Tuesday, July 31, 2007

My Paati's Rasam

Though my mother is an amazing cook, the rasam she makes does not suit my palate. I need something tangy and spicy but her version is catered to satisfy my dad's desire for a not-so-sour, milder one. My (maternal) grandmother's rasam however is just perfect and flavorful in everyway. Growing up, I've helped make it by coarsely grinding the necessary spices on the 'ammi' , which is how she makes the rasam each day - no ready-made powders there. So, I had an idea of what goes in and to an extent how much. My periamma (mom's sister, who follows my paati's recipe) taught me the complete method during one of my vacations...

I remember how my friends used to ask me to make this rasam anytime someone fell sick (during our university days) . I would make it in a huge 'cauldron' so there was lots of it to go around. Since I didn't have a mixie then, my mother used to make a rasam podi with dried spices - sans garlic and pack that for me so I could always make this in a jiffy. Nowadays however I just grind them as and when I make this rasam.


Tomatoes - 1.5 , chopped
Tamarind - gooseberry sized, soaked in warm water & juice extracted
Toor Dhal water - 1 cup, (mix about 2 to 3 tbsp of cooked, mashed toor dhal with water)
Turmeric - 1/4 tsp
Coriander Leaves - 2 tbsp, chopped.
Salt, to taste

Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Coriander seeds - 1 tsp
Dried Red Chillies - 3 or 4
Whole Black Pepper - 7 or 8
Garlic - 1 to 2 small cloves
Curry Leaves - few
Coriander Leaves - 3 to 4 stalks
Tomato - 1/2

Ghee - 1 or 2 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1/4 tsp
Hing (asofoetida) - couple pinches
Curry Leaves - few
Dried Red Chilli - 1 (cut into 2) [Optional]


1. Microwave the tomatoes for about 5 mins with a cup of water. Let cool slightly and mash them a bit. To this add the tamarind juice, dhal water and turmeric.

2. Adding half a tomato while grinding will make it easier. Mix the ground paste to the above tomato-dhal-tamarind mixture with salt and required amount of water.

3. Let this heat through on a medium flame. You will notice some foam on the top, just as it begins to boil, remove from the stove.

4. Do the seasoning by heating the ghee and adding mustard, cumin seeds and hing. Then add curry leaves and dried red chilli (if using). Add this to the rasam and finish off with chopped coriander.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Chidambaram Gotsu

I don't remember now where I got this recipe from but I had heard that Gotsu is pretty famous at Chidambaram and so gave this recipe a shot and we really liked it at home. I have made a few different versions of Gotsu before but somehow this is the one we liked the most so have to stuck to it since then. I normally serve this with Ven Pongal. Not having the privilege of tasting the actual version of Chidambaram Gotsu ever before, I can't vouch for the authenticity of the recipe but I can guarantee that this is delicious and spicy to boost.

I saw this as a good candidate for JFI-Chillies hosted this month by Nandita since this recipe contains both green and red chillies.



Long Purple Brinjals - 3, finely diced
Onion - 1, finely chopped
Green Chillies - 2, finely chopped
Tamarind juice - 2 to 3 tbsp
Curry Leaves - few
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Oil - 2 tsp
Salt, to taste

Roast and Grind:
Coriander seeds - 2 tsp
Kadalai paruppu (Channa dhal) - 1 tbsp
Dried Red Chillies - 2 or 3

1. Heat oil, add mustard seeds and once they crackle add the curry leaves, onions and green chillies.

2. After the onions soften a bit, add the eggplant pieces and some salt and cook until the eggplant softens and is almost cooked.

3. Now add the tamarind juice and the ground powder with sufficient water and let this boil for about 5 to 10 minutes.

4. Gotsu is now ready to be served with Ven Pongal, Dosas or Idlis.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

YardLong Beans Thoran

Yard Long Beans are the long, thin, dark green beans that you find in many korean supermarkets here in the US and these are quite popular in India too. I meant to take a picture before I started to chop them up but forgot so here's a picture from Wikipedia.

