Friday, March 30, 2012

Vazhaithandu Thoran/ Banana Stem Stir Fry



Did you know that all the parts of the banana plant are good for health? Right from the flower, raw banana, ripe banana to its stem.  

Banana stem or Vazhathandu as it’s called in Tamil is a wonder vegetable. It has many nutritive and health benefits. It is a rich source of dietary fibre, and minerals like potassium. It is also rich in vitamin B6, which helps in production of haemoglobin. It helps in lowering blood pressure and also helps in weight loss.

However, the cutting the banana stem is cumbersome and time consuming. The outer flesh is removed and then the stem is sliced into thin roundels. These roundels are then finely chopped and added to a bowl of water in which a few drops of buttermilk or curd is added. This is done to prevent discoloration.

Here is a simple, healthy and delicious recipe for a stir fry that tastes yum when served in accompaniment Sambar or rasam and rice.



What you’ll need
  1. Vazhathandu/ Banana Stem – 1 medium
  2. Tuar Dal – 4 tbsp
  3. Fresh Grated Coconut – ½ cup
  4. Green Chilly – 1
  5. Turmeric Powder – ¼ tsp
  6. Salt to taste

For tempering
  1. Oil – 2 tsp
  2. Mustard Seeds – ½ tsp
  3. Urad Dal – 1 tsp
  4. Curry Leaves – 5 or 6

Method
  1. Wash and soak the tuar dal in water for 20 minutes.
  2. Finely chop the banana stem and put it in a bowl of water with a few drops of buttermilk added to it.
  3. Heat a Kadai, add half the chopped banana stem, then add drained and soaked dal, again add the remaining banana stem.
  4. Add turmeric powder and ¼ cup of water, cover and cook on medium flame, till the dal and vegetable is done. The dal should not turn mushy.
  5. Add salt to taste, cook uncovered for a few minutes or till all the moisture is absorbed.
  6. Grind coconut and green chilly, without adding water.
  7. Add this to the cooked vegetable and mix well.
  8. Heat a frying pan with oil. Add mustard seeds, once they splutter add urad dal. Fry till the dal turn golden brown then add the curry leaves.
  9. Pour this tempering over the cooked vegetable and mix well.


Healthy and delicious Banana Stem Thoran is ready. Serve as an accompaniment with plain rice, and Sambar or Rasam.

Note:
  1. While selecting the banana stem, look for a white stem, which indicates that it is fresh.








Monday, March 26, 2012

Jackfruit Pancake/ Chakkai Dosai



There are so many traditional recipes which get lost. I started this blog with an attempt to preserve some of the age old recipes which have been handed down through generations.

After a very long time, I spent a few days with my grandmother. I was awed at the way she kept herself active and busy all day through, even at the age of 81. She loves to cook for her children and grandchildren. I admire the way she takes care of each and every member in the house, with utmost love and affection. During my stay with her, I asked her to prepare a few dishes, which she lovingly did. What is special about her cooking is the consistency, with which she dishes out. Anytime and every time, the taste would be the same: Delicious. In my opinion, that is one of the most important qualities of a good cook, isn’t it?

Jackfruit is a seasonal fruit, available during the summer months, from March to May. Jackfruit when unripe is used to prepare curries, gravies, chips and numerous other savoury items and when ripe, many desserts, like Chakka Varatti (Jam), Payasam (pudding), Elai Adai etc are prepared.
Today I am sharing the recipe of this delicious pancake prepared out of ripe jackfruit – I should say, an old and dying recipe, which I learnt from my grandmother. The pancake/dosai, were very soft and delicious with the aroma of jackfruit.

