Friday, December 28, 2007

Chow-Chow Kootu

This used to be my standard method of preparation for Chow Chow (Chayote Squash) before including Viji's Chow Chow Pitlai recently into our repertoire. We love this kootu at home and is very easy to make too. I like the bite that the channa dhal lends and the heat from the red chillies balances well with the slight sweetness that chow chow has.

CHOW CHOW KOOTU

Ingredients:

Chow Chow - 3 small or 2 large
Toor Dhal - 1/3 cup
Channa Dhal - 3 to 4 tbsp
Turmeric, a pinch
Salt, to taste

For Seasoning:
Oil - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Urad Dhal - 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida - a pinch
Curry leaves - few

To Grind:
Dried Red Chillies - 5 or 6
Coconut - 2 to 3 tbsp
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp

Method:

1) Pressure cook toor dhal and channa dhal together with sufficient water and a pinch of turmeric till soft.

2) Meanwhile, wash, peel and cube chow chow into half inch pieces (remove the white pith in the middle). Cook this with some water and salt in a pan (covered and on low flame) till done or microwave this.

3) Once chow-chow is cooked, add the cooked dhal and the ground paste of chillies+coconut+cumin seeds. Adjust salt. Once this boils, allow to simmer for abt 5 minutes (covered).

4) Heat oil separately and season with mustard seeds, urad dal, asafoetida & curry leaves. Add this to the kootu and mix. Serve with rice and vathal kuzhambu or even with rotis.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Sabudhana Vada

My father makes excellent Sabudhana Khichdi and I love it but my husband is not a big fan. I think there are two reasons why : 1) he hasn't tasted my dad's version and 2) almost all my attempts at making this have resulted in a gooey mass. Taking into consideration my husband's love for all things fried, i decided to make these vadas using the same ingredients my dad uses for the khichdi but added a mashed potato and omitted grated coconut - and a good idea that was. I loved how it resulted in a crunchy exterior and the insides satisfied my khichdi cravings... My husband was rather pleased too.

SABUDANA VADAS
Ingredients:

Potato -1, Boiled, peeled and mashed
Sabudhana (Sago/Javarisi) - 2/3 cup, soaked for atleast 5 hours, drained
Peanuts - 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup, powdered coarsely
Onion - half of a medium sized one, chopped
G. Chillies - 4 or 5, chopped
Coriander leaves - 6-7 stalks, chopped
Ginger - 1/2 inch chopped
Salt, to taste
Oil - to deep fry

Method:

1) Mix all of the above, except the oil. The potatoes will act as the binding agent.

2) Divide into small portions and shape and flatten each into a small vada.

3) Heat oil and deep fry these till golden on both sides. Serve hot for a crispy, crunchy snack.


Wishing everyone Happy Holidays and a Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Idlis

Idlis and I share a love-hate relationship... used to hate them once but I love them now. I always took them for granted because we had 'em for breakfast almost everyday of the week. Never knew how making them wasn't as simple as grinding rice and dhal, mixing, fermenting and steaming... there are quite a few intricacies and tips that i had failed to observe, which resulted in flat, not so soft idlis initially. Over the years, i've learnt: to use the right variety of rice, the importance of the grinding time, how much water to add, methods to facilitate fermentation and so on. Though my idlis are still no match for my paati's (who still uses the whole black urad dal and painstakingly washes them in several changes of water after soaking), I think they are quite good and soft.

IDLIS

Ingredients:
Ponni Boiled Rice/Idli Rice - 4 cups (I replace 1 cup of this with rosematta rice)
Whole urad dhal (white) - 1 cup
Fenugreek seeds (methi/vendhayam) - 1 heaped tsp
Salt, to taste (I have a measurement for this but it involves my right hand so not much help to others) :)

Method:
1) Soak rice and methi seeds together for atleast 4 hours. Soak Urad dhal separately for about an hour.

2) Drain and Grind Urad dhal (I use an ultra grind and these measurements may not hold good if you are using a mixie) until soft and fluffy (almost 30-40 minutes). I don't add too much water after the initial stage and just a little bit after about 10-15 minutes. You will observe that the batter rises up quite a bit within 20 minutes. Empty this out to a big container (preferably stainless steel).

3) Next, drain and grind the rice and methi mixture for about 20-25 minutes. It'll be slightly grainy to the touch. Grind it for additional time if you want it to be very smooth. The texture of the idlis varies a bit because of this and it's a personal preference. Empty this batter into the same big container used for the urad dhal.

