Upma Kozhukattai/Pidi Kozhukattai

A staple in most tambram households, ours was no different and this was a relished dish back home. The process is  a multistep one and is not at all labor intensive to be feared. You can entirely cut down the process by a step when you use Rice Rava or Idli Rava. Please note this is entirely different from sooji/ wheat rava .

The idea that this being rice based, is more easier on the stomach for digestion unlike the sooji which is more stripped of its fiber content.

If you would like to make the rava at home, then you will simply have to coarsely powder  the raw rice to a granular stage. Sieve it to get rid of the flour , so you have only the granular stage of rice with you.

There are 2 ways to make this

——  Take 2 cups of  raw rice ( basmati, sona masoori ) and run it through your food processor/ blender to get the coarse stage.

——  In a wide wok, heat 2 -3 Tbsp. of Tuvar dal, 1 Tbsp. of channa dal and 1/2 tbsp of whole black pepper. Slightly warm it  to get the flavors crackling and coarsely pound it along with the raw rice. This option has a more fiery outcome but is simply delicious .

Upma Kozhukattai/Pidi Kozhukattai

 

For my preparation, I used the store bought Idli rice rava. I believe this would be the parboiled variety, but it works well too.

Serves : 6

Prep time :    

  • Stage 1 : Making the upma : 10-15 min   
  • Stage 2 :  Cooling time 10 min
  • Stage 3 : Making the globes : 15 min
  • Stage 4 : Steaming : 12- 15 min

Makes about 18-24 ( depending on the size of the globe )             

Ingredients :

Base Ingredients:

  • Idli rava or Rice Rava – 2 cup
  • Fresh or frozen grated coconut  – 1/2 cup
  • Water – 5 cup
  • Salt  : 1.5 tsp. ( adjusted to taste)

Tempering/ Tadka :

  • Flavorless oil / coconut oil / Gingelly oil : 2.5 Tbsp.
  • Jeera : 1.25 tsp.
  • Mustard Seeds :1.25 tsp.
  • Channa dal : 1.5  Tbsp.
  • Split urad dal ( de husked ) : 1 Tbsp.
  • Hing/ Asafoetida : a huge/ generous pinch
  • Red chilies : 4 -5, split in 2 pieces each
  • Black whole pepper : 6-8. slightly crushed
  • Ginger : skinned, 1 inch , grated.
  • Curry Leaves  – 12

Method:

  • You will need a heavy bottomed or good non stick kadai or saucepan for this with a well fitting lid.
  • Heat the kadai/ sauce pan with the oil and temper with asafoetida, mustard seeds and jeera. Once the seeds crackle add the channa dal and urad dal and on golden -browning ( it is a term, I made it up ), add the split red chilies and curry leaves and ginger and black peppercorns. 
  • Add the 5 cups of water and when it reached a slight boil , add in the grated coconut  and salt. Stir to ensure distribution of salt. Let it come to a full boil now.
  • Once it reaches the full boil, lower the heat to medium and add the rice rava ( idli rava) and stir well.
  • Cover with the lid and let it cook on low for about 7-8 minutes.
  • The water would be completely absorbed when you open the lid after this time  and  you can turn off the flame now. Stir once again very well  and let it cool for a few minutes.
  • Meanwhile get a steamer ready. You can use pressure cooker vessel with idli stand. It works perfect or  I just used a colander over a pot of boiling water  to steam it.
  • Dip you hands in cold water or if you can handle the heat just go ahead, make big lemon or golf sized balls with cooked upma. I particularly like the round globes, but my grandma would make the oblong ones.
  • Steam it for about 12 – 15 minutes.
  • Let it stand for a couple of minutes and then serve hot with chutney and sambar.

Upma Kozhukattai/Pidi Kozhukattai

Notes :

  • Usually the Idli rava / rice rava cooking ratio is 1 cup : 2 cups of water. But the brand I seem to use yields a very dry mix. Hence I increased the rava : water ratio. Use what works for you.
  • I would not omit the grated coconut. It adds to tenderness of the upma outcome. It is worth it. 
  • If you do not have red chilies, use green chilies.
  • Another variation would be to pulse the coconut along with few sprigs of cilantro. It yields a good flavor too.

 

Kothamalli Podi – Fresh Coriander/ Cilantro Chutney Powder (Dry)

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 !