What you’ll need

  1. Ripe Jackfruit Pieces – 2 Cups
  2. Powdered Jaggery – 2 Cups
  3. Par Boiled Rice/ Idly Rice – 3 Cups
  4. Oil/Ghee – As required for preparing the dosas

Method

  1. Wash and rinse the rice well in 2 or 3 exchanges of water and soak it for 4 to 5 hours.
  2. Wash and deseed the jackfruit pieces. Roughly chop them.
  3. Pressure cook the jackfruit pieces, by adding a cup of water for 3 whistles.
  4. Grind the soaked rice. When the rice is coarsely ground, add the Jaggery and cooked jackfruit pieces.
  5. Grind everything into a smooth paste, without adding too much water. The batter should be of dropping consistency.
  6. Heat a tava, Pour a ladle full of batter and spread it lightly.
  7. Drizzle oil/ghee, around pancake, and let it cook on low flame.
  8. Carefully flip over, and cook the other side too, on low flame. Drizzle a tsp of oil or ghee.

That’s it, delicious chakkai appam is ready.


Note:
Flip over the pancakes very carefully, since they are very soft and break easily.
Also cook on very low flame.

Linking this to Just 4 Fun, Fruit Fiesta, Cook Eat Delicious Desserts, Kerala Kitchen hosted by Prathibha


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sambharam/Spiced Buttermilk




Summer is here! How many of us enjoy this season? Most of us keep fretting about the soaring temperatures, power cuts and water shortages. But were we like this during our childhood? In those days, summer meant vacationing at our grandparent’s place, playing for long hours, catching up with our cousins, gorging on mangoes and watermelons, gulping down glasses of sugarcane juice and buttermilk and sleeping on the terrace. In other words, summer evokes loads of fond memories, doesn’t it?

Every summer vacation, my mother, brother and I would board a train, from whichever part of India we were in, to Chennai. My grandfather would be waiting eagerly for us at the railway station. My grandmother would have stocked the store room with all kinds of goodies. But we would be given all these only in the afternoon along with our milk. After lunch the entire household would have a short nap. My brother and I together would raid the store during this time. Thatha would always store water in the refrigerator. Those days, he used to store them in glass bottles and invariably every vacation, either me or my brother, would definitely break one of the bottles. Another ritual, which I clearly remember, is that my thatha used to get a packet of 4 biscuits everyday for tea, at office. He would save these for us. We would wait with impatience for him to come and handover the packet to us. It would have one cream biscuit and the others would be ordinary ones. Bro and I would quarrel over the cream biscuitJ. After all we did not get to eat cream biscuits everyday in those days. How wish I could relive those days!



It feels really nice to get pampered. It’s the turn of my children now. We are vacationing at my Uncle’s house, and my children are getting pampered to the core by their great grandmother, grandparents, aunts and uncles. I’m sure they will also have lots to talk about their childhood summers when they grow up.
Now coming to today’s post, Sambhaaram or Spiced buttermilk is a natural and healthy thirst quencher. Perfect drink for the hot summer months. If you have lots of buttermilk, this would be the best way to use it up. This can be prepared with lots of variations. I have shared my grandmother’s way of making it. So go ahead and enjoy this summer with this refreshing drink.

What you’ll need
  1. 1.       Buttermilk (slightly sour) – 2 cups
  2. 2.       Water – 2 Cups
  3. 3.       Ginger – 1 inch piece
  4. 4.       Curry Leaves – 20 to 25 leaves
  5. 5.       Green Chilly – 1/2 (optional)
  6. 6.       Salt to taste

Method
  1. Combine the buttermilk and water. Stir well.
  2. In a blender grind together ginger, curry leaves and green chilly with salt and about ¼ cup of water.
  3. Strain this and add it to the buttermilk. Mix well and serve chilled.



Note:
Green chilly is totally optional; I generally avoid it as my kids don’t like it spicy.
You could also temper the buttermilk with mustard, cumin, dried red chilly and asafetida. This gives a different taste and flavor.

