Mixed Focaccia with Celery Pesto

An Italian bread, best served with celery pesto and a drizzle of olive oil tastes heavenly.

©Deepa Sekhar
©Deepa Sekhar

Ingredients for making MIXED FOCACCIA

1 cup Maida (Refined flour)
1/2 tsp Dried yeast
1/2 tsp Sugar
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 Onion finely chopped
1 tsp Chilli flakes
1/2 tsp Ajwain or 2 tbsp Thyme leaves or 1 tbsp Dried thyme
2 tbsps Olive oil
1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
3 tbsps Chopped black olives


Activate the yeast by adding it to half cup of luke warm water with 1/4 spoon of sugar. Stir, cover and leave it aside for 20-25 mins to rise. Take a big bowl, sift the maida once and make a well in the centre. Add the risen yeast mix, sugar, salt, olive oil, turmeric powder, onion, chilli flakes, ajwain or thyme, chopped olives and mix well. Cover with a wet cloth and close it with a lid and leave aside for four hours to prove. After 4 hours, mix it slightly and cover again for 1 more hour. Grease a round baking dish with olive oil and put the bread mix in the dish. Spread with your hands well. Prick here and there gently with a fork on the top. Pre-heat the oven for 5 mins and bake at 180 deg centigrade for 15 mins till the crust is golden. Cool on a wire rack and brush with olive oil on the surface. Cut to wedges and serve with celery pesto.

Before and after pictures of Focaccia bread

©Deepa Sekhar
©Deepa Sekhar
©Deepa Sekhar
©Deepa Sekhar

Ingredients for making CELERY PESTO

1 1/4 cups Celery chopped with leaves
4 Basil leaves
3 Mint leaves
A handful of spinach leaves
1 sprig of Dill leaves (Suva/Savaa)
1 Garlic clove chopped
1/2 cup Blanched and peeled almonds
Salt to taste
1/2 cup Olive oil
5 tbsps Grated parmesan cheese


Blend the almonds to a coarse powder and keep it aside. In the same mixer jar, add all the other ingredients and blend it to a paste. Finally, add the coarse almond powder to the paste and give it a quick grind.
Serve it with warm focaccia.

©Deepa Sekhar
©Deepa Sekhar

Chef’s tips

1. Sifting the flour gives a uniform texture.
2. Adding spinach to the pesto gives a vibrant green colour and also increases the nutritive value.
3. Exclude chilli flakes when baking for children.
4. Celery pesto can be mixed with cooked pasta also.
5. Grinding almonds with skin will discolour the pesto.


A typical Kerala dish, very tasty and goes well with plain rice, dosai, pongal, arisi upma and pidi kozhukattai.

©Deepa Sekhar
©Deepa Sekhar


Peeled and cubed raw banana – 1
Peeled and cubed white pumpkin and yellow pumpkin – each 1 cup
Cubed yam – 1 cup
Broad beans(Avaraikkai)chopped to big pieces – 1/2 cup
Chopped drumstick – 1
Cubed raw mango pieces with skin – 1/2 cup
Cubed chow chow(Chayote)- 1/2 cup
Salt to taste
Turmeric powder – 1/2 teaspoon
Jaggery – a small piece
Whisked curds(Yoghurt/Dahi) – 1 1/2 cups


Coconut oil – 1 teaspoon
Grated coconut – 1 cup
Methi seeds – 1/2 teaspoon
Raw rice – 1 tablespoon
Green chillies – 2
Dry red chillies – 5
Channa dhal – 1 teaspoon


Coconut oil – 2 tablespoons
Mustard seeds – 1 teaspoon
Chopped curry leaves – 1 tablespoon


Take a big pan. Add 3 1/2 cups of water. Boil chow chow, yam, drumstick and white pumpkin on medium flame. After 10 minutes, add the broad beans(Avaraikkai), red pumpkin and raw banana. After 5 minutes, add turmeric powder and mango pieces. When the vegetables are cooked, add jaggery and salt to taste. Give a boil. Add the ground paste. Keep on low flame and simmer till thick.
Switch off the flame. Add the whisked curds and mix well. Season in coconut oil, mustard seeds and curry leaves. Stir well. Serve hot!

©Deepa Sekhar
©Deepa Sekhar


1) Fry the grated coconut in coconut oil till golden and grind, thereby the rasakalan will be fresh till the evening.
2) Chop the raw mango with skin so that the pieces will not become mushy.
3) Switch off the flame and add curds. Before adding, whisk the curds well so that the dish will have an uniform consistency.


A very interesting vatral kuzhambu served at weddings. Here’s the recipe for you!!

