Monday, December 22, 2008

Vegetable Fried Rice

If I were to list out my top ten favourite foods, fried rice would definitely figure quite high on that list. Special favourites like this and ulli sambar were usually made by my mother on Sundays so that we could all sit together and enjoy the food. I usually end up making it when I am stumped for ideas on what to make or low on time and high on hunger.

What you need:
Basmati rice - 1 cup (washed and soaked in water for 30 minutes)
Cardamom - 4 pods
Clove - 5
Cinnamon - a small piece
Star anise - 2
Pepper corns - 1/4 tsp
Chopped vegetables - 3/4 cup (use a mix of beans, carrot, cauliflower, peas, potato and beets)
Green chilli - 3 or 4 (adjust to taste), minced
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Ghee - 6 tsp

Heat a tsp of ghee and fry all the spices in it until fragrant. Let it cool and then grind to a fine powder.
Drain water from the rice and then fry it in a tsp of ghee until it loses all the moisture and turns creamish in colour.
Heat the rest of the ghee, add the powdered spices, green chillies,chopped veggies, and turmeric powder. Stir fry for a few minutes. Transfer all the ingredients to a pressure cooker, add 1.5 cups of water, required amount of salt and cook until one whistle.
Enjoy with raita and papad.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Karthigai pori

What you need:
Pori (puffed rice flakes) - 4 cups
Jaggery - 1 cup
Water - 3/4 cup
Cardamom powder - 1/2 tsp
Thin slivers of fresh coconut - 1/3 cup

Remove the husk, if any, from the pori. Take jaggery in a heavy bottomed vessel. Add water and heat over a medium flame until completely melted and then stir intermittently until it reaches a soft ball consistency. To check if it has reached this consistency, drop a little bit of the jaggery into a bowl of water. You should be able to gather it between your fingers and form a soft ball.
Switch off the heat. Quickly stir in all the ingredients and whisk briskly for a few minutes until it is well mixed together. Store in an airtight container once it is completely cooled.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Cabbage thogayal

Thogayal was standard fare while I was growing up, but there were only two kinds of thogayal that we made - coconut and mango. Needless to say, those are my top two favourite thogayals. However, once I started wielding the ladle, true to the name of this blog, I started experimenting with different ingredients and now make thogayals with almost any veggie. The basic recipe is almost always the same.

What you need:
Cabbage - chopped into large chunks - 1.5 cups
Red chilli - 3 or 4 (adjust to taste)
Urad dal - 3 tsp
Tamarind - a small gooseberry sized piece soaked for 5 minutes in just enough water to cover it
Asafoetida - a little (optional)
Curry leaves - a few sprigs
Oil - 1 tsp

Take the red chillies, curry leaves and dal in a microwaveable bowl. Pour oil over it and heat on high for 2 minutes or until the dal turns reddish. Stir in the cabbage and heat for another 4 minutes. Let it cool completely. Add the other ingredients and blend adding as little water as you possibly can to a coarse paste.This goes best with rice, but can also be enjoyed with dosa/idli.

Corn pulao

What is it with schools that ask you for personal info like your monthly salary??? The application form of one of the top rated schools here asks for my husbands' and my monthly salaries, and also whether the child will reach school by car/auto/two wheeler or walk. Why does that matter? Will saying my child will walk hamper her chances of getting into that school or will they think that we are an environment friendly family??? The application process is tiring to say the least. Looking at all the children running out of their classrooms when the bell rang for their break reminded me so much of Pavlov's experiment. Is this what we hope to achieve through education??? Masses of young people trained to think alike and to obey without question??? I could go on and on, but I've already done that on my other blog.
So, let's get on with what this blog does and talk food. More specifically, let's talk about a very simple pulao that I cooked. This pulao is different from most others in that it is not heavy on spices. It uses very few ingredients and yet is satisfyingly flavourful.What you need:
Rice - 1 cup, washed and soaked in water for 10 - 15 minutes
Onion - 1 large, chopped fine
Garlic - 7 or 8 cloves
Green chilli - 3 or 4 (adjust to taste)
Corn kernels - 1.5 cups
Turmeric powder
Ghee/oil - a few tsp

Grind chillies and garlic without adding any water.
Heat oil in your pressure cooker. Add the ground paste and fry for a minute. Stir in the onions and fry until translucent. Now add all the other ingredients along with sufficient water and cook until two whistles.
Serve with raita, pickle and papad on the side.

This is my second entry to Valli's Rice Mela.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Vella payaru

There are some dishes that I associate with my childhood. Eating the dish, or even the aromas that waft out of the kitchen while it is being made take me back to another time and place. Vella payaru (black eyed beans or karamani cooked with jaggery) is one such dish. This often made an appearance whenever we were hungry and wanted something in the evenings and during navaratri. Children usually love this because it is sweet (my daughter is an exception) and filling.

