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.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Pazham moru koottan

NOTE: This post is several months old....It has been languishing in my drafts for quite a while now.
A few years back, if someone had told me that I'd make plans to meet up with several random people known to me only through the internet, I would have said it is downright crazy. But that is just what I did yesterday. And the funny thing is, it is not even the first time I am doing it. I've met fellow food bloggers twice and mommy bloggers once.
So this time round, as a seasoned "blogger meet"-er, I walked in without even noting down the phone numbers of the people I was meeting. And then, as I got closer to the venue, I am I supposed to recognize them? There's only one person here that I've met and one whose face I am familiar with through her FB profile. I am the kind of person who can't remember faces that I've seen in real how am I going to remember an FB profile face? If worst came to worst, I could always identify all-female groups and walk up to them as say, Are you food bloggers?
Luckily, I didn't have to resort to that as my face-recognizing skills seem to have become soon as I walked in, I saw Lata waiting in the lobby. Identifying the rest of the group wasn't too difficult, mostly because Lata knew them or because they were familiar with her FB profile photo. Conversation and food, both were in plenty and thoroughly enjoyed.
The day after the meet found me wanting to make something simple, yet flavourful....and I resorted to an old favourite - moru koottan, which loosely translates to buttermilk side dish.
Moru koottan is a tangy, spicy dish that is made with curd, coconut and green chillies. Usually, ash gourd, colocascia, yam and fried okra are the veggies added to it. In my family, we make a version that uses ripe nenthra pazham - a variety of plantains that Kerala is famous for. This koottan is a lovely blend of three different tastes - tanginess from the sour curd, sweetness from the plantains, and spiciness from the chillies.
Mixed with rice and served with a side of spicy roasted potatoes and papadums, this is foodie heaven.

What you need:
Nenthrapazham (Kerala plantain) - 1, diced
Coconut - 1/2 cup, grated
Green chilli - 3
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Sour curd - 1.5 cups (beaten till smooth)

Add some water to the diced plantains. Add salt and turmeric powder. Boil on low heat for a few minutes until the plantains become soft, but not mushy.
Grind the coconut and green chillies to a smooth paste,using some of the sour curd for grinding.
Add this to the simmering mixture and let it boil for a few minutes until the raw smell is gone.
Now add the remaining curd and stir well. When it starts frothing, switch off the heat.
Heat some (coconut) oil. Add mustard seeds, a broken red chilli, some curry leaves and a few methi seeds to it. When the mustard seeds pop, pour this over the koottan.

1)The plantains used should be just ripe....not overripe...the skin should be yellow, with no signs of blackening.
2)The curd should be sour. I usually leave mine on the kitchen counter overnight to make it sour.
3)Use your discretion to decide how much curd is needed. Start with a cup and then, based on whether you want a more watery gravy or not, alter the quantity.
4)After adding curd to the koottan, you should not let it boil. As soon as it starts frothing, you should switch off the stove.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Samba rava cutlet

A snack, google search tells me, is a small portion of food, as opposed to a traditional meal. To me, snacks are a meal. I prefer munching on snacks to proper sit down meals. Here is an easy-to-make snack which uses ingredients that are mostly available in an Indian kitchen. The recipe is from a cookery show on Vijay TV.
What you need:
Samba rava(wheat rava) - 1 cup
Potato - 3, medium sized, boiled, peeled and mashed
Carrot - 1, grated
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Garam masala - 1 tsp
Red chilli powder 1/2 tsp
Green chilli - chopped
Ginger- a small piece, chopped fine
Garlic - a few cloves, minced
Corriander leaves - a few, chopped fine
Onion - 1, chopped fine
Oil - for deep frying

Soak samba rava in water for an hour. Drain. Squeeze out all the water and transfer to a large bowl. Mix all the other ingredients and knead well. Pinch out small balls of the dough, flatten between your palms and deep fry in hot oil until well browned on both sides.

This can be eaten as it is with some ketchup.
I sandwiched it,along with some raw onion, tomato, cheese and ketchup, between two slices of bread.

This goes to Priya's Bookmarked recipes-every Tuesday event.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Diwali sweet from Assam

Over the last few days, most TV channels have been featuring recipes for Diwali. One such recipe that caught my attention is this sweet from Assam. I am not sure what it is called.....the lady said something that sounded like Bihu Mitha. If any of you are familiar with this dish and know its name, please do let me know.

To make it, you need:
Maida/all purpose flour - 1 cup
Rice flour - 1 cup
Sugar - 1/2 cup
Jaggery - 1/2 cup
Ghee - 2 tbsp
Curd - 2 tbsp
Oil - for deep frying

Knead all these ingredients together to a smooth pliable dough. It should be similar to chapati dough. If you follow these measurements, you need not add any water while kneading. However, if you feel the dough is too hard, add a little bit of water and knead.
Heat oil in a heavy bottomed kadai. Pinch small balls of the dough. Pat it into a thick circle using your palms. Make a small depression in the middle and deep fry in hot oil, turning over once or twice until both sides are brown in colour.
Drain excess oil.