Kothamalli Podi - Fresh Coriander/ Cilantro Chutney Powder ( Dry)

 

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 .

 

Kothamalli Podi - Fresh Coriander/ Cilantro Chutney Powder ( Dry)

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

Ingredients:

  • 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.

Method:

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.

Kothamalli Podi - Fresh Coriander/ Cilantro Chutney Powder ( Dry)

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.

 

Kothamalli Podi - Fresh Coriander/ Cilantro Chutney Powder ( Dry)

 

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 🙂

Kothamalli Thogayal/ Coriander leaves Chutney

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.

Kothamalli Thogayal/ Coriander leaves Chutney

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 🙂

 

Kothamalli Thogayal/ Coriander leaves Chutney

A quick and easy prep and takes about 15 – 20 minutes;

Prep time : 5-8 minutes  Cook  time : 5-7 minutes   Serves – 6-8

Ingredients:

  • 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

Method:

  1. Warm a non stick or cast iron skillet or kadhai and add the oil in it.
  2. 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.
  3. Drain and set aside to cool.
  4. 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.
  5. Remove and set aside to cool.
  6. 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.
  7. Note : if you are using tamarind paste, you will add it along with the leaves to be ground.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.

Enjoy!!!

Raw Banana Crispy Skillet Fry – Masala Vazhakkai Varuval

Raw Bananas / Kaccha Kela/ Vazhakkai/ Plantains  are a great source of Potassium , Magnesium , Vitamins and more. Infact these are a staple in the tropical parts of the worlds. Make no mistake, this very much different from the unripe green bananas and dessert bananas.  Their skin is tough to peel and you need to use a peeler or knife . They also contain less sugar than the dessert bananas as well. The are often treated akin to potatoes in their usage. Often a staple in many south indian households, there are quite a few preparations of this. Kababs, Podimas, Cutlets, kola vadai . stews and so many more to tease your tease buds!

Raw Banana Crispy Skillet Fry - Vazhakkai Varuval

 Quick to cook, versatile in its prep , chock full of nutrients and economically available – no wonder it is quite popular.

This particular preparation will yield particularly crispy plantain fry without a heavy dose of oil  and has an awesome crunch and flavor  on the surface  and tender texture inside.  This dish is really good paired with steaming rice and a stew or with hot phulkas and a dal. Or simple fry it to an extra few minutes and pick it and eat it as such. Told you, it is that good !  (I have added preparation methods for barbecue and grilling as well. Do check out the notes section) 

Raw Banana Crispy Skillet Fry - Vazhakkai Varuval

Prep time : 10 min  Marinating time :  15 min Cooking time : 15 min  Serves : 4-6

Ingredients:

Vegetables: 

  • Raw Bananas : 5-6, medium to large in size

 For the Marinade:

  • Chickpea flour/ Besan : 1 .5 Tbsp.
  • Rice flour : 1 Tbsp.
  • Sambar powder : 1 tsp + extra as required for spice
  • Kashmiri Chili powder : 1 tsp.
  • Ginger : 1 inch, skinned and grated
  • Water / Yoghurt : 1 Tbsp. + 1 more if required
  • Salt : 1 tsp . + adjusted to taste 

Seasoning and Skillet Frying :

  • Oil : 1 Tbsp. ( you can add more if you think you can take it)
  • Curry leaves : 6-8 ( washed very well )
  • Mustard seeds : 1 tsp.
  • Hing/ Asafoetida : A generous pinch

Preparation:

  • Fill a bowl with enough water so it can accommodate the sliced bananas.
  • Trim the ends of the Raw bananas and slice/ peel the skin . Slice it in 1/4 inch thick slices and immerse in water immediately. Why ? Well if you don’t, it will start to blacken very soon.
  • In a separate mixing bowl, mix all the ingredients listed under the marinade. This will not be watery or thick gooey marinade . It will resemble a wet rub more.
  • Drain the slices and add these to the marinade. Toss it gently so each and every slice gets coated very well. The moisture from the slices will now make the rub more wet and help in the coating . Take care to not add too much water / yoghurt in the initial marinade rub please!
  • Let it sit for about 15 min or so. Once marinated it is ready to get pan-fried.
  • In a wide flat bottomed skillet ( preferably nonstick or well seasoned cast iron will work wonders too ) add a tbsp. of oil ( you can add one more if you would like to) and on heating add the seasonings. Let it splutter and then add the marinated raw banana slices in a  single layer as much as possible.  You will need to cook this on medium high heat and let it brown evenly on one side and flip to the other side to cook it nice and brown again. I initially covered it and cooked it for a couple of minutes to hasten the process and then cooked It uncovered so I could retain the crunch.
  •  Gently toss it please, if not you are more likely to split the thinner sliced ones. In about 15 minutes or so you will have nice and crisp fried sliced of raw banana . Check and adjust for salt if required.
  • Serve it hot with rice or phulkas and a stew !