What you need:
Black eyed beans - 1 cup (There are two kinds of black eyed beans - white and reddish brown. I prefer the red one and that's what I've used)
Jaggery - 1/3 cup
Grated coconut - 1/4 cup
Cardamom - 4 or 5 pods, coarsely crushed

Soak the beans in plenty of water for 2 hours. Pressure cook until two whistles or until it is cooked through but not mushy. Drain off excess water.
Take the jaggery in a pan. Add a little bit of water to it and heat until the jaggery melts completely. Stir in the cooked beans and heat for a minute or two until all the moisture evaporates. Switch off the heat and mix in the grated coconut and crushed cardamom. Stir well. Serve hot or cold.

This goes to Madhavi who is hosting the Childrens Day edition of the Festive Foods event.
It is also my second entry to the 5th helping of MLLA hosted by Simona and begun by Susan.
A helping of this is also being sent to Aparna's birthday party.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Rajma methi

The first time I tasted rajma was in Delhi. It was served with rice and tasted absolutely, positively divine. I am yet to find a recipe that I like to eat with rice, but whenever I make rotis and want to serve rajma curry, this is the recipe that I follow. The methi leaves are a last minute addition intended to save them from going directly from the refrigerator to the dustbin.

What you need:
Rajma (Red kidney beans) - 1 cup, soaked in plenty of water overnight and cooked
Onion - 1, large, chopped
Tomato - 2, chopped
Green chilli - 2, minced
Ginger - a small piece, chopped
Garlic - a few cloves
Garam masala - 1 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Sugar - a little (optional)
Chopped methi(fenugreek) leaves - 1/2 cup or a small bunch
Oil/ghee - 2 tsp
Cumin seeds - 3/4 tsp
Kalonji seeds - 1/2 tsp

Heat oil/ghee. Add the cumin and kalonji seeds and toast for a few seconds. Stir in the chopped green chillies, ginger, garlic and onion. Saute until onions start to brown. Add the tomatoes and heat until mushy. Add turmeric powder, red chilli powder, salt, sugar, garam masala and stir well to mix. Add the cooked rajma along with the water in which it was cooked. Boil for a few minutes until the gravy thickens. Add chopped methi leaves and simmer until the leaves wilt and soften. The addition of methi leaves will make the curry bitter. So skip this step if you don't like anything that tastes bitter.
Serve hot with roti/puri.

This goes to Simona who is hosting the 5th edition of My Legume Love Affair. MLLA was started by Susan of the Well Seasoned Cook.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Aval dosa (Rice flakes dosa)

What do you do when you've picked up a pack of rice flakes from the store and then, while putting away the groceries, you notice another pack that's somehow gotten lost amidst all the things in the kitchen and has been unnoticed until then???
Well, what I did is try out this recipe. It certainly has not made a dent in my rice flakes stash, but hey, the dosas turned out to be really nice, hole-y and soft. If, like me, you are under the impression that you need to use urad dal to get soft dosas, try this out and you'll definitely change your mind about that.
What you need:
Raw rice - 3 cups
Rice flakes - 1 cup (I used matta rice flakes - the reddish brown Kerala rice flakes)
Sour curd - 1 cup

Soak rice in plenty of water for 6-8 hours. Soak rice flakes in the curd for 3-4 hours. Grind both together. Add salt and let it ferment. This gets fermented much faster than normal dosa batter does.
Heat a dosa tawa. Pour a ladleful of batter. Spread it a little thick (the thickness should be somewhere between that of a regular dosa and an uttappam). Drizzle some oil over it. Turn over and cook both sides.
Serve hot with chutney/sambar.

Recipe source : Mallika Badrinath's Tiffin Varieties.
This is my entry to Valli's Rice Mela.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Keera molagootal

This is the quintessential Kerala Iyer comfort food. I make keera molagootal so often that my blog feels incomplete without giving it a mention. Stated very simply, it is a gravy that is made by combining cooked spinach with a mildly spiced coconut-chilli mix and tuar dal. It is almost always served as an accompaniment to rice, though some people(including yours truly) also serve it with rotis.
What you need:
Spinach - any kind - 1 bunch (Iam partial to red spinach) - chopped fine
Tuar dal - 1 cup, cooked
To grind :
Red chilli - 3
Urad dal - 2 tsp
Fresh grated coconut - 3/4 cup

Heat a tsp of oil. Fry the urad dal and red chilli in it until reddish brown. Let it cool and then grind it to a smooth paste along with the coconut.
Take the chopped spinach in a kadai. Add sufficient water, turmeric powder and salt. Let it boil until the spinach is well cooked and soft. Mash it a little with a masher or the back of a ladle at this point. Stir in the ground mixture and let it boil for 5-6 minutes or until the raw smell goes away. Add the cooked tuar dal and heat for a minute or two.
Heat a tsp of coconut oil. Season it with some urad dal and mustard seeds. When the seeds sputter, pour it over the molagootal.
Molagootal is usually served with rice. Since it is not too spicy and has no tamarind to add tanginess, it is accompanied by either a tangy rasam or spicy thogayal or pachadi. I like my molagootal to be paired with spicy mango pickle.
Molagootal can also be made using other vegetables like ash gourd, snake gourd, carrot, potato and cabbage. The difference between keera molagootal and molagootal made with other veggies lies in the ingredients that are ground together. One of my earlier posts on cabbage molagootal has the recipe that can be followed while using other veggies.

