Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Thiruvadhirai Poduthuval/Thoran

Thiruvadhirai is celebrated in the southern states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala, though the rituals in both the states are very different. In Tamil Nadu, people generally, wake up very early, take a bath and prepare the offerings of Kali (a sweet rice pudding) and poduthuval (curried vegetables). I don’t know how our ancestors came up with this unusual combination of sweet and savoryJ.
Thiruvadhirai Poduthuval/thoran or kootu is a side dish that is served alsong with Kali. Every household has their own way of preparing it. Some prepare like how it like a dry curry. Some prepare like a kootu and still others prepare something like a Sambar with 5 or 7 different vegetables. Kaavathu, Mochai, Koorkai (Chinese Potato), Sweet Potato, Pumpkin, Broad Beans are some of the vegetables that are generally used.
I am posting the way my mother prepares it. A special vegetable called Kaavathu is an important part of this thoran. It does not matter how much you add, even a very small piece of it would do. But according to mom, kaavathu is important. But if you don’t find it in your neighborhood, use the other vegetables and prepare this thoran.

Serves – 3 to 4
What you’ll need
  1. Pumpkin – 1.5 cup, cut into medium sized cubes
  2. Sweet potato – 1 cup, cut into cubes
  3. Broad Beans – 8 Nos, cut into 1inch pieces
  4. Green Peas – 1/2 cup
  5. Kaavathu – ½ cup, cut into cubes
  6. Fresh scraped coconut – ¼ cup
  7. Green Chilly – 1 or 2
  8. Salt to taste
  9. Turmeric Powder – ¼ tsp
For tempering
  1. Coconut oil – 1 tbsp
  2. Mustard Seeds – 1 tsp
  3. Urad Dal – ½ tsp
  4.  Curry Leaves – 8 to 10 leaves, torn
  1. Wash all the vegetables well.
  2. Toss the vegetables with salt and turmeric powder and place them in a steamer and cook till the vegetables are done. (If you do not have a steamer, place the vegetables in a vessel, toss with turmeric and salt and cook in a pressure cooker for one whistle. Do not add water to the vegetables)
  3. Once the vegetables are done, remove and allow to cool.
  4. In the meanwhile, grind the coconut and green chilly into a coarse paste without adding water.
  5. Heat a Kadai with coconut oil, add mustard seeds, once they splutter add the urad dal.
  6. After the dal become golden, add the curry leaves and cooked vegetables and mix carefully, taking care not to break the pieces. Let everything get heated up well, i.e for about 4 to 5 minutes.
  7. Finally add the crushed coconut and green chillies and mix carefully. Remove from heat after 3 to 4 minutes.
Thiruvadhirai Poduthuval is ready.

This poduthuval is dry. Some people make it like a kootu, for that, you can add about ¼ to ½ cup of water while cooking the vegetables. And follow the same procedure. Also keep aside a little rice flour of the Kali and add it to the kootu at the end. This will make it all come together.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Mysore Rasam

The other day while updating the Recipe Index on my blog, I realized that I have posted only one rasam recipe so far. It is not that I don’t prepare rasam frequently; rather it is one of the items that is prepared very often in my house. As I have mentioned in my other rasam post, I just knew of a couple of rasams prior to marriage namely the tomato rasam and Jeera rasam. But after marriage, I have learnt quite a few types of rasams from my MIL, which I keep preparing very regularly.

Now, you must be wondering why then have I not posted any of these? Though I have always thought of posting the rasam varieties, but when it came to taking pictures of it, I was at a loss. The pictures were never satisfactory. At one point I just gave up the thought of clicking Rasam.

Couple of days back, I decided to give it a try again, and I kind of got a few decent clicks. So here I am with the post.

