Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Karuveppila thogayal/curry leaf chutney

When I was younger, I was always told that curry leaves are good for my hair and that eating the leaves would give me "karu-karu-nnu"(black-black) hair. Maybe it is just one of those tales that parents invent to make their children eat stuff, but I did believe this with all my heart, and never wasted curry leaves. This reasoning doesn't work with my daughter 'coz she couldn't care less if her hair is black,blue or I resort to grinding the curry leaves with other ingredients and mixing it into different dishes.
In one of my previous posts, I've talked about how my grocery store here gives me a whole lot of curry leaves for free every time I go there to get something and about how I put the leaves to good use by turning them into karuveppila podi.
This time round, I have used it to make thogayal/chutney.

What you need:
Curry leaves - 1 cup
Urad dal - 3 heaped tsp
Oil - 1 tsp
Ginger - a large piece, chopped
Coconut - 1/4 cup
Tamarind - a gooseberry sized ball soaked in just enough water to cover it
Green chilli - 2 or Red chilli - 3

Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan. Add the slit green chillies and ginger and fry on low heat for 2-3 minutes. Then add the urad dal and fry till reddish brown. Add the curry leaves. Stir for a few seconds and switch off the heat. Let it stay in the pan for a while as it will wilt further in the heat of the pan. Once it is completely cooled, add the other ingredients and blend together to a coarse paste, adding as little water as you possibly can.
This tastes great when mixed with rice and topped with a dollop of ghee or gingely oil. It can also be served with idli/dosa.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Restaurant review - Tuscana

What??? An Italain joint that serves a variety of pizzas, pasta and freshly baked breads.
Where??? 19, 3rd Street, Wallace Garden, Nungambakkam, Chennai - 34.
Contact : 044-45038008

If you love Italian food.....and if you are tired of eating the goo that passes off as pizza at other joints, then this is definitely the right place for you.
Let's start with the ambiance - the place is cheery and bright. It gets very, very crowded on do make reservations. I went on Valentines day with no reservation, but we managed to get a table outside (without AC). It was right next to where they baked the pizzas in a fire I got to see and smell all the different toppings. The blogger in me wished that I hadn't forgotten to take my camera with me. It would have been infinitely more comfortable if we'd been able to get a table inside where it was much, much cooler, but Iam not complaining.
The where do I start???Let's start with the soup. I ordered Minestrone and expected to be served tomato soup with vegetables in it, as is the norm in most Italian restaurants here. But I was in for a pleasant surprise. This soup actually tasted good. I always compare Minestrone with the one served at Olive Garden in the US (That, to me, is the best minestrone).....and the one served at Tuscana came pretty close.
The garlic bread was warm, soft and just right. It disappeared in almost no time.
For our main course, we had a 12 inch Melanzine pizza which came topped with eggplants,mozarella,cherry tomatoes,pine nuts and garlic. It tasted refreshingly different. The crust was not too thick and the insides were delicately seasoned with Italian seasoning. Unlike the cheese-oozing, greasy pizzas served at other places, this one leaves you satisfied, without being overly heavy on the stomach.
Service is quick, efficient and attentive.
Price - Expect to pay around Rs. 400-450 per person, including a glass of wine.

Will I go there again??? Definitely!!! But the next time round, I am going with reservations, so I can sit in comfort and enjoy the food.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Bhuna this....

A couple of unrelated things have played a part in the putting together of this dish. First, Tata Sky has this irritating channel where the same ad keeps getting repeated over and over again. That's right....there's no program on this is just one ad that gets repeated for an entire slot of 30-60 minutes. So, one day when I switched on the TV, I got to see this Maggi bhuna masala ad (several times) before I changed channels. I took a fancy to the name bhuna and decided that I too would make bhuna masala minus the unhealthy preservatives and the price-tag. I did no reasearch to see how to "bhuna" something, and so I must warn you right at the outset that this recipe is totally based on a vague recollection that I had of reading somewhere that bhuna means frying in hot oil until all the moisture evaporates. Based on that memory,some onions, tomatoes, ginger, garlic and cardamom got pureed in the mixie. Oil was duly heated and this puree was bhuna-ed(I love saying that).
The other thing that led to this is the fact that the only things I had on hand were cauliflower and some soaked black channa. So these were cooked and added to the bhuna masala with some salt, turmeric powder and a teeny bit of sugar. That's additional masalas.

Here's what you need:
Black chana/chick peas - 1/2 cup, soaked for about 8 hours and then cooked
Cauliflower - a small one, separated into florets and boiled till just soft
Onion - 1 large, chopped into large chunks
Tomato - 3, medium sized, chopped
Green chilli - as per taste
Ginger - a small piece
Garlic - 6-7 pods
Cardamom - 2 pods
Oil - 3 tbsp

Grind to a smooth mixture all the ingredients except the chana and cauliflower. Heat oil in a kadai. Stir in the ground mixture. Cover and cook, stirring every now and then, until all the moisture evaporates(about 10-15 minutes on low heat) and the oil separates. Then add the cooked chana and cauliflower. Also add salt, some sugar and turmeric powder. Stir well. I added some water at this point and boiled it for another 5 minutes to get a slightly moist gravy, but you can serve this dry. Garnish with some fresh corriander. Enjoy with roti, puri or rice.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Veggie puris, anybody???

All mothers are necessarily inventors. Right from the time a child is born, we take on a new avatar. We invent new ways to put them to sleep, new ways to sleep while they sleep without waking them up(i tell you i can write a book on that), new stories to keep them engrossed, silly songs to make them laugh, devious err...clever methods to sneak those veggies in. One such invention is what I am going to talk about today.
A few days back, I thought of making puris for dinner. The little girl (to see what she is up to, click here) loves puris....and we don't have to go through our usual cycle of threats and tears if puris are on the menu, but she doesn't like eating any side dish with the puri. I started off by taking some atta for the dough and then thought, hey, why not add some ragi to this? And while I was kneading together the ragi and atta, I had another Eureka moment. I decided to add some cooked, pureed carrots and some mashed potatoes to the dough. A little salt, some kashmiri chilli powder and there.....I had a complete guilt-free and tasty meal which the little girl and her friend enjoyed.

What you need:
Ragi flour - 1 cup
Wheat flour - 1 cup
Red chilli powder (I used kashmiri chilli powder)
Carrot - 3 medium sized, cooked and pureed
Potato - 1 large, cooked, peeled and mashed well
Oil - for deep frying

Mix all the ingredients well. Add water if needed and knead to a smooth, pliable dough. Divide the dough into lemon sized balls. Roll into small, thick, circles and deep fry in hot oil until lightly browned on both sides.
I served this with a simple, tangy tomato chutney. To make this chutney, heat a few spoons of oil in a pan. Chop up some onions and tomatoes into large pieces. Fry some red chillies and then the chopped onions in the oil. When the onions starts to brown, add the tomatoes and fry till mushy. Let it cool. Add some salt and grind till smooth.

This is my entry to JFI-Ragi hosted by Madhuram, Creative Food for Kids hosted at Sara's Corner, and Kid's Delight event hosted by Srivalli.