I had a thoran made with these at Shobana periamma's place and loved it. My mother-in-law also makes a lip-smacking thoran with this. During my initial attempts at making this I couldn't get it to cook properly but now it works out fine when I follow this method:



Yardlong beans - 1 bunch, ends trimmed, chopped fine
Onion - 1/2, chopped fine
Oil - 1 tsp
Mustard - 1/2 tsp
Urad dhal - 1/2 tsp
Curry Leaves - few

To Grind:

Coconut - 2 to 3 tbsp, shredded
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Green Chillies - 6
Garlic - 1 small to medium clove


1. Heat oil in a wide, shallow pan, add mustard seeds and urad dhal, once they crackle add the curry leaves. Now add the chopped onions and saute till light brown.

2. Next add the chopped beans and some salt. Saute this for about 5 minutes after which 1/3rd cup of water should be added. Cover the pan and keep on a med. to med - high flame. Check the pan often since the water will evaporate super-fast. Toss and repeat this until the beans are almost done.

3. Add the ground coconut paste at this point and let this cook until completely done and the thoran is now ready.

This is my entry for Nupur's 'Y' of Indian Vegetables .

Monday, July 23, 2007

Kuska Biryani

I was intrigued by the name initially when I saw this recipe from Mrs. Mano on the web but when my mother said that this is almost how she makes her 'Coconut Milk Rice'- which I love, I didn't hesitate to try. This is definitely not for the calorie-conscious but it tastes really good so it could be an occasional indulgence.



Basmati Rice - 1 cup
Onion (big) - 1, sliced thin
Green Chillies - 4 or 5, slit into two
Cardamom - 1
Cinnamon - 1 inch piece
Clove - 1
Cumin Seeds - 1.5 tsp
Curry Leaves - 2 to 3 stalks, chopped
Coriander Leaves - 1/4 cup, chopped
Mint Leaves - 1/4 cup, chopped
Garlic - 1/2 tsp, chopped
Ginger - 1/2 tsp, chopped
Ghee - 2 to 3 tbsp
Coconut Milk - 3/4 cup
Water - 1 cup
Biryani masala powder - 1/2 tsp (optional)
Salt, to taste


1. Wash and soak rice for 20 minutes. Drain and fry in 1 tsp of oil till fragrant.

2. In a pressure cooker, heat the ghee, add cumin seeds, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and fry for a few seconds.

3. Add the sliced onions, g. chillies, ginger and garlic and saute till golden brown. Then add the chopped curry, coriander and mint leaves. After a few seconds, add the rice and salt. Add the Biryani masala powder at this stage, if using.

4. Add the 1 cup of water and 3/4 cup of coconut milk, even if you go less on the quantity of coconut milk, make sure that the total of water and coconut milk adds up to 1.75 cups.

5. Close the pressure cooker, put on the weight and keep it on a medium flame for about 5 to 6 minutes * there should be no whistle *. Switch it off and leave the cooker untouched for at least 20 minutes. This will ensure that the rice is well cooked and not overly done.

6. Serve with chopped coriander leaves and fried onions or cashews as garnish. Since this is a mildly flavored rice, it goes well with all gravies and kurmas.

Palak Paneer

I know that there are so many posts for this popular dish but I couldn't resist posting my version as well. It is well-loved at home and I think it's pretty healthy too... inspite of the paneer I have made this with collard greens as well and it still tasted good.



Paneer - 250 gms
Spinach (Palak) - 5 to 6 cups, cleaned
Onions - 2 medium, sliced into big pieces
Tomatoes - 1 medium, cut in big chunks
Garlic - 8 cloves, peeled
Cumin Seeds - 1/2 tsp
Green Chillies - 2, slit vertically
Coriander Powder - 1 tbsp
Chilli powder - 1 to 2 tsp
Garam Masala - 1/2 tsp
Oil - 3 tsp
Salt to taste


1. Steam cook the spinach until wilted (if i'm really short on time I pressure cook it for 1 whistle). Allow it to cool a bit.

2. Heat a teaspoon of oil, sprinkle little salt and arrange cubes of paneer as a single layer. Toss and let both sides brown lightly. Remove Paneer when done and keep aside.

