Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sundal

Navrathri or Golu meant getting dressed up in pattu paavadai/sarees and heading out with my friend(s) around the neighbourhood to invite them to the golu at home... which also meant several renditions of 'Shree Gananaadha' which was my goto geetham when asked to sing... of course some of them who knew I had progressed a bit more with my carnatic music or were astute enough to notice that I sang the same thing the previous year, would demand a keerthanai instead... :) We also got to eat so many varieties of sundals, got chased by street dogs & made new friends... not to mention the fun of setting up the golu itself - getting them from storage, dusting them and arranging them in a particular order. Invariably every year, we would forget the exact order of the dasavathaaram and ask around before putting them right... then we would set the park area with a basin filled with water in the middle (the theppakulam) surrounded by little dolls. My father, who is very enthusiastic about golu, has a custom made, easy to assemble golupadi made for this & helped with the arrangement of the dolls... My mom would handle the home front and make different, delicious sundals each day after getting back from work and pack them in small plastic bags to distribute to those visiting to see the golu. How i miss those good old days.


Wanted to post this easy, nutritious and delicious dish to mark the start of Navrathri / Golu. This can be made with a wide variety of beans and peas and has some simple seasonings going in alongwith some freshly grated coconut. It's high in fiber and protein and so is quite filling too.

BLACK CHANNA SUNDAL



Ingredients:
Black Channa - half cup, soaked overnight
Red Chillies - 2, broken into 2
Curry leaves - few
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Urad Dhal - 1/4 tsp
Asafoetida (hing) - couple pinches
Coconut - 2 tbsp or so, grated
Salt - to taste
Oil - 1 tsp



Method:
1) Pressure cook the black channa with a bit of salt until soft & some water. This is one dhal which doesn't easily turn into mush. For the others, like channa dhal, dried green peas etc, take extra care so they are soft but not mushy.


2) It's best if there isn't too much water with the dhal, a few tbsp is fine, but if there is more, it needs to be drained.

3) Heat oil in a pan and temper with mustard seeds, urad dhal, hing, curry leaves and dried red chilli pieces. Add the cooked dhal and add more salt if necessary and allow to cook until all the water evaporates.

4) Stir in the grated coconut and remove from the stove.

Black channa can be substituted with channa dhal, dried green/white peas, mung beans (whole and split), white channa, whole toor dhal etc.

I would like to send this to Sra for the Legume Love Affair Event that she is hosting this month. This event originated at Susan's blog 'The Well Seasoned Cook'.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Peppered Vegetable Rice

This is a rather mild, yet flavorful rice and goes really well with manchurian kind of sides or even a vegetable stir-fry. I had this first at my friend Kaye's place and asked her mom for the recipe. It's super simple and absolutely delicious and also makes for a perfect party meal since it's a crowd pleaser, even with kids, and tastes a bit like fried rice.

PEPPERED VEGETABLE RICE


Ingredients:

Basmati/Long Grain Rice - 1 cup
Carrots - 2 medium, julienned into thin matchsticks
Beans - approx 20, french cut thinly,
Onion - 2 medium, sliced thinly
Ginger-Garlic paste - 1 tbsp
Black Pepper (powdered) - 1 tsp or more
Salt - to taste
Oil - 1 to 2 tbsp


Method:
1) Cook the rice with a little bit of salt, till done. Transfer to a plate and allow to cool so the grains are separate.


2) Parboil the vegetables (beans & carrots). I microwave them with about 1-2 tbsp of water and bit of salt for about 4 to 5 minutes.

3) Heat half of the oil in a pan and add 2 tsp of ginger-garlic paste, followed by the sliced onions. Fry this till they brown... add some salt and pepper and allow to cook until quite caramelized. Remove and keep aside.

4) Heat the remaining oil, add a tsp of ginger garlic paste and add the par-boiled vegetables. Allow this to cook with more salt & pepper until the vegetables are dry and still have a slight crunch (if you desire).

5) To this add in the fried onions and cooled, cooked rice and stir together until well incorporated & uniformly distributed.


I think this would also make a yummy lunchbox meal and would like to send this to Vandana for her Lunchbox Special event.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Chilli and Cheese Corn

I saw this recipe while watching Bobby Flay on the Foodnetwork and it looked absolutely delicious that I set about trying it out when I got some fresh corn. I didn't have cotija cheese that the recipe calls for and so made a couple of changes and also made it a tad spicier. It was very filling and had an interesting mix of flavours.

