Sunday, March 31, 2013

Elaneer Payasam/ Tender Coconut Payasam and My 250th Post

I am very happy to write my 250th post today. It has been a wonderful journey so far. Lots of friends, lots of learning: new cuisines, recipes, etc. Started my baking expedition recently. So far nothing’s gone wrong with my bakes and I'm mighty glad about it. Hope it continues to be the same. I thank all my blogger buddies, friends, family and silent followers of my space. Without your support and encouragement this wouldn't have been possible.

Today’s recipe is dedicated to one of my friend in Hyderabad, who was my neighbour too. During my early days of  blogging, apart from family members, this friend J and her mom, used  to taste everything and give their honest opinion.

One such dish  was this Elaneer Payasam. It was a hit with  family and J loved it very very much. I remember I had prepared it for her again just before leaving Hyderabad and she remembers it till today. During one of  our chat, she told me that she had searched my whole space for the recipe but could not find it and I told her I had not posted it yet. So this one is for you J.

I don’t know whether the name payasam fits this dish. The name payasam itself brings about thoughts of boiling and reducing milk adding loads of sugar or ghee. But this one is completely different. You don’t have to ignite the stove at all. Just mix everything and chill. A very refreshing drink, perfect for the summers.

What you'll need
  1. Tender Coconut Water – 1.5 cups
  2. Tender Coconut Flesh – 1 cup
  3. Sweetened Condensed Milk – 2 to 3 tbsp
  4. Coconut Milk – 1 cup
  5. Saffron – few strands

  1. Chop the tender coconut flesh and grind it. Don’t make into a smooth paste. Let few bits remain.
  2. Transfer into a vessel. Add the tender coconut water, condensed milk and coconut milk.
  3. Give it a good mix.
  4. Add saffron strands.
  5. Refrigerate atleast for an hour.
  6. Serve chilled.

You can add cardamom powder and some roasted nuts if you like. I did not add as I like it this way.
Keep refrigerated until serving.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Karamani and Uralaikizhangu Mezhukuperatti/Yard Long Beans and Potato Stir Fry

Today’s post is a very simple stir fry that is perfect with steamed rice and Rasam. It is ideal for the lazy afternoons when you are not in the mood to cook elaborate meals. It requires no grinding, roasting etc. And the chopping is also very easy since you need to cut them into long pieces.

This mezhukuperatti has become my lil’ one’s favorite and she prefers to pick and eat the beans rather than the potatoes. The usual combination with these beans is Raw Bananas and yam. But I'm so bored of having that combination and decided to try with potatoes. Being the most versatile vegetable, potatoes paired really well with the tender yard long beans.

What you’ll need
  1. Yard Long Beans – 4 cups (cut into 1 inch long pieces)
  2. Potato – 1. 5 cups (cut into fingers)
  3. Turmeric Powder – ¼ tsp
  4. Black Pepper Powder – ¼ tsp
  5. Salt to taste
  6. Coconut Oil – 1 tbsp

  1. Heat a Kadai  with oil.
  2. Add the chopped beans and potatoes.
  3. Add salt and turmeric powder.
  4. Add about ¼ cup of water. Cover and cook in medium flame.
  5. Uncover and check after 5 minutes. Stir well.
  6. Cook covered till the beans and potatoes are done.
  7. Uncover add the pepper powder and let it fry for another 5 minutes on low flame. Take care not to burn it.
Serve with steamed rice and Rasam/Sambar/Mor Kootan.

  1. Make sure to use tender beans.
  2. You can prepare this using only the yard long beans too.
  3. You may also use French beans instead of yard long beans.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Instant Mango Pickle/ Mangai Curry

Summers are synonymous with mangoes. The mangoes have started pouring into the markets. Like most households, we too are busy buying the vadus (baby mangoes) for pickling and planning others like Avakaya, Maagai etc. 

As soon as I sight the Kilimooku Mangoes, I pick them up and its Mango festival in the house till the end of the season. Anything, from the simple mango chammmandi, maangai kootan, pachadi, dal and so on.

