Zha cafe' - Place to Unwind

After a long hectic day at office, with one of calls which was for 30 mins lasted for about little more than 2 hours got over, I headed to the newly opened "Zha" Cafe at Porur. This is a newly opened branch for the original one in Adyar. Trust me it was a complete unwind for me after a hectic day. I guess it was the same with most of us.

The whole concept of Zha Cafe is to ensure that your get all what you had wanted to eat in a tea shop or coffee kadai in a more healthier environment. I was surprised to see my favorite drink on the menu " Pana Kalkandu Paal " This is a drink made by mixing milk with Palm sugar. A very healthy drink especially when you have a sore throat. It is so soothing and helps to mend your throat too. 

The ambience of Zha Cafe is very casual, just like how a living room of a house would look like. The chairs are low lying with cushions, to give you a very relaxed feel.

Interiors in Zha Cafe.

The props and Ambience in Zha Cafe gives you a village atmosphere and a tea kadai feel

We had Kadalai ,Peanuts and Pori Urundai. to start off . Pori Urundai that has been prepared in a hygienic way was a hit with me. 

Atirasam with Banana drizzled with honey
Vazhaipoo Vadai
Vazhakai Bajji
Vengaya Bonda

Recipes at home or in this blog or even in restaurants are either borrowed or read or eaten from some where at some point of time. Athirasam with Banana drizzled with honey is a dish that Arasi has eaten at a friends place and wanted it to be on the menu of Zha Cafe. It tasted so good and for athirasam lovers like me, it was perfect. 

Masala Aval and Inipu Aval

The food that is being offered at Zha Cafe are some of the forgotten ones or the ones that we do not give much importance. Inipu aval is something which is very commonly receipe, but not many of us make it at home. Their menu actually reminded me to prepare certain simple dishes that we have long forgotten

Do you like to have maggi while playing Pallanguzhi ? I would love to. Ok ok.. I hear you, Some do not know this game. Click here to know more about this ancient game of Tamil Nadu. I have played it with my Grand mom every summer hols. Now is miss them both.

I hear non vegetarians grumble about the menu, not to worry guys, Zha Cafe offers you chicken sandwiches and salads to cater to your taste palates

Jala bula Jangz
Nanari Sarbat
Pana Kalkandu Paal
Rose Milk
Mango Ice Cream

To end the wonderful meal you have just had, the array of thirst quenchers Zha Cafe offers you not only caters to your throat but also to the eyes. Wat a riot of colors I should say. Each drink with its unique taste and flavor was wonderful.

My Rating for Zha Cafe

Ambience - 9
Food - 9
Service - 10

Zha Cafe is located in Adyar and Porur

Adyar Address:

25, 2nd Street,
Kamarajar Avenue ,Adyar, Chennai -20 
Phone :044-42116027

Porur Address:

10, Shakthi Nagar,
Mount Poonamallee Road,
Porur,Chennai -600166.
Phone : 044-30064810.
(Behind ICIC bank and next to Shell Petrol Bunk)


Readymade GobiManchurian

I had promised you all in my last post about the readymade starter recipe. And here it is Gobi Manchurian, snack mix from MTR. I would like to mention about the whole set of readymade mixes that MTR offers. Starting from the basic Gulab Jamun till the complicated Muruku mix, they have a whole range of mizes. We can have them in our pantry and will surely come in handy during times when you need to cook a meal in a very short span of time.


Cauliflower florets - 1 cup
Capsicum - 1 cup
Onion - 1 cup
Salt - to taste
Gobi Manchurian mix - 1 packet 
Water - 1 cup


Wash and cut the florets into small pieces
Boil water in a heavy pot and take it off from the flame
Immerse the florets in the hot water for about 10 mins and drain the florets
To this florets add the powder mix from the pack and mix well using little water
Ensure that all the florets are covered with the mix.
Heat oil in a wide pan and deep fry the florets till golden brown. 
Remove them on a tissue paper
Meanwhile in a thick bottomed wok, heat a little oil 
Add the cut capsicum and onions to it and saute till half done
Now add the liquid in the mix to this capsicum and onion saute
Switch of the flame and add the cauliflower florets to the mixture.
Mix well adjust salt and serve with Soup or with Chapati


