75 years of experience all bundled in a 5 feet petite frame. Hands that have worked a gazillion times to feed much of the family, friends of the family, extended family and friends of the extended family. And not necessarily gone by the book. She does not need measuring cups and tools. Her weathered hands just scoops and scores. Nothing fancy about it , but the taste is always impeccable.
A bit of this and bit of that, and much love added as well. The age has definitely slowed down the bundle of activity a lot and I am witness to it . And just as to defy it, she clears the fridge out of 3 bundles of cilantro – fresh and not so fresh ones and makes her spice mix . Oh and what a hit it is at home. The flavor and aroma of it is simply outstanding and is a great accompaniment to everything from Idli’s and Dosai’s to a great topping on buttered toasts and sprinkled over fresh plain yogurt…Just eat it plain, with oil, swirled in yogurt or as you wish…Whatever you do , do not miss out on this one !
A great way to finish up large bunches of abundant cilantro or coriander leaves, a great substitute for regular coconut or tomato chutney and molagaipodi, a wonderful spice flavoring for rice and an awesome way to eat up large quantities of green. A finger licking concoction from the hands of a culinary expert , my MIL .
Prep time : 10-15 min + over night drying time for washed coriander leaves
Active time : 15 min
Shelf life : 1 month , best stored in refrigerator to prevent loss of flavor
Fresh coriander bunches, trimmed : 3 -4, large bunches
Channa Dal : 1/2 cup
Split, de husked Urad dal : 1/2 cup
Dry red chilies – 10 ( spicy kind)
Dry Bydagi or kashmiri chilies – 4 ( non spicy, but adds vibrant hue)
Sesame Oil/ Saffola oil/ canola oil : 2 Tbsp.
Asafoetida : A generous pinch ( 1 tsp.)
Salt : 1.5 tsp. + adjusted to taste
Dry tamarind : 3-6 inches
Powdered Jaggery : 1/2 tsp.
Turmeric powder : 1/2 tsp.
Preparation of the coriander leaves:
Trim the ends of the large bunches. I simply twisted out about 3 inches from the bottom to remove the stems. Wash in cold water very well. At least 3-4 times to remove the impurities.
Spread out on a paper towel or napkin, in a cool dry place to dry in shade. I usually do this very late in the evening and it dries overnight on the counter.
Preparation of the dry chutney mix:
In a wide skillet add half a tbsp. of the oil of choice and roast dry chilies and dry tamarind and set aside to cool.
Add in additional 1 Tbsp. of oil and roast the channa dal and urad dal sequentially to yield brown roasted lentils. Do not speed up this process. You will have burnt lentils on your hand. Medium high is the way to go. Also do not roast both the lentils together. Channa dal takes time to roast and split urad dal will brown faster. So take it step by step. Remove and set aside to cool.
Add in the remaining half tbsp. of oil and add the washed, dried cilantro with turmeric and half a tsp. of salt and wilt the cilantro. I believe this will also preserve the green color of the leaves. Remove and set aside to cool
In a blender, add the red chilies and roasted tamarind and blend to a coarse mix and set aside in a mixing bowl.
Add in the dals and jaggery and salt and whiz to a very coarse mix and empty out in the same mixing bowl.
Add in the wilted cilantro and whiz a couple of times to shred it, add in the dal- chili mix to give a final couple of spins to yield a very coarse, granular, dry mix.
Remove , taste test for salt and spices and store in cool dry place. As in my case, these were transferred to mason jars and stored in the refrigerator.
Notes: Do not over blend , you will be left with a thick paste. Pulsing is the way to go. Your aim is to have a coarse powdery mix of cilantro and lentils. You will notice the natural flavor and texture of cilantro this way. Another option is to roughly chop the cilantro after drying it and before wilting it in the skillet. This way you will have more even mix rather than rustic texture. Either way you cannot go wrong with it.