Today's recipe popularly known as Maangai curry, is a family favorite. If there are a couple of mangoes in the refrigerator then, one of them surely turns into this mouthwatering pickle. 
And this can be made in a jiffy. The only time consuming process being chopping up the mango into small pieces. It has to be refrigerated and consumed within 2 to 3 days.

Makes 1 Medium Sized Bowl

What you'll need
  1. Raw Mango – 1 (preferably Kili Mooku)
  2. Chilly Powder – ½ tbsp
  3. Salt to taste
  4. Musatard Seeds – ½ tsp

Roast and Powder
  1. Asafoetida – a small piece
  2. Fenugreek Seeds – ¼ tsp
  3. Seasame Oil – 1 tbsp

  1. Chop the mangoes into small pieces.
  2. Add the salt and chilly powder. Toss well.
  3. Heat a small frying pan, with a tsp of oil.
  4. Add the asafoetida, once it puffs up, add the fenugreek seeds and fry till a good aroma comes.
  5. Cool and grind to a coarse powder.
  6. Add this to the chopped raw mangoes.
  7. Heat the small frying pan, with the remaining oil, temper with mustard seeds and pour over the mangoes. Mix well.

Instant mango pickle is ready. Enjoy with curd rice.

Note: Don't use mangoes that are very sour for this pickle. the best variety would be Kilimooku/Totapuri

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Grapes Orange Juice| Easy Summer Drinks

The mercury has started rising in Chennai. All of a sudden, the climate has become really hot and sultry. These are the times, when I really dislike spending hours in the kitchen, cooking elaborate meals. Simple yet fulfilling meals are the best for the summers.

My children make a big fuss about having their share of fruits for the day. It’s like a punishment for them if I ask them to have fruits. But I make it a point that they have at least a portion of some fruit every day. So my elder one compulsorily carries one fruit or the other in her snack box and as reward for having the fruit I also pack her another small box with a couple of cookies or sweets. So that way she is ok. Kids need to be bribed too!!!

But both my lil ones love fruits in the form of juices and shakes, and with the climate taking a turn; I have started preparing some chilled drinks. So if you or your kids don’t like to have your fruits as such try them this way.

Here is a very unique combination of fruits for a juice. I saw this recently in one of the Malayalam T.V. Channels. I was very intrigued by this combination and made a mental note of trying it out immediately. The combo was very good; perfect blend of sweet and tang. I actually did not add any sugar since the grapes were really sweet. Adjust sweetness and lemon depending on your taste. So why wait, welcome the summer with this refreshing drink!

What you'll need
  1. Black Seedless Grapes – 1 heaped cup
  2. Orange – 2
  3. Ginger – a very small piece
  4. Lemon Juice – 1 tsp
  5. Sugar – Use as required, depending on the sweetness of your fruit
  6. Water – 1 cup

  1. Soak the black grapes in salted water for about 15 minutes, then rinse and wash well.
  2. Grind the black grapes, with the ginger.
  3. Strain the grape juice with a strainer, using about 1 cup of water.
  4. Extract the juice from the oranges.
  5. Mix the orange juice, lemon juice and grape juice.
  6. Do a taste check, add sugar if required. I did not add any sugar, as my grapes were really sweet.

Serve chilled with ice cubes.


  1. Make sure you use only the seedless grapes.
  2. Add the water while straining the juice, which will make it easier. No need to add while grinding.
Linking this to Healthy Me Healthy Us.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Pachha Thakkali Kootu/Thakkalikai Kootu/Raw Tomato with Lentils

Kootu is a popular South Indian accompaniment to rice. It is usually made with a combination of vegetables, lentils and coconut. It is generally mild but you can make it spicy if you like it that way.  Ash gourd and yam, Chayote (chow chow, carrots, potatoes) are few of the combinations of veggies which are popularly used to prepare kootu.

