Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Pulikachal - an instant spiced tamarind mix to make Puliyodharai/Tamarind rice in a jiffy

Most South Indians that travel are familiar with this staple that is usually made in large quantities at home before the travel date. When I was a child, the smell of pulikachal being made signified that the summer vacations were about to start. We would board the train, with a small koodai(basket) which held our dinner. Tamarind rice and curd rice, both wrapped in banana leaves from our backyard and then wrapped in a layer of newspaper and tied up with vazha naru( twine from the banana plant) would be placed in the koodai along with a bottle of water. The train had to move barely a few inches before we would start feeling hungry and start opening our packets of food. The smell of rice wrapped in heated banana leaves is truly something that you have to have experienced to understand. Mere words are not enough to describe how incredibly satisfying it is.

Pulikachal, the key ingredient in making puliyodharai/tamarind rice is sold as puliyodharai/puliyogare/tamarind rice mix in stores, but if you have a little bit of time, then it is easy to make at home.

What you need:
Tamarind - 1 lemon sized ball soaked in 2 cups of hot water
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Salt - to taste

For the spice powder:
Urad dal - 3 tsp
Red chilli - 7 or 8 (adjust based on your spice tolerance and the spiciness of the chillies used)
Coriander seeds - 3 tsp
Sesame seeds - 2 tsp

For tempering:
Sesame oil - 1/4 cup
Urad dal - 1/2 tsp
Chana dal - 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Red chilli - 2, broken
Curry leaves - a sprig
Peanuts - 1/4 cup

Extract thick juice from the soaked tamarind and keep aside.

In a heavy bottomed pan, dry saute the urad dal, coriander seeds and red chilli until the dal turns reddish brown. Add sesame seeds and toast quickly till it starts to pop. Cool, powder and keep aside.

In the same pan, heat oil and add all the tempering ingredients except peanuts. When the mustard seeds pop and the dals turn reddish, add the peanuts and toast for a minute. Add tamarind extract, turmeric powder and salt. Let this boil over a medium flame until it starts to thicken and oil starts separating out from the sides. Switch off heat and add the spice powder. Mix well.
Once it cools completely, store in an air tight container. This can be stored at room temperature for a week and in the refrigerator for up to two months.

To make puliyodharai, add required quantity of pulikachal to cooked, cooled rice and mix well.Adding a spoon or two of sesame oil while mixing it with rice adds to the taste. I also feel that the rice absorbs the flavor of the mix better if it is allowed to sit for at least a few hours after mixing.

This is my entry to Blogging Marathon under the theme Kids' delight - Travel food.

This also goes to  Srivalli's Kids' Delight event guest hosted this month, by me, on the theme Travel Food.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Rava upma ready mix - Make your own ready-to-cook instant mix at home

Sometimes, when we take extended vacations, I make and carry some simple ready-to-make mixes using which I can quickly make a nourishing meal that satisfies the tummy and takes care of the craving for home cooked meals. Even though we like to eat out and try local foods at all the places we visit, over an extended period of time, eating three meals a day at restaurants takes a toll on the stomach and the wallet. MTR style ready-mixes like these are good to have on hand at such times. I came up with this recipe by looking at the ingredients on the Rava upma mix pack sold by MTR and other similar brands in Indian grocery stores. I then decided to make these at home adding ingredients that my family likes minus the preservatives and additives.

What you need:
Rava/Semolina/Sooji - 1 cup
Oil - 1/8 cup
Urad dal - 1/2 tsp
Chana dal - 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves - 7 or 8
Green chilli - 2, chopped fine

In a large pan, heat the oil over a low flame. Add chana dal, urad dal, curry leaves and chopped chillies. Fry these over low to medium heat until the dals turn reddish brown and the curry leaves and chillies turn brown. Only when the curry leaves and chillies turn brown on all sides does it mean that they have lost all moisture and can be stored for a long time. Add mustard seeds and let them pop. Now add the rava. Stir well and roast over low flame until the rava starts to turns reddish brown. Stir in salt. Switch off heat and let the mix cool. When it is completely cool, transfer to an air tight container. This can be stored at room temperature for a week and in the refrigerator for over a month.

Optional additions:
You can add chopped onion too to the mix. If you choose to, then this should be added while the chillies are being sautéed and you should saute the onions over a low flame until they are  brownish black and all traces of moisture is gone from the onions.

To make upma, you should cook 1 part of the upma mix in 2.5 parts of water. I usually carry a small rice cooker and make upma in it.

This is my entry to Blogging Marathon under the theme Kids' delight - Travel food.

This also goes to  Srivalli's Kids' Delight event guest hosted this month, by me, on the theme Travel Food.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Air fryer Masala peanuts

Hunger and distance from home are directly proportional, in my opinion. The moment you step out of home, you tend to feel hungry and that feeling intensifies with the distance that you travel away from home. When there are kids in the picture, then hunger tends to be of specific kinds - like hunger for potato chips, thirst for soda/juice and so on. 

