Friday, October 31, 2008

Keerai (Spinach) Kootu

We love this Keerai Kootu and is a sure fire way to get anyone eat their greens. It's rather mild and so goes over well with kids too... I love the heat that it gets from the ginger, pepper and green chillies and if using frozen spinach, then it comes together in no time.


Spinach - 4 to 6 cups chopped (I used 1 bag of frozen cut leaf spinach)
Yellow split mung dhal - 1 cup, dry roasted till golden
Turmeric - 1/2 tsp
Salt - to taste

To Grind:
Green Chillies - 8
Black pepper (whole) - 8 to 10
Ginger - half inch piece
Coconut - 3 to 4 tbsp
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp

Oil - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds - half tsp
Urad Dhal - half tsp
Red Chillies - 1 or 2, broken in half
Asafoetida - a pinch

1) Pressure cook the mung dhal with sufficient water, turmeric & asafoetida till soft. Mash this.

2) Meanwhile cook spinach in a pot with little water and a bit of salt till done.

3) Grind the coconut, ginger, pepper, cumin seeds & g. chillies to a paste with some water and add this paste to the cooked spinach along with mung dhal. Add enough water to adjust the consistency.

4) Let this boil for about 5 to 10 minutes. Heat oil, add the seasoning ingredients and once they splutter, top the spinach mixture with this and remove from the stove. Keerai kootu is ready to serve.

I packed it for lunch along with a dry potato curry (without the lima beans) and rice - Yum.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Bean Burgers

I've been wanting to make something for the Legume Love Affair Event that Sra is hosting this month, that originated at Susan's, but the soup recipe I had in mind didn't work out. Looking for a bean burger recipe, I chanced upon this and it was super simple & easy so I set about making it and incorporated a few changes along the way. The chopped capsicum lent some crunch and I added some soy granules and some bread crumbs to improve the texture since I made it a bit too pasty. The resultant burger was very satisfying and I felt good about it being healthy too. The following measurements make 10 decent size patties and these can also be frozen for use later. I used chickpeas but quite a few beans will work... you can refer to the original site for more variations.


Chickpeas/Garbanzo - 1 (15oz) can, drained completely
Onion - 1 medium, quartered
Garlic powder - quarter to half tsp
Rolled Oats - half cup
Chilli powder - 1 to 2 tsp
Egg - 1 (optional)
Soy Granules - 1/3 cup, dry
Green bell pepper - half cup, minced
Soft Bread Crumbs - 1/3 to 1/2 cup
Salt & Pepper - to taste
Oil - 2 to 3 tsp

Burger Fixings:
Burger Buns
Tomato slices
Onion Slices,
Lettuce or Spinach
Ketchup, Sriracha chilli sauce, Mayonnaise

1) In a food processor, add the onions and pulse for a few seconds before adding the drained chickpeas, oats, egg, chilli powder & garlic powder. Grind this to a coarse paste.

2) While the mixture rests, add the dried soy granules to boiling water and let stay for about 10 minutes before draining completely. Add the salt, pepper, soy mixture, bread crumbs and capsicum. Combine and allow to rest for a few minutes.

3) With slightly wet hands, form patties - i got 10 of them.

4) Heat a wide pan on medium and coat with a thin layer of oil... place a few and allow to cook for about 4 to 5 minutes on each side till done completely & golden. I may consider baking them next time to get a uniform colouring.

6) Now they are ready to layer with the other ingredients onto burger buns and enjoyed.

Monday, October 27, 2008

7 Cups Burfi

Wishing everyone a very Happy Deepavali ! :)

I made Chaklis/Murukku, Oma Podi, Coconut Burfis, Badam Halwa and this 7 cups Burfi this year. This is a very popular and easy sweet and gets its name from the fact that 7 cups of ingredients go into this mix. Possibly because of the high sugar content, it results in quite a huge quantity even when a really small cup is used... so though my measure below says 1 cup, I wouldn't recommend using the standard 8oz cup when making this, unless you want a LOT of burfis :)


Besan - 1 cup
Coconut or Almonds or Cashews - 1 cup
Milk - 1 cup
Ghee - 1 cup
Sugar - 3 cups

1) If using coconut, grind it so it's softer and fine. If using Badam (Almonds) or Cashews, soak in boiling water for an hour, (peel the badams) and grind with the 1 cup of milk to a paste.
Also, grease a plate with a few drops of melted ghee and set aside.