©Deepa Sekhar
©Deepa Sekhar


To make the Vatral Kuzhambu Powder

Coriander seeds – 1 1/2 cups
Chana dhal – 1/2 cup
Toovar dhal – 1/4 tablespoon
Urad dhal – 1/2 tablespoon
Fenugreek seeds – 1/4 teaspoon
Dry red chillies – 1 1/4 cups

Dry fry in a pan till golden and grind to a fine powder.


Manathakkali vathal – 2 tablespoons
Thick tamarind extract – 1 cup
Jaggery – A small piece
Salt – To taste
Sambhar powder – 2 teaspoons


Coconut grated – 3 tablespoons
Vatral kuzhambu powder – 1 1/2 tablespoon


Gingelly oil (Sesame oil) – 1/4 cup
Mustard seeds – 1 teaspoon
Asafoetida powder – 1/2 teaspoon


Finely chopped curry leaves – 1 tablespoon


Heat a heavy bottomed pan. Add gingelly oil. Season mustard & manathakkali vathal. When the vathal turns golden add asafoetida powder. Add sambhar powder and then the jaggery. Sauté. Add salt to taste. Then add the tamarind extract and leave it to boil for 5 minutes. Add the ground paste. Mix well. If the kuzhambu is thick add 1/4 cup of water. Boil. Garnish with curry leaves. Mix well. Serve hot with plain rice, dhal, ghee, poriyal of your choice and a papad.

©Deepa Sekhar
©Deepa Sekhar


1. Can store this vatral kuzhambu powder for 2 months.
2. Do not boil the tamarind extract for a long time as it will become bitter.
3. Manathakkali vathal is available in Indian stores. It is also called as wonder berry or black night shade.
4. Make sure the kuzhambu is not too runny.


A very famous and superb Andhra tiffin item, simple yet very tasty.

©Deepa Sekhar
©Deepa Sekhar


Raw rice – 2 cups
Grated coconut – 1 cup
Salt – 2 pinches
Sunflower oil to make the dosas


Wash and soak the rice for 2 hours. Drain. Grind with grated coconut to a fine paste. Add salt. Make dosa batter consistency. Now wash the grinder with a little water. Mix in 2 teaspoons of the batter. Simmer to a porridge consistency. Cool. Add this to the dosa batter. Adjust the consistency to a rava dosa batter. Heat pan. Make dosas like rava dosa. Pour the batter on the pan. Drizzle little oil around the dosa. Close with a lid. Keep on a medium flame. Cook only on one side. Similarly make all the dosas. Let them cool down. Now tear the dosa corners and centre portions separately to small pieces. Keep them separately. Cover them.


Dosa corner pieces – 2 cups
Dosa centre pieces – 2 cups
Salt to taste
Cooked toor(toovar) dhal cooked with little turmeric – 1 cup
(Do not cook the dhal mushy. Let each grain be separate and cooked)


Sunflower oil – 2 tablespoons
Mustard seeds – 1 teaspoon
Dry red chillies(torn) – 2
Finely chopped green chillies – 2
Asafoetida powder(hing) – 1/4 teaspoon
Grated coconut – 1/4 cup
Finely chopped curry leaves – 2 tablespoons


Finely chopped green coriander leaves


Take a big, heavy bottomed pan. Add oil. Season mustard seeds, dry red chillies, green chillies, asafoetida, grated coconut and curry leaves. Sauté in a medium flame for 2 minutes. Add salt to taste and the toor dhal. Mix well. Now add the corner dosa pieces and continue to sauté for 2 minutes. Then add the centre pieces and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes. Serve hot with tomato chutney.

©Deepa Sekhar
©Deepa Sekhar


1. A soft melt in the mouth tiffin!! If adding coconut pieces instead of grated coconut, then blend in the mixer first and then add to the rice in the grinder.
2. We can make the same in a sweet version also. Dosa pieces can be mixed with coconut, jaggery elaichy puran and season with cashew nuts and pieces of coconuts fried in ghee. Add boiled channa dhal instead of toor dhal.
3. Puliogare mix (pulikachal) can also be mixed with dosa pieces to make another variety.


In India, we call it Burfi – a sweet cake which is very tasty. This fruit cake has a very rendering taste suitable for all occasions. It is extremely easy to make and a lot of viewers appreciated this sweet delight when I made it on National live television.

©Deepa Sekhar
©Deepa Sekhar


Condensed milk – 1 tin
Refined Flour (maida) – 1 1/4 cups
Sugar – 1 3/4 cups
Butter – 1 1/2 cups
Rose essence – A few drops
Tutti Fruity pieces – 1/4 cup
Ghee (clarified butter) – 3 teaspoons


Take a heavy bottomed pan or a non stick pan. Add all the ingredients except rose essence and ghee. Keep the pan on the stove and stir well . When the mixture starts to boil, reduce the stove to a medium flame and keep stirring. When the mix leaves the sides of the pan take out a small piece and roll to a ball. If you are able to roll it without being sticky, then it is ready. Now add the rose essence and ghee. After stirring well, pour into a greased tray. Allow it to set for about 2 to 3 hours. Then cut to squares and serve.

