter, sugar, vanilla, almond extract, and salt.
  4. Pour the mixture over the puff pastry, and spread it evenly with a spatula.
  5. Place the pears cut side up in a radial pattern.
  6. Bake for 50-60 minutes.
  7. Cool to room temperature before serving.



Chili Oil

This chili oil is glorious. It’s also way spicier than the stuff I’ve encountered at the restaurants and in the grocery stores, so consider yourself warned. Next time, I might consider adding some minced garlic and ginger at the very end (with the crushed red chili).

Yield: around 6 oz


  • 4-5 oz of sunflower oil, or you can use canola oil
  • 1 inch of cinnamon bark
  • 4 star anise
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tbsp ground Szechuan peppercorns
  • 5 cloves
  • 1/3 cup of crushed red chili


  1. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan except for the crushed red chili.
  2. Over medium-low heat, simmer this for 30 minutes.
  3. Pour the crushed red chili into a heat safe glass container – I used a clean mason jar.
  4. While holding a metal sieve over the mason jar, slowly pour the hot oil over the red chilis. We just want to remove the chunkier spices (e.g. cinnamon stick) from the final product.
  5. Wait until this cools (!) and then go buck wild, drizzling this over whatever your heart desires.