Raw Banana Crispy Skillet Fry - Vazhakkai Varuval

Notes :

  1. Want to add a twist? Add  a dash of tamarind paste , some saunf or fennel seeds and some garam masala and a whole new burst of flavors happens.
  2. Want to grill this? It would be awesome. Make thicker slices, poke some holes to facilitate the marination and let it sit for about a couple of hours and then proceed to grill.
  3. You can add a thick gooey marinade paste as well made of yoghurt and tandoori masala and skewer barbeque it. It would be really good.
  4. Add some mint and cilantro fine ground to this as well. Totally lip smacking !!

Vazhakkai Podimas – Steamed & Shredded Raw Banana Stir Fry

Disclaimer : This post had been sitting in the drafts for quite sometime . Why ? No clue but it surely deserves its place in the sun. I hope you too would enjoy  making it.

Back to Basics:

Some days you just want to reach deep down and go all the traditional style.. More like listening to call from your soul and indulge int the food you grew up on.. At least partially for me. While I was certainly exposed to a wide range, but a few just stick by you. Take this  dish made out of raw banana for example. I have just about made anything from kabab to koftas  from it, but this simple steamed version with just a hint of tanginess is so easy to make. Huge plus, it uses just  a couple of tbsp. of oil for about 5-6 of those plantains and uses lime/ lemon for the tart effect. Fresh taste that simply lingers in your mouth ! So when I do talk about the raw banana it is not the banana which u peel and eat. This is the tropical version or plantains which gets cooked.

Vazhakkai Podimas - Steamed & Shredded Raw Banana Stir Fry

If you are familiar with the southern part of India, two particular states enjoy these – Kerala and Tamill Nadu. They each have their variations and I suppose each family would have their own spin of it. Well this  is mine 🙂

 Cook time : 25-30 min            Serves : 4-6

Ingredients:

  • Vazhakkai/Raw Banana –  5-6 medium numbers
  • Ginger – skinned, 1 inch, grated
  • Turmeric Powder/ Haldi : 1 tsp
  • Asafoetida/ Hing : A pinch
  • Salt  : 1 tsp. + to taste
  • Dry Red chillies ( medium  spice ) : 4 , split in half
  • Mustard Seeds – 1.5 tsp.
  • Split, de husked Urad Dal : 1.5 Tbsp.
  • Curry Leaves : 8-10
  • Oil – 1.5 – 2 Tbsp.
  • Juice of lime / lemon – 1 -2 Tbsp. depending on the sourness level

 Method:

  • Take a huge stock pot and fill it nearly 2/3 with water. The idea being to immerse all the cut pieces of the raw banana in it. Therefore give enough room for it.
  • Trim the ends of the raw banana and cut it into 2-3 pieces depending on the length of it. You are looking for about 3-4 inches of it in length.
  • Add a pinch of salt and bring it boil for a about 5 minutes or so. DO NOT OVERCOOK IT. You just want it a tad tender. A prick in the center of the banana will tell you if you cooked al dente.
  • Strain the water, cool & peel the thick outer layer. If done properly, these would just peel off .  Cool well and grate.
  • Heat a wok, stir fry pan or kadai with oil.
  • Add  the Hing, turmeric powder then mustard seeds  and once it splutters  add grated ginger, and the add the split red chilies and then urad dal and fry till golden brown . Stir it for another 30 seconds.
  • Add curry leaves, and  the grated plantains stir once.
  • Add salt to taste and toss gently. You want to retain the individual grate texture and not mushy it .
  • Cook this on low heat for about 5 minutes or so. Stir it a couple of times gently to ensure the spices are coated well.
  • Turn off the heat and let it cool for a few minutes.
  • Add the juice of limes and toss it once and serve with hot rice and any stew of your choice.