©Deepa Sekhar
©Deepa Sekhar


Make the burfi in a medium or sim flame, as it will retain a creamy colour and not discolour.


A very tasty pulao, a punjabi special!! Adding the golis enhances the taste.
A great party favorite!!

©Deepa Sekhar
©Deepa Sekhar


Besan(Channa dhal flour) – 1 cup
Salt, Chilli powder to taste
Coarsely ground coriander seeds – 1 teaspoon
Curd – 3 tablespoons
Oil – To deep fry the golis


Cooked basmati rice – 2 cups (cook till grains are seperate)
Peeled,diced and boiled potatoes – 1 cup
Boiled green peas – 1/2 cup
Salt to taste


Black stone flower(Dagad phool)- 1 small piece
Cloves – 3
Cinnamon – A small piece
Black pepper – 5
Fennel seeds (saunf) – 1/2 teaspoon
Cardamom – 2
Turmeric powder – 1/4 teaspoon
Kashmiri chilli powder – 2 teaspoons
Chopped big onions – 2
Ginger – 1 small piece
Garlic cloves – 4


Oil – 2 tablespoons
Finely chopped onion – 1


Finely chopped coriander leaves a little
Finely chopped mint leaves a little



Mix in all the ingredients. Oil the hands and make small golis. Deep fry the golis to a golden brown colour.


Heat oil in a pan. Fry the finely chopped onions till they turn light golden colour. Fry the blended paste till the raw smell goes. Add salt to taste. Saute on medium flame. Add the boiled potatoes, green peas and mix well. Add the rice. Sim the flame and leave for 5 minutes. Mix well. Mix in the golis and garnish with finely chopped coriander leaves and mint leaves. Serve hot with a nice raitha!!

©Deepa Sekhar
©Deepa Sekhar


Always seperate the cooked rice grains with a fork.  Each grain will retain its shape without getting mushy.


In Delhi, parathas are sometimes called paranthas. A soft and tasty parantha which everyone will love and ask for more!!!

©Deepa Sekhar
©Deepa Sekhar


Wheat flour  – 1 cup
Maida  – 1/2 cup
Crumbled paneer – 1/4 cup
Coarsely powdered black pepper – 1 teaspoon
Whole jeera(Cumin seeds) – 1 teaspoon
Salt to taste
Sunflower oil – Sufficient to cook the paranthas


Green chillies – 2
Finely chopped spring onion greens – 1/2 cup
Finely chopped coriander leaves – 1/4 cup
Milk cream (Malai)- 3 Tablespoons


Take a big plate. Sift wheat flour, maida and salt. Make a well in the centre. Add the crumbled paneer, pepper powder, jeera and the blended paste. Mix well. In case the dough is hard, sprinkle very little water and mix to a roti dough. Cover and keep aside for 20 minutes for the flavours to gel well.
Make small, slightly thick paranthas and shallow fry on a tawa with oil to a golden colour.
Serve hot with thick curds (dahi) and a pickle of your choice.


Instead of milk cream, fresh cream can also be used.
Wrap paranthas in a cotton towel to keep it soft.
Ghee or ghee mixed with oil can be used to enhance the taste.
When warming in a microwave oven, wrap the paranthas in a cotton cloth.


A combination of baby vegetables in a nutty gravy tastes simply superb! Hence, I’ve coined this name for this very colourful and easy to prepare dish.

©Deepa Sekhar
©Deepa Sekhar


Parboiled peeled baby corn – 6 (keep it whole)
Boiled baby sprouts – 6
Boiled green peas – A handful
Boiled & peeled baby potatoes – 10
Peeled small onions – A big handful
Sugar – 1 teaspoon
Salt to taste


Peanuts – 2 teaspoons
Cashewnuts – 6
Ginger – A small piece
Garlic cloves – 4
Tomato chopped – 1
Chopped onion(big) – 1
Thick curds – 1 tablespoon
Cardamom seeds – 1/4 teaspoon
Jeera powder – 1 teaspoon
Coriander powder – 1 teaspoon
Cloves – 2
Kashmiri chilli powder – 2 teaspoon
Turmeric powder – 1/4 teaspoon


Refined sunflower oil – 2 1/2 tablespoon
Whole jeera – 1 teaspoon


Finely chopped green coriander – 1 tablespoon
Kasoori methi – 2 pinches (crushed)
Fresh cream – 1 tablespoon (optional)


Heat a pan. Add the sunflower oil. Season whole jeera. When jeera splatters, first fry the small onions on low flame till golden. Add the ground paste, cover with lid and fry till raw smell goes. Add all the veggies one by one – green peas, baby potatoes, sprouts and baby corn. Add salt to taste and sugar. In case the gravy is too thick, add 1/4 cup of water and mix well. Let it simmer for 5 mins on a low flame.
Garnish with chopped green coriander leaves, kasoori methi and fresh cream. Serve hot with paranthas, phulkas, puri and pulao.