Linking this to the Kerala Kitchen hosted by Prathibha, Summer Splash hosted by Sangeetha, Summer Spirits hosted by Anusha, and Just 4 Fun by Sobha

Monday, March 19, 2012

Kothamalli Thakkali Chutney/ Coriander Tomato Chutney


While I was browsing through my blog the other day, I realized that I have posted only, one chutney recipe so far and that is the Peanut Chutney. Considering the fact that all at home are lovers of chutney and cannot have idly or dosa without it, only one posting of chutney is just not acceptable right! The moment I think chutney, my mind conjures up images of a scrumptious breakfast at the famous Sarvana Bhavan, where soft idlis and crisp dosas would be served with a colorful array of chutneys, red, white and green. How I wish I could have some right now!

Ok! Now let’s get to today’s recipe, which is simple, yet tasty, tangy and flavorful chutney.

What you’ll need

  1. Fresh Coriander Leaves – 1 big bunch
  2. Onion – 1 Medium
  3. Tomato – 3 to 4 Medium
  4. Tamarind Paste – ½ to 1 tsp (optional)
  5. Red Chilly – 1 or 2 (According to taste)
  6. Cumin Seeds – 1 tsp
  7. Oil – 2 tsp
  8. Salt to taste


Method

  1. Wash and rinse the coriander leaves well. Finely chop the leaves and tender stem.
  2. Peel and roughly chop onions. Wash and chop tomatoes.
  3. Heat a Kadai with oil. Once hot, add Cumin seeds. Next add the red chilly.
  4. Now add the chopped onions and sauté well.
  5. After the onions are fried well, remove from heat and add the chopped tomatoes in the same kadai.
  6. Add a pinch of salt, this helps the tomatoes to cook faster. Once they turn mushy and the moisture is absorbed, switch off heat and add the coriander leaves. Let this cool.
  7. Grind everything together adding the tamarind paste and salt, without adding any water.
The chutney can be served with Idly, Dosa or even chapathis. You could even use it as a spread for sandwiches.



Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Methi Thepla



Gujarat is known for its Handicrafts, Cotton Clothes, Lions and of course food. I would say it is a vegetarian foodie’s paradise. From Doklas, Khandvi, Oondhiyo, Khakra, Fafda, Daal Dhoklis, Gujarathi kadi, Handwo, Jalebis, Aamras, the list is just continues. I am a fan of Gujju food. They are made out of simple and easily available ingredients, and definitely easy on the amount of oil or butter.
   
For this week’s Blog Hop I was paired with Nayna for Simply Food. She is a versatile blogger with lots of recipes from across the world. But what caught my eye was the Gujarathi fare on her space. I picked up these simple yet irresistible methi theplas.

Thepla is a Gujarathi flat bread, an equivalent to chapathi, but flavoured with spices in addition to either fenugreek leaves or Bottle gourd. I personally prefer adding fenugreek leaves. I simply love the aroma of the fenugreek leaves that fills my whole house while roasting the thepla. These stay soft for a longer time when compared to the regular rotis and pack well while travelling and is definitely an excellent lunch box item for children as well as adults. They really don’t need an accompaniment but for those who are really particular, these can be served with any kind of chutney or pickle with some curds.



Makes about 8 to 10 Theplas

What you’ll need
  1. Wheat Flour – 1 cup
  2. Besan/Chickpea flour – ¼ cup
  3. Methi/ Fenugreek Leaves – 1 cup
  4. Turmeric Powder – ¼ tsp
  5. Chilly Powder – ½ tsp
  6. Asafoetida – generous pinch
  7. Sesame Seeds – 1 tbsp
  8. Curd/Yoghurt – 2 tbsp
  9. Oil – 1 tbsp
  10. Salt to taste
  11. Water as required for kneading
  12. Oil for frying the theplas

