Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Onion Chutney/Vengaya Chutney - Easy Side Dish for Idli/Dosa

When you say chutney I think the first thing that comes to any South Indian would be the coconut chutney. Back in India this was the go to chutney even in our house, as it requires no cooking. If you have some grated coconuts you are good to go. The chutney can get ready in a couple of minutes. 

Once we moved to Amsterdam, the coconut chutney has become a rarity as we don't get good fresh coconut and preparing the coconut chutney using frozen coconut just doesn't give that same taste. And so the onion chutney and many variations of this chutney have become a staple now.

Even though the coconut chutney is by far the most popular one, the onion chutney is equally a favorite at home. In fact it is my favorite chutney. I like it best when served along side Rava dosa. 

The addition of fennel seeds in this chutney makes it even more flavorful. But if you don't like fennel then please feel free to skip it. Though I would suggest you try it once.

What you'll need

  1. Onion - 2 Big, roughly chopped
  2. Kadala Paruppu/Channa Dal - 1 tbsp
  3. Fennel Seeds - 1 tsp
  4. Dried Red Chilles - 2 or 3
  5. Tamarind - 1 inch piece
  6. Salt to taste
  7. Oil - 1 tbsp


  1. Heat a Kadai with oil, add the kadala paruppu/channa dal and fry for a couple of minutes then add the red chillies and fry till the dal turn golden brown. Take care not to burn it.
  2. Transfer it to a plate. Take care not to drain the oil along with the dals.
  3. Now add fennel seeds onions and tamarind and saute.
  4. Add salt to taste and saute till the onions are browned.
  5. Remove from heat and let it cool.
  6. Transfer the dal and red chilly to the chutney jar of the mixie and grind.
  7. Then add the sauteed onions and grind. You can add a tsp of water if you find it difficult to grind.
  8. This chutney can be slightly coarse. No need to grind to smooth paste. 

Serve with idli/dosa.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Pavakkai Thokku

I was never very fond of bitter gourds. Actually very few people are. Most people don't like the bitter taste of the gourd. But then, I realized at some stage in my cooking journey that if you cook the vegetable properly, most of its bitterness can be masked. Now I have taken a liking to this vegetable, what with its numerous health benefits and I do make it a point to have it atleast once in 15 days. 

Pavakkai Pitlai is the dish I prepare most often with this vegetable. The recipe I am sharing today is Hubby's signature dish. When he prepared this first time I was not at all ready to eat it saying it would be very bitter, but he assured me that it won't be so and true to his words it wasn't as bitter as I expected. I can't say that you won't find it bitter at all. 

Try this mixed with some steaming hot rice and I'm sure you will want to have more of it. You can have it as an accompaniment with rice and dal/molagootal too.

Serves 2 to 3
What you'll need
  1. Bitter gourd – 2 big, about 3 cups, chopped into small pieces
  2. Onion – 1 big
  3. Tamarind – size of big lemon
  4. Tumeric Powder – ¼ tsp
  5. Chilly Powder – 1 tsp (increase if you spicier)
  6. Salt to taste
  7. Jaggery – 2 tbsp (See notes)
  8. Oil – 2 tbsp
  9. Mustard Seeds – ½ tsp
  10. Channa Dal/Kadala Paruppu -  tsp
  11. Curry Leaves – few

  1. Heat a Kadai with oil, temper with mustard seeds, once they splutter then add the channa dal after they turn golden add the curry leaves.
  2. Now add the chopped onions and sauté well, once they turn light brown, add the chopped bittergourd/pavakkai and fry.
  3. Add turmeric powder and salt to taste and fry on low to medium flame in open pan.
  4. Keep stirring once in a while. Fry till the bittergourd pieces are roasted well. It may take anywhere between 10 to 12 minutes.
  5. In the meanwhile, soak the tamarind in very little water and take out a thick extract.
  6. After the pieces are fried well, now add Chilly powder and sauté for half a minute, then add the tamarind extract and jaggery. Mix well. Check for seasoning and add salt and chilly powder if required.
  7. Cook on low flame till all the moisture is almost absorbed.