What I think of the dish:
This is definitely an easy-to-make sweet. It tastes really good - almost like adhirasam. The outer part turns nice and crisp with a bite to it on cooling and the inner part remains soft, giving it a wonderful texture.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

A sweet punch indeed - molten lava cake

Even though I mailed the Sweet Punch team a few months back, this is the first challenge that I am participating in. Despite my microwave user manual telling me that it is safe to use metal in the convection mode, I was wary, mainly because a service technician who tried talking me into buying extended warranty for the machine told me that I should never use metal, no matter what the mode. Then, a few weeks back, on my FB page, I asked if we could use metal in the convection mode, and lots of people replied saying that they've been doing it for a long time. Off I went to the store and got myself a few small ramekins for this month's Sweet Punch. I was so terrified that there was going to be a mini explosion once I put the metal into the microwave, that I asked hubby to watch over the cake as it was getting done, while I stood nearby with fingers over my ears. A few minutes passed and nothing happened. A few more...and the whole house smelled wonderfully chocolate-y. I am definitely going back to the store to get myself some more metal bake ware in different shapes and sizes.
The recipe for this month's Sweet Punch was chosen by Divya.
Recipe source :
To make molten lava cakes, you need:
Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate – 4 oz (113g)
Butter – 4 oz (113g)
Eggs – 2
Sugar – 1/3 cup (75 g)
All-purpose Flour – 1/4 cup (40g)
Butter/oil – for greasing ramekins

1. In a double boiler, melt chocolate.
2. In a medium mixing bowl, beat Eggs and Sugar until light and fluffy.
3. Once chocolate is melted, remove pan from heat and add in butter. Mix until the butter melts fully.
4. Add chocolate/butter mixture into the eggs, add all-purpose flour and mix until well incorporated.
5. Butter bottom and sides of ramekins (small glass/porcelain bowls) and pour in mixture about 3/4 way full.
6. Place ramekins on a baking tray and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 C) for 10 – 15 minutes. Shorter for gooey (molten) inside, longer for stiff inside.
The idea of a gooey center did not appeal to I baked mine for 17 minutes and the result was a soft center.

Another look....

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Chilli Rellenos (Stuffed chillies - Mexican style)

I enjoy Mexican cuisine. Sadly, the restaurant scene in Chennai doesn’t offer much choice as far as this cuisine goes. The two restaurants that offer Mexican fare fail to satisfy. The one time I visited Don Pepe, I was served substandard food that came covered in cold and chewy cheese which provided my gums with a lot of unneeded and strenuous exercise.
If you have never tasted Mexican food before, then the relatively new player on the block, Texas Fiesta, might prove to be satisfactory….but to me, it was far from good. The nachos were not crisp, they served rajma and called it black beans.
So, the only option I am left with is to make Mexican food at home. I recently picked up Nita Mehta’s Mexican Cuisine at the library and tried out this starter from her book.

To make chilli rellenos, you need:
Chillies – 6 (use the variety that is used to make bajji)
Vinegar –1/4 cup
Salt –1/2 tsp

For the filling:
Potato – 2 small , peeled, diced fine
Carrot – 1, grated
Rice – 1/2 cup
Vinegar – 3/4 tsp
Cheese spread – 3 tsp
Oregano – 1/2 tsp (I used Pizza Hut’s Italian seasoning)
Cumin powder – 1/2 tsp

For the batter:
Cornflour – 1/2 cup
Salt – to taste
Water – 1/4 cup

Remove the stem of the chillies and slit them halfway through. Remove the seeds. Pour the vinegar over the chillies and rub well with salt. Keep this aside for 30 minutes.
To make the filling:
Heat 2 tsp of oil in a pan. Add the diced potatoes and cook on a low flame until well browned. Switch off heat. Mix in all the other ingredients listed under filling.
Stuff this filling gently into the slit chillies.

Mix cornflour, salt and water to make a batter.
Dip the stuffed chillies in the batter and deep fry in hot oil until golden brown and crisp.

Off this goes to Anita's Mad Tea Party.

The Queen

Her mother in law(MIL) was coming over for lunch tomorrow. She stood in the kitchen, looking around, trying to see what faults her MIL would be able to find. Everything was dusted, clean and organized.....but that wasn't going to stop the old lady from saying something caustic. She would have to try the food route. Maybe the way to her mother in law's heart was through her stomach. What should she make??? She thought of all the sadyas that she had enjoyed and smiling, moved to pick up a little plastic packet that she'd bought on her last shopping trip. The smile became wider as she added milk and sugar to it and put it into the pressure cooker. By the time she was done with the rest of her cooking, the whole house was filled with a heady, sweet aroma. The MIL walked in, sniffing appreciatively....but trying hard not to show that she was impressed. She looked around and raised her eyebrow at the cushion that was out of place in the living room. The DIL quickly ran in to the kitchen and came back with a warm bowl of the palada pradhaman that she had made. A spoonful of that and the MIL had to really struggle to hide her delight....a few more spoonfuls and she gave up trying to pretend that she didn't like it. With a half smile in her daughter-in-law's direction, she threw the spoon aside and slurped noisily from the bowl.

What you need:
Double Horse Rice ada - a large handful
Milk - 1 litre
Sugar - 1 cup, heaped
Saffron - a few strands (optional)

Wash ada in plenty of water. Soak it for 20 minutes in hot water. Drain the water and transfer the ada to a pressure cooker. Add milk, sugar, and a cup of water. Stir well. Cook until one whistle. Reduce the heat and cook for another 10 minutes. Once the pressure has been released, continue to let the mixture simmer on low heat, stirring occasionally, until it is reduced to half. This will take a little over an hour. At this stage, the payasam will acquire a slightly pinkish colour. Switch off the heat and serve hot, warm or cold.

