Thursday, June 15, 2017

Pressure cooker pasta

This is one of our favorite lunch box recipes. The type of pasta, the sauce, the veggies that go into it - these change from one time to the next, but our love for this dish doesn't diminish no matter what avatar it takes.

What you need:
Pasta - 1 cup
Onion - 1 small, chopped fine
Tomato - 1, chopped fine
Capsicum - 1/4 cup, chopped fine
Pasta sauce - 1/2 cup + more, if desired
Butter - 2 tbsp
Italian seasoning
Grated cheese

In a pressure cooker, heat 2 tbsp. of butter. Add pepper corns followed by onions. Saute till they start to brown. Add tomato and capsicum. Saute well. Add the pasta, pasta sauce, salt and just enough water to cover the pasta. Cook till one whistle. Then reduce the flame and cook for another 3-4 minutes. When the pressure settles, add Italian seasoning, grate cheese and more pasta sauce if desired. Stir well. Serve hot.

This is my third post for BM#77 under the theme Healthy lunch box recipes.
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Ven Pongal

Growing up, I wasn't very fond of Pongal - mostly because it was only made once a year in my home - typically during the Tamil harvest festival of Pongal. However, the ease of making it and the fact that paired with a good gothsu and chutney, it is a complete meal in itself, has made me rethink my opinion of this humble dish. Though it is considered a breakfast dish, whenever I make it, I make a little extra so that I can carry it in my lunch box.

What you need:
Rice - 1 cup
Split moong dal - 1/2 cup
Water - 5 cups
Ginger -  a small piece, julienned
Peppercorns - 1 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - a few
Ghee - 3 tsp
Cashew - a few (optional)
Salt - to taste

Wash the rice and dal well to remove starch. Add water, salt and ginger to it and cook on a medium flame in a pressure cooker until one whistle. Reduce the flame to low and cook for another 5 minutes.
Switch off the flame and set aside. In  a separate kadai, heat ghee. Coarsely crush the pepper and cumin. Toast the cashews in ghee until they turn reddish. Add the curry leaves and crushed spices. Saute and switch off the flame.
Once the pressure settles, open the pressure cooker and mix in the ingredients in the kadai. The pongal should not be too dry. It should be mushy and well cooked. If you feel that it is dry, add some hot water and stir.
Serve hot with chutney.

This is my second post for BM#77 under the theme healthy lunch box recipes.
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM

Monday, June 12, 2017

Quick Veggie Sandwich

Sandwiches are some of the easiest lunches to put together. With a good, hearty bread on hand,, there's nothing to not like about a sandwich. To me, a good sandwich is one that doesn't get soggy in the lunch box. I've found that a layer of thick dips like hummus/guacamole usually keeps the liquid from the vegetables from seeping into the bread and making it soggy. This sandwich is one that I often pack for myself on week days to work. This is a highly adaptable recipe, and you can use any choice of fillings as per your taste.

What you need:
Bread (I love tomato basil bread and that's what I've used)
Vegetables (I've used, red onions, tomatoes and cucumber) -sliced into thin rounds
Grated cheese (I've used white cheddar)

Spread a thick layer of guacamole on one slice of bread. Top it with vegetables and grated cheese. Close with another slice of bread and if you like, slice it into half.

A week day lunch cannot get simpler than that, can it?

This is my first entry for Week 2 of Blogging Marathon #77, under the theme Healthy Weekday lunches.
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM

Monday, March 20, 2017

A simple dinner thali and the recipe for Peas Masala

BM #74 Week 3 Day 3
Theme : Thali/Platter
Dish : Peas Masala

The husband and the daughter have loved this theme that I chose. They were very, very happy to help with and polish off the breakfast thali and the lunch thali. The final thali that I have for this Blogging Marathon is a simple North Indian thali that we had for dinner.

In this thali are :
Stir fried French cut beans
Cucumber raita
Peas masala

To make the peas masala, you need the following :
Green peas - 1 cup (I used frozen. You could use fresh peas or dried ones soaked overnight and cooked)
Onion - 1, chopped fine
Green chilli - 2, minced
Ginger garlic paste - 1 tsp
Butter - 2 tsp
Cumin seeds/jeera - 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Garam masala - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Jeera powder - 1 tsp
Dhania powder - 1/2 tsp
Almonds - 12, soaked in hot water and de-skinned
Tomato - 3
Salt - to taste

Grind the almonds and the tomatoes to a smooth paste. Keep aside.
Heat butter in a pan. Add cumin seeds, green chillies and onions. Saute until the onions start to brown. Add all the masala powders and then the ground paste along with salt and half a cup of water. Let it boil over a low flame for a few minutes. Stir in the peas and let boil for a few more minutes. Adjust the consistency by adding some more water if required. Garnish with some chopped coriander leaves and switch off the heat.
Serve hot.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Mini meals - A South Indian lunch platter and the recipe for Sambar Rice

BM #74 Week 3 Day 2
Theme : Thali/Platter
Dish : Sambar Sadam/Sambar Rice

Several years back, when I started cooking, one of the things I could never get right is the quantity. For the longest time, I used to cook one dish and then we would eat it for several days. Now, with some experience, I think I am finally getting the hang of it. I still do tend to cook more when I have guest, but most of the time, I manage to cook the right quantity these days. In the initial days of cooking, I never would have imagined cooking a thali meal at home, but today, I've tried recreating the Mini meals served in several popular restaurants in Tamilnadu, India. Small portions of different varities of rice, a flatbread and its side, some fried vadam and pickle are the usual components of a mini meal.