Pic ref : If you are wondering above the tag on Manirathnam on one of my pictures it refers to a maverick and extremely talented director of Indian cinema – who made movies using the diffused and dark light effect. When I shot this picture, I thought of him 🙂
An eternal favorite at home this simple chutney made of fresh or frozen grated coconut , roasted channa dal or dalia and flavored with fresh mint is a notch above the usual. The entire assembly is done in minutes literally and you will have one of the best tasting accompaniments ever for dosa or idlis.. Well aware of moderation being the key, this coconut chutney is perfect when you do not over indulge.
Fresh ingredients bring to the table the flavor that is best described lip smacking !
Grated coconut ground with fresh mint, chili and ginger and seasoned with crackled mustard seeds and split urad dal.. Now how can you resist it?
Fresh or frozen grated coconut : 1/3 cup
Roasted Channa dal or Dalia : 1/4 cup
Fresh green chilies – 4-5 ( please adjust according to spice level)
Ginger : skinned, 1 inch piece
Fresh mint leaves : 10-12
Salt : 1 tsp.+ adjusted to taste
1/2 – 3/4 cup of water
Oil : 1 tsp.
Mustard seeds : 1/2 tsp.
Split white Urad Dal : /2 tsp.
Asafoetida : a generous pinch
Curry leaves : 4-6 , torn in halves ( I was out of these)
If using frozen coconut , do bring it to room temp before grinding. Alternatively nuke it in the microwave for about 15-30 seconds.
Initially coarse blends the ingredients listed under chutney without adding water. Then add the required amount of water to smoothen out the consistency and to bring it to required thickness.Smooth grinding is essential otherwise flavor is lost.
To season it, heat a tsp. of oil in a skillet or fry pan and add the mustard seeds and hing. The seeds will crackle and you can subsequently add the split urad dal and curry leaves. Allow the dal to brown a bit and scoop everything out and add to the chutney.
That’s it . Ready to serve with piping hot idlis or dosa.
Don’t you just love greens??…We love it here too. Love green chutneys and sandwich spreads.. but this one is special.. It indulges your senses with the tanginess of tamarind and the freshness of the coriander leaves sautéed, oh but just for a minute.
Thickened by browned urad dal and black pepper it is a culinary sensation when you let your self indulge in it when mixed with hot steaming rice and ghee ( if you are really really brave) or with gingelly oil . Goes great as well with puffed up phulkas and Molagaootal. C’mon now the last one cannot surprise you.. for anyone with a remote connection to Palakkad will understand one’s love for it. In my household the love for Molagootal can sometimes rival familial bonds of affection 🙂
A quick and easy prep and takes about 15 – 20 minutes;
Prep time : 5-8 minutes Cook time : 5-7 minutes Serves – 6-8
Split , Skinned Urad Dal : 1/2 cup
Tamarind piece : 1 inch ( alternate : use 1 tsp. of tamarind paste)
Red chilies : 4 ( adjust to spice level)
Black peppercorns : 1 tsp.
Salt : 1 tsp.
Oil of choice : 1.5 – 2 tsp.
Water : 1 tbsp. to aid in grinding
Coriander leaves : 1.5 – 2 cups , chopped roughly
Warm a non stick or cast iron skillet or kadhai and add the oil in it.
Add the red chilies and urad dal and black pepper corns and roast it until the dal attains a golden brown color and the black pepper corns start to sputter. Add the tamarind piece if using and sauté for another min or so.
Drain and set aside to cool.
Turn of the flame and in the remnants of the oil with sustained heat, add the chopped fresh coriander leaves and sauté for a min or two. The idea is to take the raw edge of the coriander leaves but retain the natural color and freshness of it.
Remove and set aside to cool.
Once sufficiently cooled, in an efficient blender grind the sautéed dal and spices first. You will get a coarse powder . Add the salt and the slightly wilted coriander leaves next and grind it with the aid of a tablespoon or so of water.
Note : if you are using tamarind paste, you will add it along with the leaves to be ground.
The consistency of this chutney or relish is not very smooth or find ground. It is not meant to be. The coarseness of it will lend a very earthy and rustic flavor.