Vazhakkai Podimas - Steamed & Shredded Raw Banana Stir Fry

 Notes:

  • Substitute the red chilies for 3-4 green chillies and 1/4 cup of fresh grated coconut.
  • Do not add the red chilies and ginger  during the tadka stage , but add the dry grind mix of green chilies, ginger and coconut at the penultimate step.
  • Cook, cool and then add the juice of lime. Tastes really good !

Mixed Veg in White Gravy/ White Vegetable Korma

There was this particular little nook in the city of Chennai ( then Madras) where I grew up which boasted of some great restaurants. Not the fancy shmancy type mind you, but the small ones that bring out the flavors of the cuisine. One particular one had this dish as their signature one and it was always served with flaky layered flat breads aka paratha. Not just any paratha, but this was the malabar parotta, an erstwhile cousin of the lacchha kind , except it was made of APF or refined flour.  Hot piping korma, served with flaky bread and a cup of steaming hot coffee. You would forget about the calories for once and indulge in this fare. This was so worth it on an occasion! 

Mixed Veg in White Gravy/ White Vegetable Korma

 An awesome combination of mixed vegetables stewed in white gravy with perfect combination of spices. Do not be overwhelmed by the exhaustive list of spices. This is a quick prep one.

Mixed Veg in White Gravy/ White Vegetable Korma

 Prep time : 15 minutes  Cook time : 20-25 minutes  Serves : 4-6

Ingredients:

Vegetables:

  • Carrot – 1/4 cup, diced
  • Beans – 1/4 cup, 1 inch pieces
  • Peas – 1/4 cup
  • Cauliflower – 1/2 cup, small florets
  • Potato – 1/ 4 cups, diced
  • Bell pepper ( green/ colored) – 1/4 cup diced
  • Salt – 1 tsp.

For the gravy/ Masala Paste:

  • Fresh or frozen Grated Coconut – 1/4 cup
  • Cashew/ Almonds – 6-8
  • Khus Khus ( white poppy seeds) – 1 tsp
  • Cinnamon – 1 inch piece
  • Clove – 2
  • Cardamom – 1 ( whole green)
  • Fennel seeds  – 1 tsp
  • Green chilies – 4-6
  • Ginger – 1/2 inch piece
  • Garlic – 2 pods- (optional)
  • Oil : 1 tsp.

 Seasoning:

  • Oil : 1 Tbsp.
  • Onion – 1 medium, chopped finely
  • Bayleaf : 1
  • Fresh Curry leaves : 4-6
  • Cloves ( black) : 1

 Garnish:

  • Fine chopped cilantro : 2 Tbsp.

 Method:

 Preparation of the Gravy:

  • In a wide saucepan ( with a lid, so it can be used later too) add in 1 tsp of oil.
  • When it heats up  add in the whole spices to begin with and roast for a minute or two,  adding the ginger and chilies and garlic pods if using next, followed by the cashews to a get gentle brown hue, then the coconut and the poppy seeds.
  • Remove set aside to cool.
  • When cooled down blend it  with a cup of water or so to get a nice smooth sauce or paste. The gravy yield should be nearly 1.5 cups to 2 cups.

Preparing the Korma

  • In the same wide saucepan ( needs a lid) , add in 1 Tbsp of oil . When it heats up add in a clove, the bayleaf , fresh curry leaves. It should sizzle a bit. Add in the fine chopped onion and sauté till well cooked.
  • Meanwhile microwave/ parboil or steam the veggies  with a tsp of salt . Should take about 5-7 minutes in the microwave. The veggies are cooked till they are almost done. ( The final cooking would be done when it simmers in the gravy)
  • Once cooked, add in these veggies to the sauce pan and stir for a minute or two along with the onions.
  • Add in the prepared masala paste or gravy, cover the pan and let it boil or about 5 minutes or so. Lower the heat and simmer for another minute or two.  Over cooking will impact the flavor and consistency of the dish. Would definitely recommend to do a salt and spice taste test at this point.
  • Switch off the heat. Serve it hot garnished with fresh chopped cilantro.

Accompaniments:

I served this korma piping hot with Masala Avocado Paratha or flat breads and a simple Jeera rice.

Masala Avocado Paratha – Whole wheat flat bread, perfectly spiced.

