Banana Fritters a.k.a Vaipan

I had a banana just withering away and needed to put it to use, fast before I had a casualty on my hands. I could have made a banana bread but I was feeling for something more nostalgic, reminding me of my childhood memories.

Parappu - Masoor Dhal Curry (Lentils)

There are a wide variety of lentils but this quick and easy dhal curry is probably the first for any beginner!

Accompaniments to your Meals

Assorted Pickles and Yogurt are common accompaniments to South Indian/Tamil vegetarian plates.

Fried Accompaniments

In addition to assorted pickles and yogurts, crispy fried items like plaintain chips, pappadam and fried salted chillis are common accompaniments to vegetarian meals.

Easy Mini Cinnamon Buns

From to time, I love to share non-Sri Lankan Tamil recipes with my readers - these mini buns are yummy bite-sized treats that pack a flavourful punch!

About Anita's Cookbook:
This blog is a journey to chronicle all that I’ve learned (and continue to learn) as there really is a lack of Sri Lankan Tamil blogsites out there – a plethora of South Indian recipes exist but few focusing on the techniques and ingredients of the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora. Thank you for joining me in this journey as we unfold the pages of my cookbook and culinary adventures!

Monday, 5 November 2012

Rally's Sportsbar + Smokehouse Restaurant Review

It was my husband's birthday a while back and he really didn't feel like driving too far so I did some research and found out that Rally's Sportsbar + Smokehouse (1660 O'Connor Drive, Toronto) had some pretty good reviews and they did ribs - perfect, since my hubby loves ribs!

So for Saturday lunch we decided to check out the food and space at the bar.  It was definitely easily identifiable as the venue looks brand smacking new and colourful amongst the strip plazas and housing nearby.

Inside, they had large lcd screen tvs so regardless of where you are sitting, there was always a good view.  It also had a large private party space with a giant screen TV.  I immediately thought if this place is ends up being good, it would be a great venue to come back with my bro-in-law who is always looking for a space to watch the big game - I need to stop being so optimistic, remember looks aren't everything!


We started off with the wings platter in hot.  First it wasn't hot (I do recognize as South Asians, our version of hot is quite on a different scale but even Frank's or Tabasco hot sauce was hotter than this!) and secondly it was served lukewarm.  They lost major points here.

Since we went on a Saturday, they were serving brunch and I tried the pulled pork bennies - these were very good but served lukewarm.  The tossed greens were in dire need of dressing and the home fries were nothing to talk about.

 We came for the ribs but found out they don't have that during their lunch menu (I don't recall them posting a lunch menu online so I was really disappointed but kind of glad we ended up not sampling the ribs given our disappointment with the wings.).  My husband had the burger instead.  Again, it was nothing to talk about.

Overall, would we come back here again?  Definitely not for the food but it really is a nice venue so if you wanted to catch the game and get a few drinks at the bar- this is a good alternative to the packed bars elsewhere.  But don't go there hungry as you will be disappointed.

Verdict: 2.5/5
Rally Sports Bar & Smokehouse on Urbanspoon

Mini Cinnabon(Cinnamon) Buns

My husband loves cinnamon buns (actually he loves all things laden with sugar and fat but isn't that all men?)  I came across this wonderful recipe and the first time I tried it, we both loved it but I couldn't digest all the fat that it was involved (I choked at the one stick of butter for 8 mini buns that we finished in one sitting - eek!).  So, the next time I attempted the recipe (and I made sure it was many moons after the initial time), I decided to tweak it with some lower-fat alternatives and I found it made no difference on the taste - yippee!

  • Pillsbury Crescent Dough - Reduced Fat
  •  1/4 cup of butter (1/2 a stick), softened at room temperature, divided.
  • 1/8th cup of brown sugar (I found I used even less than this amount for both types of sugar but its a good starting point)
  • 1/8th cup of white sugar
  •  1/2 tsp cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven at 350F 
  2. Roll out your crescent dough and pinch the seams so it becomes one sheet.
  3.  Use one half of your divided butter mixture and spread all over your dough, particularly the edges.  If you find you don't need all that butter, then don't use all of it!
  4. In a bowl, mix  white sugar, and cinnamon.   Apply this mixture onto the butter which acts as a glue.  After I spread it, I shook off any excess on the dough.
  5. Roll up the dough into a log and cut into 8 even rounds. 
  6. Meanwhile, in a bowl microwave the butter  and brown sugar until they are nicely melted.  Cover your baking dish with this mixture.
  7. Place your cinnamon rounds on top of this mixture.  If you have any sugar/cinnamon mix leftover, you can sprinkle it on top of the rounds.
  8. Bake uncovered at 20 minutes.
  1. Microwave 1 tablespoon milk  with 1 tablespoon butter
  2. Add this to 1/2 cup powdered sugar - mix well
  3. Add 1/2 tsp of vanilla
Add any extra sugar/cinnamon mixture to sprinkle on top
In the oven, rising up
Trying to glaze the buns!


Fried Accompaniments - Ash Plaintain, Pappadam, Chillis

Healthy Sri -Lankan Tamil vegetarian dishes often get eaten with deep fried salty accompaniments like the ones pictured above (I know, so much for healthy right?  I think its our way of feeling less guilty when we pair it oh so good and healthy vegy meals).  

Ash Plaintain Fry (Valakkai Poriyal/Green Banana Fry)
  • 1 Ash Plaintain
  • 1/4 tsp Turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp Sri Lankan curry powder
  • salt to taste  
  1.  Cut the ash plaintain into about 1cm thick rounds.  
  2. Add turmeric, curry powder and salt to taste.  Mix well.
  3. Make sure the mixture is not wet.
  4. Heat oil in a pan.  Test by frying one round.  If it burns too quickly your oil is too hot.
  5. Fry until golden brown and crisp on the edges but still soft in the middle (if its not crisp on the edges, it will be too soft and if its crisp in the middle it will be too hard!) 

Ash Plaintain/Green Banana
Coated in a spice/turmeric mixture

Fried Ash Plaintains!

 Fried Buttermilk Chillis
These chillis are deep fried and taste spicy and salty!

Simply use the same oil you used to fry your plaintain, make sure its hot and start popping them in.  When they change colour to a dark brown, you know they are done - if they turn black - you've fried them too long and they will be really hard!


 Pappadam (Appalam)

These are disc-like wafers that become crispy when deep fried and have a slight salty aftertaste.    To prepare, deep fry them and make sure they are not in too long or they will turn dark and hard.  They should be a nice light golden colour when ready:


Assorted Pickles/Yogurts

Plain Yogurt, Lime Pickle, Malay Pickle
Most Sri Lankan Tamil vegetarian dishes include accompaniments like the ones pictured above.  A dollop of plain yogurt, sour pickles and chutneys does wonders to enhancing the existing flavours.

Besides the yogurt, you can find a wide array of assorted pickles and chutneys at any South Asian grocer.  The Malay Pickle however is a very common accompaniment that can be eaten with meat dishes as well.  This pickle consists of preserved chunky vegetables such as carrots, onions, and hot chillis!

On a side note, my mother in law makes all her pickles and chutneys from scratch.  I have not come to that level but I can't wait till I'm at that point to share those recipes and techniques with my readers :D