There is not need to add any extra seasoning to this. But if it becomes too spicy to handle then definitely season it with mustard seeds spluttered in a tsp. of hot oil . It will bring down the spice level a couple of notches.
A trip to any grocery store invariably ends up in me looking for fresh beets. And if it is usually packed with leaves, then the fresher the better naturally. The gorgeous color and crispness of the leaves is a natural draw for me. Actually I am a sucker when it comes to all kinds of fresh leafy greens (Make it most of the veggies ). Can never resist the siren’s call !!!
So there was this lushest pack of beets beckoning to me in the produce section of HT. Gorgeous bright green leaves with veins of deep red and big fat beets clustered to it. I just had to pick it up! Don’t judge me please, I can always rationalize it as how one can never have too many veggies. So in any case, these gorgeous beauties came home and I was itching to make something out of it. Usually the leaves can be sautéed and made with a bit of soaked dal to yield a side accompaniment. But I want something else.. I wanted to make this relish that my mom and grandma could practically whip out of any vegetable. The basic recipe remains the same but the varieties it yields with it as the base is amazing. This is great as a spread, a side dish or to simply use it up mixed with rice and veggies as well.
Beet leaves sautéed and fine ground with roasted urad dal, tamarind, red chilies, whole black pepper to yield a slightly spicy, a bit tangy and wonderful earthy relish/ spread/thogayal. Chockfull of nutrients in a bowl!
Prep time : 10 min Cook time : 10 min Yields : 8 -10 servings
Shelf life : 1 week refrigerated.
Beet leaves – trim stem, chop roughly to yield 2 cups
Skinned, split Urad Dal : 1/2 cup
Wet tamarind : 1 inch piece
Whole black pepper : 1/4 Tbsp.
Red chilies ( mix mild to high heat) – 4-6 or lower according to spice level
Oil : 2 tsp.
Salt : 1 tsp + to taste
Water : 1/3 cup – add as required to grind
Optional : Seasoning ( but highly recommended)
Oil : 1 tsp.
Curry leaves : 4-6
Mustard seeds : 1 tsp.
Hing : a generous pinch
In a skillet add initially 1 tsp. of oil and on heating add chilies and whole black peppers,
Add washed,skinned, split urad dal and roast till it is a nice brown in color. Drain and set aside to cool.
In the same skillet , add another tsp. of oil and now add the thoroughly washed and cut beet leaves and sauté till it is tender. Say about 5 minutes. Add the piece of tamarind. Turn off the flame and scoop it side in another plate to cool.
On cooling , grind the dal and chili and pepper mix initially along with salt to a rough grind.
Add the leaves and tamarind and a couple of tablespoons of water and grind till you reach your desired consistency. Add more water if desired. A smoother relish will be easier to handle but will have lower shelf life if you add too much water.
Optional Seasoning but highly recommended:
Heat oil in skillet, add hing and when it sizzles add mustard seeds which will splutter in the heat and then add curry leaves.
Turn off the flame and pour it over the relish and mix it well.
This is a great way to temper the spices as well enhance the taste if the relish along with increasing the shelf life a bit.
Enjoy with hot steamed rice, phulkas , dal and even a slice of toast!
It was hot sultry calm before the storm in NC. Very hot and humid weather and temperature in higher eighties.. We know what happens next here – thunderstorms and heavy rains. Predicted in the next 24 hrs. That still did not stop us from cribbing and hoping we could have a bit of the cooler breeze. But nonetheless, as part of the fridge cleaning process, I came across a bunch of beets.. And that’s what became of these..
This was such a delight to have.. Made a cool Minty Cucumber Greek Yoghurt Dip and it was absolute heaven on hot sultry night.. Kids loved it! The only indulgence was the addition of bread crumbs made easier on self cause I used the wheat kind. The shredded raw beets and crunch of sesame on the top and great blended flavors from the spices boosted this to just another level !
