YOUR TURN! Vidya Takes Us to Heaven

Barbara Klein food, India, Your Turn! 70 Comments


I am so excited, honoured  and proud to present the first guest post in the new series YOUR TURN! by Vidya Sury. When I first read her lovely post I felt in (culinary) heaven and as it is my privilege to pick the title, here goes!

I met Vidya online and enjoyed reading her posts and comments on many blogs. I admire her for her generosity, her warm heart, her lovely and clever writing (remember the A – Z alphabet series at Kaarina’s?), her photography, her zest for life. We share many interests: writing, photography, food, recipes, food markets and a deep love for our families. Somewhat we have started a lively email relationship which is as easy as crossing the backyard to have a cup of coffee with your neighbour next door. When I first mentioned the YOUR TURN! series, Vidya immediately offered to share her gustatory experiences with us. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, dear Vidya!

Now, grab yourself a cup of coffee, make yourself comfortable and enjoy the treat:


Vidya Sury


Vidya Sury is a happy work-at-home Mom who enjoys life and being with Family and Friends.  She earns her calories as a freelance writer and business blogger and is a social media enthusiast. She loves DIY, Coffee, Music, Photography, and Life.  She believes that Happiness is a DIY Project. She blogs at and tweets as @vidyasury.


Thank you, Barbara, for inviting me to be the first in your wonderful new series. I am deeply honored!

Dear friends, in Hindu belief, we say that if two people walk 7 steps together they will remain lifelong friends. In weddings the couple walks 7 steps together to the chanting of auspicious mantras to the equivalent of the “till death do us part”.

I wonder, in the digital world if that would translate to reading seven posts/seven paragraphs/seven lines? You tell me. In the meantime, let me welcome you with one of our most popular Indian sweets – the 7 cups burfi. This is sort of like fudge and is easy to make. I am one for easy recipes that taste good – they’re the best sort for me…and I am always looking for no-bake stuff, but only because I don’t use a conventional oven.

seven cups

7 cups Burfi


Why 7 cups? The name comes from the number of cups of ingredients that go into it. While not charmingly creative, it is very popular because the ingredients are usually available in most kitchens and the sweet can be whipped up in less than half an hour.  We have the tradition of offering a sweet, a savory and coffee or juice to every visitor who comes home. During my Grandmother’s days, no one left our house without sharing at least one meal with us! And we continue that practice. So if you visit me – you WILL be lovingly invited to a meal.

Here’s the quick recipe:

You need:  1 cup chickpeas flour, 1 cup freshly grated coconut, 1 cup milk, 3 cups sugar, 1 cup Ghee

Now, cussed with being unable to follow any recipe exactly, I substitute coconut for carrot. Instead of three cups sugar, I use two or less than, making it up with coarsely ground cashew nuts. Yes!

How to make: There are two ways.  One is, mixing all the ingredients in a heavy bottomed pan until there are no lumps.  Grease a plate with ghee and keep it ready. Then, with the stove on low, heat the contents, stirring constantly.  After about five minutes, the contents begin to bubble, and start leaving the sides of the pan.  As you mix, the folded over mixture starts to look slightly porous.  It is time to turn off the stove and pour the mix on to the greased plate. Shake it to settle the contents. Let it cool. After about five minutes, score the surface. When cool, cut along those lines.  Indulge!

Here’s how it looks:

seven cups burfi in the making


Let me know if you want a step by step recipe!

I grew up in a rather frugal household, where “waste-not want-not” was the tagline.  My Grandmother had a green thumb and could grow anything.  We always bought whatever was in season. We ate a lot of leafy greens as they were very cheap and made up healthy quantities in a large household. Yet, we always ate absolutely tasty food as Granma was very creative.  So was my Mother. In fact, my Mom also believed in presenting things in a pretty way.  She would arrange even bread and butter sandwiches in a pattern.  We spent a lot of happy times in the kitchen together. Thanks to this, the kitchen is my happy place. I enjoy cooking from scratch and make all my “masalas”. There was a time I encouraged my Mom to market the exotic “masalas” she made – but somehow that didn’t happen.

I love festivals because each of our festivals has a specific menu that I enjoy making.  Conveniently, whatever is in season form the ingredients for the menu. For example, for the Tamil New Year’s Day in April, neem leaves, and flowers, which begin to bloom, are auspicious. It is also the time for raw mangoes and everything else that is great for the summer.


green mangoes

 Mangoes sprinkled with chili powder and rock salt. Drool!

 I am fascinated by how Nature provides us with the right food according to the weather.  Watermelons and a variety of cucumbers in summer, fabulous red carrots in winter and so on! Summer is also the time for certain exotic roots and raw fruits that are pickled for the rest of the year.