4) Add the required amount of salt and mix both these batters well by hand. The consistency shouldn't be too thick or thin but pourable. Cover and allow to ferment in a warm place for 12 hours or even more during the winter. I put it in the oven, switch on the oven light and keep it on overnight. If it has fermented well, you will see that the batter has risen and looks porous with small bubbles.

5) Refrigerate this for a few hours before pouring into greased idli moulds and steaming them for about 10 minutes.

6) Soft, spongy idlis are now ready to be eaten with Sambhar, Tomato Kurma, Chutney or Milagai Podi.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Matar Paneer

We love paneer at home and this is one of the many ways we enjoy it. I made Paneer at home this time using 2% milk so that made it a tad healthier than store-bought ones. Also, once I cut them I froze them individually on trays (for about 30 mins) before putting them in a ziploc bag so it makes it easier to take out the exact no. of cubes I want each time without having to worry about them sticking together... :)

I remembered Seema's tip about adding yoghurt in her version and since I had some sour cream on hand added that towards the end and it resulted in a creamy curry. Thank you Seema.

MATAR (Mutter) PANEER

Ingredients:
Paneer - 200 gm (cubed)
Peas - 3/4 cup (I used frozen)
Chilli Powder - 1 tsp
Coriander powder - 1 tsp
Garam Masala - 1/2 tsp
Cumin powder - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Kasuri Methi - about 1/2 tsp, crushed between your fingers
Salt, to taste
Sour Cream - 1 to 2 tbsp (optional)
Oil - 2 to 3 tsp
Jeera (Cumin seeds) - 1/2 tsp

To Grind:

Onion - 1, chopped into big pieces
Tomato - 1, chopped into big pieces
Garlic - 5 cloves,
Ginger - 1/2 inch piece
Cilantro - a few stalks

Method:

1) Heat 1 tsp oil in a pan and saute the onion, garlic and ginger till the onions brown a bit. Then add the tomatoes and cilantro and cook with a pinch of salt till it softens. Grind this to a paste in the mixie once it has cooled down a bit.

2) Pan fry the paneer cubes on either side till light brown. I sprinkle some salt after spraying the pan with oil before adding the paneer.

3) Heat the remaining oil in a pan and add jeera seeds, then add the ground paste along with all the masala powders and let this cook well with frequent stirring.

4) After about 5 minutes, add a cup of water to this paste and let it come to a boil. Add the paneer pieces and peas and allow to simmer covered for about 15-20 minutes.

5) Now add the crushed Kasuri methi and stir in the sourcream. Delicious Matar Paneer is now ready to serve. Enjoy with naans or chapathis.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Poori & Potato Masal

Several months back, these puffed up beauties were all over the blogosphere and were really taunting me... I tried to stay strong and not give in because I wanted to keep my 'no frying' streak go on as long as possible but with the Deepavali celebrations I've stepped into a land of no-return (atleast for the time being) and have been making and indulging in deep-fried goodies. I just love pooris (or Puris) and used to be able to tuck in quite a lot even as a kid. I remember eating as much as 10 when I was about 5 yrs old in an effort to compete with my older cousins... on who could eat the most. I would just get so excited when my mom soaked Channa Saturday morning before she left for work because I knew that we'd have Pooris and Channa Masala for dinner that night. Though that is a wonderful combination, Pooris and Potato Masaal (like the ones we get at south indian restaurants) is something both, my husband and I love. So, here's my recipe for that...

For POORIS:
Ingredients

Whole wheat flour - 2 cups
Salt, to taste
Water - as required
Oil - to deep fry

Method:

1) Mix the salt and flour lightly with your fingers. Then add water as required to make a stiff dough. This doesn't have to rest like chapathi dough and is best when made into puris right away.

2) Make small balls of the dough and roll out into small, slightly thick circles. Don't let these dry out. They will puff up well only when dropped in almost immediately. So, if you don't have a helping hand to fry these as they are rolled out, cover these and work in batches. Roll out about 10-15, deep fry and repeat.

3) Heat the oil and once it's hot enough [ Drop a small piece of the dough in and it should sizzle and rise up immediately]. Carefully drop the rolled out circle and press down with a slotted spoon. The puri, much like a teenager, will rise up under all that oppression and balloon. Turn over and cook for about a minute or two more. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate covered with some tissue. Repeat this for the rest of the dough.