Prep time : 30 min Cook time : 30 min Yield : 36 cutlets
For the base:
Fine Shredded Raw Beets : 1 and another 1/4 Cups
Fine Shredded Raw Carrots : 3/4 cup
Fine shredded Onion : 1/4 cup
Boiled Potatoes : 2, peeled and mashed
Bread Crumbs : 1/4 cup
Roasted and powdered Oats : 1/4 cup
Roasted and Powdered flax seeds : 1/4 cup
Fresh Cilantro Chopped :1/4 cup
Fresh Mint Chopped : 1/4 cup
Fresh Jalapeno : 2 chopped fine ( optional)
Red chili powder : 1 tsp. ( optional and adjusted to spice level)
Garam Masala : 1.5 tsp.
Chat Masala : 1 tsp.
Salt : 1.5 tsp.
For the outer covering to create the crunchy crust:
Bread Crumbs : 1/2 cup
Sesame seeds : 1-2 Tbsp.
To cook :
Oil as desired
Pulse everything listed under the base in your food processor or if not in wide bowl by hand. The idea is to bring it all together to form a wet mass. This is achieved when the wet sticky potato mass combines with the fresh ingredients. You typically will not need any water at all to bring it together.
Make 2 inches flat patties in diameter and about 3/4 of an inch thick out of these and set aside.
Mix everything listed for the crust and set aside. If you do not wish to add bread crumbs but just the sesame seeds, it will bring out the richness and color of beets but you will still miss the crunchiness of it.
Coat these patties well in the bread crumbs – sesame seeds mixture. Nope, I did not initially dip it in milk, corn flour paste, flour paste or any such thing. The wetness of the patty was enough to coat the bread crumbs mix..
Note: The patty was wet but definitely not sticky.
In a wide skillet, add a Tbsp. or so of oil and gently swivel it so it coats the entire surface of the skillet and then heat it . ( A nonstick would be pretty useful here).
Gently place the patties on the heated oil surface and cook for about 5 – 9 minutes. Flip it once in the 4-5 minute interval and gently press down to ensure they are cooked thoroughly but not smushed.
Do cook it in medium high heat. In very high heat just the outer layer would be cooked and you will have soft raw middle.
Serve it with cool yoghurt dip.
Minty Cool Yoghurt dip:
2 cups of Greek / very thick yoghurt or sour cream
1 cup of very finely shredded cucumber
1/4 cup of very finely chopped mint
1 tbsp. of chaat masala
1/2 tsp of salt
Mix all together and serve!
Option 1 : Yes you can deep fry this. Yes it will taste absolutely delicious, but man why would you want to do it on a hot spring night and also kill the beets?
Option 2 : Baking . I did try baking it on 375 – 400 for about 15 minutes. The pan version yielded better taste though.
Superfast, Super quick , Super delish and uses ingredients most often found in your pantry . The best part about this is the fact that it is so versatile and has a burst of flavors all in one. You can keep the consistency thick enough to make it into a sandwich spread, or add a dollop on your burger when grilling. Or thin it out a bit and it become the most awesome chutney for Idli, Dosa(i), Adai, Upma .. You name it! Slightly vary the flavor and you have a super hit dip on your hands for those multi grain chips.. Oh! you can let your imagination run wild. But trust me, this is one chutney you will not regret to add to your list of must- do’s or repertoire.
Channa Dal or skinned peanuts : 1 Tbsp
tamarind paste : 1/2 tsp
Onion : 1 big , Chopped fine
Tomato: 1 big Chopped fine
Carrots: 1 big, peeled, Chopped fine
Cilantro : 1/4 cup, Chopped fine
Mint: 1/4 cup ,Chopped fine
Oil: 2 tsp
Green chilies : 2
Red Bydagi chilies : 2
Salt : 1 tsp
In a skillet, heat one tsp of oil and fry the channa dal or peanuts if using to golden brown.
Also add in the red Bydagi chilies and fry them. Next add in the green chilies to fry it a bit more.