Right now, along with the regular orange carrot, we get the long deep red juicy carrot – and you can pretty much bet that we’ll have  carrot halwa at home until this carrot stops being available! Carrot halwa is a huge favorite at home and very easy to make. I peel and grate the carrots, add a little milk and sugar and semi-pressure-cook them.  Then, I add the cooked carrot, condensed milk, sugar, cashew nuts or almonds, cardamom and ghee and heat it until it shrinks to a very thick consistency. The milk is optional, but I like how it adds to the flavor.  Sometimes I substitute the condensed milk for “khoya” or thickened milk.  It is amazing how quickly this disappears in our house!

carrot halwa


As much as we are big fans of the South Indian and North Indian cuisine at home, for my son, it is the 4 P’s of Marketing. He loves everything homemade, including Pizza, Paratha, Pasta  and anything with Paneer (cottage cheese).  Can you believe I ate noodles for the first time when I was 21 or 22 years old? I still have the sheet of paper on which I wrote the recipe for the traditional Chinese noodles.

Now I am happy to make whatever my son likes and enjoy it with him – as his food choices are largely healthy. Our regular fare consists of vegetable stuffed parathas. I love to make this as it is simple, tasty, healthy and involves minimal washing up.  I find it a great choice for packed lunches or when we travel.

Here’s how I make my regular parathas.

Ingredients: To make approximately 10  parathas of 5-inch diameter,  3-4 cups of Wheat flour, a quarter spoon of turmeric, salt to taste, two onions ground to a paste, 3 cups grated carrot/radish/cabbage/potato (you choose), a table spoon of cooking oil. A cup of finely chopped coriander (cilantro).  Oil to cook the paratha.


parathas ready to go

 In the pic: rolled out parathas ready to go on the griddle


How to make: Add all the ingredients except the oil in a large bowl, mix and knead. The moisture from the grated veg is enough to hold the dough together.  After the kneading the dough, add the oil and continue to knead it. If it seems too moist, add a little flour to reach the consistency where you can divide it into ten or twelve portions.  Roll out each ball with a rolling pin. Heat a griddle, and cook the paratha on it. Flip it over to cook both sides.  Add half a spoon of oil – can also use an oil spray. Once both sides are done, take it off the griddle. Serve hot with curd, pickle or paneer with gravy. I like it with sprouts salad.

I love soups and salads. Here’s a favorite:  Chopped cabbage, capsicum and carrots.


ready steady soup


We have a soup for almost every ailment. What a nice thing to fall sick, I used to think as I grew up!  I am excited that my kitchen shelf is also my medicine cabinet! Some of my regular home remedies are:

a/ Sore throat? Boil a pinch of turmeric in milk and drink for instant relief. Turmeric has antibiotic properties.  Congestion in the chest?  Boil a few basil leaves in 200 ml water, reducing it to 150 ml. Add the juice of half a lemon and two spoons honey. Works like magic.

b/  Cold coming on? A spoon of honey in a cup of warm water dissolves that tightness in the chest

c/  Tummy ache or bloat – swallow a spoon of fenugreek seeds with water to ease it.  A pinch of asafetida powder in buttermilk Or. Boil two spoons of aniseed in three glasses of water until it reduces to two glasses and drink in small doses for relief. Or. Dry roast a spoonful of carom seeds in a pan and add a glass of buttermilk to it. Pour in a glass and drink to get rid of bloat. I like to chew these seeds rather than process them. Aniseed is also a great digestive and is offered, sugarcoated, at  restaurants after a meal.

d/ Toothache? Place a clove in your mouth – the saliva mixed with it acts like an antibiotic and relieves pain

I have a diary full of tips written by my Mom that I treasure.

Barbara asked me if I had a favorite cook book – Yes I do. I have a little stack of cookbooks by some fantastic authors like Tarla Dalal and Sanjeev Kapoor   – but I like my Mother’s diary best.  I enjoy seeing her notes, usually unrelated to the recipe, which make me laugh and cry at the same time.

Here are pictures of regulars in our kitchen:


kitchen regulars

Clockwise from top: potato fry, you can see okra, pizza, Dosa, Paratha and in the middle, spring onion being sautéed. Makes a great base for any stir-fry veg.

And my most favorite beverage, which always gets my day off to a fabulous start is this traditional “tumbler” of pure coffee:


Vidya's favorite


Now this has motivated me to write a post about the typical south Indian meal and its ingredients – and why it is considered the most balanced meal.  Just know that when you visit India, you’ve got a friend right here!





Comments 70

    1. @Lucylastica2 Hi, Lucy, lovely to see you! I am looking forward when I can go to India and cook with Vidya in the middle of her family!
      I hope to see your contribution at YOUR TURN! quite soon, you have so much to share (tomato chutney? hint hint)!