CHILLI & CHEESE CORN


Ingredients:
Corn Cobs - 4, dehusked
Chilli powder - half tsp
Habanero (or Pepperjack) Cheese - 1 to 2 oz, shredded
Sour Cream - 1 tbsp
Coriander leaves (Cilantro) - quarter cup, chopped
Lime Juice - 1 to 2 tsp
Salt - to taste
Oil - 1 tsp

Method:
1) Cook the dehusked corn with a pinch of salt (or grill them) till done. Slide a knife along the edges of the cob to cut the kernels out.

2) Heat oil in a pan and when hot add the corn kernels and chilli powder. Saute this for a few minutes before adding the sour cream and cheese.

3) Once that has melted completely, add the coriander leaves and lime juice. Heat through for a minute and switch off the flame. Serve as a delicious side with a dollop of sourcream atop.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Paruppu Vadai

Paruppu vadai or Masal Vadai refers to a spicy, crispy vada made with channa/toor dhal. Though I love Ulundhu vadais the best, these are a close second. These stay crunchy for a long time and are very easy to prepare.

PARUPPU/MASAL VADAI (makes 20 1.5 to 2 inch vadais)


Ingredients
Channa dhal - 1 cup (soak for an hour and drain completely)
Jeera - 1 tsp
Ginger - half to 1 inch piece, chopped
Sombu (Aniseed) - 1/4 tsp
Coriander leaves - 2 tbsp, chopped
Curry leaves - few, chopped
Onion - half medium, chopped
Asafoetida - a pinch
G. Chillies - 3 (small)
Red Chillies - 2 to 3
Salt to taste
Oil - about 1 cup for deep frying

Method:
1) Make sure the channa dhal is well drained. Grind this coarsely with dried red chillies jeera, sombu, ginger, asafoetida and salt. Just sprinkle a little bit of water if absolutely necessary during the grinding process.
2) To this ground mixture, add chopped green chilies, onions, curry leaves, coriander leaves. Do this just before frying them in oil or the mixture will turn watery.
3) Heat the oil. Take small portions of the dhal mixture and form into small patties. Drop in hot oil and fry on a medium heat until golden. Drain on a paper towel and serve.

Note: I measured the oil before and after frying the vadas and calculated that I used about 5 tbsp of oil to fry this quantity. So even though these are deep fried, they are not all that bad (works out to 3/4 tsp of oil per vadai) . Keep in mind though that if the batter is too watery and the temperature of the oil is not right, then it will absorb more oil.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Cooking with Pedatha: Vankaya Pachadi

I got this wonderful book as part of Bri's Fundraiser and was positively excited & couldn't wait to try out the recipes.... Thank you Pratibha & Jigyasa. My daughter refers to it as 'my paati book' & pretends to read it :) It's a beautifully written book and the warmth & passion for cooking that Pedatha exuded is evident in every page. After reading that Pachadis held a special place in pedatha's kitchen, I wanted to pick one as my first recipe and soon the big, round eggplant that was meant to become an Eggplant Parmigiana turned into a spicy, stunning Vankaya Pachadi.

VANKAYA PACHADI (Brinjal Chutney/Thovayal)


Ingredients:
Brinjal (Big, Bharta variety) - 1 big (make sure it's light for it's size => lesser seeds)
Tamarind Pulp - 2 tbsp
Oil - 2.5 tsp
Salt - to taste

For Tempering:
Urad Dhal - 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds - 2 tsp
Methi (Fenugreek) seeds - 1/4 tsp
Red Chillies - 6 to 8
Green chillies - 3 to 4
Curry leaves - 10 to 12
Coriander leaves - half cup, chopped
Asafoetida powder - a couple pinches

Method:
1) The recipe calls for roasting the brinjals over an open flame but I've not had good luck with that, so I just microwaved it after coating with some oil instead. Remove the skin & mash it.

2) In a pan, heat oil for tempering, add the gram and when golden add mustard & fenugreek. Switch off the flame and with the browning of fenugreek, add the red chillies. When they turn bright, add the reamining ingredients for tempering.

3) Grind this tempering, with tamarind and salt into a coarse paste, without adding water and mix this paste with the mashed, brinjal pulp.

4) When mixed with rice and ghee & served with vadaams, it made for a lip-smacking meal.

[I may have gone a bit overboard with the coriander leaves so mine is greener than the one in the book ]

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Milagu (Pepper) Kuzhambu

This pepper kuzhambu has quite a few medicinal ingredients going in and is sure to help clear up stuffy sinuses or a crummy cold. The spices in it give a wonderful jolt to one's palate and is definitely my go to recipe when I'm feeling under the weather.