Serve with rice.

If you can’t have jaggery, skip it and add more onions, the onions will help in lending a sweet taste and will reduce the bitterness of the gourd.
You can omit onions and make it as a no onion version too, in this case don’t skip the jaggery.

Adjust the spices according to your liking. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Chakkai Appam/Unniappam - Guest Post

Today's post is a special one. It is a guest post for Shylaja of Amuthi's Kitchen. I was really excited and agreed immediately when Shylaja asked me to do a post for her. She has a lovely space with an amazing list of traditional recipes. Do visit her space and I am sure you will keep going back there. Thank you Shylaja for the opportunity.

Coming to the recipe, I wanted to post something traditional and while scoring her Recipe Index I found that she has posted most of them. And it was a tough choice for me. Then I remembered the box of Chakka Varatti which my mother had sent from India and I decided to use it. Here are some pictures.

Hop over to Shylaja's space to check the detailed recipe.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Mambazha Pachadi/ Ripe Mango Relish

It's mango time in India and I am missing it badly here. Though we do get mangoes here but I miss the huge variety that's available in India. I do buy the ones locally available and its tastes good too. But unlike our Inidan mangoes, these mangoes are never too ripe and juicy and they take a long time to cook and get all mushy and pulpy. Whatever it maybe, the dishes made out of these taste yum and they are good to eat as such too.

Mambazha pachadi is one of my favorite but I don't prepare very often as H does'nt like it much due to its sweet taste. So this time I prepared some other dish for him and this for me and kids. So if you are a person who likes sweet, sour and slightly spicy flavours in a dish then do give this a try. It goes well even with rotis.

Serves - 2 to 3
What you'll need
  1. Ripe Mango – 1 big, or 2 cups of chopped ripe mango pieces
  2. Turmeric Powder – ¼ tsp
  3. Chilli Powder – ½ tsp
  4. Salt to taste

To grind
  1. Scraped Coconut – 1/3 cup
  2. Mustard Seeds – ¼ tsp
  3. Green Chilly – 1

To temper
  1. Coconut oil – 1 tsp
  2. Mustard Seeds – ½ tsp
  3. Fenugreek seeds – ¼ tsp
  4. Dried Red Chilly – 1

  1. In a heavy bottomed vessel, add the mango pieces. Add just enough water to cover the pieces.
  2. Add salt, turmeric powder, and chilly powder.
  3. Place on heat and bring to boil. Cook covered on medium heat until the mango pieces are cooked, mash the pieces a little if required. The mixture should be pulpy. Take care while the pieces are cooking as they burn easily.
  4. In the meanwhile, grind the coconut along with mustard and green chilly into a paste add a little water if required.
  5. Add this ground coconut mixture to the cooked mangoes. Also add a little water if required. The consistency should be semi solid and bring to boil.
  6. Remove from heat.
  7. Temper with mustard, fenugreek seeds and red chilly. Garnish with curry leaves.

Serve with Molagootal and rice.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Lemon Bars Eggless

Every month I look forward to the Baking Partner's Challenge. Through this group event, I have learnt and prepared many baked goodies which I would never have tried otherwise. This month the recipes were chosen by Suja of Kitchen Corner - Try it. I tried these Lemon Bars and they were amazing. I used the same recipe as suggested for the crust but made few changes to the filling to make it eggfree. Now this filling and crust can be easily adapted to make them Vegan too. 