Briyani Cook Out

Briyani, biriani, beryani or beriani is a set of rice-based foods made with spices, rice (usually basmati) and meat, fish, eggs or vegetables. The name is derived from the Persian word beryā(n) (بریان) which means "fried" or "roasted".
The cooking method of Biryani originated in Iran (Persia) and it was brought to the Indian subcontinent by Iranian travelers and merchants. In India, the recipe of biryani developed to its current form. Local variants of this dish are popular not only in the Subcontinent but also in Southeast Asia, Arabia, and within various Asian expatriate communities in the West.
Have you ever wondered how to cook this wonderful rice, and more than how about learning it from a person who has more than 15years of experience in cooking such Briyani with an amazing taste. Mrs Rajab is a traditional cook who hails from Tirunelveli and specializes in Briyani making. And what is more it is gonna be a hands on experience, right from cutting vegetables and meat till the finished product.

Do join for the Briyani cook out happening on 23rd June, 11 am at Lakshmi Farms ( It is 3rd Farm House on the RIGHT HAND SIDE after the ECR Toll Gate from Thiruvanmyur towards Mahaballipuram)

So you wanna know what is on the menu for 

Veg Platter:
  • Veg Briyani
  • Gobi 65
  • Onion Raitha
  • Brinjal Thokku
  • Bread Halwa
  • Flavored Sweet Rice

Veg Platter

Non Veg Platter:

  • Chicken Briyani
  • Mutton Briyani
  • Chicken 65
  • Onion Raitha
  • Brinjal Thokku
  • Bread Halwa
  • Flavored Sweet Rice

Non Veg Platter

So what are you waiting for .. go ahead and register yourself.. Lets cook, eat and enjoy the Briyani

Image courtesy: Google

Readymade Tomato Soup

Today's preparation is a very simple one, which you can make on a rainy day to satisfy your cravings for something hot. I always have a couple of these packets in my pantry. 


Maggi soup - 1 packet
Water - 2 1/2 cups 
Coriander leaves - for add flavor


In a bowl mix the powder in Maggi soup packet in 2 cups of water
Ensure that there are no lumps when you mix
Heat this mixture in a heavy bottomed wok and keep stirring
In 5 minutes you will see that the soup is reaching its consistency
Switch the fire off and add the coriander leaves
Serve hot with any bread or starter of your choice. 
Watch out for a ready made recipe for starter tomorrow


Readymade Gulab Jamun

One of my favorite or my household s is Gulab Jamun any day or any time. I usually prefer to make it from scratch as it gives you immense satisfaction. But during Diwali or at times when you need to make a sweet in a short span of time. This is when Ready made Gulab Jamun mix comes handy. I always have this in my pantry, you never know when the situation will come to make them

One pack of mix will yield nearly 25 - 30 jamuns. the number is good enough to cater to a family of 6 people. Very simple to make but yummy to taste just in the matter of an hour s time. 


Gulab Jamun mix - 1 packet
Sugar - 3 cups
Water - 3 cups
Cardamom and green camphor - for flavoring  


Empty the contents into a wide mouth vessel
Add milk little by little and make a dough out of the mix
Set the dough aside for about 20 mins time 
Then make small balls out of the dough.
You can also make a mixture of nuts and stuff them into the balls
Heat oil in a wide skillet and add the balls in batches of 5 or 6 
Remove them when they turn Golden Brown onto a tissue paper.
On parallel you need to prepare the sugar syrup.
Take water and sugar in the ratio of 1:1 and make it boil in a pan
Add the cardamom and camphor to add flavor to the sugar syrup
When you get one string consistency, stop the flame.
Add the fried Gulab jamun in the syrup as and when you deep fry them
Leave it aside for about an hours time. 
Yummy, slurpy Gulab jamun ready to eat
You can serve it with ice cream or eat it as such


ECO Cafe' - Chamiers Road

Eco Cafe' is located amidst the most traffic prone zone, yet has a a very serene interiors. It is located in Chamiers Road. The Ambience of the Cafe is very nice. One can eat at the same time do some little shopping of trinklets and books. You can enjoy your cup of cofee while you catch up with the daily news or read a book in the perfect environment. 

