Thursday, February 26, 2009

Garlic Bread

I had some ciabatta bread left over after making paninis and decided to make a garlic spread so I could slather it on and convert them into a tasty accompaniment to the Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato soup I had made. They went together fabulously and being the garlic-head I am, it was pretty intense, yet delicious and the chewy texture of the ciabatta with the piping hot soup made it a meal to remember & crave later.

GARLIC SPREAD for Garlic Toasts

Garlic - 5 to 6 cloves, peeled
Butter/Margarine - 4 to 5 tbsp
Olive Oil - 1 tbsp
Salt & Pepper - to taste
Dried Red Chilli Flakes - a big pinch
Mixed Dried herbs (Italian seasoning) - a few pinches
Parmesan cheese - grated, as a topping (Optional)

1) Blend the butter, garlic & olive oil with some salt to an almost smooth paste.

2) Stir in the pepper, dried chilli flakes & herbs.

3) Spread this onto bread, sprinkle on some Parmesan cheese if desired and toast in a hot oven till bread turns golden. Serve as is or with some soup.

I'm not posting the soup recipe since I pretty much followed my Spicy tomato soup
recipe but skipped the carrots, green bell pepper & ginger. Instead I tossed in onion, garlic, roasted red peppers, smoked sun dried tomatoes & 1 fresh tomato. The soup was perfect and had a lovely smoky flavour to it.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Avarakkai Aviyal

This is another dish I learnt from my MIL. My mom would typically make a poriyal or a kootu with avarakkai (flat, broad beans). Though this is almost like a poriyal, there are some minor differences. I don't see avarakkai very often here but when I do, I'm sure to pick up a bunch & make this. It's important to choose those that are tender with very small / flat seeds in them. Similar to Egg Aviyal recipe, I'm not sure why this is called an aviyal but that's how my MIL refers to it. The following method can be used for drumstick (murugakkai) too.


Avarakkai - about 20-25 small ones, washed, strings removed and cut into 1 inch pieces
Turmeric - 1/4 tsp
Salt - to taste
Coconut Oil - 1 tsp (or any other oil)
Mustard seeds - quarter tsp
Curry leaves - few

To Grind: (with a splash of water)
Coconut - 2 to 3 tbsp
Jeera - half tsp
Garlic - 2 small cloves or 1 big
Green Chillies - 5

1) Cook the avarakkai with salt, turmeric & quarter cup of water till tender. I typically cover it & cook on low-medium flame

2) When the veggie is cooked, add the ground coconut paste and cook on a higher flame until most of the water evaporates... just a little dampness will do. Remove from the stove.

3) In a separate pan, heat the coconut oil and season with mustard seeds & curry leaves - drizzle this on top.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


This is something that I normally only eat at restaurants... and among my favorite dishes. Though I know it's rather unhealthy - what with it being deep-fried, refined flour, there is something delicious about the chewy, slightly tangy, puffed up bread and with a spicy chole/ channa masala on the side, it couldn't get any better. I was thinking that it has been very long since I had this... slightly more than 2 years to be precise. Though I make pooris once in a while, bhaturas are something that I pretty much reserve as an item to eat out.

On a whim, I set about kneading the dough for this and after about 4 hours or so, the batter looked fluffy and seemed to have grown in size a bit.. so the yogurt apparently lends to some fermentation. Very soon, I was rolling them out into small bhaturas and was so happy when they puffed up beautifully. This and channa masala made for a very satisfying, albeit filling dinner. The following makes about 6 to 7 small bhaturas.


All purpose Flour (Maida) - 1.5 cups
Rava (Semolina) - 1 tbsp
Yogurt - 2 tbsp (a bit sour would be good)
Baking powder - 3/4 tsp
Salt - half tsp, or to taste
Sugar - a pinch
Water - as required to make a dough
Oil - to deep fry

1) Knead the above with water as required to make a stiff dough. Cover and allow to rest for atleast 4 hours. The dough seemed softer & fluffier after this resting period.

2) Pinch off small balls of dough, dust in all purpose flour and roll out into slightly thick rounds.