Pictured in the thali above are :
Puri with aloo masala
Thakkali sadam / Tomato rice
Sambar sadam / Sambar rice
Thair sadam / Curd rice
Lime pickle

All the recipes except the ones for sambar rice and curd rice have been shared on the blog before and clicking on the names above will take you to the individual recipes.
Today, I will be sharing the recipe for sambar sadam. For this thali, I made sambar sadam by cooking rice and sambar separately and then combining them.

What you need:
Cooked rice - 1 cup
Cooked dal - 1/2 cup
Mixed chopped vegetables - 3/4 cup (I used carrot, beans, potato, onion and drumstick)
Tamarind paste - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Sambar powder - 1 tsp
Oil - 1 tbsp. (I used sesame oil)
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Urad dal - 1/2 tsp
Chana dal - 1/2 tsp

In a large pan, heat oil. Saute chopped onions until translucent. Add in the rest of the chopped vegetables and turmeric powder. Now add tamarind concentrate and a cup of water. Boil on a low flame until the vegetables are cooked. To make it quicker, you can pre-cook the veggies and add them to the tamarind concentrate.  Now add the cooked dal, sambar powder and salt. Stir well and let it boil for  a few minutes. Switch off heat.
Mix the cooked rice to this. The sambar rice should be a little watery as it will thicken on cooling. You can adjust the consistency by adding some hot water if needed.
In a small pan, heat a teaspoon of oil. Add urad dal, chana dal and mustard seeds to it. When the seeds pop, pour this over the sambar rice. Top with some chopped curry leaves and coriander.
Serve hot.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM#74.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Mini tiffin - a South Indian breakfast platter and the recipe for Mysore bonda

BM #74 Week 3 Day 1
Theme : Thalis
Dish : Mysore bonda

Buffets, thalis, quick meals, mini tiffins - any meal where an assortment of dishes is served on one platter is something that I can never resist. The last time we were in the husband's hometown, we went to a small restaurant where I tried out the breakfast tiffin thali. With small portions of pongal, vadai, kesari, sambar, chutney, puri masal and dosa served in a visually and gastronomically appealing manner, this is one breakfast that has been fondly talked about and remembered very often.  In fact, every time I've felt even slightly hungry, I've wished that there was some place here that served this kind of thali.  Making a large number of dishes when I don't have company is usually not my style of cooking, but  this time, I decided to make an exception.

In the platter are an Onion Dosa, mini idlis soaked in sambar, rava kichdi, rava kesari, mysore bonda and coconut chutney.
Some of these recipes have been shared on the blog before and I have included links to older posts with the recipes.
Today, I will be sharing the recipe for Mysore bonda - a deep fried snack that, though a little time consuming, is not very difficult to make.

What you need :
Urad dal - 1 cup, soaked in plenty of water for an hour and drained
Curry leaves - a few, chopped
Green chillies - 3, minced
Black peppercorns - 7 or 8, coarsely crushed
Coconut sliced into tiny bits - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste
Oil - for deep frying

Grind the drained urad dal, adding as little water as possible, in a grinder (recommended) or a blender (second best option). When well ground, the batter will be light and fluffy, floating when a bit of it is added to water.
Remove this batter into a container and add all the other ingredients except salt. (*)
Heat oil in a pan for deep frying. When the oil is hot, add salt to the batter, mix it well and drop small balls of batter to the oil. Fry on a medium flame until well browned on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain off excess oil using a paper towel.
Serve hot with coconut chutney.

* Salt, when added to the batter, makes it watery and difficult to shape. So, add it at the very end, just before you start frying, and mix it in well.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM#74.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Watermelon rind puli koottu

Bm # 74 Week 1
Theme : Festival recipes
Recipe : Puli vitta koottu (Koottu curry with tamarind)

Koottu curry with tamarind is different from the usual koottu that is made for a Kerala sadya (feast).This, I think, is the Tamil version of koottu and it finds a place in festival menus at the homes of my aunts.  The commonly used vegetables in this type of  koottu are yam (chena), plantain, or ash gourd. My choice of vegetable is slightly unusual in that I have used a part of fruit that is usually discarded. Since the rind of a watermelon has no discernible taste of its own, it lends itself beautifully to this dish, absorbing the flavors and aroma of the tamarind and coconut.

What you need:
Rind of 3/4th of a large watermelon
Chana dal - 1 cup, soaked in water for an hour
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Sambar powder - 2 tsp
Tamarind - lemon sized ball, soaked in hot water for 15-20 minutes
For tempering/tadka :
Oil - 2 tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Chana dal - 2 tsp
Urad dal - 2 tsp
Grated coconut - 1/4 cup
Red chilli - 2, broken
Curry leaves - a few sprigs

Cook the soaked chana dal in a pressure cooker till two whistles. The dal should not turn mushy. It should be cooked through, but still hold its shape.
Extract thick tamarind juice from the soaked tamarind. Keep aside.
Remove the green outer skin of the watermelon from the rind. Only the white part should be used. Chop it into small, bite sized pieces. Wash well, add a little water and cook in the pressure cooker till one whistle.
Add the tamarind extract, turmeric powder, sambar powder and salt to the cooked watermelon rind and let it boil on a medium flame until the raw smell of the tamarind is gone. Take care not to add too much water, as the final koottu should be quite thick. Add the cooked chana dal. Mix well and let it boil  till most of the moisture has evaporated. Dissolve a teaspoon of rice flour in a few spoonfuls of water. Add this to the boiling mixture to help it thicken and let it boil for a few minutes. Switch off the heat.
In a separate pan, heat oil. Add chana dal and urad dal. When the dals start to redden, add the broken chilli, curry leaves and mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds pop, add grated coconut and stir on a low flame until reddish brown. Pour this tempering on top of the koottu. Mix well and serve hot with rice or chapati.