2) First sieve, then fry besan in abt 1 tbsp of ghee till fragrant - stirring constantly, taking care to not burn.

3) Combine sugar, ghee, milk, almond/coconut with besan in a heavy bottomed pan and heat on medium. I would recommend wearing oven mitts, once the mixture starts boiling (and is yet to become thick), because the mixture splatters a lot.

4) Cook until it thickens, leaves the sides of pans and kind of bubbles up (about 20 minutes). Immediately remove from the stove and pour onto a greased plate.

5) When it cools a bit (not completely) score with a knife into desired shape. This is just downright delicious when warm and literally melts in your mouth.

I would like to send this as well to Srivalli for JFI - Festival treats this month.. JFI is the brainchild of Indira.

Friday, October 24, 2008


This Chakli or Murukku recipe is a bit different from the thenkuzhal that I normally make. I got this from Seema's blog and we loved the end result... it had the right amount of spices and was perfectly crunchy - an absolute treat and one of our many indulgences for this year's Diwali.


Rice Flour - 2 cups
Urad Dhal - 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp
Butter - 3 tbsp
Jeera - half tbsp
Black Sesame seeds - half tsp
Chilli powder - 3/4 tsp
Salt - 3/4 tsp to 1 tsp
Oil - sufficient to deep fry

1) Dry roast urad dal in a pan until it turns light brown. Allow to cool and grind to a fine powder.

2) Sieve rice flour+ above urad dal powder + salt + chili powder.

3) Add melted hot butter to this mixture and the remaining ingredients.

4) M
ake a soft dough adding water gradually. It shouldn't be too stiff or too watery.

5) Fill the murukku maker/press with this dough using the star shaped nozzle and make round chaklis on a sheet of cling wrap.

6) Meanwhile heat oil and deep fry (several at a time) till golden on either side. Drain on paper towels and allow to cool completely before storing in an air tight container.

Thank you Srivalli for reminding me about JFI - Festival treats this month.. I have one more post lined up for you... besides this and will mail you the details together.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Paneer Jalfrezie

This is a quick dish that can be tossed together in no time and I love the combination of crunchy capsicum (Bell peppers) with paneer. I used home-made paneer this time which hadn't set fully and so it was more crumbly than usual but still was creamy and delicious. I love eating this plain and it is also great when wrapped in a warm roti.


Paneer - 250 grams, cubed
Bell Peppers (Green or Red) - 1 large or 2 medium, cut into 1 inch cubes
Onion - 1 medium, cut into 1 inch cubes
Tomato - 1 small, chopped

Ginger - 1 inch piece, chopped
Green Chillies - 2, chopped
Coriander leaves - 1/4 cup, chopped
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp

Turmeric Powder - 1/4 tsp
Garam Masala - half tsp
Cumin seeds - half tsp
Dried Red chilli - 1
Salt - to taste
Oil - 1 tbsp

1) Heat oil in a pan, toss cumin seeds and broken red chilli, once they sizzle, add the ginger, green chillies and onions. Sauté for a few minutes.

2) Now add the bell peppers and cook for 2 minutes more before adding the chilli powder & turmeric powder. Add the chopped tomatoes and salt and allow this to cool till the tomatoes are a bit mushy.

3) Now toss in the paneer pieces (which can be pan fried previously if desired, I didn't) along with garam masala and cook a while longer until the flavours meld.

4) Finally toss the coriander leaves and remove from the stove for a delicious side-dish.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Pepper-Parmesan Breadsticks

I found this recipe rather interesting, had all the ingredients on hand, found the quantity mentioned to be small enough to sample this and figured that it would make for a fun afternoon with my 3 year old who loves to "help" me in the kitchen. She always pulls up a chair to the island and wants to peel or cut veggies for me (of course, i don't allow that).. but she will help me measure, pour ingredients & stir or transfer contents from a bowl to a bag that is headed for the freezer. It's quite fun and I hope she'll be just as interested when she grows up.