Serves – 3 to 4
What you’ll need
  1. Tomatoes – 2
  2. Thin Tamarind Extract – ¾ cup
  3. Asafoetida – a generous pinch
  4. Turmeric Powder – ¼ tsp
  5. Salt to taste
  6. Water – 2 cup
  7. Cooked and mashed Toor Dal – 1 tbsp
  8. Powdered Jaggery – 1 tsp
  9. Curry Leaves – few
  10. Coriander Leaves – chopped 1 tbsp

To Roast and Grind
  1. Toor Dal – 1 tbsp
  2. Coriander Seeds – 1 Tbsp
  3. Cumin Seeds – ½ tsp
  4. Dried Red chilly – 1 or 2
  5. Black Peppercorns – 8 to 10
  6. Fenugreek Seeds – ¼ tsp
  7. Scraped Coconut – 1 tbsp

For tempering
  1. Ghee – ½ tsp
  2. Mustard Seeds – ½ tsp
  3. Cumin Seeds – ½ tsp

  1. Grind the tomatoes and pour it into the vessel in which you are going to boil the rasam.
  2. Add the tamarind extract to it.
  3. Add turmeric powder, asafetida and salt to taste. Mix well. Add about 1.5 cups of water and start heating on low to medium flame.
  4. In the meanwhile, roast all the items mentioned under “roast and grind” till a nice aroma arises and the toor dal and slightly changed color. Grind everything into a smooth paste using a little water.
  5. Add this ground paste also to the simmering rasam. Mix well. Also add a tsp of jaggery.
  6. Let everything simmer for about 15 minutes. Make sure you cook on low to medium flame if your keep it on high the rasam will boil very quickly and will boil over. You can add a ladle in the vessel while it is simmering to prevent the rasam from boiling over.
  7. Add the remaining half cup of water to the cooked and mashed dal mix well and add it to the simmering rasam. Add chopped coriander and curry leaves. Remove from heat when rasam starts frothing. Do not boil.
  8. Heat a small frying pan with ghee and add mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Pour this over the rasam close with lid and let it sit for about 5 minutes.

Serve hot with rice and some spicy potato curry.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Dum Aloo

Baby potatoes were a rarity in Bangalore. But in Chennai, these cute potatoes seem to be available around the year. Whenever I see a packet of these I can’t resist myself from buying them. I love preparing the Chettinad Style Roast Potatoes, which is our family favorite too. It goes very well with vengaya sambar. And yes, I prepare Dum Aloo too. I have prepared it many times after coming to Chennai, as they are available almost always. I had clicked pictures of these long back, but was not very satisfied. So the post had to wait till I made them once again and clicked some better ones.

Dum aloo doesn’t need any special introduction. But while I was searching for some recipes using baby potatoes, I found that each region has its own variation of this classic gravy, like the Kashmiri dum aloo, Bengali Dum aloo, Amritsari dum aloo, Benarsi Dum aloo. One day, I intend to try all of these. The version which I have posted today is my own concoction and this is the way I have been making dum aloo for more than a decade now. I can’t vouch for its authenticity but sure can vouch for its taste. It tastes delicious. So do try and let me know how you liked it!

What you’ll need
  1. Baby potatoes – 25
  2. Yoghurt/curd – ¼ cup
  3. Turmeric Powder – ¼ tsp
  4. Coriander Powder – 1 tsp
  5. Kashmiri Chilly Powder – 1 tsp
  6. Garam Masala Powder – ½ tsp
  7. Cumin Seeds – ½  tsp
  8. Salt to taste
  9. Oil – 2 to 3 tbsp
  10. Fresh Coriander Leaves – for garnishing
  11. Onion – 3 Medium
  12. Tomato – 3 Medium
  13. Garlic – 2 cloves
  14. Ginger – 1 inch piece
  15. Cashew nuts – 5 to 6