3) Heat oil in a pan to deep fry (ensure that it's not too hot) slip in the rolled out dough, and press gently so it puffs up all around. Flip over and let the other side cook as well. This won't be totally brown but will have a pale colour. Repeat with the rest of the dough.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Mixed Vegetable Poriyal

My mom would often make this poriyal and I find this to be substantial and interesting because of the mix of vegetables and the mung dhal. She used to steam them along with the idlis and use up one of the plates to save some time. Amma is an amazingly fast cook and can manage to whip up breakfast, rice, sambhar/kuzhambu, rasam and 2 veggies, pack everyone's lunchboxes and amidst all this go downstairs to buy veggies/greens from the vendors, help us with our requests to find certain clothes/books and quite a few other chores all in about an hour or max. 1 hr 15 minutes & then get ready to leave to work herself. I have no idea how she does this and that too with absolutely no preparation the previous night except for those occassions when vazhathandu or vazhaipoo are involved in which case they involve some prep work the night before. My dad sometimes steps in to lend a hand when it's a crazy day but for most part she can handle it all and has quite a few tricks up her sleeve to save time and multitask. I, however, operate differently and need a plan for everything before hand and am nowhere close to how fast she is.

Anyway coming back to the recipe... This is a simple poriyal/thoran depending on whether i simple add grated coconut towards the end or grind it with some g. chillies or cumin and stir it in but very tasty & wholesome.


Carrot - 1 or 2, cut into small cubes
Beans - 15 to 20, chopped into small pieces
Cabbage - a small chunk chopped (I didn't add this time since I didn't have it)
Mung dhal (yellow split) - 3 tbsp, soaked in water for a while
Salt - to taste

To Grind:
Coconut - 2 tbsp
G. chillies - 4 to 5
Cumin seeds - half tsp

Mustard seeds - half tsp
Urad dhal - half tsp
Red Chilli - 1
Curry leaves - few
Asafoetida - a pinch
Oil - 1 to 2 tsp

1) Mix all the veggies and mung dhal in a bowl, sprinkle some salt and a couple tbsp of water. Microwave on high for about 7 minutes or so till done.

2) Heat oil in a pan and season with mustard, urad dhal, red chilli, curry leaves & asafoetida. Add in the veggies and saute for a few minutes.. till all the water (if any) evaporates.

3) Stir in the ground coconut-chilli-cumin paste and cook for a few more minutes before switching off the stove. Alternately, you can skip the grinding part and just increase the number of red chillies while seasoning and sprinkle in grated coconut towards the end. Both methods yield tasty results and is just a matter of preference.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Paati's Idli Milagai Podi

Regardless of the many chutney options available, idli podi / milagai podi - a kitchen staple in most south indian homes, always holds a special place. I particularly love this spicy powder and always associate it with fond memories of train travel with a bunch of cousins where we each got a packet of soft, fluffy idlis smeared with this podi & gingelly oil, wrapped in plantain leaves and newspaper. My paati would always be mindful to pack extra idlis for each of us since she says that we always eat more during these occassions... :)

Incidentally the best idli podi is the one that my paati (grandma) grinds up.. it's slightly coarse and super spicy and I managed to get the recipe from her though she uses veesampadi, padi etc. I, however, resorted to cup measurements instead since that's what I'm comfortable with. I have scaled back on the spiciness so my 3 year old (who is a big fan too) can eat it...

Thanks to Sharmi's suggestion, I will be sending this as my entry to Cooking for Kids with Love event hosted by Pratibha & Jigyasa since this is my paati's recipe which my daughter loves.


Ulundhu / Urad Dhal - 1/2 cup
Kadalai paruppu / Channa Dhal - 1/4 cup
Dried Red Chillies - 1 cup (or 2 cups if you want it to fiery like paati's)
Sesame seeds - 1 tbsp
Garlic cloves - 2 or 3 small ones (unpeeled)
Curry leaves - 6 to 8
Salt - to taste
Oil - 1 tsp (to fry the above)

1) In about half tsp oil, fry the urad dhal and channa dhal till fragrant (don't let it brown). Add sesame seeds just before removing from stove and allow to cool.

2) In the reamining half tsp oil, fry the dried red chillies, curry leaves and garlic... till the red chillies start getting black patches on them. Allow this to cool as well.

3) First grind the dhals + sesame seed mixture (I use the medium jar since that grinds spices the best). Then add the red chilli mixture along with required salt (about half tsp or so) and grind to a powder of required consistency - coarse or fine is a personal preference.