Any brand of store bought rice ada can be used for this payasam. However, after trying out several brands, I have found that Double Horse ada is closest in taste to home made ada.
If you don't have the patience to stand and stir the payasam for an hour, reduce the amount of sugar used, add half a tin of condensed milk and then you'll find that the payasam thickens sooner.
For an excellent post on how ada can be made from scratch, please check out this post at Kailas Kitchen.
This goes to Desi Soccer Mom who is hosting the 4th edition of Chalks & Chopsticks, a monthly event started by Aqua.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

From Her Diverse Kitchen to mine

Aparna's Diverse Kitchen is a blog that needs no introduction. It is a ready reckoner for those looking for traditional Palakkad Iyer fare or for cakes and other bakes. When Valli announced that her blog is being featured in this month's Tried & Tasted, an event started by Zlamushka and now taken over by Lakshmi, I went through her recipe index to see what I could make. There were quite a few dishes that looked and sounded wonderful, but the name Mujadara appealed to me the most. I love saying it....mujadara....doesn't that sound exotic? The fact that there were only three major ingredients was a further plus. For the recipe, please go to this post of Aparna's.

What I think of the dish:
This is a hearty, filling dish with a delicious creaminess from the masoor dal and a slight sweetness from the caramelised onions. Even though the ingredient list and the procedure look simple, do this when you have lots of time on hand, as caramelising the onions takes quite a bit of time. All said and done, the effort you put in is definitely worth it. This is one recipe that I am sure to make again.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Janmashtami bakshanam

Tomorrow is Janmashtami. Here are some recipes that are traditionally made on this day.Please click on the name of the dish to go to my earlier post which has the recipes.
Uppu cheedai
Vella cheedai

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Change is a good thing, but some changes make me sad. When I was a child, Onam was a festival that brought a lot of joy.....we used to pluck flowers from our didn't matter which flowers we used....all that mattered is that we got up early, plucked flowers, washed the front yard and decorated it with flowers. Even when we had pookkalam competitions in school, most of us used flowers that grew in our homes. The sadya was cooked at home and enjoyed by the entire family.
These days, not many children are aware of flowers like mukkutti poo and thumba poo. With more and more people living in flats, these flowers have all but disappeared. Onam has become just another reason for stores to offer discounts and grocers to rack up their prices. The commercialization of a festival that is celebrated by all religions and castes saddens me.
To help myself feel better, my pookalam on all 10 days was made of flowers and leaves from the neighbourhood. My ona sadya consisted of some basic dishes that make this season a special one.
Kaalan is one of the dishes that I made. You don't have to wait for Onam to make kaalan. Any time you have a lot of curd left over, you can turn it into this delicious dish.

What you need:
Thick,sour Curd - 3 cups
Turmeric powder – 1/2tsp
Black pepper powder – to taste
Yam –1/3 cup, peeled, cut into pieces, cooked and drained of water
Coconut – 1/2 cup, grated
Green chilli – 1 or 2

For Seasoning:
Coconut oil
Curry leaves
Red chilli

Beat curd well without lumps. Add turmeric pwd,salt and pepper to it and let it boil on low flame until all the moisture evaporates and it is reduced to an almost solid consistency.
This can be stored in the refrigerator for upto a month.
On the day you want to make kaalan, take the required amount of the stored mixture. Add cooked yam to it. Grind coconut and green chillies to make a smooth paste. Mix it in. Boil for a few minutes.
Heat a tsp of coconut oil. Add broken red chilli, mustard seeds and curry leaves. When the seeds pop, add methi seeds and remove from heat. Pour this over kaalan.
This can be eaten mixed with rice, or as a side dish.

The quantities given are approximate, as I did not measure the ingredients. Please use your judgement.
The more sour the curd, the better the kaalan will taste.
Plantain can be used instead of or along with yam in this recipe.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Restaurant review - Mahamudra

A new restaurant from Isha life that offers food that is healthy and nutritious. Most of the food is made from ingredients that have been traditionally used in Indian households for ages. There are some that are extremely familiar, and some that are new because the ingredients used are different.
Old No. 50, New No. 117, Luz Church Road, Nageswara Rao Park, Mylapore, Chennai - 600 004, Tamil Nadu, India.
For those who are familiar with the Mylapore area, this is close to Rangachari.
Will I go there again?
The restaurant definitely does have its plus-es and minus-es.
For one, the ambiance is fantastic. The whole place is done up extremely is hard to believe that such a place exists on a busy street in Mylapore. They also have a spa, a fitness center and a boutique that offers some interesting, albeit overpriced stuff.
The food is basic...they say that it is made using the best of oils and the freshest of ingredients. The usual dosas and idlis are present, with variants using ragi flour and kambu flour.
We started off with a lentil soup which, according to the menu, was to be served with ragi thattu vadai. I was looking forward to tasting the vadai when the waiter brought us three bowls of soup and a plate of bread. When I asked for the vadai, the waiter said they were serving bread instead. No complaints about the tasted fresh and good, but I was disappointed that there was no vadai.
The soup was good, but then, you can't expect mashed, watered down and salted dal to taste bad, right?
The husband had a dosa (can't remember what it was called, but it had fenugreek in it). It was light, and crisp with absolutely no trace of oil in it.
I had a thali which had akki roti, parippu vadai, 2 salads, ragi koozhu(porridge),wild rice payasam,keerai poriyal, broken wheat bisibela, and broken wheat curd.
When I saw the menu and saw that the thali had all this, I wasn't sure if I'd be able to eat it all, but I wanted to taste everything that was on it. When the thali arrived at the table, I knew that I could eat all of it and still eat something else. The portions were small....there were 2-3 tsps of all the dishes. The akki roti and the vada were of the same size and both would easily fit into your palm comfortably with space to spare. Everything tasted good, but I definitely wouldn't recommend going here if you are ravenously hungry. I really like their idea of making a bisibela and curd-rice equivalent with broken wheat. That is something I am definitely going to try out at home.
All said and done, I don't think I would want to spend 250 Rs on a thali that has stuff that I could easily make at home for a fraction of the cost.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Rules and methi kofta

