Thursday, May 29, 2008

Simple Green Mung Dhal

While doing my undergraduation, I had some north-indian post grad friends who made the most delectable dhals each night for dinner. Bhalla, a Punjabi, would make dhal parathas where he would knead leftover dhal into the chapathi dough, give us spoonfuls of the sweet pickles his mother made and also make this smashing, super simple dhal with whole green mung. At that time in my life, i was the least bit interested in cooking and never cared to observe how anyone made anything or even talk about what goes in....

But later, when I wanted to duplicate this dhal made by Bhalla, i tried several methods by adding chopped onions and tomatoes with the usual masalas, then only onions and so on.. but it never really matched his dhal. Finally, one day I limited myself to just chilli powder and salt and the end result was exactly how I remembered it... My husband loves this as well and making dhal couldn't be simpler.

SIMPLE GREEN MUNG DHAL

Ingredients:

Whole Green Mung beans - about 1 cup
Chilli Powder - 1 tsp or more to taste

Salt - to taste
Oil - 1 to 2 tsp

Method:
1) Pressure cook Green Mung beans till soft with sufficient water.
2) Make a paste of chilli powder and salt with some water.
3) Heat oil and add the chilli powder and salt paste, and stir.. after just one minute or so (ensure the paste doesn't burn), add the cooked beans and sufficient water. Let this simmer for abt 5-10 minutes or till thick enough. Delicious dhal is ready with minimal ingredients and time.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Minty Vegetable Sandwich

My mother-in-law makes this very yummy sandwich and I fell in love with it at first try. I've been making it quite often since then and is perfect for a quick meal, especially if you have the mint chutney on hand.

I wanted to send this for the sandwich event but I just realized that I'm too late, unfortunately.

MINT CHUTNEY
Ingredients:
Mint Leaves - about 1 bunch, de-stem and reserve the leaves
Channa dhal - 1 tsp
Urad Dhal - 1 tsp
Red chillies/G. chillies - 2 or 3
Dessicated, shredded Coconut - 1 tbsp
Tamarind paste or small piece of tamarind soaked in water
Salt - to taste
Oil - 1 tsp
Method:
1) Heat oil and toast the urad dhal, channa dhal and chillies, next add the mint leaves and fry till it is wilted.
2) Grind this with dessicated coconut, tamarind and salt to a smooth paste, with a sprinkle of water as necessary. Can be stored for a few days refrigerated. Some coriander leaves can also be added for a variation.
MINTY VEGETABLE SANDWICH
Ingredients:
Bread slices
Onions - sliced thinly
Bell pepper (Red/Green) - sliced into thin rounds
Tomatoes - sliced into thin rounds
Mayonnaise / Sour Cream / Thick yogurt (drained)
Ketchup
Mint Chutney (recipe above)
Salt and pepper - to taste
Butter / Margarine

Method:
1) Spread mint chutney on one slice of bread and the mayonnaise/sourcream on another slice.
2) Top one of the slices with sliced onions, bell peppers, tomatoes and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Dot the other slice with a few drops of ketchup and use that to cover the vegetables.
3) Dot the top and bottom of the sandwich with some butter/margarine and pop into a sandwich toaster and cook till it's golden brown - as simple as that.
4) Add a slice of cheese on top of the veggies, for the kids and make a meal of it with a filling smoothie.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Spicy Tomato Soup

I love our spicy Indian tomato soups and since I've been down with some cold and cough, I wanted something hot to soothe my throat and also wanted it to have some tang, so I could taste it :) Sniffly-nosed, I pulled out some ingredients and made a soup that satisfied all my needs and was done in a jiffy... The colour of the soup may not be much, but the taste definitely worked out for me.

SPICY TOMATO SOUP


Ingredients:
Roma Tomatoes - 4 or Big Tomatoes - 2, chopped
Onion - 1/3 of a medium onion, cut into 1 inch pieces
Bell pepper - 1/4 of a medium sized one, cut into 1 inch pieces
Carrot - 1, medium, cubed
Ginger - 1 inch piece
Garlic - 2 to 3 cloves
Chilli powder - 1/4 to 1/2 tsp
Bay leaf - 1
Clove - 1
Cornstarch - 2 tsp
Salt & Pepper - to taste
Butter - 1/2 tbsp and more to serve
Tomato Ketchup - abt 1 tbsp (optional)

Method:
1) In a stockpot, heat the half tbsp of butter and add the clove and bay leaf, add the chopped onions, garlic & ginger, saute till they soften.

2) Next add the capsicum and carrot and fry for a few more minutes... then add the tomatoes, salt and chilli powder and cook till they turn a bit mushy.
3) Add about 3-4 cups of water and allow this to come to a boil. Simmer on a low to medium flame for about 15 minutes.

4) Pour this through a sieve, fish out the clove, bay leaf & discard them, puree the remaining solids in a blender/mixie till smooth.