Method
  1. Wash the fenugreek leaves well and roughly chop them.
  2. In a wide bowl, add the wheat flour, turmeric powder, chilly powder, asafoetida, sesame seeds, and salt.
  3. Mix everything well.
  4. Now add 1 tbsp of oil and rub it well into the flour.
  5. Next add the curd and mix well
  6. Add water, little by little and knead into soft pliable dough.
  7. Cover and rest the dough for 30 minutes.
  8. Pinch out lemon sized balls out of the dough.
  9. Roll out into a chappathi.
  10. Heat a tawa, and place the prepared chappathi onto the tawa.
  11. When bubbles start appearing on the top side of the chappati, flip it over and smear a tsp of oil over the chappathi. Flip over and smear oil on the other side as well.
  12. Cook till  brown spots appear on both sides. The Theplas need to be soft and not crisp.


Serve these with a pickle or chutney of your choice. I served these with a simple cilantro chutney.

Linking this to Blog Hop Wednesday, Show Me Your Hits – Fiber Rich, Let Cook – Greens, Give me Greens.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Steamed Corn Crescents




Corn is loved by one and all in our family. So, during the weekly, vegetable shopping, corn will definitely see their way inside my bags. Many a time, corn has been my sole saving grace. Afternoon 2 to 4pm is my “My time”, when my younger one is sleeping peacefully and I can safely switch on the computer, and spend some time on my blog as well as do some blog hopping. By 4:30 my elder one would be back from school, entering the house, with the question “what snacks have you prepared?” Sometimes, I get so engrossed with my blog, blog hopping, mails and Facebook that I lose track of time and I run to the balcony at the nick of time to see my elder one’s bus reaching our gate. It is on such occasions that our “Sweet” Corn comes in handy. Just MW, it add some butter, salt and pepper and a bowl of healthy snack is ready for, not only my daughter but for the entire family.

Anyways, coming to the subject at hand, Magic Mingle is an event started by Kalyani, where she announces two mystery ingredients in the first week of every month and we have to prepare something using both ingredients. We are into the third month now and the journey so far has been wonderful. By the end of the month, I start getting really curious about what the two ingredients would be and eagerly wait for Kalyani’s announcement.

This month it was our favorite Corn and Whole Wheat.  From the time I had seen the WheatKozhukattai at Sobha’s place I had wanted to try them out. So here came my chance. In the beginning I was a little speculative as how the outer covering would turn out, but they were really soft and together with the yummy filling made a healthy and scrumptious after school snack.



Makes about 8 big crescents
What you’ll need
For the outer covering
  1. Whole Wheat Flour – 1 Cup
  2. Salt to taste
  3. Water – as required for Kneading

For the Stuffing
  1. Sweet Corn Kernels – 1 Cup
  2. Onion – 1 small
  3. Garlic – 2 cloves
  4. Capsicum – ½
  5. Cabbage – a small piece
  6. Carrot – 1 small
  7. Cheese – 1 small cube
  8. Butter – 2 tsp
  9. Black Pepper Powder – ½ tsp
  10. Salt to taste

Method
  1. Take the wheat flour in a bowl, add salt, mix well.
  2. Knead into smooth, pliable dough adding water little by little. Keep aside covered.
  3. Wash and finely chop all the veggies and keep aside.
  4. Heat a Kadai, Add the butter, after it melts add in the onions and sauté.
  5. Once the onions turn translucent, add the crushed garlic and sauté for another 2 minutes.
  6. Next add in the capsicum and sauté.
  7. Now throw in the cabbage and carrots mix well, add salt to taste.
  8. Cover and cook, until the veggies are done. Sprinkle very little water, if necessary.
  9. Add the pepper powder, mix well.
  10. Finally sprinkle some grated cheese. Give it a good mix.
  11. Allow this stuffing to cool completely.

For the steamed Crescents
  1. Pinch out small balls from the dough and roll out into a small puri.
  2. Spoon in the stuffing on one side of the puri and fold it into a half moon shape.
  3. Seal the edges by pressing the well with your fingers.
  4. Grease a steamer or Idly plate and place the crescents carefully on them.
  5. Steam it for about 7 to 8 minutes.
  6. The outer covering will have a shiny and glossy look, once cooked.