Rules, especially in this part of the world that I live in, are meant to be broken. If there is a No-parking board on the road, chances are you will find that it is surrounded by parked vehicles. If there is a No-entry sign, you will find vehicles making a detour through that road.
Now, one of the first things we learn while beginning to drive is that, if you want to turn right, you switch on the right indicator....or in the absence of it, stick your arm out and point to the right....or do the same thing with your left arm/left indicator if you want to turn left. Apparently, MTC bus drivers either were not told of this rule, or they are a confused lot who can't distinguish between left and right. It is always better to give MTC buses a wide never know in which direction they might move. The bus in front of you might be at the right most corner of the road, with the right indicator flashing, and then, before you know it, the driver might make a W...I...D....E turn to the left. On Indian roads, might is right....and there's nothing mightier than a bus that is overcrowded with five times the number of people it is built to accommodate.
Which rules, when broken, make your blood boil?
Now, on to a recipe, where the only rules is Dig in with gusto!!!
Methi koftas
(Recipe source : Mallika Badrinath's 100 Delicious Vegetarian Curries)
What you need:

For the koftas:
Fresh methi leaves - 2 small bunches(roughly half a cup)
Sour curd - 1 cup
Gram flour/besan - 1 cup
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Garam masala - 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1/4 tsp

Mix gram flour, turmeric powder and salt with curd to make a thick paste. Heat a tsp of oil. Add cumin seeds and methi leaves. Fry for a minute or two till the leaves start to soften. Reduce the flame and add the flour paste. Keep stirring until it forms a thick mass. Once cool, mix in the garam masala and shape into balls.
After shaping into koftas, I used a paniyaram pan to fry these. You can deep fry in hot oil if that is what you choose to do, but believe me, there is no difference in the taste and this way, you use very little oil.
Add a little oil to each of the depressions in the pan and fry the koftas for a few minutes until the bottom starts to turn brown.

Turn over and fry until the other side turns crisp and brown.

Arrange the koftas in a serving dish and set aside.

For the gravy:
Grind together 1 onion, 2 tomatoes, a small piece of ginger, a green chilli, 1/2 tsp of dhania, 1/4 tsp of turmeric powder, a little sugar, salt, and red chilli powder.
Heat 2 tsp of oil in a kadai. Add the ground paste to it and fry on low flame until the raw smell is gone. Add a little water if you feel that it has become too thick.
Just before serving, pour this gravy on top of the koftas and garnish with corriander leaves.

Serve with parathas or rotis.

This goes to Divya's Show me your curry event.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Sindhi curry

What is it that makes people spit out of their vehicle windows, while waiting for the traffic light to turn green? Is there some kind of saliva reflex that kicks in as soon as they see a red light? People traveling by bus are the worst....they have no concern for the poor bike rider who may be waiting at an unlucky spot just outside their window. Trains are no better...if you happen to sit near an open window, and the breeze is blowing in your direction, there's no telling what you might be coated with by the time you get off the train. Today, I saw a person spit out paan no less than three times while waiting at a signal. If that statement made you go Ewwwww....I don't blame you. Why is it that our people who can't stop exclaiming how clean Singapore is, seem to develop 'dog-sees-tree-and-lifts-its leg' instincts as soon as they see a bare wall? Will things ever change?
I have a little notebook at home where I jot down recipes from TV shows, library books and any other thing that catches my fancy. This curry is from that little notebook and there's a little note on it to tell me that it is from a TV show. It is called Sindhi curry....though I have no idea if it is of Sindhi origin. It is probably like "Indian" curry powder that is sold abroad. However, it is extremely simple to make and tastes quite good. It is quite healthy too, considering that only a tsp of oil is used, and lots of veggies go into it.