This goes to Sra who is hosting the 4th helping of My Legume Love Affair which was started by Susan.
It also goes to Suganya's Vegan Ventures, Round 2.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

From Chitra Amma's kitchen to mine

Have you ever seen something and then craved it so badly that you set out to make it even though you do not have enough of the main ingredient?

That's what happened to me once I saw Dibs' recipe for Bournvita fudge. The fact that I had only a teeny weeny bit of maida in the pantry did nothing to deter me from trying it out. I used half a cup of maida and half a cup of besan and proceeded with the recipe. This is an absolutely fantastic dish which is guaranteed to disappear even before it is completely cooled. I heated it a little longer than Dibs suggests because I wanted it to be of burfi consistency. Despite using the tiniest glass in my home to measure out the ingredients, I was able to turn out a decent number of fudge squares.
This recipe is definitely a keeper. Thank you Dibs.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Rambling and some soup

It is finally goodbye to hot, humid days in Chennai. The weather has taken a turn for the better. I love the rains despite the water logged roads and the exorbitant rates that the auto drivers charge citing that as an excuse. My daughter and I love the puddles of water that collect outside our apartment. She screeches in joy and jumps wholeheartedly into those puddles while I, being the adult in the relationship, have to be content with just looking on and wishing I could jump up and down without having the other apartment dwellers think that I've gone completely nuts. As it is, I get enough gyan from onlookers about how unhealthy it is to let my little girl play with natural resources. But that's the subject of another post and I do enough of that on my other blog.
So, let's talk about a warm, comforting bowl of sweet corn soup that's just perfect for the kind of weather that we Chennaites are enjoying right now.

What you need:
Sweet corn - 2 cups, cooked
Milk - half a cup(optional)
Garlic - a few cloves

Keep aside some of the corn and then grind all the other ingredients together. Add in the corn that you'd set aside, let everything simmer on low heat for a few minutes and serve hot.

I don't have one decent pic of this soup to share. All that I have are five blurs of white light ranging from bright to not so bright. Does anybody have any tried and tested pointers on shooting reasonably good pictures of liquids???

Oh....and here's some more cool news for Chennaites. There's now a website where you can make restaurant reservations and order food online. For details, check out

I am extremely late in acknowledging some awards that have been sent my way by fellow bloggers. Am thankful to Madhavi for the Good job award, and Sowmya for the Butterfly Award.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Saam Savera

I recently had this dish called Saam Savera at a Gujarati restaurant and absolutely loved it. So much so that I wanted to recreate it at home. This is an original recipe to the extent that I tasted the curry, guessed what went into it and then a week later, trusted my memory to remember that taste and set about making it. The result is a non-oily yet delicious curry that goes well with rotis.

What you need:
Spinach - 1 bunch, washed and blanched/microwaved on high for 4 minutes
Onion - 1, chopped
Tomato -1, chopped
Garlic - 4 or 5 cloves, chopped
Green chilli - 1, minced (optional)
Ginger - a small piece
Carrot - 1, chopped fine and cooked
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Garam masala - 1 tsp
Oil - 1 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Corriander seeds - 1tsp
Milk - 1/2 cup

Heat a tsp of oil. Roast the cumin and corriander seeds until lightly browned. Add in the chilli, garlic, ginger, onion and tomato and fry for a few minutes until the raw smell is gone. Let it cool and then grind it along with the blanched spinach and milk to a smooth paste.
Transfer the gravy to a kadai. Add the cooked carrots, salt, turmeric powder and garam masala. Let it simmer on low heat for a few minutes.Njoy!!!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Navaratri - 9 days of celebration - Day 1

I love navaratri. The memories associated with it are precious to me. As a child, I used to go around to other houses that had a golu (arrangement of dolls depicting Gods) with my friends, sing a song and come back home with some tasty chundal. At the end of the day, the plastic bags in our hands would be filled and we'd come back home, sort through chundals made of the same beans, combine them and share them. I like Navaratri in Chennai for the music concerts in its temples, the festive look that its crowded shopping streets wear, the several beautiful bommais (dolls) that line the streets of Mylapore, and for the little girls and mamis all dressed up in their best. I have set up a small golu this year at home and though to many, it is not a big feat, Iam busy patting myself on the back. Here's a pic of my golu.
Golu at our home