This is from a Cooking Light magazine and I would have to say that I was not totally bowled over by it but it was quite easy, fast and tasted pretty okay. I dipped it in some marinara and it was quite good... was also good with a hot bowl of soup. However, it doesn't keep well.. I noticed that it lost it's crispness when I stored a few of the leftovers in an air-tight container. The original recipe calls for Pecorino Romano cheese while I used Parmesan since that's what I had.


All purpose Flour - 1/3 cup
Whole wheat flour - 1/4 cup
Fresh Parmesan/Pecornino cheese - 1/4 cup, grated
Baking powder - 3/4 tsp
Black pepper - 1/2 tsp, powdered
Water - 5 tbsp
Extra virgin Olive Oil - 1 tsp

1) Preheat oven to 450F
2) Combine flours, cheese, baking powder and pepper. Add water and oil. Stir until dough forms.
3) Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead lightly 4/5 times.
4) Divide into 18 equal portions and shape each into a 8 inch rope.
5) Place ropes on baking sheet coated with cooking spray and bake for 10 mins or until bottoms are golden brown. Serve with a dip of choice.

Note: 3 breadsticks = 64 cals.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Spicy Thengai Aval

I had mentioned this aval when I posted the version made with jaggery... My MIL usually makes these two together and is one of my husband's favorite breakfast. During my recent trip home, I managed to pick up a pack of aval made with rosematta rice. These, beside having the earthy colour, also had the flavour of that rice that I love and were quite plump and yummy after soaking. I've used a combination of red and green chillies but it could be made with just one variety. This is very quick because it just requires a ground paste, tossed with poha and seasoned.


Aval / Poha (thick) - 1 cup
Onion - half of a small one, chopped (optional)
Curry leaves - few
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Urad Dhal - 1/4 tsp
Asafoetida (hing) - a pinch
Oil - 2 tsp

To Grind: (with a sprinkle of water)
Coconut - 3 to 4 tbsp, grated
Red Chillies - 2 to 3
Green Chillies - 2
Garlic clove - 1 small
Tamarind - a small piece
Cumin seeds - half tsp
Curry leaves - few
Salt - to taste

1) If using plain poha (not the one with rose matta), just wash the poha, drain the water and set it aside for about 15 minutes and fluff. Rose matta however required more soaking.. so I let the water stay for about 5 minutes or so before draining and setting aside.

2) Mix the ground coconut paste with the fluffed poha, gently but uniformly.

3)Heat oil in a pan and add the seasonings : mustard, urad dhal, hing, curry leaves, once they splutter, add the onion (if using), and saute till browned. Then add the poha + paste mixture and saute on a low flame for a few minutes. Switch off, cover for a while for the flavours to come together, before serving.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Milagai Chutney

This fiery chutney is my paati's specialty and almost all of us would have extra idlis on those days this featured. It gets its special taste when made using an 'ammi' (traditional stone grinder that is now replaced by a mixie in most homes)... I used to help my grandmother make this and would often end up with a burning right hand (because of the contact with the red chillies) but the taste was well worth the effort. However, I just resort to the mixie these days and sometimes pulse the onions using a mortar & pestle, in an effort to get the exact texture.


Dried Red Chillies - 4 to 6 (depending on how spicy you want it)
Curry leaves - 6
Tamarind - small piece
Shallots - 1/3 cup (chop into pcs if too big)
Salt - to taste
Nallennai (Gingelly oil) - 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp


1) In 1 tsp oil, fry the shallots till light brown. Keep aside.

2) Add another tsp of oil and fry the red chillies and curry leaves... till roasted, with a small pc of tamarind.

3) Grind the red chillies, curry leaves, salt and tamarind first with just a sprinkle of water if necessary.

4) Finally add the shallots and pulse so they are a bit coarse and not completely smooth. Alternatively you could use the mortar and pestle to process the shallots to the desired consistency and mix with the red chilli paste.

5) Heat the remaining tsp of oil, season with mustard seeds and a few curry leaves. When the mustard seeds splutter, add to the chutney, mix and serve.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Dry Mushroom Curry

My husband likes curries that have coconut in them and this is no exception. The mushrooms lend a chewy texture and it's quite spicy too. This can be made in a jiffy and tastes great with rice or rotis. After we enjoyed Nupur's Chettinad Mushrooms, I gave these a try and these were a hit too.