3. Heat another tsp of oil and saute garlic, sliced onions and tomatoes with little salt until soft. Allow this to cool as well and grind with the cooked spinach to a fine paste.

4. Heat the final tsp of oil and add cumin seeds, slit chillies, coriander and chilli powders and fry for just a second before adding the ground spinach paste with little water, if too thick. Season with salt and garam masala and allow it to boil. Keep covered or it will splatter all over.

5. After 5 minutes add the paneer pieces and cover again for another 5 to 10 minutes before switching off the stove.

We had this with Methi Paratha for dinner the other day.

I would like to send this for Richa's Punjabi Cuisine for this month's RCI which was originally thought of by Lakshmi . Thank you for the great idea Lakshmi and Thank you for hosting it Richa.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Peppered Potatoes

The past few days have been peppered with work meetings and I've been trying to catch a breather in between so I can post something. Since time is a bit tight at the moment, I decided on these Peppered Potatoes which is a very simple side.

My mother made these and I absolutely loved them since it was quite different from the usual potato fry and was a great combination with curd rice though I have been known to eat bowlfuls of these just by themselves.



Potatoes - 2 med. sized (well scrubbed since we are not going to peel)
Oil - 2 to 3 tsp
Salt and Pepper to taste


1. Cut Potatoes into small, rather tiny cubes (half an inch maximum)
2. Heat oil, add the potatoes and saute until the oil coats the potatoes.
3. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste, mix well and keep them on medium heat, tossing every once in a while until the potatoes get cooked and are slightly browned on the outside.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

7 Random Things about Me..

I've been tagged by Tee for my first Meme... Thank you Tee!

I'm not really sure what to write but being the chatty person I am, hopefully it won't be too tough to come up with seven things.

1) I did my undergraduation in Singapore (on a scholarship) and lived there for 6 years total - studying first, then working. Though I didn't like living there initially (because I was extremely homesick) I actually miss it now. It's such an efficient, convenient, fun place and my life there was enriched by such wonderful, close friends. Living there, by myself, made me the strong, independent person I am now.

2) Food is something I've been passionate about since I was a kid. First, it was the love of eating, later I loved to read recipes, watch cookery shows and tried my hand making a few snacks growing up - my brother always loved whatever I cooked. I first started cooking during my final year of university (after my parents came over to visit me). Till then, my 'cooking' was limited to adding rice, dhal, frozen vegs, salt and microwaving them till done and then eating the resultant gooey mass with pickle and yogurt. A day before my parents landed, I went and bought the essentials - oil, mustard seeds, onion, g. chillies and a packet of vermicelli so my mom could make my favorite - Semia Upma. My parents cooked with gusto during their stay, for me and all my friends and the day they left, I rapidly wrote down some basic recipes with which I started cooking. Later, I searched the web, found the Bawarchi website, tried some recipes from there and got better. Through it all, my friends were my guinea pigs... :) but they never complained.

3) Growing up, my mother used to make idlis for breakfast almost everyday (during weekdays) since that was convenient and fast, what with having to make and pack lunch for all of us before 8am - I used to constantly crib about it but after I went to Singapore I missed it so much that in the list I made of things I wanted to eat during my first semester vacation, idli was on it... much to my mother's surprise !

4) I've dabbled in quite a few things without really becoming an expert at anything... art, embroidery, carnatic music - Vocal and Veena, a year of learning Bharathanatyam and so on. Singing carnatic music and playing on the Veena is something I stuck to for quite some time but over the years they've taken a backseat. I hope to revive my interests in them so I can teach my daughter. I even went for a tailoring class for a few months while in school and also spent a month at a typewriting institute so I could be faster on the computer but didn't do so well. But after typing a zillion emails during my first year of university, I became super-fast at typing.

5) I was quite ambitious (career-wise) to begin with... Wanted to be a doctor initially but after watching an open heart surgery on tv one night, I changed my mind once and for all. Then it was this obsession with working for ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) like my periappa and used to intently read about PSLV, GSLV etc. and infact went on a tour of the facilities when I visited Trivandrum but by the time I was in my 9th/10th std I decided Software and have stuck to it since then. Once I started work, I wanted to be CEO of my company someday and would read the profiles of the top executives to see how they moved up to where they are now. Later I realized that it required some sacrifices on the home-front which I will never be able to make... so I just have smaller goals now.