Coming to the food part of Eco Cafe' the menu consisted of the following. Please bear with me for the poor lighting photos. The lighting in the Cafe' is suited for having food there but not for taking pictures. All of us who went for the review, had a problem with the light and clicking photos. 

The menu card reminded me of the menu in Amethyst.

Here is an array of dishes that we had a chance to taste












The dishes as they came in , some had a good taste and some did miss the mark of good food. We all did taste most of the food that came in and it was mostly a live on the floor discussion about the taste. This happened as we were all crowded in one table to take pictures of the food that was being served.

Presentation of the food was very good in the case of Veg Club Sandwich, but in the case of Pancake it was very plain.

The best dishes of the whole lot was Veg Club Sandwich and the Sun dried Tomato Sandwich. Hash Brown Potato tasted out of the world. Risotto was perfectly made and tasted good. Pancake tasted very average. The Cream Caramel was a little too eggy. All dishes related to pasta variety did not taste that great. In the Bruschetta platter I did not feel the flavor of olive oil or herbs

If you are going to visit Eco Cafe' do not miss

  • Strawberry Orange Drink
  • Waffles with banana and chocolate
  • Carrot Cake
Eco Cafe' is a place where you can completely relax yourself in the calm Ambience of the trees, books and some light food. You need to spend quality time to enjoy it on the whole, the food and the place. It is best suited when you are in dire need of solitude or wanna spend some quality time with your loved one. 

Food 6/10Ambiance 8/10Price 8/10


MIlk Halwa.

Last day of the second week of BM # 17, presenting you yet another halwa. This milk halwa also I made for my Janaki Paati. Milk halwa is made with two ingredients, Milk and sugar with loads of love and affection for my paati. 


Milk - 2 liters
Sugar - as per taste


In a heavy bottomed wok, add the milk and let it boil
Place a small dish in the milk to avoid it boiling over
When the milk is reduced to half the quantity, reduce the flame and keep stirring
Add the required quantity of sugar
Keep stirring regularly to avoid the halwa getting burnt 
When you see a coarse structure of the halwa remove it from fire and let it cool
One point to be noted is that, you need lot of patience to do this halwa.
The picture you see here is , halwa being packed for my Janaki Paati 


Microwave Corn Flour Halwa

Second day of the second week of BM # 17, I am serving you a pretty easy halwa, that can be a party pleaser and will help you when you have sudden guests. While I was randomly blog hop, which I do very often, I stumbled upon this post from Raks. I have adapted the recipe from there and did not change any measurements. The end result was fanstastic. I had packed it for my grandmom ( Janaki Paati )in Tirunelveli and heard that she enjoyed every bit of this sweet inspite of being a diabetic patient


Corn Flour - 1/2 cup
Sugar - 1.5 cups
Water - 2 cups
Cashews - 5 nos
Ghee - as required
Food color - orange ( a pinch )

Method :

Mix all the dry ingredients along with water in a microwave bowl without a lump
Microwave this in high for about 5 minutes.
Mix well after 2.5 minutes and microwave again.
Microwave again for 5 mins with stirring in between at 2.5 mins.
Fry the cashews in ghee and mix well with the halwa mixture
Grease a plate with ghee and pour the halwa mixture into it. 
Let it cool down for 20 mins.
Cut them into small squares and serve them.

Corn Flour Halwa packed for Paati.


Elaneer Payasam

Simple to make, and tastes out of the world, serving you elaneer payasam for the second week of Blogging Marathon # 17. My theme for this week is Indian Payasam and Halwa.

I happened to see the recipe for this payasam a couple of days ago and wanted to definitely try it as it is the apt season for elaneer. 