I came to know about this raw tomato kootu from my MIL. I’ve never seen my mother use raw tomatoes in her kitchen. So I never cooked with it all these days. But my MIL always used to tell about it. She always talked of it as a very delicious combination with rotis. But somehow all these years, I never found raw tomatoes in the markets.

Last time, when I went vegetable shopping, I found lots of fresh raw tomatoes and was immediately reminded of my MIL, so picked up a kilo of those and came home. Asked her for the recipe and prepared it immediately. I made it twice, once we had it with a combination of rice and rasam and on the second day had it with rotis. I felt it tasted better with rotis because of the tang from the tomatoes. And unlike the regular mild kootu, this would be better if little spicy. So if you like a sweet, sour and spicy taste, then this one is for you.

What you'll need
  1. Raw Tomatoes – 5 to 6 (I used country tomatoes)
  2. Split Yellow Moong Dal – 3 heaped tbsp
  3. Turmeric Powder – ¼ tsp
  4. Sugar – 1 tsp
  5. Salt to taste
  6. Channa Dal – ½ tbsp
  7. Black Peppercorns – about 15
  8. Dried Red Chilly – 2
  9. Cumin Seeds – 1 tsp
  10. Freshly Scraped Coconut – ¼ cup

For Tempering
  1. Coconut oil – 2 tsp
  2. Mustard Seeds – ½ tsp
  3. Urad Dal – ½ tsp
  4. Asafoetida – a pinch
  5. Curry Leaves Few

  1. Pressure cook the dal with enough water. Once cool, mash and keep aside.
  2. Wash and chop the raw tomatoes into medium sized cubes. Don’t make it too small.
  3. Heat a kadai, add the chopped tomatoes and 1 cup of water.
  4. Add salt, sugar and turmeric powder, cover and cook till the tomatoes are cooked. Take care not to make them mushy.
  5. In the meanwhile, heat a small frying pan with a tsp of oil, roast the channa dal, peppercorns and dried red chillies. Grind these along with cumin seeds and coconut into a fine paste with some water.
  6. Once the tomatoes are cooked, add the mashed dal and cook for 3 to 4 minutes.
  7. Now add the ground paste and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Check for seasoning.
  8. Heat a small frying pan with oil, temper with mustard seeds, urad dal, asafoetida and curry leaves. Pour over the kootu.
Serve with plain rice or with chappathis.

  1. After cooking the tomatoes, there will be some water left, let it remain. After adding the dal and ground paste the consistency will thicken.
  2. You can use tuvar dal instead of Moong dal.
  3. I added the sugar to balance out the tartness from the tomatoes.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Dilkhush/Dilpasand (Using Tangzhong Method)

Ever since I bought my oven, my hand's have been itching to try out a wide variety of bakes. But I was too scared to try out anything. So I just stuck to some simple cakes and muffins. Then I came to know of the Baking Partners group, started by Swathi, in which a recipe is suggested and we have ample time to try out once or even twice before posting at our spaces. I joined the group and this is my first challenge. It felt so good to bake something which I had thought could be only bought at bakeries.
Though I was all excited and very eager to try my hand at baking this delicious bread, I kept postponing the baking, as I had to work with yeast. I had read so many episodes where the yeast doesn't proof. 
This is the first time I am working with yeast. The recipe called for instant yeast which can be used directly but since I could find only the Dry active yeast, I had to go through the process of proofing it. To be extra careful, I purchased two packets of yeast.
On the day of baking, I opened both packets and started proofing with the measured quantities from both packets. As I had suspected, one of them did not bubble at all. But I was happy to see tiny bubbles appearing in the other bowl. And within 5 to 8 minutes the yeast mixture worked up very well. I was on cloud nine! Only after seeing the yeast work I started the kneading process.
After kneading, I waited with a child's anxiety checking on the dough every 5 minutes. It took almost 1 and half hours for the dough to rise to double it's quantity. 
Then came another hurdle, 2 hours power cut. Had no other option but to leave the dough to rise till the power was back. Once the power returned, kept it for baking and kept my fingers crossed. The result was awesome. It was a super duper hit with all at home. Baked it once again in a week time and again it was wonderful. 