What you need:
Ladies finger - 6-8, chopped into longish pieces
Carrot - 2, diced
Potato - 1, peeled and diced
Tamarind - a lemon sized amount soaked in warm water
Oil - 1 tsp
Cumin seeds/jeera - 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida/hing - 1/4 tsp
Besan/gram flour - 4 heaped tsp
Water - 3-4 cups
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Green chilli - 1
Ginger - a fairly large piece, peeled and cut fine
Curry leaves - a few
Red chilli powder - as required

Cook carrot and potatoes and keep aside. Cook ladies finger in thick tamarind extract until soft.
Heat a tsp of oil. Add cumin seeds and asafoetida. When the seeds sputter, add the besan, reduce the heat and stir fry until it starts turning brown and gives out a good smell. Slowly add water, stirring all the while so that no lumps are formed. If you do see lumps, break them by pressing against the side of the pan using your ladle. Add the green chilli, ginger, curry leaves, turmeric powder and salt and let this boil for 3-4 minutes. If needed, add some red chilli powder. Add the cooked vegetables and let it boil until the curry thickens.
I had this for lunch with rotis and then again for dinner, with wheat rava idli.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The softest and best cake ever

This cake has the record of making it in the shortest time from kitchen to blog. Seriously, I just made it, clicked some pics and ate a slice a few minutes back.
The little one is staying home today because of a fever and that means, I have to endlessly search for means to keep her entertained. A cake seemed like a good idea...she was involved in measuring out the ingredients and stirring them for me. And then, while it baked, she stood guard next to the microwave, telling me every few minutes that it was ready.
The original recipe is from here. I tweaked it a little to use up some of the stuff that's been in my fridge for a while.
As far as ingredients go, I had all the stuff on hand. So, some dates and candied fruit were soaked in hot milk and then ground. An egg that threatened to hatch into a chick if I didn't use it up soon went into the mixture. A dash of cinnamon, some oil, sugar and maida later, into the oven the cake went. What came out is the softest, darkest, and undoubtedly the best cake I've ever made.

What you need:
Maida/All purpose flour - 1 cup
Sugar - 1/2 cup
Milk - 3/4 cup
Dates+candied fruit - 1/2 cup
Oil - 1/2 cup
Egg -1
Cinnamon - 1/4 tsp
Cashew nut - a few

Soak the dates and candied fruit in hot milk for 30-40 minutes. Grind to a smooth paste along with sugar and the egg. Transfer this to a mixing bowl. Add oil. Stir well. Mix in the flour, little by little, stirring well. Add cinnamon....inhale its heady smell.....throw in some cashews....mix well.
Transfer this to a greased microwave safe cake pan. I used a loaf pan, as I wanted to cut these into tea cakes. Bake in convection mode at 175 degree celsius for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

This goes to Valli's MEC which is being hosted by PJ MEC-Favourites and to Valli's 365 days of microwave cooking.

Edited to add : People who ate this cake liked it texture, but felt that it should have been sweeter. The original recipe calls for 3/4 cups of sugar, while I used only 1/2 cup. I like my cakes to be slightly less sweet....but if you want yours sweet, please do use more sugar.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Weekend fun and the winner of the giveaway

Nope....not so fast. First, you have to listen to me talk about what a great weekend I had.
We've been planning a vacation for the longest time ever, but every time, something or the other comes up and we end up not traveling anywhere. This week, we planned NOTHING. We woke up on Saturday, and on a whim, decided to call a resort at Pondicherry and see if they had any rooms. Luckily for us, they had exactly one room left and that's it....we packed and left. After a drive of about 2.5 hours, we reached Zest, Big Beach, Puducherry (the politically correct name of Pondicherry). A welcome drink was served while we languished in the huge and comfortable papasan chairs in the lobby. Check-in was quick and efficient and before we knew it, we were in our room.

The room was classy and comfortable, and what I liked best, is that, each room seemed to be was set amidst trees and shrubs and it was almost as if we were in the wilderness. The door opened out to a small patio with two chairs and a table made out of a coconut tree stump. Sitting on the patio, we could hear the waves.

Lunch was served buffet style....and it truly was a BIG and delicious spread. After a short rest, we headed out to the pool in the evening. They have a small kiddie pool which is only 2 ft deep, and the little one had a gala time, splashing around and playing ball in that part of the pool. The water saga continued as we walked to the beach from the pool. The beach is very clean and not too crowded. There were lots of little crabs on the sand, and the little girl and the dad ran around chasing the crabs.
Saturday night was DJ night and there was lots of good music and dancing. Dinner was again a really good buffet. We were out like a light almost as soon as we got back to the room and lay down. The next morning started with a breakfast buffet (it does seem like we spent a lot of time eating, doesn't it?) and then, after the LG got a temporary tattoo done, we were off to the beach again. I really, really wanted to get a tattoo, but there were so many people waiting in line, I just decided not to, and we headed off to the beach again.

The resort has lots of activities for those who are interested. They have sessions on sand sculpture making, pottery, indoor and outdoor games, a kiddie play area, pool games, paintball, dance classes, yoga classes and a library.
If you are headed out to Pondy and are looking for a good place to stay in, I would highly recommend Zest Big Beach. It is a great place to relax and rejuvenate during the weekend, and the prices, when compared to some of the resorts here in Chennai, are reasonable.
Now that we've got that out of the are probably eager to know who the winner of the $60 CSN gift certificate is....

It is....

drum rolls please....

Sukanya Ramkumar
Congratulations, Sukanya....I have sent you an e-mail.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Watermelon shake

This is a very, very easy to make dessert/snack. Kids are sure to love this....and so will the kid in you.
There's no real recipe as such....but I just thought I'd post this here because every time I have made this, the little girl has finished it off without me having to ask her to a zillion times in an increasingly louder and frustrated voice. Her friends too love this and usually ask for second helpings.
Without further ado, here's how you make it.