These taste best when served hot.



Note:
Handle the steamed crescents with lot of care, as they are very soft and tend to tear easily.

Linking this to Magic Mingle and to Show me your HITS –Fiber Rich Food


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Microwave Mysore Pak


Preparing Indian sweets, especially burfis is something that I shy away. I would rather prepare a Halwa than a burfi. Preparing burfis is no easy job. You need to know exactly when the mixture is ready to be transferred to the greased plate else you may end up with a halwa or a sweet powdery substance.

In one of my previous posts I have mentioned about my grandfather who was an expert in preparing sweets. I still remember him squeezing out the flower pattern of the Jangiri with so much ease and expertise. His other famous sweet was the Mysore Pak, not the soft ones but the authentic porous melt in the mouth Mysore paks. Mysore pak is one sweet where you need to know just the right time to transfer the mixture. Further attempts of keeping it on the flame and stirring again result only in an inferior quality of the sweet. I don’t have the courage to try my hand at it.

The other day, while talking to my SIL, I came to know about this easy to make Mysore Pak. She told me, it gets ready within 10 minutes in a microwave. I was very excited and tried it out immediately. But something somewhere went wrong, and I ended up with a crumbly mixture. I was not the one to give up, I tried it again a few days later and this time I got it right. The timing mentioned in the recipe is for about 200 gms of Besan. The first time I tried with half the quantity but used the same timing. I guess that would have been the reason for the disaster.

Here comes the recipe:

Makes about 25 pieces
What you’ll need

  1. Besan/Kadala Maavu – 1 Cup
  2. Sugar – 1 ½ Cup
  3. Ghee/Clarified Butter – ½ Cup
  4. Water – ½ Cup

Method

  1. In a bowl, mix the besan and ghee and keep aside.
  2. Grease a plate and keep ready.
  3. Add the sugar and ½ cup of water in a microwave safe bowl and cook on Microwave High for 5 Minutes.
  4. Within these 5 minutes, remove the bowl after 2 and ½ minutes and stir once. Place again and cook for the remaining time.
  5. Check for one string consistency. Once the syrup has reached the one string consistency, remove from microwave and add the besan – ghee mix and mix everything very well.
  6. Place in the microwave and cook for about 3 minutes.
  7. Pour into the greased plate and flatten.
  8. With a sharp knife, cut into pieces. Let it cool and then remove the pieces.
Oven timings may vary depending on the power of your oven.





Note:
While preparing the sugar syrup, keep stirring once or ever twice, for the sugar to dissolve fully and to attain one string consistency.
If the syrup exceeds the one string consistency, then your mixture may crumble and become powdery.
While transferring into the greased plate, you'll see that the mixture is a porous texture as it falls into the plate. That means you have removed it at the right time, else cook for few seconds more.

Linking this to Just 4 Fun, Spotlight - Colorful Holi, Hot and Spicy Treats - Festive Food, Holi Fest - Colorful Palette and to Kerala Kitchen hosted by Prathibha

Monday, March 5, 2012

Fresh Pea Salad




Salads and I are poles apart. As far as I remember I have always said no to that simple plate of sliced tomatoes, onions and cucumber seasoned with salt, pepper and a dash of lemon juice, that mom used prepare every day. Since I was least interested, my knowledge about these was restricted to a very few kinds. The few kinds included the ones with the creamy dressing, like the Russian Salad, Waldorf Salad etc. But of course, I never tried making any of them at home.

For this month, The Gourmet Seven decided that we whip up some exotic salads, from 101cookbooks. It was a great experience going through the website and exploring the recipes. Salads as we know are prepared with lots of vegetables, sometimes fruits and also meat with a dressing. The dressing could be anything from a simple lemon juice, salt and pepper to a creamy mayonnaise or hung curd. They are very low in calories, high in fiber, and having a whole bowl can make for a light lunch or dinner. Keeping all this in mind, l will definitely make an attempt to have these at least once in 2 to 3 days.