  1. Pressure cook the baby potatoes. Peel and prick them with a fork. Take care not to break the potatoes.
  2. Grind the onions, ginger and garlic and cashew nuts to a smooth paste.
  3. Blanch tomatoes, remove skin and grind. Keep aside.
  4. Heat a non stick kadai with a tbsp of oil, and roast the potatoes till they are lightly browned about 6 to 7 minutes. Keep turning them so that they are evenly browned.
  5. In the meanwhile, heat another Kadai with the remaining oil. Add cumin seeds. Once they change color. Add the ground onion, ginger and garlic paste. Sauté for 5 to 6 minutes on medium flame or till the raw smell has disappeared. Take care not to burn the paste and to fry well. Keep stirring regularly for even cooking.
  6. Now add the tomato paste and fry for another 4 to 5 minutes or till all the moisture is absorbed.
  7. Now add the spice powders, turmeric powder, coriander powder, red chilly powder and sauté for a minute.
  8. Whisk the curds well reduce the heat to low and add it to the onion tomato paste. Cook on low flame for 3 to 4 minutes or till everything comes together.
  9. Next add the fried potatoes and mix without everything without breaking the potatoes.
  10. Add water to adjust the consistency of the gravy.
  11. Add the garam masala powder, check for seasonings mix well.
  12. Cover and let it simmer for 5 to 6 minutes on a low flame.

Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with rotis.

You can deep fry the potatoes if you wish, but pan frying them tastes equally good.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Oats Dosa

In my earlier posts I have mentioned quite a few times, that our family is not the kind that sits down for a formal breakfast of idly and dosa everyday. Our breakfast is oats porridge on most of the days. It is on days when I feel that the lunch may get delayed that I prepare a proper breakfast and that happens very rarely. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t have any of the breakfast items. It’s just that we don’t have it at breakfast time rather at dinner time. Now that makes it really difficult for me to click pictures of all these dosa and upma recipes which I prepare for dinner. So there are many recipes which I prepare on a day to day basis and these have not appeared on my blog yet.

The other day, when I decided to prepare these Oats Dosas, I prepared the batter in the afternoon itself and made dosas for my daughter, so that she could have them when she came back from school and I would get a chance to click pictures as well. The batter stays fresh for about 2 to 3 days when refrigerated.

So here is the recipe for a healthy dosa with the goodness of oats.

Makes – approx 16 dosas
What  you’ll need
  1. Oats – 1 cup
  2. Rice Flour – 3 cups
  3. Curd (slightly sour) – about 1 cup
  4. Salt to taste
  5. Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
  6. Green chillies – 1, finely chopped
  7. Ginger – a small piece, grated
  8. Coriander Leaves – 1 tbsp, finely chopped

For tempering
  1. Oil – 1 tsp
  2. Mustard seeds – ½ tsp
  3. Asafoetida – 1 pinch

  1. Beat the curds well and soak the oats in it for about 30 minutes.
  2. Grind this into a paste.
  3. Transfer into a bowl, add the rice flour and mix well.
  4. Now add enough water and whisk well without forming lumps to a watery batter. (Just like you do for Rava Dosa)
  5. Add green chillies, grated ginger, chopped coriander and salt to taste.
  6. Rub the cumin seeds between your palms a few times and add that also.
  7. Now heat a small frying pan with oil, temper with mustard seeds and asafetida. Mix well.
  8. Heat a tawa well, reduce the flame, take a ladle full of batter and pour the batter in a circular motion from the outer to the inner of the tawa. Just like you do for raw dosa.
  9. Drizzle a little oil. Cook on medium flame till the edges start browning. Flip over and cook for another 2 minutes.
  10. Remove from tawa. Repeat with remaining batter.

Serve hot with a chutney of your choice. Tastes good with onion chutney.

  1. Use good quality rice flour else you may not get crisp dosas. If you don’t have rice flour, you can soak rice for about 2 to 3 hours and grind to a smooth paste and use it instead of rice flour.
  2. Make sure the batter is watery else you may not get thin dosas.
  3. Also make sure that the tava is really hot while pouring the batter, reduce flame while pouring and then cook on medium flame.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Badam Kheer/Almond Milk

Yesterday, my blog baby turned 2. It would never have been possible without the support of my family, friends, virtual friends, readers and silent readers. I remember how I started this blog without even knowing what actually blogging is. I had no idea how to present food and take good pictures. I did not know anything about lighting, backgrounds etc. I have actually taken photographs in the night, with the only light source being a single tube light, and posted them as well. I was always excited about blogging. The day I post a recipe, I keep checking my mail a dozen times in a day to see how many comments my post has received. It continues even today, after two years. That excitement to cook, click and post is still the same. And I hope it just continues this way. I thank all the people who stop by this little space of mine and keep it ticking!