4) When done, allow this powder to cool a bit before transferring to an air-tight bottle. This is usually mixed with gingelly oil (nallennai) when served with idlis, dosas etc. Or use it to spice up idli upma or kadai dosa.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Pesarattu Vadai

Considering how adai is so well received at home, I expected pesarattu to get a similar reception and though the family ate it with no complaints the first day, my suggestion to have an encore for the following day's breakfast or dinner (since I had leftover batter) met with some grumblings. Not wanting to eat pesarattu as my breakfast for the next 4 to 5 days, I decided to make the batter more appealing to everyone and since all things fried go with my husband (refer to Sabudhana vadas), pesarattu vadas came into existence. They were delicious & disappeared in no time and very soon I was left with an empty container :)

I would recommend adding the veggies just before frying the batter or it can get watery. I made the mistake of letting it rest for a while since I had to attend to something else and so couldn't really shape the vadas properly. Dropping spoonfuls of the batter instead of doughnut shaped vadais didn't take away from the taste though.


Ingredients for Pesarattu batter:
Whole Green Mung Dhal - 1 cup
Brown Rice - 1/4 cup
Green Chillies - 7 or 8
Ginger - half to 1 inch piece
Salt - to taste

1) Soak the Mung dhal and rice overnight. Grind along with green chillies, ginger & salt with water as required to make a slightly thick paste. Thin this down a bit to easily spread into dosas for the original pesarattu or keep it thick to make vadais.

Additions for the vadai:
Onion - 1 medium, chopped
Cabbage - 1 cup, chopped finely
Green Chillies - 4 to 5, chopped finely (since it's deep-fried, i wanted it to be spicy) OR Chilli powder - to taste
Coriander leaves - 2 tbsp, chopped finely
Salt - to taste, if required
Oil - to deep fry

1) Heat oil to deep fry. Add the onions, cabbage, chillies, coriander leaves and salt to the batter.
2) Drop small spoonfuls of the batter (so they are more crispy) into the medium-hot oil and cook till golden brown and crispy and cooked through on the inside.
3) Drain on paper towels and serve as is or with chutney.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Hashbrowns / Rosti

I first had Rostis at the Marche restaurant in Singapore... they would have a huge mound of potatoes that a person religiously peeled and a machine that shredded the potatoes which were then transferred to pans in a thick layer and skilfully roasted on both sides to a golden brown... It was the simplest thing but delicious with sourcream....

I found that hasbrown patties served in restaurants here in the US are quite similar to the rostis. When I tried making these at home, i tossed in some veggies as well and made it a bit more spicy. These are great on their own or when topped with a dollop of sour cream. When I posted some pictures from long back - some wanted to know the recipe for this... my apologies for the delay but I finally have it ready.


Potatoes - 2 big, peeled & grated
Carrot - 1 small, chopped finely
Bell Pepper - half of a small one, chopped finely
Onion - half of a medium, chopped finely
Chilli powder - quarter to half tsp
Red Chilli Flakes - half tsp
Salt & Pepper to taste

1) Press the grated potatoes between several sheets of paper/cloth towels to remove as much of the moisture as possible.

2) Transfer this to a bowl, add in the rest of the chopped veggies & seasonings and toss until uniformly mixed.

3) Heat a tawa on medium and rub lightly with oil, put spoonfuls of the potato mixture and press down to form small patties. The starchiness from the potatoes will help hold it together.

4) When one side is done, flip over and let the other side cook until golden as well.

A closer look...

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Peerkangai (Ridge Gourd) Thovayal

Actually this recipe uses just the peel of the ridgegourd - not the entire vegetable. My mom normally makes a simple curry with the gourd where it's cubed and sauteed with onions, tomatoes and chilli powder - not my favorite growing up but the thogayal she made with the peel was something I really liked... This is not a veggie I favour a whole lot and the fact that my husband isn't a fan either makes me usually skip this when I plan the grocery list but once in a while I do pick it up as a test to see if I've started liking it and of course, most importantly, to make this thogayal with the peels.


RidgeGourd/Peerkangai - Peels of 1 gourd (they are pretty tough and look quite inedible)
Urad Dhal - 1 tbsp
Dried Red Chillies - 4 or 5
Tamarind - a small piece
Coconut - 2 to 3 tbsp
Salt - to taste
Oil - 1 tbsp

1) Heat oil in a pan and add the urad dhal, tamarind and dried red chillies, when the dhal turns a light gold, toss in the peels, tamarind piece and salt.

2) Saute this on medium until the peels soften. I sometimes sprinkle a bit of water and close it with a lid to hasten the cooking process.

3) When done, toss in the grated coconut and switch off the stove. When this is cool enough, grind in a mixie to a slightly coarse paste with little water, as required. This is good when mixed in with rice or as an accompaniment to curd rice.