MILAGU KUZHAMBU

Ingredients:
Shallots (Chinna Vengayam) - half cup, peeled
Garlic cloves - about 10 or 12, peeled
Tamarind - gooseberry sized, soaked in warm water & extract juice
Tomato - 1 small, chopped
Gingelly oil (Nallennai) - 1 to 2 tbsp
Mustard, Urad Dhal, Methi seeds, Cumin seeds - 1/4 tsp each
Asafoetida (Hing/Perungaayam) - a pinch
Curry Leaves - few
Salt - to taste

To Grind:
Whole black pepper - 1 tbsp
Cumin seeds (Jeera) - 1 tbsp
Urad Dhal - 1 tsp
Channa Dhal (kadalai paruppu) - 1 tsp
Methi seeds - 1/4 tsp
Sukku (Dried Ginger) - 1 small piece
Dried Red Chillies - 2 or 3

Method:
1) Heat about 1 tsp of oil in a pan and fry the ingredients in the 'To Grind' list, until golden. Grind this to a smooth paste adding water as required.

2) Heat the remaining oil, and add the seasoning ingredients (mustard, urad dhal, cumin & methi), along with asafoetida and curry leaves. Once they splutter, add the peeled onions & garlic, fry till golden.

3) Then add the chopped tomato and fry with a bit of salt till it turns mushy. Then add the extracted tamarind juice along with the ground paste. Adjust salt & water, as necessary and allow this boil. Let this simmer until it thickens to the desired consistency and serve hot with rice.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Guacamole

The first time I tasted Avocado was as a milkshake at my university - I hated the first couple of sips but since I had paid for it and I was rather thrify then (being a student and all), i proceeded to finish it instead of tossing it away... but somewhere in the middle, i actually started liking it. I started ordering it quite frequently after that and was in for a rude shock when my friend S (a microbiologist) told me that avocado was among the most fattening of fruits. Of course at that point in my life I had no idea of good fats and bad fats... and my build dictated that I stay far away from anything fattening so that's when I completely stopped having that.

This all changed when my knowledge of fats increased a bit and I dipped some tortilla chips in a spicy, gooey guacamole & fell in love with it all over again. I started enjoying it, albeit in moderation. This is a very simple recipe.


GUACAMOLE



Ingredients:
Ripe Avocado - 1, peel, remove seed and mash coarsely

Lime - half
Onion - quarter cup, chopped
Tomato - half of a medium one, chopped
G. chilli - 1, chopped
Coriander leaves - 1 tbsp, chopped
Garlic - 1 small clove, minced
Chilli powder - a pinch
Salt - to taste


Method:
1) Combine all of the ingredients above, along with juice from the lime and mash a bit.

2) Refrigerate for a few hours so the flavours can combine before scooping over tortilla chips & serving.

Since this makes for a yummy appetizer, I would like to send this as my 2nd entry to EC's WYF-Soups/Starters/Soups.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Sweet Appams

For Krishna-jayanthi this year, I decided to make these appams as neivedhyam (offering) for God. When I made this once before I ground the soaked rice a bit coarse and I'm not sure if that's the reason but the appams weren't all that soft. This time my mom suggested that I grind it very smooth and also add the banana, coconut & jaggery during the grinding process instead of after and let it rest for a while to get soft appams - it worked and it was delicious. I hope Krishna was happy too.

SWEET APPAMS (makes 30)


Ingredients:

Raw Rice (Pacharisi) - 1 cup
Jaggery - 1 cup, powdered
Banana - 1 large ripe, mashed
Coconut - 3 tbsp, shredded
Dried Ginger (Sukku) - 3 pinches, powdered (optional)
Cardamom (Elaichi) - 2 or 3, powdered finely (with some sugar, so it's easier to grind)
Coconut bits - 1 tbsp, fried in a drop of ghee till golden (optional)
Ghee - little

Method:
1) Soak rice in water for an hour or two. Drain and grind to a smooth paste with as little water as possible (I used the small jar of the mixie and got a reasonably smooth, thick paste)

2) When the rice is smooth, add the coconut, mashed banana and powdered jaggery and let it spin for a while more in the mixie until well combined.

3) Stir in the sukku, coconut bits (if using) and the cardamom powder and let it rest for atleast 4 hours.. mine was out for about 6 hours. [It's soft with this resting time]

4) Heat an appam pan (the one used to make kuzhipaniyaarams) on medium. When hot, add a tiny drop of ghee in each mould (since I use a non-stick pan, otherwise you may require more than just a drop) .