        1. @Vidya Sury  @Lucylastica2 Vidya, dear friend, the honour is all yours! What a lovely post and whenever I look at the pictures I am transported back to beautiful India. How I would love to sit in the sun with you and have some paratha now!

  1. Gajar ka halwa and para that’s…just the perfect thing for winters! This made me so hungry! I have always been a foodie and I blame my mom who makes the most delicious food EVER! Yum!
    Ready to walk seven steps together everybody?

      1. @Late_Bloomers  @Hajra   Imagine, my doorbell rings and I open it to find y’all! Oh, but if I knew you were coming, I’d have the door wide open and be pacing up and down, waiting! 😀

    1. @Hajra   The season’s begun! 🙂 And we’re loving the rich red gajars.  You have a standing invitation you know! If I recall right, you have another friend in Bangalore, right? 😀 Plan your visit!

        1. @Late_Bloomers  @Vidya Sury A lot of us would want to. But no one is ready to move to the little town there! But we are convincing him not to give it up. We might suggest to get some help, some people he could hire to work for him on the huge farm. Let’s see. It would be a pity to give the gem of a farm away!

  2. I feel like I’ve been on a gastronomic adventure through time and space my friend. Wonderful post @Vidya Sury  and wonderful first ‘your turn’ Barbara Klein . Now I want to come over to your house for that meal 🙂 Cheers! Kaarina

    1. @Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes @Vidya Sury If there is one thing I have learnt in this life, it is being able to eat at all times but you are right, Josh, cooking and trying new recipes are different matters. Thanks for visiting!

  3. Barbara, you have some serious competition here! One thing i love about Indian food is it all seems so darn healthy. Such a good thing. Nice work @Vidya Sury Cheers!

    1. @rdopping  @Vidya Sury We have no competition – we are friends and share the same passion! Ha, Ralph! And I still hope that Vidya (are you listening?) will teach me to make this absolutely delicious Kerala bread … Have a great weekend, I am off to 2 markets, beats going to the gym with all the lifting and shlepping!

      1. @Late_Bloomers  @rdopping  Ralph. 😀  I agree with Barbara about the zero competition. More like sharing increases the pleasure. Reminds me of a cooking competition where five people made different things – everyone learned a new recipe and became fast friends 😀
        Barbara – Kerala cuisine is very different from Tamil Nadu’s (we are from TN) and what I really love is the multiple cuisines – unique to each state! Yes, of course I’ll be happy to send you the recipe of whatever you like 🙂 My Mom could make 20 types of Dosa you know, among other things!

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  5. @Vidya Sury – loved this.  I’ve made a note of your tips too, for future reference.  I’d love to see a book of your Mum’s tips Vidya…food for thought maybe?
    Love Elle

  6. Wow! this was truly a post packed with information, color, and culture! Vidya, I loved your introduction to the Hindu belief of 7 steps and how that could transfer to the World Wide Web. And I’m absolutely loving your first recipe as I have such a sweet tooth but no oven at home in Peru! What a perfect recipe for me. Can’t wait to try it! =)

    1. @Samantha Bangayan Hi Samantha! What a pleasure to meet you! You know, it is practically impossible to go wrong with that sweet, and that is why I was eager to share it. Thank you for your lovely comment – and am heading over to your place right now! 🙂

    2. @Samantha Bangayan @Vidya Sury Hi, Sam, and a wonderful and healthy week to you! How are you doing? And WOW was exactly my first reaction when Vidya sent me her great post, there is so much in it and especially her love for her Mum shines through! 
      No oven? You need to be  quite resourceful then! Have you ever tried omelette soufflée? Sweet and fluffy – you’d love it! I can send you the recipe – just give me a shout!

      1. @Late_Bloomers  @Vidya Sury Omellete soufflée sounds delicious!! Must try that too! =) Please send over the recipe if you can! Although I’ll have to try it in Vancouver, where I currently am, instead of Peru. =)

        1. @Samantha Bangayan  @Vidya Sury Easy, here it comes: for 2 persons you take 3 eggs (separated), beat yolks with 2 tablespoons sugar, add some grated lemon zest. Add a pinch of salt to the egg whites and beat them very stiff, fold this gently into the yolk mixture. Put some butter (I am quite liberal with it!) in a big skillet and when it starts to bubble pour the mixture in it. Let it slightly brown (and caramelize), if you do not want the omelette to be too runny, cover it with a lid. Serve it folded in half. Want some excitement? Let’s set it on fire: sprinkle some sugar over the omelette and pour some Cointreau (orange liquor) over it and light it! Tip: the warmer the Cointreau the better it will burn. Bon appétit (it can be eaten wherever in the world you are!)!