Grate watermelon....remove the seeds. Chill this until it is almost frozen, but not yet solid. Add Milkmaid (or any brand of sweetened condensed milk). If you have a shaker, transfer this to the shaker and shake well until mixed. If not, just stir it really well with a spoon and serve topped with some watermelon slices and a dollop of condensed milk.

Despite having made this several times, I haven't managed to click a pic of this, as it disappears almost as soon as it is ready. Next time, maybe I'll make it when she's at school and then update this post with a pic.

I am sending this to Valli who is hosting Colouring your kids' delight.

Monday, July 12, 2010

A giveaway as my blog turns four

Yesterday(June 30), my blog turned four. It is not everyday that you get an opportunity to show people how thankful you are for the comments that they leave and the encouragement that they give. So, when CSN stores contacted me and asked me if I would like to host a giveaway to celebrate my blog's birthday, I jumped at the opportunity.

CSN Stores has over 200 online stores where you can find everything from cookware to cribs to specific needs such as dining room sets and toddler beds.

So, what is it that you win by participating in this giveaway? You get a $60 gift certificate that you can use at any of the CSN stores online, including which has products that any food blogger would love to have.

All that you have to do to take part in the giveaway is:
Leave a comment on this post with your email id.
Tell me one thing that you like about this blog and
one thing that you'd like to see changed.
That's it.....simple, isn't it???
So, go ahead....leave me a comment and win that $60 gift certificate.The giveaway is open until July 12th. One lucky winner will be chosen by a random draw. Since CSN only ships to the US & Canada, the giveaway is restricted to these two countries.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Chakka varuthathu (Jackfruit chips) - step by step pictorial

What you need:
1 medium sized raw jackfruit
Oil - enough for deep frying
Salt - 12 heaped tsp

If you think the ingredient list is small and that making this is a breeze, think again. This is TIME CONSUMING!!! Attempt this only when you have lots of time on hand.
The only part I have played in the making of these chips is in clicking the photos and of course, relishing the end product. The rest of it was taken care of by my mother.
If you're still here after that warning, here's what you need to do:

Extract the edible segments from the jackfruit. Check out this article to see how to cut a jack fruit and separate its segments.
Remove the seeds and the white strips that you find on the segments.
Now cut each segment into strips of medium thickness.

Heat oil in a large, heavy bottomed pan. The larger the pan, the faster you will finish your work. The pan that you see in the pic is a copper bottom uruli which can comfortably hold several litres of oil. For authentic taste, use coconut oil. If you can't stand it or don't have access to it or just plain refuse to use it, substitute with refined oil. When the oil is hot, reduce the flame and drop in handfuls of the jack fruit strips. Stir to make sure they don't stick together.

While this is getting cooked, take 12 tsp of salt in a small vessel. Add just enough water to cover the salt. Do not stir. Keep it aside.

Stir the chips once or twice to ensure even cooking.

When the strips are three-fourths cooked, completely reduce the flame and pour in some of the salted water (roughly 1/4 cups of salted water). It will bubble up at this be careful.

Let it cook for some more time until well browned and crisp. Drain on to a colander to remove excess oil.

Once it cools completely, store it in an air tight container.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Mango ice cream

I am busy tapping away at the keyboard when the phone rings. I glance distractedly at the caller id, pick the phone up and tell my mother that I am busy and will call her back.
Why? What are you doing?, says she.
Well, I am trying to use up all this milk that I have in the fridge and am 'google-ing' recipes for ice cream.
Why do you need google for that? It is so easy to make ice cream.
How's that?
Well, just boil some milk....add some maida and sugar to it. If you want, you can also add essence. Freeze it. Beat it twice in the mixie. That's it.
No amma.....that doesn't sound interesting in the least bit.
Look at all these recipes that google has given me - there's one that uses condensed milk, one that uses evaporated that uses cool whip(never mind that I can't get it here), others that use eggs, heavy cream, whipped cream - you name it and these recipes have it.
Your recipe doesn't use any of these - it sounds so ummmmm....boring!!!
But it has always worked for me, she counters.
We move on to talking about other things and then after saying goodbye, I go back to google.
After a couple of hours, I pick up the phone and dial a number. When she picks the phone up, all I say much maida did you say I should use?

What you need:
Milk - 1 litre + 1/2 cup
Ripe mangoes - 2, peeled and chopped into pieces
Sugar - Start with 1/2 a cup and then taste and adjust according to sweetness of mangoes
Maida/all purpose flour - 2 tbsp

Puree the mangoes in a blender along with the sugar. I used 2 alphonso mangoes and got 1.5 cups of thick puree.
Add the 1/2 cup of milk to the maida and stir well to make a thick paste without any lumps. If needed, add some more milk so that you get a smooth paste.
Boil milk in a large, thick bottomed pan. When it starts boiling, reduce the heat and let it simmer, stirring every now and then, until it is reduced to
half the quantity. This takes roughly 25 minutes.
Add the maida paste, stirring well so that no lumps are formed. Stir in the mango puree and let it cook for 2-3 minutes. While it is getting cooked, you
have to keep stirring the mixture so that it doesn't get burnt.
Let it cool. Blend well in the mixie and then pour it into a freezer safe bowl and freeze for a few hours.
Remove from the fridge and beat it well in the mixie.
Repeat this freezing, blending and then freezing again process two or three times. This will ensure that your ice cream turns out nice and creamy.