Recipe Adapted from Christine's Recipes

What you'll need (For Tangzhong)
  1. All Purpose Flour - 50gm/ 1/3 cup
  2. Water - 250ml/ 1cup

Formula of 1 parts of flour with 5 parts of water heat at 65 c/ 150F.

For bread:
  1. All purpose flour/Maida - 350gm/ 2½ cups
  2. Sugar - 55gm/3tbsp+2tsp
  3. Salt - 5gm/1tsp
  4. Milk - 125ml/ ¾ cup
  5. Tangzhong - 120gm (use half of the tangzhong you make from above)
  6. Dry active yeast - 5 to 6gm/2 tsp
  7. Butter - 30gm/3tbsp (cut into small pieces, softened at room temperature)

For Filling:
  1. Freshly grated coconut -  1 ½ Cup
  2. Crushed cashew nut -  ½ cup
  3. Raisins - 1/4 cup
  4. Candied fruit (tutti fruiti) - ½ cup
  5. Sugar (increase sugar if you want more) - ¼ cup
  6. Milk -  ¼ cup

For making the filling
  1. Mix all the ingredients and set aside. (Prepare the filling just before you need to spread on the dough)

Method of making tangzhong:
  1. Mix flour in water well without any lumps. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring consistently with a wooden spoon, whisk or spatula to prevent burning and sticking while you cook along the way.
  2. The mixture becomes thicker and thicker. Once you notice some “lines” appear in the mixture for every stir you make with the spoon. It’s done.  If you want to check the temperature of tangzhong it is 65 C/149 F. Remove from heat.
  3. Transfer into a clean bowl. Cover with a cling wrap sticking onto the surface of tangzhong to prevent from drying up. Let cool. The tangzhong can be used straight away once it cools down to room temperature.  Just measure out the amount you need. The leftover tangzhong can be stored in fridge up to a few days as long as it doesn't turn grey. If so, you need to discard and cook some more. (Note: The chilled tangzhong should return to room temperature before adding into other ingredients. )

Method of making bread:
First proof the yeast,
  1. Warm ¼ cup of milk, (it should be lukewarm, not hot. Heat will kill the yeast)
  2. Transfer the milk into a bowl, and sprinkle the measured amount of yeast to it. Add a pinch of sugar, mix and keep aside. If your yeast is proofing, you will start seeing tiny bubbles in the bowl and after about 5 to 8 minutes, your bowl of milk should be frothy. And you can be sure your yeast is going to work. But if not, discard and start afresh with a new packet of yeast.
  3. Combine all dry ingredients: flour, salt, and sugar. Make a well in the center.
  4. Whisk and combine all wet ingredients: milk, yeast and tangzhong, then add into the well of the dry ingredients.
  5. Knead until you get a dough shape and gluten has developed, then knead in the butter. It would be quite messy at this stage  Keep kneading until the dough is smooth, non sticky and elastic.
  6. To test if the dough is ready, you might stretch the dough. If it forms a thin “membrane”/ window pan test, it’s done. The time of kneading all depends on how hard and fast you knead.
  7. Knead the dough into a ball shape. Place in a greased bowl and cover with a wet towel or cling wrap. Let it proof till it's doubled in size, about 40 minutes (Note: the time will vary and depends on the weather. The best temperature for proofing is 28C/ 80 F.) Though the mentioned time is 40 minutes, it took my dough almost double the time to rise and double.
  8. Transfer to a clean floured surface. Deflate and divide the dough into 2 portions. Knead into ball shapes. Cover with cling wrap, let rest for 15 minutes.
  9. Divide dough into two half, one is slightly higher amount than the other, with one half with more dough  make a 9 inch round and thick of ½ inch and place it in your cake tin, evenly spread your filling on the top.
  10. Then make the second half which is less than the first. Make another 9 inch round and cover the filling and seems the sides so that it won’t, comes out while baking
  11. Leave it for the 2nd round of proofing, about 40 minutes, or until the dough rises up to 3/4 of the height of the tin inside.
  12. Brush with milk on the surface. Bake in a pre-heated 180C (350F) oven for 30 to 35 minutes. Mine was done in 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and tin. Transfer onto a wire rack and let cool completely. Slice to serve or place in an airtight plastic bag or container once it's thoroughly cooled.

