Thursday, February 28, 2008

This, that and the other

These days my cooking is governed more by what's there in the fridge than by planning and method......A little bit of this, a little bit of that, throw in some of that green leaf that's hidden at the back of the fridge...that's how most of my recipes(if u can call them that) would read these days. And that's pretty much how this dish was born. The soy beans that I tried to sprout and then hurriedly threw into the refrigerator when I had to make a sudden out-of-town-trip would never have seen the light of day if not for this dish.

Here's what I used:

Soy beans - 1/2 cup, soaked in plenty of water overnight
Whole masoor dal - 3/4 cup, soaked for a few hours
Onion - 1 large, chopped
Green chilli - 2 or 3
Tomato - 2, chopped
Garam masala - 3/4 tsp or to taste
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Jeera - 1/2 tsp

Cook masoor dal and soy beans in a pressure cooker. Make sure you add sufficient water and salt. Once it is cooked through, set it aside without draining off the excess water.
Heat some oil. Add jeera to it and let it roast for a few seconds. Stir in the chopped green chillies, onions and turmeric powder. Saute until onions start turning brown. Add in the tomatoes...cook until mushy. Now add the cooked dal and beans, garam masala and some more salt if you feel it is necessary.
Let it boil for a few minutes. Garnish with fresh chopped corriander leaves.
Serve hot with rotis.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Chenakkari (Elephant yam coated with a spice mix)

Mr. Chena(elephant yam) is a rough 'n tough guy. His hard brown exterior warns you that he will brook no nonsense. The skin that makes you itch is designed to keep you from discovering that he has a heart of goodness. If you persist and make him yield to the charm of your spices you will discover someone that's good enough to eat.....

What you need:
Elephant yam - a small one
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp

To make the spice mix:
Corriander seeds (dhania) - 2 tsp
Channa dal - 2 tsp
Red chilli - 2 (adjust according to taste)
Heat half a tsp of oil and roast all three ingredients until reddish brown. Let it cool and then powder. This powder keeps well for several days. You can make a large quantity and store it in an air tight container for later use.

To make chenakkari:
Remove the skin from the yam.....chop it into small pieces and wash well in several changes of water.
Add some water and pressure cook along with the salt and turmeric powder until two whistles. The yam should be well cooked but not mushy.
Drain excess water and keep aside.
Heat a tsp of oil in a kadai. Season with mustard seeds, urad dal and channa dal. When the mustard seeds pop, add in the cooked yam and spice mix. Stir well until all the yam pieces are coated with the spice mix.
Serve with rice or roti.

  • The spice mix can be used with other veggies like brinjal and bell pepper.
  • Cleaning the yam can make your skin itch. It's nothing to worry about, will subside in a short while.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Keera masial

My earliest memories associated with keerai (spinach) has to do with my grandma sprinkling seeds around our coconut trees and then sprinkling water over them thrice a day until we could see tiny leaves emerge from the soil. These soon grew bigger and produced the best tasting keerai I've ever known in my life. Infact, for a long time I believed that red keerai tastes the best...well, actually I still do think so....
The other varieties of keerai simply do not match up to the unique taste of the red keerai which grows rampantly in Kerala households. That said, I must also say that I have never seen as great a variety of keerai as there is in Tamilnadu. Pretty much anything and everything green is a keerai here...A visit to the local market usually finds me coming back home with a keerai that was hitherto unknown to me.
Keera masial is a very easy to make dish that lets you imbibe the goodness of the green without adding any ingredients that overpower the senses.

Here's what you need:

Spinach - any variety, 1 bunch cleaned and chopped fine.
Urad dal - 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Red chilli - 1
Oil - 1 tsp

Take the spinach in a microwaveable bowl. Add a little bit of water to it and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool. Once cool, mash it with a wooden mathu(masher) or give it just one turn in a mixie. Be careful not to blend it into a smooth paste, though.
Heat the oil for a minute in a microwave safe container. Add the urad dal, red chilli and mustard seeds to it, cover and heat for another minute or until the seeds pop. If you are not comfortable doing this in the microwave, use a stove instead. Pour this seasoning over the mashed keerai and mix well.

This is my entry to Srivalli's MEC Greens.

The dill saga continues.......

Left with a still large bunch of dill leaves after making a chutney out of it, I decided that the only way to use up a sizeable amount of it is to use it in a biriyani.

Here's the recipe......

Dill leaves - 1 cup, washed and chopped
Onion - 1 large, chopped
Tomato - 2 ripe ones, chopped
Green chilli - 2
Ginger - a small piece, chopped
Garlic - 4 pods, chopped
Cloves - 4
Mixed vegetables - 1 cup (I used potato, beans and carrot)
Soya beans - 1/4 cup, soaked overnight
Cardamom - 4 pods
Star anise - 2
Cinnamon - a small piece
Oil - to shallow fry
Turmeric powder
Rice - 1 cup

Wash the rice and soak it for 10 - 15 minutes in water. Drain and set aside.
Heat some oil in a kadai. Add the spices to it and fry for a few seconds. Then add in the onion, ginger, garlic, and tomatoes. Once the onions are browned and the tomato turns mushy add the dill leaves and stir for a few minutes until the leaves are semi-cooked. Remove and set aside. Once this cools down, grind it to a fine paste.
Heat a tsp of oil and fry the ground paste in it for a few minutes. Then add the turmeric powder, salt, soya beans and veggies. Stir until the veggies are well coated with the mixture. Add the rice to this and pressure cook until two whistles.
Njoy hot with raita and papad.

  • I used ponni raw rice in this recipe....and so used 2.5 cups of water for 1 cup of rice. If u use basmati, reduce the water to 1.5 cups.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Dill leaves chutney

Dill is a herb that I hadn't even heard of until a few months back. When I started looking for iron rich recipes and food sources, dill topped the list on most of the sites and books that I read.Since then, I've been looking for this herb. Yesterday I found a bunch of fresh dill leaves at the local grocery store. They told me that it is soya keerai or the leaves of the soy plant. Even as they assured me that it was not dill, a picture that I'd seen on google images was on the back of my mind and I decided I'd pick it up anyways.Turns out I was right....

Fresh dill leaves
Now that I had dill on hand, I realised I didn't even know what it tasted like...or what I could cook with it. I chewed on a few leaves thoughtfully, trying to figure out what it tasted like and what I could make with it. It does have a really sharp, tangy taste...for today, I decided to grind it into a chutney.

What you need:

A handful of washed dill leaves
One ripe tomato
Roasted gram dal - 4 tsp
Coconut - 1/4 cup

Grind all the ingredients together until smooth. Remove into a serving dish. Heat some oil and tamper mustard seeds and urad dal in it. Pour this seasoning over the chutney.

  • Dill does have a very sharp not use more than a handful or you'll end up with something that tastes way too strong to be eaten.
  • I've thrown in pretty much what I wanted to into the chutney. Feel free to do the same. Experiment with different ingredients. Next time, Iam planning to add in some onions to the mix.....and maybe some jaggery too.
  • Haven't used chillies in this 'coz I felt the taste combined with the tanginess of the dill would be just too overpowering.