        2. @Samantha Bangayan  @Late_Bloomers  yes, I love how Barbara “expresses” the recipe. That sounds delish.  Sadly, we’re non-egg eaters. I make a mean omelette though! And Barbara, are you familiar with “Bombay Toast”? 😀 Samantha, you might enjoy that! It is basically French toast, Indian style.
          The ingredients are bread slices, eggs, sugar, milk and butter for frying. Beat 2 eggs with 2 tablespoons of sugar in a bowl. Add the mllk and a drop of vanilla essence if desired and mix well. Heat a pan and add a tablespoon of butter, spreading it. As it heats up, dip a slice of bread in the egg-milk mixture and shallow fry it in the pan, flipping over to fry both sides till they appear golden brownish. Serve hot.
          There is also a savory version, where you omit the sugar and vanilla essence and use salt and pepper instead. Finely shredded green  chillies, onions and cilantro also make a reat flavor with salt to taste.

        3. @Samantha Bangayan  @Vidya Sury Sam, my dear friend, I will send you a recipe every day, you know how wonderful this is to read such lovely comments first thing in the morning? I feel at least a foot taller!
          No secrets, promised, I am the magician who gives away all her tricks!
          Have a great week!

    1. @Betsy at Zen Mama Hi, Betsy, and welcome to Late Bloomers! This will be fun when we all come together at Vidya’s home and enjoy each other’s company and share the food we will hopefully cook all together.

  7. Thanks for sharing your great recipes and tips. The pictures are beautiful and really show the food. I love to read about what other people eat – interesting. Your new site is great! Thanks for a great post!! Hugs.

    1. @cathytaugh Thanks, Cathy, so good to see you here!  I love @Late_Bloomers Barbara’s blog because her food posts drive me nuts! 🙂 I actually got over my lethargy and started making preserves, thanks to her!  Hugs back!

        1. @Late_Bloomers  @cathytaugh Only the basic stuff, Barbara. I now buy lots of tomatoes and prepare them  and store them in the fridge so that we only have to make some rice and mix it with the prep. I’ll send you the recipe. Very easy, very tasty. 😀 Hugs.

        2. @Vidya Sury  @cathytaugh Basic stuff like having a wonderfully made preserve in your fridge – haha, you do not fool me, you are a miracle wielder! And thanks for the recipe – always welcome. Big hugs. 😉

  8. Vidya, you’ve made me want to learn how to love the kitchen! I love the idea of a soup for almost every ailment. And you’re so generous to share your information.
    Your photos reveal your love for the food and presentation.:)

    1. @Aileen | Kaizen Vision Hi, Aileen, welcome to Late Bloomers!
      I love what you say about learning how to love the kitchen, Vidya has such love, appreciation and respect for everything. She generously shares it all, you are so right. And she makes being sick almost sound fun!

    2. @Aileen | Kaizen Vision  🙂 Funnily enough, I enjoy cooking but wasn’t crazy about it. It has grown on me – I guess appreciative people does that.  And am never one to keep a great recipe secret!  So happy you came by, Aileen! Hugs!

  9. These all sound so yummy, Vidya! Your pictures and descriptions are really great! Thank you for sharing them! I wish we lived closer – you could teach me some of your tricks in person! Hugs! XO

    1. @Jodi Chapman  Jodi – so good to see you here!  If I lived closer, I’d be at your doorstep every other day with a tray of something while you worked at your awesome course!  And yes, I believe in sharing what I know. Huge hugs to you!

    2. @Jodi Chapman @Vidya Sury Hi, Jodi, and welcome to Late Bloomers. Vidya’s friends are welcome and there is enough room at the table!
      Vidya, you could start a happy cooking class!

      1. @Late_Bloomers  @Jodi Chapman Barbara, my Mom must be laughing right now, from wherever she is.  🙂 She always thought I was pretty good. By the way, I made carrot halwa yesterday. Again.

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  11. They all look so delectable!  The green mangoes with chili powder remind me of how Filipinos love to eat green mangoes.  Instead of chili powder, we dip it into / top it with shrimp paste.  Yummm 🙂  Thanks for sharing your heritage with all of us, Vidya!

    1. @jpage.manuel Hi! Thank you for your lovely comment!  Just the thought of that mango with the chili powder makes me drool. 🙂 In summer, when they’re in season, the market is full of vendors wooing people to stop and take a bite.

    2. @jpage.manuel @Vidya Sury Hi, Joy, you cannot begin to imagine how much I love green mangoes with chili, salt and sugar – that’s how we ate it in Thailand, tons of them until we felt sick. Shrimp paste, now, that would be some new gustatory experience.

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