You will have some leftover dough, you can simply make them into a round shape and bake or stuff with the filling and make into mini stuffed dilkhush buns.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Cabbage Parupu Usili

Paruppu Usili is a very popular South Indian side dish known by various names. Prepared using vegetables like French Beans, Cluster Beans, Flat Beans, Banana Blossom etc and steamed lentils, this dry side dish is one of my favorites.

I prefer this over the regular thorans. I especially love the spiced steamed lentils. Whenever I prepare usili, I soak a little extra dal, so that I get a little more of the steamed lentil cakes. I enjoy eating these as such.

Each family has a different way of preparing this, the amount of lentils is also not fixed. Some like more lentils, whereas some like more vegetables. I prefer to keep it balanced. The kind of dal used also is a personal preference. In my house, we generally use a combination of Tuvar and Channa dal. The method of preparation also differs, some grind the lentils and fry 
directly some like me steam the ground lentils. Steaming is a more popular method since amount of oil used is lesser this way.

Since this is a dry curry and is very filling due to the addition of lentils, it is perfect with white rice and rasam. This is of course my preference, but it is a great accompaniment to Sambar and Mor Kuzhambu as well.

Serves: 3 to 4
What you’ll need
  1. Cabbage – 5 cups (finely chopped)
  2. Turmeric Powder – ¼ tsp
  3. Asafoetida – a generous pinch
  4. Curry Leaves – few sprigs
  5. Salt to taste

For soaking
  1. Bengal Gram Dal/Kadala Paruppu – ¼ cup
  2. Tuvar Dal – ¼ cup
  3. Dried Red Chilly – 2

For Tempering
  1. Oil – 1 tbsp
  2. Mustard Seeds – ½ tsp
  3. Broken Urad Dal – ½ tsp

  1. Wash the dals in 2 or 3 exchanges of water and soak along with red chillies for 30 minutes.
  2. Drain completely and grind the dals along with red chillies, asafoetida, salt to taste and curry leaves into a coarse paste. Do not add water while grinding.
  3. Grease an idly mould, take a lemon sized ball of the ground mixture and pat into the idly grooves.
  4. Steam for 6 to 7 minutes.
  5. Let this cool then pulse it in the mixie again, so that it becomes a fine powder. Keep aside.
  6. In the meanwhile, heat a kadai with oil splutter with mustard seeds and urad dal.
  7. Once he dal turns golden, add the chopped cabbage, turmeric powder, and salt to taste. Mix well and cook covered, without adding water.
  8. Keep stirring once in a while.
  9. Once the cabbage is done, add the ground dal powder and roast for 6 to 7 minutes on low heat.

Cabbage Usili is ready. Serve with plain rice and Samabr/Rasam/Mor Kootan.

Note: Do not add water while cooking cabbage, as the curry will then turn very mushy. Just adding salt and cooking covered would do.

Linking this to Healthy Me Healthy Us

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Karadaiyan Nombu Uppu Adai

Karadaiyan Nonbu is just around the corner. Also known as Savitri Vrat, Karadayan Nonbu ritual is observed by all married women for the well being of their husband and that the couples should remain together always. Unmarried women also observe Karadaiyan Nonbu and pray to Goddess Shakti to get good men as their husband. To know the legend behind this  festival check out my post on Sweet Karadaiyan Nombu adai.