5) Spoon the batter into the moulds, cover and allow to cook till the edges are set and the middle is still a bit gooey - flip over.. I use the wooden stick with the pan but have often used a chopstick and it works just as well. Allow this to cook for a few more minutes till cooked through. Remove from the stove and proceed with the next batch.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Boiled Peanut Salad

Remember I talked about a 'Peanut Salad' that my dad made when we had moonlight dinner parties ? Well, this time when I bought a bunch of fresh peanuts, I was sure to try this out. It has been atleast 12 yrs since I last tasted this salad and all that I remembered was that it was good & everybody insisted that my dad make this and his tomato soup at almost all the parties we had.... but had no idea what it contained. When asked, my dad was very surprised that I would ask him something so simple and remarked at how it isn't really a recipe but just some usual ingredients thrown together. I asked him to let me know what those usual ingredients are and a day later, we had a yummy dinner of Peanut Salad, Papaya Halwa & Banana-Mango Smoothie.

If you don't get fresh peanuts where you live (for us it's only seasonal and not available year round), you can check out this website where you can order online and it's home delivered.

Oh and this is my first Salad recipe on this blog ... As much as I want to eat healthy, i'm not a very salad person and there are only a few that I like. I created a category for Salads when I created the blog in the hopes that I would start consuming them more but after more than a year, here I am with my first Salad recipe :)

BOILED PEANUT SALAD


Ingredients:

Boiled, Shelled Peanuts - 1 cup
Cucumber - half, peeled & chopped
Tomato - 1 medium, chopped
Carrot - 1 medium, shredded
Onion - 1 medium, chopped (refer to tip below)
G. chillies - 2 to 3
Raisin - 1 to 2 tbsp (optional)
Coriander leaves - 3 tbsp, chopped
Salt & Pepper - to taste
Lime/Lemon - half or more (optional)

Method:
1) Pressure cook the peanuts (with shell) for 3 whistles. Remember to salt the water so the peanuts would've absorbed some salt. Allow to cool, shell and measure the peanuts. We need around a cup.

2) Toss all of the salad ingredients together. I added the raisinis only because I overzealously added around 5 chopped green chillies and the salad became very spicy so the raisins helped to balance that out. Omit that if you don't like it. Squeeze some lemon juice on top and serve.

TIP: Often, I find raw onions to be too sharp/pungent. So, when I add them to salads or raithas, I soak the chopped onions in a mixture of 1 tbsp white distilled vinegar, 1 tsp sugar, half tsp salt. I add enough water to just barely cover the onions and let the mixture rest for atleast 20 minutes before draining completely and adding to the salad or raitha.


Our dinner - Peanut Salad, Mango-Banana Smoothie & Papaya Halwa



I would like to send this salad as my entry to EC's WYF-Soups/Starters/Soups. Thank you EC for picking such a yummy theme.

Want to try something else with boiled peanuts? Check out - Verkadalai Kuzhambu

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Cooking from other blogs # 7

Here's another batch of recipes that I tried & enjoyed from other bloggers. Thank you for posting such fabulous recipes.

1) Arundathi's Baked Samosas- perfect & crunchy and particularly my favorite because these are NOT deep fried. My daughter loved the crust and kept picking at it but declared that the filling was "too (s)picy" :)


2) Cham's White Potato Kurma- we really loved this and my husband remarked how this tastes like something you'd get in a hotel, only better. I cooked the entire thing in the pressure cooker so was fast too.


3) Nupur's Mushroom Chettinad - this features quite regularly at home nowadays and it's a cinch to make this. Interestingly, I was inspired to make this after seeing Sig's post after trying this from Nupur's blog similar to how I was inspired to make Sig's butternut squash erissery after seeing Nupur's post about it :)


4) TBC's Radish Kootu - i always just made red radishes into a chutney or sliced these pink beauties and added them to sambar... so this kootu was different & incredible and gives me one new dish to make with radish.


5) Dhivya Karthik's Pretzels - this was my maiden attempt at making soft pretzels and I've always favoured these , particularly the jalapeno one from Aunt Anne's. I sprinkled one with cinnamon-sugar kept the other plain. These were good but mine weren't as soft as I had hoped they would be.


6) Nags' Okra with Besan- My husband prefers dry preparations of okra and the fact that this dish was a favorite among Nags and her husband (2 pple who don't like okra) made me think that this would be a winner for sure - and i was right. The only change is that I microwave the bhindi slices before mixing with the besan batter.


8) Indira's Gongura Pappu- I've not cooked with Gongura so when I first laid hands on a pack, I made a pachadi with it and we loved it - the next few times I made this pappu. It's very quick and we love the tangy, spicy taste.... sorry no pictures though.

9) Ramya's Thin Kurma- I made this just to add to my Kothu Parotta and it made it so moist and even more flavorful. Again no pictures but it resembled my Tomato Kurma quite a bit in taste & look.

That's for now in this edition and I will keep updating this blog with more items I get to try...