Scoop it all out in a plate to cool it down a bit.
Add in one more tsp of oil in the same skillet and fry the onions, tomatoes and carrots in the sequential order. Take care to ensure these are nicely cooked/sautéed.
Turn off the flame and add in the chopped cilantro and mint and stir it in. The residential heat in the pan is enough to slightly wither the greens and take the edge of the raw nature of it.
Scoop this out on a second plate to cool the contents.
In a blender, dry grind the channa dal or peanuts with the red chilies initially into a dry rough grind. Next add in the green chilies, tamarind paste, sautéed veggies and salt and blend very well without water.
Add in a few tablespoons of water to thin out according to need , but ensure it is given a final whirl in the blender before use.
That’s it! Simple and ready for a multitude of uses.
Don’t’ have channa dal or peanuts? Try using split urad dal or almonds. Works like a charm and don’t be shy to experiment a bit.
Don’t have red Bydagi chiles?Add in a tsp of kashmiri mirch powder or simply exclude it from the recipe.
Mint and cilantro can be mutually exclusive in this recipe or added with a bit of sweet basil and you have a completely different flavor.
Add in sautéed ginger and introduce a new variation to this.Want to add garlic? Yes yes you may do so, but ensure again it is sautéed very well.
Uses: sandwich spread, relish, topping, accompaniment to dosas, idli, rotis, upma and more, dip for multi grain chips and crackers, veggie dips.
Fresh Cilantro and Mint Chutney- Green , tangy dressing anyone?
Super quick post..Been wanting to add this in the Basics for some time. Prompted to do this cause of FB request from a dear friend asking me for my version of this. Of course if you troll the inet, everyone and their cousin will have one of this , but I simply love this version.
Want a dressing that is ?
Low fast : check
Quick : check
Filled with green stuff : check
Passes taste test: check
Freezable : check
Multiple uses: check
So without much ado…
Fresh Cilantro leaves : 1.5 cup packed ( chopped finely)
Fresh Mint leaves : 1 cup packed ( chopped finely)
Dhalia/Roasted Channa Dal : 1/4 cup
Cumin seeds : 2 tsp
Green chillies : 10-12 ( as required)
Lime : juice of 1
Sugar : 1 tsp
Salt : 1/2 tsp
Tamarind paste : 1 tsp
Grind the roasted channa dal or dhalia with the cumin seeds . ( You can substitute any nut to this. The idea is to create a thick base. on occasions, I have used almonds, peanuts or even walnuts).
Add in the rest of the ingredients except the lime juice and blend it well. Add water as required. You can make it quick thick and dilute on requirement. Or serve this as thick sandwich spread.
Once blended , nice and smooth add in the lime juice, give it a whir and store it. the purpose of the lime juice is two fold – it prevents discoloration and has the zing factor !
In the fridge, stays fresh for a week or so.
For rainy day use, stick it in the freeze in smaller quantities, so you can defrost the required amount only.
For flavor variation, a fresh piece of mango ginger does wonders. Also you can make this completely nut free and lentil free and just stick to the greens.
Uses: sandwich base, chaat dressings, dressing on salad, dips and more
I often get into one of those “ I so need to clean the pantry “ moods .. especially when I have something major lined up. In this case , it was prepping for the 30 day salad event and with 2 family birthday part events lined up, including one with a herd of teenage boys in the house (shudder ) running amok fueled high on pizza and cake. If you think that’s bad, you see I have another one lined up in 48 hrs – this time it’s a bunch of rising first graders ! Try pizza, cupcake and juice this time .. Plus we do have a family and friends grilling event lined up as well. I love my life .. if I don’t have enough madness thrown at me, I am capable of self- inflicting it! And old habits die hard. You see , I would be one of these maniacs who believed that chasing the dust bunnies and labeling the containers, yields to peace of mind. After all, I would be the one majorly cleaning up my room before an exam !