This is the savory version of the adai. This is also one of those recipes which I had not tasted until marriage. Ever since this one has taken precedence over the sweet one. Here is the recipe:

Makes about 16 small adais
What you’ll need
  1. Rice Flour – 1 ½ cup
  2. Water – 2 ¼ cup
  3. Coconut - 1/4 cup, cut into small pieces
  4. Salt to taste

For tempering
  1. Oil – 1 tbsp (preferable coconut oil)
  2. Mustard Seeds – ½ tsp
  3. Channa Dal – 1 tsp
  4. Green chilly – 1 or 2 (adjust according to taste)
  5. Asafoetida – a generous pinch
  6. Curry Leaves – few torn

  1. Heat a Kadai, add the rice flour and dry roast for about 3 to 4 minutes, until a good aroma starts coming. (Make sure the color doesn’t change)
  2. Transfer into a plate and keep aside.
  3. Heat a Kadai with oil, add the mustard seeds, once they splutter add the channa dal, fry till the dal turns golden.
  4. Next add the asafoetida, chopped green chillies and curry leaves.
  5. Now add the measured amount of water, salt and coconut pieces.
  6. Once the water starts boiling, add the rice flour, stirring simultaneously.
  7. The whole thing will come together as a whole mass.
  8. Remove from flame and allow to cool slightly or till you can handle with bare hands.
  9. Knead well.
  10. Pinch out lemon sized balls, flatten and make a hole in the centre with your finger.
  11. Repeat the same with the remaining dough.
  12. Grease idli moulds and place the prepared adais one in each groove.
  13. Steam for 8 to 10 minutes or till the adais appear shiny.
  14. Remove from heat and cool.

Uppu adais are ready. Serve warm


Heat an extra 1/2 cup of water, and use as required if you feel your dough is very dry. The amount of water required depends on the rice flour you are uisng.
Do not roast the rice flour too much as the color of the adais will change.

Linking to Healthy Me Healthy Us

Monday, March 4, 2013

Roasted Red Bell Pepper Dip

A couple of years back, I would have never thought that I would be cooking with coloured bell peppers, broccoli, purple cabbage, zucchini etc. These were categorized as exotic vegetables, which I used to look at with adoration, but never picked them up until recently. Thanks to Blogging, I have ventured out and broadened my horizons in terms of the veggies I use and also the variety of recipes I try out. Some of the new experiments become huge hits and some are never tried again. The coloured bell peppers and broccoli are something which my family has taken a liking to. My lil one who doesn’t like the green bell pepper loves the coloured beauties.

This month we the Groovy Gourmets decided to whip up some Gourmet Dips and Spreads. I chose to experiment with these Bright and beautiful red bell peppers. The dip was a runaway hit with my daughter as it was very mildly spiced and very creamy. This dip would go beautifully with any of your chips, crackers, potato wedges etc. It tasted yum as bread spread too. We had the remaining as a side with our dosas for dinner.  I see myself preparing this more often in my kitchen.

Adapted from Martha
Serves - 2 to 3
What you’ll need
  1. Red Bell Pepper – 2
  2. Walnuts – ½ cup
  3. Bread – 3 Slices
  4. Garlic – 1 clove
  5. Cumin – ½ tsp
  6. Red Chilly Flakes – 2 tsp
  7. Honey – ½ tsp
  8. Lemon Juice – 2 tsp
  9. Salt to taste
  1. Roast the red bell pepper on open flame till it is completely charred from all sides.
  2. Drop it in water and remove the charred skin.
  3. Discard the stem and seeds of the red pepper and chop into small pieces.
  4. Toast the walnuts and bread separately.
  5. In a mixie/blender, add walnuts, bread, garlic, cumin seeds and red chilly flakes, grind till everything turns to a coarse powder.
  6. Now add the roasted red bell pepper, honey, lemon juice and salt to taste. Grind again until smooth.

Transfer to a serving bowl, refrigerate for a couple of hours and serve with bread toasts/potato wedges/ or chips of your choice.

  1. While blending you can add a tsp or two of olive oil, I did not add.
  2. The spice level was just good for kids, increase the red chilly flakes if you would like it spicier.

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