What you'll need

Adapted from No Meat Athlete
and The Secrets of Baking by Sherry Yard

For the crust/base
  1. All Purpose Flour – 1 ¼ cup
  2. Confectioner’s Sugar – 2/3 cup
  3. Butter – 1 ¼ stick/10 tbsp, Cold cut into cubes
  4. Salt – a pinch

For the lemon filling/topping
  1. Water – 1 1/3 cup
  2. Agar Agar flakes – 3 tbsp
  3. Sugar – 1 ¼ cup
  4. Fresh Lemon Juice – 2/3  cup
  5. Lemon Zest – 1 tbsp,/ finely grated
  6. Yellow food color – few drops
  7. Cornflour – 3 tbsp
  8. Milk – ¼ cup

To make the crust
  1. Pre heat the oven to 325 F and position rack in the center.
  2. Butter a 9 inch square baking tray and set aside.
  3. In a wide bowl, take the flour, sugar, salt and mix well.
  4. Add the butter and with the mixer, pulse 8 to 10 times , until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
  5. Process until the mixture forms large clumps and hold together when pinched between two fingers. (around 15 to 20 seconds)
  6. Srape the dough into the prepared tray and pat it into an even layer.
  7. Prick the dough using a fork.
  8. Bake the crust for 20 to 25 minutes till the edges become golden brown.
  9. Cool on wire rack.

For the filling
  1. While the crust is baking, prepare the filling.
  2. Soak the china grass/agar agar in water for 15 minutes.
  3. Squeeze the juice from the lemon and grate the zest. Keep ready.
  4. Mix the cornflour with the lemon juice and keep ready.
  5. After 15 minutes, place the china grass with the water on heat and heat it till the china grass has dissolved completely. Stir once in a while.
  6. Once china grass is dissolved, add the sugar and the food color and heat till the sugar is dissolved.
  7. Now add the lemon zest and the lemon juice conflour mixture. Mix using a whisk on medium to low heat.
  8. The mixture will start thickening and becomes a saucy consistency. Remove from heat.
  9. Pour over the prepared crust. Cool.
  10. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

Sprinkle powdered sugar over the bars with the help of sieve slice and serve.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Keerai Thoran

I have seen most kids don't like spinach or any greens for that matter, but thankfully, both my kids like spinach and I cook these greens very regularly in my kitchen. This thoran is one of their favorites. They simply like to eat it mixed with hot rice and a little bit of ghee. This is again something that I learnt from my MIL. She usually makes use of other greens like Ara Keerai, mula keerai or thandu keerai or even with murungai keerai. I could lay may hands only on spinach. Do check the notes if using any other keerai.

Serves – 2 to 3
What you’ll need
  1. Spinach – 4 cup, tightly packed, chopped
  2. Moong Dal/Pasi Paruppu – 1/3 cup
  3. Scraped Coconut – 3 tbsp (optional)
  4. Turmeric Powder – ¼ tsp
  5. Salt to taste

For tempering
  1. Coconut Oil – 2 tsp
  2. Mustard Seeds – ½ tsp
  3. Urad Dal – 1 tsp
  4. Dried Red Chilly – 2

  1. Dry roast the pasi paruppu for 4 to 5 minutes or until a nice aroma comes out.
  2. Cool, wash and soak the dal for half an hour.
  3. Heat a Kadai with oil and temper with mustard seeds, urad dal and red chillies.
  4. Add the drained pasi paruppu and turmeric powder, mix well.
  5. Add just enough water to cover the dal and cook covered on medium heat till the dal is cooked. It should not turn mushy.
  6. Add the chopped spinach and salt to taste and mix well. Cook in open pan for 4 to 5 minutes or until  the spinach is wilted and the moisture is almost absorbed.
  7. Now add the coconut and mix well.
  8. Remove from heat and serve with white rice and Sambar or any Kootan of your choice.


I used spinach to prepare this, it gets cooked very quickly and so I added it only after the dal was cooked, if using any other varieties like thandu Keerai, ara Keerai etc, add dal, sprinkle little water cook only til dal is half done then add the Keerai and cook covered until Keerai is cooked as these will take slightly longer time when compared to Spinach (palak)

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Pudina Thengai Chutney/Mint Coconut Chutney

Chutneys are an integral part of Indian cooking. I know of many households, where a normal day in the kitchen would begin with the preparation of the chutney. Why not, a good chutney would take your routine idly/dosa breakfast to completely different level. 