©Deepa Sekhar
©Deepa Sekhar

Chef’s tip

Do not over cook the vegetables. A little crunch adds on taste.



These yummy cupcakes will just melt in your mouth and are extremely easy to prepare.
I have used refined oil(preferably sunflower oil) and buttermilk to give a feathery texture.

©Deepa Sekhar
©Deepa Sekhar

Preparation time: 30 mins
Baking time: 30 mins
Makes 12 medium cupcakes


Maida – 1 1/2 cups
Milk powder – 5 tablespoons
Cornflour – 2 tablespoons
Baking powder – 1 tablespoon
Baking soda – 1 tablespoon
Grated corn – 3 tablespoons
Grated pizza cheese – 1/2 cup
Finely chopped green chillies – 1 teaspoon
Finely chopped spring onion greens – 3 tablespoons
Refined oil(preferably sunflower oil) – 1/4cup + 1 tablespoon
Powdered sugar – 1 tablespoon
Buttermilk – 1 1/2 cup
Coarsely crushed black pepper powder – 1 1/2 teaspoon
Salt to taste


~ Preheat the oven at 180 deg centigrade.
~ Sift maida, cornflour, milk powder, baking powder, baking soda, sugar powder and salt.
~ Beat oil and pepper powder well. Add the chopped green chillies, finely chopped spring onions, grated pizza cheese, grated corn and mix well.
~ Slowly fold in the sifted ingredients. Mix in buttermilk slowly.
~ Take a cupcake mould. Line with paper cups and grease the inside of the paper lightly with oil.
~ Fill in the mix to 3/4 of the paper cup. Tap the cupcake tray gently.
~ Bake in a hot oven at 180 deg cent for 30 mins.

VIOLA!!! Enjoy your cupcakes as it is or with a hot drink of your choice.


– Using of pizza cheese gives a stringy texture inside the
– Omit the green chillies if your preparing these for children.
– Tapping the cupcake tray gently after the mix is filled in is
very essential as it removes the air bubbles and allows the
cupcakes to rise well. Please do not open the oven whilst the cupcakes are baking.


Why I chose this name – because  the gravy has a kumkum colour, very simple, yet very tasty. A combination of both diced and crumbled paneer are used. The recipe for you!

Sindhoori Paneer


Diced paneer – 1 cup

Crumbled Paneer – 1 cup

Salt – to taste

Finely chopped onions – 1 cup

Coarsely powdered almonds and cashews – each 1 teaspoon


Ripe red tomatoes (chopped) – 6

Ginger – a small piece

Kashmiri chilli powder – 2 teaspoons

Garlic – 2 flakes

Cardamom – 2

Cloves – 3

Cinnamon –  1 small piece

Black pepper – 4

Ani seeds – 1/2 teaspoon



Refined sunflower oil – 2 1/2 tablespoon

Jeera – 1 teaspoon


Slit green chilli – 1
Crushed kasoori methi – 2 big inches
(Dry fry kasoori methi in a hot pan for 20 secs)
Butter – 1 tablespoon
Finely chopped coriander leaves(cilantro)
Lime juice – 1 teaspoon


Heat a thick bottomed pan and add oil. Season jeera, add onions and fry in medium flame. Once the onions turn golden, add the almond and cashew powder. Sauté for two mins. Add the paste, fry until the raw smell goes and oil seeps on the sides. Add the diced and crumbled paneer. Cook on sim flame for 3 minutes till the gravy mixes well with the paneer. Switch off the flame.
Garnish with green chilli, coriander leaves, butter, kasoori methi and lime juice.
You can serve this delicious dish with hot naan, roti, jeera rice or plain steamed rice.
Please like, comment and share.


1. Always double fry the gravy.
2. Home-made paneer is the best.
Boil 1 litre milk. Add 2 big ladleful of fresh curd. Once the milk curdles, strain and store it in a glass or stainless steel container. Store it in the normal chill fridge compartment. Can store for upto 3 to 4 days but remember to change water daily and wipe the lid of the container.

Hearty Homely Healthy