NOTE: I love the chewiness in the puris when they are made with maida or all purpose flour but whole wheat flour is healthier and also results in 96% puffed puris :)

For the POTATO MASAAL (Kizhangu) :
Ingredients:

Potatoes - 2 large, boiled, peeled
Onions - 2, sliced into thin 1 inch pieces
Green Chillies - 10 to 15, slit into two
Ginger - 1 inch piece, grated or minced
Curry Leaves - few
Coriander leaves - garnish
Besan - 1 tbsp, mixed with water to form a paste (optional)
Channa Dhal - 1 tbsp, soaked for a while
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Urad Dhal - 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida - a pinch
Turmeric - 1/4 tsp
Salt, to taste
Oil - 2 tsp

Method:

1) Heat oil, and season with mustard seeds, urad dhal, channa dhal, asafoetida and curry leaves. Then add the slit green chillies, ginger, and sliced onions. Saute until the onions turn transluscent.

2) Cut 1 potato into chunks and coarsely mash the other one. Add this to the fried onion mixture with turmeric powder and salt. Add a cup or two of water. Let this boil and cook covered for about 15 mins on medium flame.

3) Once the flavours have been absorbed into the potatoes, thicken the curry by adding the besan paste (if using) and allow to boil for some more minutes. Remove and garnish with coriander leaves.

Delicious Poori and Potato Masaal are now ready to be devoured:

Friday, December 14, 2007

Cooking from Other Blogs # 4

Here are some more dishes that I've made from other blogs which we thoroughly enjoyed... I would like to thank all the bloggers once again for taking the time to share such wonderful recipes.

1) Nandita's Egg Curry which is so rich and spicy. A nice change from my usual egg curry.


2) Nandita's Fortified Poha with Soya Chunks - an awesome breakfast.

3) Indira's Mysore Pak was so easy to make and tasted great.

4) Menu Today's Mung Dhal Sambhar which tasted great with idlis. Sorry no pics.

5) TBC's Jaggery Dosa was great to whip up at a moment's notice and was yummy. Sorry but no pictures of this either. I also used her idea to incorporate sun-dried tomatoes in my pesto and loved it.

6) Meena's Spicy Pepper Mushrooms which were simply delightful.

7) Giada's Pasta Primavera and my inspiration for incorporating roasted vegetables in so many of my recipes.

8) Viji's Chow Chow Pitlai which was an instant hit at home. Unfortunately no pictures of this too.

9) Seema's Peas Curry but with Lauki (Bottle Gourd) instead of peas. Was tasty and reminded me of pulinkari a bit. I didn't get a chance to take pictures of this either.

10) Bee & Jai's Cauliflower Xacuti - i mushed up the cauliflowers (unfortunately) but it tasted good.


Thank you all! To check out more recipes I've tried from other blogs click here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Vegetable Kurma

This kurma is perfect for Parottas (the south indian flaky one) and is a recipe I learnt from Revathy aunty. This is a lot better than the ones served at restaurants because it's less greasy and has a lot more veggies. It's a bit on the thin side so the parathas can soak up all the gravy. I would presume that this will go good with idiyaapam too but this is something that I haven't tried yet.

VEGETABLE KURMA for Parottas


Ingredients:

Potato - 1, med-big, peeled, cubed
Beans - 15, cut into small pcs
Carrots - 1 big, cut into small pcs
Peas - half cup
Onion - 1.5 , medium
Tomato - 1 small or half big one
Ginger - 1 inch piece
Garlic - 3 to 4 cloves
Coconut - 1 tbsp
Chilli powder - 1 tsp
Coriander leaves - to garnish
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Curry Leaves - few
Salt, to taste
Oil - 3 tsp

Grinding Masala:
Sombu (Fennel) - 1 big pinch
Cloves - 1 or 2
Cardamom - 1
Cinnamon - 1 piece
Coriander seeds - 2 tsp

Method:

1) Heat 1 tsp of oil and saute half an onion, ginger, & garlic till brown. Allow this to cool slightly and grind to a paste with the grinding masala (above), coconut and little water.

2) Microwave the vegetables (potato, carrot, beans and peas) with a little salt and few tbsp of water on high for 7 mins (covered).

3) Heat 2 tsp of oil, and season with mustard seeds and curry leaves, add the 1 chopped onion and saute. When the onion softens and browns a bit, add the chopped tomato with some salt. When the tomato softens, add the ground paste and chilli powder. Cook this well.

4) After about 3-5 minutes, add the microwaved vegetables and water as required to make a gravy. Once this boils, reduce flame, cover, and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes or to required consistency.

5) Remove, garnish with coriander leaves and serve with flaky parottas.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Kuzhi Paniyarams

These are an easy to make snack and make for a really nice variation to the usual idlis and dosas. Though the savoury kuzhipaniyarams can be made with seasoned dosa batter, I find that the following batter results in fluffier and softer paniyarams.