So here is a simple yet delicious chutney for those rush hour mornings or lazy evenings. Pair it up with your favorite tiffin. I must say that this is a great spread on bread as well. 

What you’ll need
  1. Mint Leaves – 1 cup, tightly packed
  2. Scraped Coconut – ¾ cup, tightly packed
  3. Green Chilly – 1
  4. Tamarind – small piece
  5. Channa Dal/Kadala Paruppu – 1 tbsp
  6. Turmeric powder a pinch
  7. Oil – 1 tsp

For Tempering
  1. Oil – ½ tsp
  2. Mustard Seeds – ½ tsp

  1. Wash the leaves well and allow to drain.
  2. Heat a small kadai with a tsp of oil, add the channa dal and fry till the dal turns golden.
  3. Now add the tamarind, slit green chilly and the pudina leaves along with turmeric powder and fry till the leaves are wilted. Set aside to cool.
  4. Grind the above with the coconut into a smooth paste adding water as required.
  5. Add salt to taste and mix well.
  6. Heat a frying pan with oil and splutter with mustard seeds. Pour over the chutney.

Delicious chutney is ready. Enjoy with idly or dosa.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Chenai/Senaikizhangu Karamani Poricha Kuzhambu

Poricha Kuzhambu is a very flavourful kuzhambu. I love the black pepper that goes into the ground masala. It adds a wonderful flavour to the kuzhambu. I have already posted two versions of kuzhambu. Both are with Karamani or red chori beans. There is a version which used Tuar dal. Though there is nothing very different in today’s poricha kuzhambu, I still wanted to post it as the combination was very new to me. My mother always made poricha kuzhabu, with only brinjals or with mixed vegetables. This combination with only Yam and Red Chori Beans was very new to me. It is a delicious combination. Pair it up with some Paruppu Thogayal or with any thoran and you have a wholesome filling lunch ready.

Serves – 2 to 3
What you’ll need
  1. Poricha Kuzhambu was not
  2. Chenai/Yam – 2.5 cup
  3. Karamani/Vella Payaru – 1/3 cup
  4. Tamarind – gooseberry sized ball
  5. Turmeric Powder – ¼ tsp
  6. Salt to taste
  7. Curry Leaves few

To roast and grind
  1. Channa Dal/Kadala Paruppu – ½ tbsp
  2. Whole Black Pepper – ¼ tsp
  3. Dried Red Chilly – 2 to 3
  4. Asafoetida – a small piece
  5. Scraped Coconut – ¼ cup

For Tempering
  1. Coconut Oil – 2 tsp
  2. Mustard Seeds – ½ tsp

  1. Soak the karamani in hot water for about half an hour. Soaking will help in better cooking.
  2. Pressure cook the karamani.
  3. Peel and chop the yam into small cubes. Pressure cook the yam pieces with just enough water and salt for 2 whistles.
  4. Soak the tamarind in hot water for 10 minutes. Squeeze and take out the 1.5 cup of extract.
  5. Transfer the tamarind extract into a vessel, add turmeric powder and salt. Add salt carefully, as we have added salt to the yam pieces as well.
  6. Let this boil for 5 to 6 minutes. Then add the yam pieces and the karamani and let everything boil for another 5 to 6 minutes.
  7. In the meanwhile, in a small frying pan, heat ½ tsp of oil, add the piece of asafoetida, when it puffs up add the kadala paruppu and fry till it starts changing color, now add the black pepper and red chillies and fry till the dal turn golden brown, add the coconut and fry for another minute. Cool and grind to a smooth paste using little water.
  8. Add this ground paste to the boiling tamarind veggie mixture, mix well. Add about ½ cup of water if required to adjust consistency and boil for another 2 to 3 minutes.
  9. Remove from heat
  10. Heat a small frying pan with oil, add mustard seeds once they splutter add the curry leaves and remove from heat. Pour onto the kuzhambu.

Serve with plain rice and a paruppu thogayal or any thoran/poriyal.

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