I picked up this Fresh Pea Salad, for two reasons, one I was intrigued by the mint and date dressing of this salad and second, my lil one loves green peas. I am happy that my younger one likes vegetables, unlike my elder one. Fresh green peas are tossed in a minty date dressing, with the crunch of toasted melon seeds in every bite. It was totally yummy and all of us enjoyed it as a healthy snack rather than a salad. And as expected my daughter loved it.



Source: Adapted from 101Cookbooks
Serves – 2
What you’ll need
  1. Fresh Green Peas – 1 Cup
  2. Dates – 2
  3. Fresh Mint Leaves – 1 handful (tightly packed)
  4. Green chilly – 1 or more (adjust according to taste)
  5. Lemon Juice – from ½ a lemon
  6. Lemon Rind – few scrapings
  7. Melon Seeds – A handful

Method
  1. Blanch the green peas until almost done. Don’t cook until too soft. Retain some crunch.
  2. Heat a Kadai and dry roast the melon seeds until they start popping. Transfer into a plate and keep aside.
  3. Grind together, mint leaves, green chilly, dates, lemon juice and lemon rind until smooth.
  4. Toss the green peas, 2 to 3 spoons of Mint – date dressing and the melon seeds with a touch of salt.
  5. Mix well, add more dressing and adjust salt according to your taste.


Mix with the dressing just before serving.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Avarakkai Thoran/ Broad Beans Thoran


Life feels so easy and carefree when mom is around. Her mere presence makes me feel at peace with myself. She has always been a source of strength and encouragement to me.

I have been married for 10 years now. Though she has come and stayed with me for long periods of time, but mostly it was when I was working and she used to take care of the entire household for me. I never realized how much she did for me until we moved to a different city far away from her, left alone to fend for myself. This is when I missed my mother a lot. During the initial months after our move, I used to call my mom atleast 10 times a day, for something or the other.

Then after a year or so, my mother came to Hyderabad to live with me for a few days. I wanted to make her happy in every possible way. I did not want her to sit in the kitchen and start doing all the chores for me again, though she can hardly keep away from it. But I did do my best. We went for morning walks, then for grocery and vegetable shopping. I prepared all her favorite dishes; she also prepared some of my favorite dishes, which I have not been able to master yet. In short we both had a fun time together.

My mother generally loves simple food, and here is one such recipe that both me and my mom love. 

Serves - 2

What you’ll need
  1. Broad Beans/Avarakkai – 250 gms
  2. Tuar Dal – 2 tbsp
  3. Scraped Coconut (Fresh or Frozen) – 2 tbsp
  4. Green Chilly - 1
  5. Turmeric – a pinch
  6. Salt to taste
  7. Oil – 2 tsp
  8. Mustard Seeds – ½ tsp
  9. Black split gram – 1 tsp
  10. Curry Leaves – few
Method
  1. Wash, string the broad beans and chop them into small pieces.
  2. Wash the dal well and pressure cook it with just enough water for about 2 whistles. The dal should not get mushy.
  3. Grind together green chilly and coconut without adding any water.
  4. Heat a kadai with oil, once heated add mustard seeds.
  5. After the mustard crackles add the black gram, once it starts turning brown add the curry leaves.
  6. Now add the chopped beans, turmeric powder and salt to taste. Mix well.
  7. Sprinkle some water, cover and cook till the vegetable is done. Keep stirring once in a while.
  8. Now add the cooked dal and the coconut green chilly. Mix well.
  9. Remove from heat.


Serve as an accompaniment with plain rice and Sambar or Rasam.

Linking this to Kerala Kitchen hosted by Prathibha, to Nupur's For U Mom, to Rasi's I'm the star, to Only South Indian and to Srav's Vegan Diet.




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