KUZHI PANIYARAM

For the Batter:
Ponni Boiled Rice / Idly rice - 1 cup
Ponni Raw Rice - 1 cup
Urad Dhal - 1/4 cup
Methi seeds - 1/4 tsp
Salt - very little
Baking Soda - 2 pinches

1) Soak the rices together with the methi seeds for atleast 4 hrs. Soak the urad dhal separately for atleast 1 hr.

2) Grind the urad dhal initially for about 10-15 minutes ( i use an ultra-grind), and then add the soaked rices. Grind to a smooth paste with water added as required. It shouldn't be too thick or thin. Add a little bit of salt (not too much), mix well and separate into 2 containers (one for savoury paniyarams and the other for sweet). Allow to ferment. I usually pull the one intended for sweet paniyarams out and refrigerate a bit sooner (say after 5 hrs) but let the savoury one stay so it can develop a slight sour taste.

Savoury Paniyarams:

Ingredients:
Onion - 1, chopped finely
Green Chillies - 3 to 4, chopped finely
Carrots - 1 big, peeled and grated
Ginger - 1/2 inch, mincedMustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Urad Dhal - 1/2 tsp
Channa Dhal - 1 tbsp, soaked in warm water
Curry Leaves - few, copped
Coriander leaves - few, chopped
Asafoetida - a pinch
Oil - 1 to 2 tsp

Method:
1) Heat oil and season with mustard seeds, urad dhal, channa dhal, curry leaves and asafoetida.

2) Add onions, green chillies and ginger, saute this for a few minutes till the onions soften. Toss in the grated carrot and add some salt. Cook this for a few more minutes. Add some chopped coriander leaves and mix this in with the batter. Add a couple pinches of baking soda as well.

3) This is now ready to be poured into the appam/paniyaram pan. I add a teeny tiny drop of oil in each depression and keep the flame on medium. Once the batter is poured, cover and let cook for a few minutes. Turn over with a chop stick and cook the other side as well.

4) Serve with chutney of your choice.. it's even delicious plain.

Sweet Paniyarams

Ingredients:
Banana - 1 or 2, mashed well
Sugar/Jaggery (powdered) - to taste
Cardamom (powdered) - few pinches

Method:
1) Mash the banana and add to the batter, mix it with required amount of sugar/jaggery and a few pinches of baking soda and cardamom.

2) Heat the appam pan and add a drop of ghee into each depression, pour some of the sweet batter and cook till done. Soft, fluffy, sweet paniyarams are ready.

3) This tastes best when served at room temperature.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Carrot & Peas Sandwich

Cold mornings demand hot breakfasts... As winter sets in, the usual cereal just doesn't do the trick anymore so this hot sandwich with a creamy vegetable filling is just the perfect replacement. This also gives you a head start to your vegetable-quota for the day and is something that kids will enjoy too because of the little cheese that gets into the mix. This is easy enough to make on a weekday because the filling can be made ahead and refrigerated... a little thawing is needed after which it will heat through when making the sandwich.

I use an electric sandwich maker but if you don't have one, make them on a tawa.
CARROT-PEAS SANDWICH
Ingredients:
Bread Slices - 8, white or whole wheat
Carrots - 2 medium, peeled and chopped into small pieces
Peas - about 1/2 cup (I used frozen)
Onion - half of a small one, chopped finely
Green Chillies - 2, chopped finely
Coriander leaves - 1 to 2 tbsp, chopped
Grated Cheese - 1/4 to 1/3 cup (I used pepper jack)
Salt & Pepper - to taste
Butter or Margarine - as required to make sandwiches.

Method:
1) Microwave the carrots and peas with little water on high (covered) for 5 to 7 minutes till soft. Allow to cool lightly and mash (can be a bit coarse).

2) Mix the onions, green chillies, coriander leaves, cheese, salt and pepper with this carrot-peas mixture till well integrated (a fork works best). At this point you can refrigerate this or proceed to make the sandwiches.


3) Butter the bread slices on one side. Apply the filling on the un-buttered side and close with another slice. Pop them in the sandwich maker till done and golden brown. Serve warm with some ketchup or as-is.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Foodie pictures from long back...

While going through some older pictures I came across quite a few that I took of the food I made, long before food blogs were on my mind...

Almost all of these were taken with our camcorder so they don't have very good resolution and were mostly taken during the 2002-2003 timeperiod.
Just thought that it would be fun to share with you guys...

1) Chocolate cake made for our 1st anniversary

2) Hummus with veggies, tomato soup, garlic buns, hasbrown patties & strawberry smoothie dinner.

3) An Orange pudding I made - don't even remember the recipe now.

4) Our (first) Thalai deepavali

5) Spinach Quiche

6) A yummy onion tart recipe that I saw on television... need to make it sometime soon. It doesn't look too good here but it tasted awesome.