White Mushrooms - 1 pk (8 oz), cleaned & quartered
Baby portobello mushrooms - 1 pk (8 oz), cleaned & quartered
Onion - 1, chopped
Ginger - 1 inch, chopped
Garlic - 2 cloves, chopped
Coconut - 3 to 4 tbsp
Chilli powder - 1 to 1.5 tsp
Coriander powder - 1 tsp
Tamarind paste - little
Salt - to taste
Oil - 2 tsp

1) Grind the coconut with chilli powder, coriander powder and tamarind paste to a smooth paste with a splash of water.

2) Heat oil in a pan and add the chopped ginger, garlic and onions and fry them till golden.

3) The mushrooms go in next and are sauteed until they soften a bit.

4) Before the moisture in the mushrooms dry out completely, add the salt and the ground paste and cook till dry and done.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Carrot Coriander soup

With the cool, crisp weather that prevails these days, there's nothing the our soul (& stomach) yearns for like a bowl of hot, comforting soup. This recipe combines carrot, coriander and ginger for a satisfying soup that even pleased my 3 yr old. We had it with some store-bought spinach-parmesan fougasse and enjoyed every spoonful.


Carrots - 4 medium, chopped into small pieces
Coriander leaves - 1/2 cup, leaves & stems separated.
Onion - half of a medium one, chopped
Garlic - 3 to 4 cloves, chopped
Ginger - half inch piece, chopped
Bay leaf - 1
Butter - half tbsp to 1 tbsp
Pepper - half tsp or to taste
Sambar powder - half tsp
Corn flour - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste

1) Heat butter in a pan and add bayleaf, onions, ginger & garlic.

2) Saute till slightly brown before adding sambar powder, carrots and chopped coriander stems. Saute this for a few minutes before adding about 4 cups of water. Add some salt, bring to a boil, cover & allow to simmer.

3) When cooked, remove the solids from the soup, discard bay leaf and puree the rest. Return this to the stock in the pan and heat through. Dissolve cornflour in some water and add to the stock. Let this boil until it thickens to the right consistency.

4) Season with salt and pepper to taste and add the chopped coriander leaves and remove from stove. Soup is now ready to serve.

I would like to send this to Herb-Mania Coriander hosted by Siri... this is the brainchild of Dee.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Sepakizhangu Varuval (Colocasia Fry)

Sepakizhangu (a.k.a Colocasia or Taro/Eddo root) fried is my absolute favorite. This root vegetable tastes different from potatoes but can be handled in pretty much the same way, except this is a bit more mushy in comparison. My mom deep fried wedges of the boiled sepakizhangu and when out of the oil, they were tossed with salt & chilli powder and I was crazy about these growing up... Wanting to try out a lower fat alternative to this method, so I set about baking them first before tossing them in a pan and got very satisfying results.



Colocasia/Sepakizhangu - 8 to 10 medium sized ones
Chilli powder - 2 to 3 tsp
Turmeric - 1/2 tsp
Salt - to taste
Besan - 1 tbsp
Oil - 2 tbsp or lesser
Oil/Cooking spray (for the baking process).

1) Wash the sepakizhangu and add them to a bowl (one that can be placed in a pressure cooker). Sprinkle some salt on them lightly and do NOT add any water. Place uncovered in a pressure cooker and allow to cook for 1 whistle on high and 2 on medium-high or till done. They shouldn't be overcooked or they will turn very mushy.

2) When the steam subsides, take them out and add cold water immediately. Let stand until completely cooled. Peel and slice into half inch thick slices. (If they are too soft to the touch, refrigerate them for a while before handling, this will make them firmer).

3) In a large bowl, gently toss the slices with chilli powder, salt, turmeric powder, besan & 1 tbsp oil till uniformly coated with the masala. It will be sticky but not to worry.

4) Preheat oven to 400 deg F. Line baking sheets with aluminium foil, spray a layer of oil and lay the slices (without overlapping). Spray a bit more oil on top of the slices. Allow this to bake for 30 to 35 minutes or so till golden and dry, flipping over once in between.

5) I could've stopped there but it seemed to be lacking a little bit of sheen and looked quite dry so I heated up the remaining tbsp of oil in a big pan and added a bit more chilli powder and salt in the oil and immediately added the baked slices of sepakizhangu and tossed them around on a medium flame for about 5-7 minutes.

We had ours with rice & gongura pappu.