6) Am a very friendly, talkative person. My husband on the other hand is rather quiet and takes time to warm up to people. My daughter, I think, will be more like me. I love my family and am very close to everyone - parents, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles alike. My brother is 8 years younger to me so I always think he's this small kid and get amazed when he does or says something grown-up. My parents are the best - so supportive, encouraging and loving - they always believed in us and gave us a lot of freedom. I wish I can be half as good as them.

7) I love to read - can easily get immersed in the book on hand and not know what's happening around me. Have been chided for that growing up. I used to even read what's written on the back of Shampoo bottles, maltova bottles, maggi packets and so on. Think I'm getting addicted to reading food blogs now! :)

Well, this meme was fun and I'd like to tag Bhags, Hima, Kajal and UshaPrashanth, ...if you have the time and inclination ladies....

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Puttu with Kadala Curry

Every Sunday, breakfast at my neighbour's place was Puttu with Kadala curry. Usha aunty would painstakingly soak the rice, drain, let it dry and grind it to a fine powder before steaming the puttu and make a kadala curry (slightly watery) so the puttu could soak up all the gravy and become moist. The way my mother made it was the tamil version, where the puttu flour was sprinkled on a cloth spread on the idli plates with some sugar and grated coconut. I did like that but not as much as the savoury version served with kadala curry.

I got the puttu kuzhai which we can fix on any pressure cooker to give this a try. My MIL suggested the brown rice flour and also another version using wheat flour (just have to steam the wheat flour before proceeding like rice flour). She usually makes payar (green mung dhal) to go with it and the leftover puttu is mixed with some jaggery, powdered cardamom and stirred alongwith some ghee and cooked until it gets powdery again. Arun just loves that. I stick to banana and kadala curry as accompaniments. I've also had theeyal made with black channa (kadala) to go with puttu and that's an awesome combination too.



For Puttu:
Puttu Powder - 2 cups (I use the one made with red rice)
Salt - a couple pinches
Warm water - 1/2 cup or so
Grated Coconut - 1/3 cup
For Kadala Curry:
Black Channa - 1 cup (soak overnight and cook till very soft with some salt)
Green Chillies - 5, slit into two
Garlic Cloves - 3, chopped fine
Turmeric Powder - 1/4 tsp
Oil - 1 tsp
Salt, to taste

Fry in oil and Grind:
Onion - 1/4 piece
Cinnamon stick - 1
Coconut - 1/4 cup grated
Cardamom - 1
Red Chillies - 4
Coriander powder - 3 tbsp


For Puttu:
1. Mix the puttu flour and salt until well combined. Sprinkle some warm water and mix into the puttu flour until it gets a bit moist. I normally check by taking some flour in my hand and pressing it, if it holds its shape for a while then it's perfect.

2. Put a thin layer of coconut in the kuzhai and top with about 1/3 cup of the mixed puttu flour, add another layer of coconut followed by flour until you reach the top. Finally add a layer of coconut. Cover and fix onto a pressure cooker filled 1/4th with water once it releases steam. It should take about 10 to 12 minutes for the puttu to cook. Remove and unmould.

For Kadala Curry:
1. Heat oil, season with mustard and curry leaves, add finely chopped garlic and slit green chillies. Saute for a few minutes. Now add the ground paste, turmeric, salt and cooked black channa. Once this boils, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Caramelized Sweet Plantains (Nendrapazham)

The first time I tasted caramelized nendrapazham was at my neighbour's house as a teen. Almost all my neighbours were malayalees (there were 4 familes) so I was exposed to a lot of kerala food and loads of malayalam. Most of the time nendrapazham was made into 'pazham pori' - where it was coated in batter and deep fried but this was a variation I loved. I still remember the divine aroma that emanated from Radha aunty's kitchen as she made these. Since my in-laws are from Nagercoil, their food has a strong kerala influence so I had these often when my in-laws visited us.