In any case, I am digressing . So on one of these infamous treasure hunts through the pantry, I discover a stack of cans –3 organic Kirkland tomato paste and 3 cans of Hunt’s diced tomatoes to be precise. I toyed with making homemade pasta sauce vs a nice tomato relish in the tradition Indian style. And guess which won???
Prep time : 10 min Cook time 30-40 min
Organic Tomato Paste : 3 cans
Diced tomato in juice : 3 cans ( blended )
Flavorless oil : 3 tsp
Mustard seeds : 2 tsp
Asafoetida : A generous pinch
Curry Leaves : 12 – optional. Washed and dried thoroughly
Tamarind paste : 1 tsp
Fenugreek seeds or Methi seeds : 1 tsp
Red chilli powder or Parika powder : 1-2 tsp
In a nonstick pan, dry roast 1 tsp pf fenugreek seeds and mustard seeds till they sputter and you notice a faint red color on the former. Let this cool down and pulverize it to get a smooth dry powder and set it aside.
In a nonstick wok or big sauce pan , heat the flavor less oil and add in the Hing and 1 tsp of mustard seeds.
Once the mustard seeds sputter add in the blended ( run the diced tomatoes in their juices in a blender to smoothen it ) tomatoes and stir.
Cover partially and let the mixture reduce to half its volume. In effect you are trying to get rid of the water content through heat reduction.
Now add in the paste of the tomatoes from three cans and stir it well along with the added teaspoon of tamarind paste.
You will see the mixture thickening considerably.
Let it thicken some more and then add in the salt, and chilli powder and stir well.
In about 10-15 minutes, you will see the mixture thickened to a soft jelly consistency. Take care not to work this on very high heat.
Now add in the pulverized mixture of fenugreek and mustard seeds – 1 tsp. Stir well and turn off the flame .
Let this cool down completely before storing it in a dry mason jar.
Work the mixture on medium high heat. The idea is to get rid of the water content. Working on very high heart will risk the mixture getting burnt.
Add in the fenugreek mustard seeds at the penultimate stage. You really do not want to add it in early on. It might result in bitterness been imparted .
If you choose to add in the curry leaves, it needs to be added in the stage before you add in the blended tomatoes.
Check the spice and salt levels before you add in the dry powder mix.
This is a great side and accompaniment for Idli’s, Dosa’s, Bread and more.
And one that can be made in a jiffy and not the store bought one?
Oh did I emphasize the yummy , tasty lip smacking part again…???
Alright then off we go on to this journey about how this one came about. Well North Carolina’s sweltering heat can make even the best of the well intentioned people not to venture into the cooks creation place aka kitchen.
Impromptu awesome company..check
red wine .. check
Near bare pantry .. check..
But rummaging through yielded …
Garbanzo beans – small can
Dried garlic – yes dried up garlic .. sigh !!
Jalapeños – preserved kind
red pepper flakes
Simple becomes exotic
Drain the can of cooked garbanzo beans. and reserve the water as a just in case requirement.
Add 2 tbsp of sundried tomatoes with the some of the oil it has been preserve din.
Add about 4 garlic pods – even though mine were sort of dried up and in sorry looking state, it just dry roasted them and added it in to give in the flavor.
Add in 2 tbsp of the of sliced Jalapeño preserves
Blend it .Simply blend it.The idea is for this to be fine ground as much much as possible to infuse the hummus with their flavors.
Add in the drained garbanzo beans, 2 tbsp of tahini paste and blend till it smooth and creamy. ( real creamy = faster consumption in my house )
That’s it . No seriously that’s it. Adjust the salt level if required before the final spin in the blender.
Dump content s in a bowl,add in a dash of olive oil and red pepper flakes ( or anythings else of choice ) .
And watch it disappear with a bowl of Pita chips or or bread. Seriously good! Beats the pants off any store bought hummus ..
Prep time : 10 min Process time : 10 min Consumption time : 10 min ( ha ha told ya!)
Shelf life : should stay for a week , but I have never got the opportunity to test it. Serves : 4-6