Serves - 4
What you’ll need
  1. Almonds – ¾ cup
  2. Milk – 3 ½ cup
  3. Sugar – ¾ cup
  4. Saffron 6 to 7 strands

  1. Take the almonds in a vessel. Add water to immerse them well.
  2. Heat this till the water starts boiling. Remove and set aside.
  3. Cool completely and remove the skin of the almonds
  4. Grind the almonds with about ¼ to ½ cup of water into a smooth paste.
  5. Boil the milk in a vessel. Once it starts boiling, let it keep simmering. Stir once in awhile to avoid burning.
  6. Take a ladle full of warm milk and soak the saffron strands in it.
  7. Simultaneously, heat a Kadai, add the ground almonds paste, add about a tbsp or 2 of water mix well and stir well on medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes. Keep stirring else the almond paste may get burnt.
  8. Now add the boiled milk and stir well without any lumps. Cook on low to medium flame stirring once in a while.
  9. Once the mixture starts boiling, reduce heat to low and add the sugar mix well.
  10. Simmer for another 5 minutes. Stir once in a while.
  11. Finally add the saffron milk and mix. Remove from heat.

Serve warm or chilled.

You can soak a few extra almonds and use them to garnish the kheer by chopping them and adding it add the end.
You could also add some cardamom powder, but personally like only the taste of almonds and the fragrance of saffron.
You can add a pinch of yellow food color.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Mangai Inji/ Mango Ginger Pickle

First for some good news: I am very glad to share with you that my space got featured in this lovely site Get Ahead India.

Pickles are an integral part of Indian meals. I for one feel my meal is incomplete without the daily dose of curd rice and pickle. Though I love my pickles, I hardly try to prepare them myself. Every year I get my quota of pickles from my mom, grandmom and MIL. So now you know why I haven’t posted even a single recipe for a pickle on my space.

My grandmother, an expert in making a variety of pickles ranging from avakkai, maagai to kadugu mangai also prepared many instant pickles with raw mango, ginger, green pepper (pachha kurumilagu) etc. I love the green peppers preserved in lemon and salt. They taste absolutely divine. With the green pepper, she also prepares this mango ginger pickle, which was not one I liked. Recently H saw it in the market and got a whole lot of it wanting to have the pickle. No other go, had to oblige, so prepared it. But to my surprise, I found myself reaching out to the pickle jar very often. It was good to have it after a very long gap.

Mangai Inji or mango ginger is a root which is a look alike of the ordinary ginger. It smells like mango and has taste similar to ginger, however, the taste is not as sharp as ginger. Predominantly found in south India. Here is the how to prepare this instant pickle which tastes best with curd rice.

What you’ll need
  1. Maangai Inji/Mango Ginger – 1 ½ cup
  2. Green Chilly – 2
  3. Juice from 2 medium sized lemons
  4. Salt to taste

  1. Wash and pat dry the mango ginger. Peel and finely chop it.
  2. Finely chop the green chillies too.
  3. Squeeze out the juice from the lemon.
  4. Transfer the chopped mango ginger and green chillies into a mixing bowl.
  5. Add the lemon juice and salt to taste.
  6. Mix/toss well.
  7. Transfer into glass bottles and keep refrigerated.
  8. Stays fresh for 10 to 15 days when refrigerated.

  1. Adjust the quantity of green chillies and lemon juice according to your taste.
  2. If adding green pepper (pachha kurumilagu) then do not add green chillies.
  3. Always use a clean and dry spoon while spooning out the pickle.

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