Knowing that plantains are quite calorie dense and this recipe calls for some ghee as well as sugar I don't make these often but since my daughter has been boycotting all food at her daycare I decided that these would be a nutritious snack for her once she gets back. I couldn't resist myself though and ended up eating quite a bit of these.

Make sure that the plantains are ripe (the skin turns rather black and they become very soft), that way there won't be much need for sugar. Pan-frying makes them crunchy and chewy at the same time... I used a non-stick pan so I could get away with just a light coating of ghee.



Ripe Plantains (Nendrapazham) - 2, peeled and sliced into thick slices
Ghee - 2 tsp
Sugar - 2 to 3 tsp


1. Heat a tsp of ghee in the pan and spread it so a thin layer coats the entire pan

2. Put the plantain slices as a single layer and sprinkle about a tsp of sugar over them uniformly. Keep the pan on medium heat.

3. Turn them over when they brown slightly and let the other side caramelize as well.

4. Remove and repeat with the remaining slices.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Kurma with Potato, Cauliflower & White Beans

The original recipe is one that I chanced upon on the Arusuvai website and it only had potatoes in it but to make it more nutritious I added in some cauliflower and cannelini beans (which is the closest I could get to the butter beans we get in India). This goes great with Chapathis or some mild pulaos like Kuska. I've used channa instead of cannelini and used other vegetables too instead of cauliflower and have never been disappointed with the taste.

Kurma with Potato, Cauliflower & White Beans


Potatoes - 1 large or 2 medium, boiled, peeled and cubed
Cauliflower - 2 cups, florets
Cannelini Beans - 12 oz can (drained and washed)
Onion - 2 medium, sliced thin and cut into 1 inch pieces
Tomatoes - 1 roma tomato, chopped
G. chillies - 10, sliced vertically
Garam masala - 1/4 tsp (optional)
Turmeric - 1/4 tsp
Salt, to taste
Cinnamon stick - 1 small piece
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves - few
Oil - 1 tsp

To Grind:
Poppy seeds (khasa khasa) - 2 tsp
Aniseed (Sombu) - 1 tsp
Coconut - 2 to 3 tbsp (shredded)
Water - a splash


1. Heat oil, season with mustard seeds, cinnamon stick and curry leaves. Now add the sliced onions and green chillies and saute till they brown.

2. Now add the chopped tomatoes, turmeric, salt and cook till they soften.

3. Add the ground paste, chunks of boiled potato, cauliflower, drained beans, garam masala and add some water to make a gravy .

4. Once it boils, cover and let this simmer for about 20 mins or until the cauliflower is cooked and the gravy thickens.

You may add a few drops of lemon juice after you take it off the stove but we are not big fans of the taste that it imparts so I just skip that step.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Sorakkai-Channa Dhal Poriyal

This is a moist, mild poriyal made with Sorakkai (Lauki, Bottle Gourd) and Channa dhal.

I usually have Sorakkai made into a kofta but since that involves deep-frying, I've been trying different recipes and have a few favorites... this is one of them. My friend Raji, a very good cook, is the one that introduced me to this dish.


Sorakkai - 1, chopped into cubes
Channa dhal - 1/3 cup, soaked in warm water for 30 mins/1hr
Onions - 1/2 medium, chopped
Green Chillies - 8 to 10, slit into two
Curry Leaves - Few
Mustard Seeds - 1/4 tsp
Urad Dhal - 1/4 tsp
Grated Coconut - 2 to 3 tbsp
Salt, to taste
Asafoetida, a pinch
Oil - 1 tsp

1. Heat oil, season with mustard, urad dhal, asafoetida, curry leaves.
2. Now add onions and green chillies and saute for a few minutes until they soften. Make sure it doesn't get brown.
3. Add the soaked Channa dhal and sorakkai pieces alongwith salt and about 1/3 cup water.
4. Cover and allow to cook on a medium flame until it's soft and the water has evaporated.
5. Add grated coconut, mix well and serve.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Pasta with Pesto, Mushrooms & Green Beans

Me, I adore Pesto! All the ingredients that go into it are sumptuous so it's not surprising that the end result is good as well.... Sweet, summery basil, wholesome toasted walnuts, tangy parmesan cheese, splash of good ol' olive oil and finally a touch of garlic, pepper and salt to round it all off. Every bite reminds you of summer while tantalizing your taste buds.