Whenever we travel, I try to pack some home made snacks that we can munch on whenever we feel like it. One of the recent snacks that I tried making in a relatively oil free and healthy manner is this masala peanut which was well received by the kid and the rest of the family.

What you need:
Shelled Peanuts - 1 cup
Chick pea flour/besan/gram flour - 1 tbsp.
Rice flour - 2 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt - to taste
Oil - 1 tsp

In a bowl, mix the flours, chilli powder and salt. Add water, a little at a time, to make a thick paste. Add the oil to this and mix well. Add in the peanuts and mix well, making sure that the peanuts are coated well with the masala mixture.
Preheat air fryer to 350 degrees farenheit. 
Arrange the peanuts in a single layer, separating them out as much as possible in the fryer basket. Air fry for 4 minutes. Stir the peanuts and heat for a further two minutes. 
Remove and let cool. The peanuts will become more crisp as they cool.
Once completely cooled, store in an air tight container. These will stay good for 3-4 days at room temperature.

This is my entry to Blogging Marathon under the theme Kids' delight - Travel food.

This also goes to  Srivalli's Kids' Delight event guest hosted this month, by me, on the theme Travel Food.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Kids' Delight Announcement - Travel food

If your family travels, whether on long vacations or short road trips, chances are, you have spent some time thinking of the food that you will eat while traveling. If your kids are anything like mine, you will not be surprised to hear them say "I am hungry" just as often as "Are we there yet?". Preparation is key to keep hunger at bay.
That brings us to this month's Kids' Delight theme - Travel Food. Any dish that you have tried and tested and has the seal of approval from your kids, which fits into the category of travel food can be sent in as an entry. It could be a quick snack, a complete meal, a home made ready-to-cook mix that you carry with you when you travel - basically, anything that will take the stress off planning meals and lets you enjoy your trip. It is totally optional, but would be great if you could share some food related travel tips and even some food related memories from your travels.

There are a few simple ground rules to follow when you send in your entries:
  • First off, feel free to send in as many entries as you want to.
  • Any entries posted from today through April 15th can be sent in.
  • The entries must be new posts - not from your archives.
  • Since my blog showcases vegetarian food, I would appreciate it if you could send in entries that fit in to the vegetarian theme. However, eggs are OK.
  • In your post, please make sure that you  add the line(with link backs) "This is my entry to Srivalli's Kids' Delight event guest hosted by Jayashree on the theme Travel Food". It is mandatory to link to both Srivalli's original announcement and this announcement of mine.
  • Please mail your entries with the subject line "Entry for Kids delight - Travel food" and a photo to
  • I would greatly appreciate it if you could add this logo to your post as well

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

27 Breakfast ideas to help you start your day on the right note

Everyone must have heard at least once that they should not skip breakfast. A good breakfast - one that is a balanced mix of proteins, carbs and essential vitamins and minerals fills you up with energy and helps you get ready to face the day.  If you often find yourself making the same dishes for breakfast and wanting to break out of your routine, I have just the thing for you. In February, some of my fellow bloggers & I participated in the Blogging Marathon and posted breakfast dishes from different places. This is a round-up of all those breakfast dishes in one place. We have an amazing array of not just one or two, but 27 breakfast dishes from around the globe.

Priya, a versatile blogger who doesn't shy away from experimenting with different cuisines, brings us Mekitsa, a fried dough from Bulgaria, Brioche buns and homemade English muffins. Whether you make these ahead for breakfast or decide to try these out for a lazy weekend brunch, these are sure to delight.

Sandhya's Cooking journey showcases Rava kichdi, Sabudana kichdi and Neer dosa - a lacey, soft crepe. Try these out to wow your family and friends.

Whether you are fasting or feasting, Bhawna has you covered. She brings us Sabudana vada, Instant dhokla and Gobi parathas.

Sushma's posts are a perfect amalgamation of North and South Indian breakfast foods. Khara bhath and pesarattu from the South vie with Mooli parathas from the North for your attention.

The diversity of Indian food is perfectly showcased by Srivalli, whose brain child the Blogging Marathon is. Aloo parathas from Amritsar, Mirchi vada pav from Rajasthan and Lauki-nu-muthia from Gujarat offer a power packed and tasty way to start your day.

Jayanthi brings in some steamed goodies. Her idiyappam, upma kozhakattai and Kanchipuram idli are a healthy and tasty way to begin the day.

Sandhya showcases some quick breakfast dishes in the form of no-ferment dosas and upma. Check out her neer dosa, rava upma and ragi dosa.

If you are looking for something that combines nutrition and taste, look no further than PJ's aval upma, oats dhokla and matar poha chura.

My contributions to the breakfast theme are Rava rotti, Bedmi poori and Raswala aloo which are great not only as breakfast dishes, but also make for a hearty weekend brunch.