Mixed Veg in White Gravy/ White Vegetable Korma

 

Pan cooked Jeera Rice – Fragrant Basmati rice cooked with tadka of Cumin seeds in ghee or butter .

steaming jeera rice
steaming jeera rice

 Notes:

If you would like to make a richer version of this you can always add in some pan-fried cashews and a dash of cream to this preparation.

Tomato, Onion and Carrot Chutney – Simple,Quick and Awesome!

#BacktoBasics

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.

 Ingredients:

  • 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

Method:

  • 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.

Notes:

  • 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.
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Okra Stir Fry – Deliciously simple fare!

#BacktoBasics

So there I was at the good old grocery store of Patels, in the sweltering heat of NC and chit chatting with the guy at the counter. Stuff about India, how hot it was in early spring and the idiosyncratic need to repeat the same song or bhajan in the store, when I spotted the an unopened box sitting on the counter. You know the kind, that is a crate and has the green stuff peeking out of it. It seemed suspiciously like okra, the green okra from across the ocean. Siren’s call heard and yielded.. I bought 3 pounds of it ! Fresh and tender and so green..

There are a gazillion recipes for okra, but this is one that brings out the simple flavors of it with minimal effort and great taste! This particular dish is the dry sabji kind and tastes heavenly with the south indian meal of rasam and rice. Comfort food to the core I say!

Comfort because it calls out to my mom’s kind of cooking. Simple fare , but fit for a king!

 Prep work

  • Wash the okra very well in a couple of bowls of water and let them air dry on a towel.
  • Once they are completely dry, pat dry once more to remove even a trace or droplet of water with a towel.Moist, damp okra will yield stringy cuts with mucus. Not your best option on the menu!

 Ingredients:

2 Lbs Okra : washed, patted dry, ends snipped and cut in 1/2 inch pieces 

For seasoning:

  • Urad Dal split : 1 tsp
  • Channa Dal : 1 stp
  • Dry Red chillies : 2 split
  • Mustard seeds : 1 tsp
  • Mom’s special kari powder : 1 tsp
  • Asafoetida : 1 pinch
  • Turmeric powder : 1/2 tsp
  • Salt : 1 tsp / to taste
  • Saffola / cooking Oil : 1 Tbsp

Method:

  • In a large non-stick wok, heat up the oil and add in the Asafoetida. Add in the mustard seeds and once it splutters, add in the dal seasonings and red chillies and let them brown.
  • Add in the turmeric powder and then add in the cut okra.
  • Gently stir fry it in medium heat. The idea is for the okra to get nicely stir fried and tender cooked. Adding in salt before it is well cooked will bring out the natural water from it and you will have a soggy mess on your hands 🙁
  • Once the okra is well cooked, season with salt and Mom’s special Kari powder.
  • Gently toss it to ensure the spices and salt is well coated and serves it hot with a bowl of rasam and rice or as part of large meal.

Minty Masala Medhu Vada – Urad Dal Doughnuts ???

This post has been languishing in the drafts for a fair bit of time. In all fairness there are other posts that have to take precedence, but I seems to channel the bit of ADCD.. The attention deficient cleaning disorder ! Only in this case it seems to be on the case of cleaning up my drafts folder.

My little(st) imp turned all of 6 a few weeks back ! And since we have 2 May born in the family, I try to keep the birthday celebrations menu a bit diverse, this one was created for A3 ..This child has sweet teeth.. No seriously, he can dig into anything sweet, but he also loves these Vadai or Urad dal doughnuts  or fried dumplings for lack of a better term.

And I try and create, inculcate, mix and match a few of the flavors to keep it diverse for him as much as possible ..

So here goes..

 Ingredients:

  • Urad dal split or whole : 1.25 cups
  • Brown  basmati rice : a handful
  • Whole Black peppercorns: 1/2 tsp
  • Onion: Chopped finely, 1/2 cup
  • Fresh Cilantro: Chopped finely ,1/4 cup
  • Fresh Mint : Chopped finely , 1/4 cup
  • Green Cabbage: Chopped finely, 1/4 cup
  • Fresh Ginger: 1 inch, peeled grated finely
  • Salt : 1 tsp and adjusted to taste

Preparation:

  • Soak the Urad Dal, rice and pepper corns in a 3 cups of water for a couple of hours.
  • Once it is soaked very well and has completely hydrated itself, drain the water and reserve if required for grinding.
  • Grind it to a thick dough consistency in a blender . Use as little water as possible . Using the south indian style wet grinder would yield the fluffy dough very well, but a blender works very well too.
  • The batter would resemble a very thick pancake batter. Add salt and fluff it up with a fork or whisk.  Air incorporated this way would actually yield the  airy and puffy vadai kind. Plus the addition of rice, would give you the crispier outer texture.
  • Add in all the chopped ingredients and stir in gently.
  • Fry these dumplings your style – doughnut style or simple blobs in hot oil.Just ensure they are fried until golden brown in medium hot oil!
  • That’s it ! Drain on absorbent paper and serve hot with a relish of your choice !

Notes:

This is seriously a very forgiving recipe. Add in grated carrots, chopped spinach, onions for another flavor. Can take up more heat? Add in fine diced Jalapeños!

 

[yumprint-recipe id=’12’] 

 

 

Aviyal ( mixed vegetable stew in yoghurt ) – Comfort food – Soul speak and more !

Ever wondered how you reach for the thing that speaks to that one spot in your heart or soul or more logically to the EQ of your brain ? Be it a bowl of ice cream or rasam, a favorite movie, a dog eared book, your favorite spot in the house overlooking the garden,  you reach for that one cozy comfort place when your emotions hit a low- be it the weather gods playing snarly, or your mood gods deciding “blue” was your mood hue for the day.

In any case you tend to gravitate towards the one  that fills your belly and soul and sort of reminds you of the comfort of your mom’s wisdom. Today was one such day! Cannot really put your finger on it, but it was  a blah day sort of..I just wanted to cozy up and snuggle in the warmth of the comforters and watch a movie or drink a cup of chai or read  a book or anything but get up drive and work or .. you get the picture. Passive aggression intentions apart, since none of it could actually materialize, even the spaghetti western I started with did not run through the session, and dinner was on the cards, I fell back to the one pot meal trick, and an eternal favorite in our house when we were grew up!

Here’s to soul food, mom’s wisdom and warm hugs 🙂

Comforting stew of vegetables in yoghurt base aka “Aviyal”

  • 3 cups of mixed vegetables in total , cut 1- 1.5 inch lengthwise and boiled/ tender cooked with salt and turmeric –
  • Melange of winter melon, yellow squash, cluster beans, string beans, french beans, raw banana, carrot, yams, drumsticks,chayote squash, tindora etc. ( I normally do not use okra, brinjals, onions in these. These also do not need tomatoes, onions or garlic, Satvic , I say  !)
  • Add these vegetables to boiling water with a pitch of salt and turmeric and cook till tender. The other option is for to   pressure cook these . Just take care that vegetables do not turn mushy.
  • Once cooked , strain the excess water ( using minimal water while cooking will prevent loss of nutrients ) and let the vegetables cool down a bit.

To grind:

  • 6-8 green chillies
  • 2 inches of peeled ,chopped fresh ginger root
  • 1/2 tsp of jeera
  • 2 tbsp of fresh grated coconut or shredded frozen coconut
  • 12 almonds  ( In traditional cooking we do not use almonds. My family does not take too kindly to a lot of coconut hence the substitution 🙂 )
  • Grind all of these to a nice thick paste with little water to ensure a nice smooth consistency.
  • 3 -4 cups of thick fresh yogurt or curd is whipped into this ground mixture.

Final stage prep:

  • In a bit saucepan or cooking pot, on low heat ( Important : please keep it on low heat . High heat will split the yoghurt and remember you do not have any besan or ground channa dal to prevent it!) add the  fresh yoghurt – ground chili coconut mix to the boiled vegetables.
  • Stir in gently and season salt to taste.
  • I generally let this stew  for another 5 –  7 min just to ensure the spices and yogurt mix is nicely coated and then turn the heat off.
  • To add in a touch of authenticity , a dash of pure 100% edible coconut oil could be added.  This stage is completely optional.
  • There are a plethora of variations to this stew. Few people believe in adding curry leaves sautéed in coconut oil. Some add in a dash of tamarind to the ground masala mix to add in the tanginess. I prefer the natural tanginess of fresh yoghurt and personally do not subscribe to the sour version of it.

In any case, you cannot go wrong in any version..Make a big bowl,  and indulge with a side of Paapad and hot steaming rice ! I did and did not regret it a bit..