The store bought pesto sauces are okay but I find them too oily so I prefer to make them at home and the result is a more flavorful, robust pesto... also I substitute the pine nuts with walnuts since that's what I normally have at home but this is a very versatile sauce so no worries. I used Giada's recipe as a base and made some slight modifications.



Basil Leaves - 1 bunch (roughly 2 cups)
Sun-dried Tomatoes - 4 halves (soaked in hot water for 5-10 minutes, if dry)
Walnuts - 1/4 cup, toasted
Garlic - 2 small cloves
Salt - about 1/2 tsp
Pepper - 1/4 tsp
Olive oil - upto 1/3 cup (i use lesser mostly)
Parmesan Cheese - 1/4 cup or more


1. Blend basil leaves, sun dried tomatoes (if using), walnuts, garlic, salt and pepper. Add some olive oil and blend again till almost smooth. Finally remove and add some parmesan cheese.

I came across a recipe for Pasta, with pesto and green beans on the Epicurious website and found it an interesting combination, so I just added on some more ingredients, gave it a slight spicy touch and the end result was pretty good.

Pasta with Pesto, Mushrooms & Green Beans


Spaghetti (or pasta of your choice) - 6 oz [I used Barilla Plus]
Pesto sauce - 3 to 4 tbsp (or to taste)
Onions - half medium, chopped into big pieces
Roma Tomato - 1/2, chopped
Green Beans - 15 to 20, french cut
Garlic - 1 to 2 cloves, chopped fine
White Mushrooms - 6 to 8 oz, sliced
Red Chilli Flakes - 1 to 2 tsp
Parmesan Cheese - 3 tbsp, grated
Olive Oil - 2 tsp
Salt and pepper to taste


1. Cook Pasta according to package directions until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid and set aside before draining.

2. In the meanwhile, heat oil in a pan and add garlic and onions. Once they soften add the red chilli flakes and mushrooms.

3. Depending on how crunchy you want the beans you can stir-fry them directly or microwave them for a few minutes with 2 tbsp of water before adding.

4. The mushrooms will cook down and lose all their water. Add the beans and salt. Now add the pesto and the cooking liquid.

5. Toss the pasta with this sauce until well blended. Season with pepper to taste and finally add some parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Punjabi Chole

Here's a recipe for Punjabi Chole which is different, drier and tasty. My husband and I particularly like it a lot. The recipe calls for onion and tomatoes only as a garnish whilst the channa is cooked with ginger and spice powders. This would also be perfect when you want to make something without onion or garlic.


Channa (Chickpeas) - 250 gms
Amchur powder, to taste
Salt, to taste
Garam Masala - 1 tsp
Ghee - 2 tsp
Onion - 1 medium, chopped
Tomato - 1 medium, chopped
Coriander leaves - 2-3 tbsp, chopped

Dry Roast & Grind
Bay leaf - 1
Mustard - 2 tsp
Jeera - 2 tsp
Methi - 1/4 tsp
Clove - 1
Dried Red Chilli - 1

For Masala Paste - Grind : (with little water)
Clove - 1
Cinnamon - 1 small piece
Ginger - 1 inch piece
Green Chillies - 2
Pepper - 1/2 tsp

1. Soak Channa overnite and cook with salt till soft.
2. In a kadai, pour the cooked channa (along with the water it cooked in)
3. Add the dry roasted and ground powder, the masala paste, garam masala, amchur and salt to taste. (It may taste slightly bitter at this stage because of methi but this will go away once cooked).
4. Once the mixture comes to a boil, cover, simmer and allow to cook until most of the water evaporates and the masala sticks to the channa. This is a semi-dry curry.
5. Heat 2 tsp of ghee separately, make a space in the center of the chole and pour the smoky hot ghee and cover for a few minutes.
6. Serve warm with chopped onion, tomatoes and coriander as toppings.

I would like to submit this as my entry for RCI - Punjab
which is hosted by Richa and is the brainchild of Lakshmi.