5) Mix this paste and the stock and return to the pan. Heat this and add some cornstarch dissolved in water along with ketchup (if using) and allow this to boil, till it thickens to the right consistency.

6) Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with some additional butter and crunchy croutons.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Vengaya (Onion) Pakoda

The weather here is just perfect for some Onion Pakodas - in the teens and early 20s (C) with some showers.... Paired with a cup of tea, it's the ultimate way to relax and unwind.

I've used the following recipe from Mr. Hemant Trivedi's website so many times and it has always resulted in perfect pakodas. I love the passion with which he describes the food and the recipe itself. So, here's yet another winner of a recipe... which is always a hit.

VENGAYA MASALA PAKODA

Ingredients:

Rice Flour - 150 gms
Besan (kadalai maavu) - 150 gms
Onions (big) - 3 to 4, sliced lengthwise into 2 inch pieces
Green Chillies - 4 to 5, chopped
Curry leaves - 3 stalks, chopped
Oil - 3 to 4 tsps + enough to deep fry pakodas
Baking Soda - a couple pinches
Chilli powder - 1 to 2 tsp, or to taste
Salt, to taste

Method:
1) Mix the rice flour and besan with salt and chilli powder. Now toss in the sliced onions, green chillies, curry leaves and mix this.

2) In a small bowl, mix the 4 tsps of oil with the baking soda thoroughly. Add this to the onion-flour mixture and combine.

3) Heat the oil to deep fry the pakodas and when it's at the right temperature (test by dropping a small piece, it should sizzle, fry and float up immediately), take a batch from the onion-flour mixture and add as little water as possible to just dampen and hold it together.

4) Now drop this batch into the hot oil (as small pieces) and deep fry till crisp and golden. Drain on paper towels and serve hot. Repeat this with the remaining onion-flour mixture, remembering to dampen each portion just before dropping them in oil.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Sambar for Idlis

Hello everyone, we are back from our trip home and enjoyed it thoroughly inspite of the unrelenting heat. It was great to be around for the mango season and every variety tasted so sweet and delicious in comparison to the ones we find here, even the ones my mom declared as 'ok, not too good' were received with oohs and aahs by us. We also had massive amounts of mango icecream and refreshing 'ilaneer' (tender coconut water). And during our short trip to Singapore, we sipped (and chewed) cups and cups of bubble tea, attacked the roti paratas, claypot dishes and many of the favorites I missed all these years.

It's good to blog again .... and I intend to blog-hop and catch up on the many posts I've missed...

Coming to the recipe of the day... though my well loved, oft-used sambhar recipe is simpler than this version and requires no grinding, this recipe results in a very flavorful complement to idlis and is worth the extra effort that it demands, so wanted to share this.

This is a Mallika Badrinath recipe with some modifications...

SAMBHAR FOR IDLIS

Ingredients:

Toor Dhal - 1/2 cup
Small Onions - 1/2 cup, peeled (OR) 1 red onion - sliced thinly into 1 inch pieces
Red Radish - about 8 or so, sliced into thin rounds
Green Bell pepper (capsicum) - 1/2, cut into 1 inch cubes
Tomato - 1 medium
Tamarind - 1 lemon sized, soaked in warm water and juice extracted
Green chillies - 2, slit vertically
Salt, to taste
Oil - 2 tsp
Ghee - 1 tsp
Musard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Urad dhal - 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida - a few pinches
Curry leaves - few

To Roast & Grind:
Coriander seeds - 2.5 tsp
Urad Dhal - 1.5 tsp
Cumin seeds - 0.5 tsp
Channa Dhal - 2 tsp
Red Chillies - 8
Fenugreek (methi seeds) - a pinch
Black Pepper - abt 8
Pottukadalai (Dalia) - 1 tbsp
Onion - 1 small to medium, sliced
Tomato - 1 small, chopped
Coconut - 2 to 3 tbsp, grated

Method:
1) Cook toor dhal in a pressure cooker with some turmeric and asafoetida with sufficient water till soft. I normally pressure cook the sliced radishes as well.

2) Heat a tsp of oil and fry coriander seeds, urad dhal, cumin, channa dhal, red chillies, pepper and methi till golden. Next add the sliced onion and when browned a bit, add the tomatoes and cook for a few more minutes with a pinch of salt. Finally, grind the above (when cooled a bit) with the pottukadalai (dalia) and coconut to a smooth paste with little water if necessary.

3) In a big pot, heat oil and season with mustard seeds, urad dhal, hing and curry leaves, add the onions and g. chillies and fry till pink. Now add the capsicum with some salt and when tender add the chopped tomato as well.

4) Add some water and allow this to cook till the vegetables are tender. Now add the tamarind exract, mashed dhal, cooked radish and the ground paste with sufficient salt and water. Allow this to boil until thick enough.

5) Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and swirl in a tsp of ghee at the end for aromatic, yummy sambar and serve with soft, spongy idlis or crisp dosais for a satisfying meal.