Coconut Water - 1 cups 
Coconut Malai - 1 cup
Milk - 3 cups
Coconut Milk - 1 cup
Sugar - 4 tbsp
Cardamom powder - to taste


Boil milk and let it cool down
Take all the ingredients in a big vessel.
Ensure that the ingredients blend well and you get an aroma of elaneer.
Sprinkle cardamom powder for flavoring
Serve it either warm or cold


Vengaya Vadhagam

Vengaya Vadagam has a long story behind it at my home. When we were in our school days, every summer cousins and aunts would assemble at my uncle s house and gear up for the Vathal season of the year. We would under my Grandmom s leadership make all kinds of Vathals and Vadagams. The best of them was Vengaya Vadagam as it had a long process to make and tasted out of the world. I still remember paati sitting in the middle of the hall and instructing everybody to make this, to get that.. When I made this vadagam this year, I was remembering her every minute. There are many things which I got to learn from my grandmom, like how to play Pazhanguli, how to tie flowers, how to make athirasam, how to make vadagam, etc. I will proudly say that Im her only granddaughter who knows all this, and learnt it from her.I miss her so much . Wish she is still there with me life will surely be different than what it is. I miss you Paati

Going on to today's Vadagam.

The ingredients are

Big Onions - 1 kg 
Urad Dal - 1/4 kg
Garlic - 1 cup
Red Chili powder - 4 tbsp
Turmeric powder - 1 tbsp
Mustard Seeds - 2 tbsp
Curry leaves - 2 cups finely chopped
Fenugreek Powder - 1 tbsp
Salt as per taste

Method :

Peel the onions and cut them into small pieces

Soak the urad dal and pulse it into a coarse paste

Pulse the garlic pods into small pieces

Take the onions, garlic and urad dal in a bowl add red chili powder, fenugreek powder, turmeric powder and salt

Add the mustard seeds and chopped curry leaves

Mix well to form a nice moist paste. It should be in the consistency of pakoda
I use an aluminum tray lined with plastic sheets to lay small quantities of the mixture to be dried under the sun

A completely filled tray

A close up view of the vadagam

This is how the vadagam will look after sun drying for two days

A bowl full of sun dried Vengaya Vadagam

Vengaya Vadagam after being deep fried


Bittergourd Vathal / Pavakkai Vathal

Day 2 of 17th Blogging Marathon, I present to you quite an unusual vathal" Pavakkai Vathal". It is very very easy to make. You do not need any special preparation to make this. The moment you think about, this can be made in less than an hour s time.


Bittergourd - 1 kg
Turmeric - 1 tsp
Salt - as required


Clean and wash the Bitter gourd
Slice them into thin pieces
Add turmeric powder and salt to boiling water 
Add the sliced bitter gourd to this and let it boil for 5 mins
Ensure that the bitter gourd is not fully done
Let it stand for some 10 mins 
Drain the water
Spread this on a plastic sheet or an aluminium sheet and dry it in the sun
Dry it till it is very hard to touch
To use this vathal, heat some oil in a wok 
When the oil is hot, deep fry a handful of them and serve with hot sambhar rice.

Check what my fellow bloggers are whipping up for Day 2 


Gooseberry Pickle

Yay, we are here in our 17th Blogging Marathon. This marathon is special for two reasons, one , this is the first marathon in the changed format and second it has the theme which I have been waiting for a long time. Thanks Valli for including it. 

My theme for first week is Sun dried Items. I have chosen a pickle and two vathals to be featured here. So on to my post for the day. I have chosen Nellikai Urgai (Goose Berry Pickle).This is very simple to make and can be stored up to a weeks time. 


Goose Berry - 10 
Red chili powder - 4 tbsp
Salt - as required
Oil - 3 tbsp 
Mustard seeds for tempering
Asafoetida - a pinch


Microwave the goose berries for about 5 mins till they become soft 

When they are done, you will be able to remove them as separate pellets.It will look like the ones in the picture below

Add Red chili powder, salt, Asafoetida and mix well. Heat oil in a wok and add the mustard seeds . Add this mixture to the goose berries and mix well

Tie a white cloth in the mouth of the container and keep it in sun for at least two days, before consumption

Your pickle will be ready after two days and you will have a nice aroma coming out from the pickle.

Enjoy the pickle with creamy curd rice or even with steamy idlis.

Check what my fellow bloggers are cooking for this 17 Blogging Marathon

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