What I think:
Not being a big fan of ice creams, I have never thought beyond the occasional scoop that comes prepackaged in plastic boxes. A surplus of milk at home is what led to this experiment.
As opposed to store bought ice cream, you can actually taste and smell the mangoes that went into the making of this one. Blending the mixture thrice has made it quite creamy.

This goes to Bong Mom who is hosting Of Chalks and chopsticks, an event started by Aqua

Monday, June 07, 2010

Mambazha koottan

At the risk of repeating something that I've said too often here, summer is not a season that I enjoy. Considering that I live in one of the hottest places in India, it is something that I have learned to put up with. Just about the only thing I like about summer is the fruits that are available in plenty in all the markets....the umpteen varieties of mangoes, lytchees, nongu, plums.
Having a fruit shop right next door is definitely a plus.
This koottan is something that is made in most Kerala Iyer homes with ripe mangoes that grow in the backyard. Nattu mambazham (country mangoes) are the ones that are commonly used, but any variety that is sweet, firm and not too fibrous will work just as well.

What you need:
Small, ripe mangoes - 2
Grated Coconut - 1/2 cup
Green chillies - 3
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp for grinding + 1/2 tsp for tampering
Ash gourd or malabar cucumber(vellarikka) - 1/4 cup, skinned and diced
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Jaggery - a small piece (depending on the sweetness of the mangoes)

Peel the mangoes and cut them into large chunks. Squeeze out all the juice from the seed. Take this in a large vessel. Add the diced ash gourd along with enough water to cover it. Add turmeric powder and salt. Let it simmer on low heat until the gourd is cooked. Grind the coconut, chillies and mustard seeds to a smooth paste. Add this to the simmering mixture. Stir well and let it boil for a few minutes until the raw smell is gone.
Heat a tsp of coconut oil. Add 1/2 tsp of urad dal, mustard seeds, one red chilli broken into pieces and a few curry leaves. Heat until the mustard seeds pop. Pour this over the koottan.
This tastes best when mixed with rice and served with a spicy stir fry and papadams.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Aloo 65

Ever since I got on to Facebook, blogging has taken a back seat. My reader is brimming over with unread posts....but I can't pull myself away from FB. I am either hunting treasure or planting seeds on my farm or thinking up status messages.
This post is my way of telling myself that I can stop myself from logging onto FB if I really want to.
Aloo 65 is one of the easiest side dishes to make and also quite tasty. The only thing that takes a little bit of time is peeling the baby potatoes. Once that is done, making this is a breeze.

What you need:
Baby potatoes - about 20,cooked, peeled and pricked with a fork a few times
Thick curd - 1 cup
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Garam masala - 3/4 tsp
Kashmiri chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
1 green chilli + 3 cloves of garlic - ground into a paste
Jeera powder - 1/2 tsp

Take the curd in a large bowl and stir it with a ladle until it is smooth. Add in all the ingredients except the potatoes and mix well.
Marinate the potatoes in this mixture for at least an hour. Remember, the more you let it marinate, the more pronounced and better the flavour will be.
Heat about 3 tbsp of oil in a pan. Add the potatoes to this along with any left over marinade. Let it cook on a low flame until all the moisture is absorbed and the potatoes are well browned.

These taste great on their own and would make an ideal starter. It can also be served along with rice/rotis.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

And the answer is.....

First things first - If you don't know what the question is, go back and read this post.

The guy chose his mother. No surprises there, I suppose.
I would have loved it if he, like Sra suggests, had said they are both great cooks.....his ma makes vathal kozhambu or whatever it is well, while his wife makes a mean schezwan fried rice. But no, the answer popped out of his mouth almost as soon as the question was asked.
The wife said she had no issues with that, but then, the MIL went on to say that it was "already" 3 years after their marriage and the DIL "still" didn't know how to cook.
I felt so sorry for the can anyone say such a thing on national TV? How can she ever forgive her MIL for saying that....or her husband for standing by and saying nothing to defend her?
And what is with the "already three years"? Is there a time limit on these in, the day after you become married, you have to prove that you are a master chef?
These people forget that this young girl was in all respects just like her husband until she got married. She studied, had a good time at home and with friends, and quite likely, spent very little time in the kitchen. While he can still do as he pleases, she is expected to change overnight. Isn't that grossly unfair???

Friday, April 23, 2010

Who is the better cook?

Recently, on a talk show that I watch, the older generation(mothers & MILs) and the younger generation were pitted against each other. They talked about different aspects of life which they approached with different styles. As is the norm with all things Indian, the conversation gradually moved on to food and who was better at cooking and serving it. Interestingly, both the groups were comprised entirely of females.
What I want to draw your attention to is this young man who was called up on stage and asked to choose between his mother's and his wife's cooking.
Who do you think he said is the better cook? More importantly, do you think it was right on the host's part to ask this question at all? How do you think he should have answered???

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Hot off the stove - ICC Sago Murukku

I forgot all about this month's Indian Cooking Challenge until I saw Valli's post this morning. Thinking that I still had the rest of today to make it, I soaked sago in buttermilk in the morning. It fluffed up beautifully by evening and I was all set to make the murukku. That's when the trouble started. There were two packets of identical white flours in the freezer - one clearly labelled rice flour and the other with no label. The labelled pack contained about 3/4th of a cup of flour. I was quite sure the other one was maida though I couldn't tell. I decided to add some water to it to see if it was sticky, but that didn't enlighten me any further. Anyways, I decided that if it was maida, so be it....I was still going to make murukku with it. All the flours were duly mixed and I started squeezing the dough out of the murukku press. That was disaster no.2. I used the achu with three circular holes in it....and it was really, really hard to squeeze the dough out. I tried making it more watery, but that didn't help. The murukku kept breaking out in pieces. The end product does look quite good, though....reminds me of serial lights with little white bulbs at the end.