7) Tiny heart shaped cakes for our 2nd anniversary and my amateur decorations.. I still decorate this way.. :) no improvement here.


8) A golf-course chocolate cake that I made for our very good, golf-loving buddy. For the sand I used crushed marie biscuits and made tiny flags using toothpicks. Our tongues were so green after eating this..

Monday, December 3, 2007

Sambhar

There are a few varieties of sambar that I make but this is the recipe that I use frequently because it's super easy and made with store-bought sambhar powder. You can add quite a few vegetables to this, either individually or as a mix and the flavor changes accordingly. I normally use drumsticks, little red radishes, carrots and/or bell peppers. This goes great with idlis, dosas,ven pongal or rice and is nice and thick too.

My paati used to add a bit of the paste she would've ground for the kootu to the sambhar and it would really enhance the flavour a whole lot.. I don't do this all the time but reserve it for special occasions so have marked this step optional.

I would like to send this as my 2nd entry to JFI-Toor Dhal hosted by Linda

SAMBHAR

Ingredients:
Toor Dhal - 1/2 cup
Tamarind - small lime sized, soaked in warm water for atleast 15 mins.
Onions - 1 big, sliced and cut into 1 inch pieces OR Pearl onions - 2/3 cup
Tomato - 1 roma (small / medium), chopped
Green Chillies - 2 or 3, slit vertically
Green Bell Pepper - half, cut into 1 inch pieces
Red Radishes - about 10, sliced into thin rounds
Carrot - 1, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
Shakthi Sambhar powder - 3 to 4 tsp,
Chilli Powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric Powder - 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida - couple pinches
Salt -to taste
Coriander leaves - few stalks, chopped

Seasoning:
Oil - 1 to 2 tsp
Ghee - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Urad Dhal - 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida - a pinch
Curry Leaves - few

For Optional Finishing Touch - Grind:
Coconut - 1 tbsp
Cumin - 1/4 tsp
Green Chilli - 1

Method:
1) Pressure cook Toor Dhal with about a cup of water, turmeric and asofetida. I normally put the sliced radishes & carrots in a separate bowl in the same pressure cooker as well. Usually 3 whistles do the trick (1 on med-high and 2 on medium) for me and the dhal is very soft. Mash this well.

2) Heat oil in a deep pan and season with mustard seeds and urad dhal. Once they splutter, add curry leaves, asafoetida and the sliced onions & g. chillies. After 2 minutes add the sliced bell peppers (if using). Once they soften a bit, add the tomatoes and salt. Cook till they turn lightly mushy.

3) Now add chilli powder and sambhar powder and after just a minute or so, add the juice extracted from the soaked tamarind to this. Add the cooked radishes and let this boil for about 10 - 15 minutes.

4) Add the mashed toor dhal to this alongwith sufficient water and let it come to a boil. Then simmer for about 10 - 15 minutes more.

5) Finally add the ground paste (if using) and the 1 tsp of ghee, let boil for a few minutes more. Switch off the stove and garnish with coriander leaves. Tasty Sambhar is now ready.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Tomato Pickle

This tomato pickle recipe is something I tried from Indira's blog and fell completely in love with it... My friend who tasted this loved it as well and wanted the recipe. My daughter also loves the tangy taste of this pickle and tries to lick it clean off the dosai... :) This tastes different from my previous Tomato Thokku recipe and is more tomatoey. Though we like the other thokku too this is a welcome addition to my repertoire and i love the fact that this needs no grinding. I halved her recipe and so adjusted the ingredients accordingly. Thank you Indira for this!

TOMATO PICKLE

Ingredients:
Tomatoes - 10, ensure they are dry after washing
Tamarind paste - 1 to 2 tsp, i used store-bought or 2 tbsp thick pulp
Chilli powder - 2 tbsp
Salt, to taste
Fenugreek (methi) powder - a couple pinches
Nallennai (Gingelly) oil - 2 to 3 tbsp

Seasoning:
Nallennai (Gingelly) oil - 1 tbsp
Curry leaves - some
Garlic - 5 to 6 cloves, chopped
Asafoetida - couple pinches

Method:
1) Chop tomatoes. Heat oil in a big pan and add tomatoes, red chilli powder, salt and tamarind pulp. Cover and cook on high heat till tomatoes turn mushy. Reduce heat to medium and allow to cook till paste like. Add the methi powder now.

2) In another pan, heat the oil for seasoning and add all the ingredients and fry till golden. Add this to the pickle and stir well. Simmer for 10 minutes more (uncovered). Cool and bottle.