Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Kashmiri Dum Aloo for Indian Cooking Challenge

The Indian Cooking Challenge set for us this month by Srivalli is Dum Aloo. I have tried several versions of this dish before, but haven't ever cooked it using the dum method of cooking which involves sealing the cooking pot tightly with flour paste and letting the curry cook in its own steam. The recipe sounded easy enough and I had all the ingredients on hand. I completed this challenge within days of Valli posting it.

What I think of the dish:
The dish looked fantastic. As far as the taste goes, while it was not bad, it doesn't have me singing praises of it either. I felt that the taste of fennel in it was overpowering despite using less than the amount suggested. In fact, I had to scrub my kadai several times to get rid of the smell. There was a bitterness in the dish that lingered in the mouth even after I finished eating.
A change that I made from the original recipe is removing the skin of the potatoes. Somehow, I just didn't find it appealing to leave the skin on.
Overall, I prefer the other versions of this dish that I've tried before and will stick to those from now on. I do like the idea of dum cooking, though, and might do that more often.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Tomato kurma

In my journey from culinary zero to culinary something, it is Mallika Badrinath's books that have helped me along. It is her simple and do-able recipes that helped me learn the A-B-Cs of cooking. One of the first books of hers that I got is 100 Vegetarian Gravies. A look at this post of mine will tell you how much I've used this book. Today, I tried out the tomato kurma recipe in this book. I am amazed by the simplicity of the recipe and by how good it tastes.
To make tomato kurma, you need:
Onion - 2, medium sized, chopped fine
Tomato - 3 large, chopped fine
Salt - to taste
Sugar - a little
Oil - 1 tbsp
Grind to a smooth paste:
Coconut - 1/4 cup
Cashewnut - 7 or 8
Dhania - 2 tsp
Green chilli - 2 (adjust to taste)
Red chilli -2 (adjust to taste)
Garam masala - 1/2 tsp

Heat oil in a kadai. Add the onions and fry until they start turning pink. Add chopped tomatoes and let it cook on a low flame till mushy and soft. Add salt and sugar. Stir in the ground masala. Add water if needed. Let it boil until the raw smell goes and the gravy thickens.

Serve hot with idli/dosa. I paired this with idiyappam.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Lentil soup

I can count on my fingers the number of times I have made soup since I started living in Chennai. The last three days have been unusually cool(for Chennai that is), windy and rainy.....and I felt that a bowl of soup would be the perfect thing to warm us up.
This is a very simple, yet creamy and hearty soup. There are no measurements because I just threw in a little bit of this and a little bit of that to come up with this.

What you need:
Moong dal(green gram dal)
Turmeric powder
Corriander - to garnish

Take the moong dal, tomato and garlic in a pressure cooker. Add a little bit of turmeric powder, salt and plenty of water and cook till one whistle. Reduce the heat and cook for another 5-10 minutes. Once the steam escapes, allow it to cool down a bit, and then blend until smooth and creamy. Add some more water if needed. Pour it back into the pressure cooker and let it boil. Add crushed black pepper. Garnish with corriander. Serve hot.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Muringa ila vada (Drumstick leaves vada)

I live in a city where, during summer you can hear people(me included) groaning about the sweat and the heat, and when it rains, people start talking about how difficult the commute is and how horribly waterlogged the roads are.
I love the rains. I don't mind wading through muddy puddles or getting a little wet. As long as there are no old-I-will-give-you-free-advice types around, I let my daughter play about in puddles and walk in the rain without an umbrella. Mother nature never did me any harm when I was growing up and I am sure she will be just as benevolent with this generation.
Now, the rain sometimes makes me act uncharacteristically. While I love snacking, I very rarely bother to make snacks. However, the rain today had me craving for some hot, sweet, cardamom laden tea and a crisp snack. I soaked some dal to make parippu vada and then thought of adding drumstick leaves to it and turning it into muringa ila(drumstick leaf) vada. I am sure Google will tell me that someone else has had this wonderful brainwave before me, so I am not going to Google to find out if muringa ila has ever been added to vada before. Until I get a comment that tells me otherwise and breaks my bubble, I am going to be happy with "my" snack.

Here's what you need:
Tuar dal - 1 cup (washed and soaked in water for 30 minutes)
Red chillies - according to taste
Garlic - 7-8 cloves
Onion - 1 large, chopped finely
Drumstick leaves - a handful
Oil - for deep frying

Drain water from the dal. Add red chillies and garlic to it and grind coarsely without adding any water. Add the chopped onions, drumstick leaves and salt. Mix well. Take small amounts of the batter....shape it into a ball and flatten between your palms. Deep fry in hot oil until well browned on both sides.
Enjoy with a cup of tea.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Nellikka chammanthi (Gooseberry chutney)

Nellikka(also known as amla or gooseberry) is a powerhouse of nutrients. Eating raw gooseberries every morning is said to improve digestion, lend a healthy glow to the skin and keep hair black and glossy.
Nellikka is available in plenty in my part of the world during this time of year, and I try to incorporate it in our diet a few times a week.
Here is a chutney that I made using nellikka.

What you need:
Large nellikka (gooseberry) - 4 large, deseeded and roughly chopped
Red chilli - 3
Salt - to taste
Onion - 1 large, peeled and chopped into large pieces
Curry leaves - a few

Heat a tsp of oil. Add the red chilli, curry leaves and onion. Fry until the raw smell of the onions goes away. Lower the heat, add nellikka to the kadai and fry for a few minutes. Let it cool. Add salt and grind to a coarse paste.

This goes really well with idli/dosa.