After 15 minutes of struggling with it, I decided to use another achu and used the one with three star shaped holes in it. I squeezed it into the oil fully expecting it to be just as difficult to squeeze out....but no, that seems to be the one thing I did slid out of the press quite easily and in another 15 minutes, I'd used up all the dough and had a dabba-ful of tasty, crunchy murukkus.

The murukku felt chewy when it was just out of the oil, but turned perfectly crunchy on cooling.
Here is Valli's recipe:
What you need:

Rice Flour 2 cups
Besan flour 1/2 cup
Fried gram flour - 1/2 cup
Sago - 1/2 cup
Salt to taste
Curd - 1/4 cup
Chilli powder - 1/2 tsp or as per taste

To make:
Soak Sago in Butter milk for 3 hrs, please ensure that you soak it enough else you may risk having the sago burst.

Mix all the flour together, heat 50 gms oil, mix to the flour along with salt and chili powder. Then add the buttermilk soaked sago slowly and knead to a chapati dough consistency

Heat oil for deep frying.In the murukku achu, add the dough. When the oil is hot, press down directly as as murukkus.

Cook on medium flame to ensure the murukku is cooked well.

Ensure sago soaks in buttermilk well and is soft or else it will burst when you press it down in hot oil.
Cook on medium to ensure even cooking.
Fried Gram flour is fried channa dal that is available commercially. It is general sold as the dal, we have to powder it at home. This is also referred as chutney dal as it is used in making coconut chutney.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

MEC-Celebrating bloggers round-up

I have always wondered why people host events. Sending out e-mails, checking entries for adherence to rules, collating all the entries in one place, and then thinking out a post that would put all these together in an interesting manner – PHEW!!! To me, that has always seemed like too much work.
When I said YES to hosting Valli’s MEC, it was the analyst in me that was at the forefront. I really wanted to find out for myself what made people do this.
Now that I’ve done it, I can tell you – THIS IS ADDICTIVE. I would never have thought that receiving a mail with the subject line MEC in it could make me so happy or that a day without any entries could have me so worried. Believe me, I loved hosting so much, I am already thinking of other event ideas.
Here’s the lineup of entries that Celebrate fellow bloggers.

“Bookmarking dishes from other blogs and trying them out is no more anything new to me..I do that all the time!!” says Divya, as she cooks up some amazing looking Chundo from Srivalli’s blog.

“It was a simple, yummy dessert, which could be prepared under 20 minutes in a MW”, is what Suma has to say about this Beet halwa made from Mahima’s blog.

Paneer is a guaranteed party pleaser. Nandini sends in Palak Paneer which she tried from Cham’s blog.

Here’s one entry that I can vouch for because I tasted it and polished it off by the end of the day. New blogger Nirmala cooked up this amazing Chocolate Cashew Almond burfi from My Culinary Endeavours.

“Iam getting very tensed, when the stuff is in oven, like i was in exam hall. i have successfully burnt cookies in my previous attempt's.” If you look at the eggless coconut and raisin scones that Lavi has made from Aparna’s blog, you will definitely not believe what she says about her cookies.

I started following Priya’s blog recently and am awed by the number of posts that pop up on my reader each day. She sends in not one, but two entries. Check out the brinjal chips she has made from Valli’s blog

and the mixed veggie halwa made from her namesake’s blog.

Sowmya sends in two entries, both chosen from my blog – Kasi halwa

and tandoori aloo,

Thank you for choosing my recipes, Sowmya. You have no idea how happy I am.

Valar makes halwa making sound like a breeze with this Carrot halwa made from Lubna’s blog.

Blogging introduces me to something new each day. Never before reading Jayasree’s post (based on Priya’s recipe) did I know that fresh jackfruit could be used to make payasam.

"Whenever i return from India first thing he checks with me is Did u get Grand Sweets/Aavin Thirati Paal?", says Priya , talking of her husband’s love for therattipal. Now that she has this microwave version tried from her friend’s blog, she doesn’t have to make trips to Aavin any more.

It is not just a sweet tooth that Priya satisfies…..she also brings in a healthy microwave spinach raita cooked from Suma’s blog

and baby-corn potato stir fry from Valli’s blog.

How long do you think it will take to make tandoori paneer? Iam sure there’s no way you would have guessed five minutes. That’s what Umm Razeen does – she whips up a mean looking dish of tandoori paneer from Priya’s blog, quicker than you can say Microwave Easy Cooking.

Aparna’s scones find another taker in Tasty Curry Leaf. Curry leaf says she is surprised that scones can be made in the microwave.

I made Sowmya’s eggless chocolate cake which is just perfect to satisfy any cravings for something sweet in a jiffy

and Indira’s strawberry cake which was baked close to midnight and polished off in a remarkably short amount of time.

Thank you all for you lovely entries. If I have inadvertently made any mistakes or left out any entries, please do let me know.