Neivedyam on Day 1 - Rava Kesari

Friday, September 26, 2008

Restaurant review - Azulia

At the GRT Grand
120, Thyagaraya rd,
T Nagar, Chennai.
Phone : 28150500

Mediterranean food

Would I go back there???
That's a definite, loud YES!!!
Their menu is extensive and is presented well with details on what goes into each dish. The waiters (atleast the one who waited on us) was quite informative about the dishes. They don't have a choice as far as soups go - there's only the Veg/non-veg soup of the day. On the day I went, there was Fava bean soup and it tasted awesome. There's a whole lot of starters (hot and cold mezze) on the menu and I'd love to go back and try out more of those. What I did try was called Bourak bel jibneh and it was a kind of crisp cigar shaped roll stuffed with veggies. The french bread and pickled brinjals that they start you off with are finger licking good. For the main course, I tried a dish with couscous, the name of which I can't remember. What I do remember is the taste. All the dishes were only mildly spicy - nothing like our hot, spicy Indian dishes, but it definitely scored high on the taste meter.
You should go in expecting to spend about Rs. 1000 per person. The portions are small as in they are not meant for sharing. It is just right for one person. Service, as it always is at GRT, is fantastic. The waitstaff are all dressed in Mediterranean costumes. It would be good if the interior was also done up in keeping with that theme.
Oh....and I love the fact that as I was leaving the restaurant, the lady at the reception came up to me and gave me a little paper bag with an Azulia apron in it :-))

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ona sadya

From top left :Puli inji, kalan, thair pachadi, vendakka mezhukkupuratti (Okra stir-fry), aviyal, sarkkara upperi, chips, papadam, rice, muringakka sambar, chakka pradhaman

My Ona sadya this year was spread over two days to accomodate the schedules of different family members. This spread is from the second day. The first day had olan, rasam and moru kari instead of sambar.

Am sending this to Festive Foods - Onam which is being hosted at Asankhana.
For more info on the cuisine of the four states of South India, check out Karuna's post.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Happy Onam

Have a wonderful Onam. Regardless of whether you celebrate Onam or not, I hope you have good food and good luck today and on the days to come.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Muthira(Horse gram) puzhukku

Sometimes, the simplest dishes are the best tasting. If you look at the cooking styles of your mothers and grandmothers, you will see how they make good use of locally available ingredients and with minimum fuss, come up with dishes that make you go in for second and third helpings. This muthira (horse gram) puzhukku is one such dish that my mother makes and which I tried out today after calling her at work for the recipe.
What you need:
Horsegram - 1 cup (soaked in plenty of water overnight)
Raw plantain - 1, peeled and sliced into medium sized pieces (Other vegetables that can be used are yam and pumpkin or a combination of these)
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Red chilli - 2, roughly torn into pieces
Black peppercorns- 5 or 6, crushed slightly
Fresh grated coconut - 1/3 cup
Coconut oil - 2 tsp
Curry leaves - a few sprigs

Add turmeric powder, salt, red chillies, plantain and pepper to the horsegram, add enough water and cook in a pressure cooker until 8 or 10 whistles. I know that sounds like a lot of time, but horsegram takes a while to get cooked. Once the pressure goes down, transfer the cooked contents to a heavy kadai and boil for a few minutes until most of the liquid evaporates (It should still retain some liquid). Add the grated coconut and curry leaves. Mix well. Switch off the heat and mix in the coconut oil.
Serve with rice and a papadam on the side.
This goes to Nags who is hosting the Saas, Bahu aur Sensex contest.
Saas Bahu aur Sensex is a movie that is being released by Warner Bros on the 19th of this month and it celebrates women who handle different roles in life with great aplomb. Specifically, it is about a few housewives who watch saas-bahu serials and also invest in the stock market and reap rich dividends from their investments.
This also goes to Lucinda who is guest hosting My Legume Love Affair which was started by Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

This post of mine had a few people writing to me and asking me which my top choices for dining-out are. I thought the question was quite an interesting one and would now like to pose it to you, my readers. If you live in Chennai or have ever lived in Chennai or have anything at all to do with Chennai, please do let me know your top 5 restaurant choices in the city.

Edited to add :
Oops...I forgot to list out my favourites. Here goes:
Benjarong on TTK road for Thai food.
Osteria in Royapettah for Italian
Cholayil Sanjeevanam for healthy, ayurveda based food,
For North Indian food - The Dhaba (Mylapore), Dhaba Express,and Rangoli (Saravana Bhavan's exclusive Gujarati Restaurant)
For South Indian food - Murugan idli kadai , Ratna cafe
Barbeque Nation

Kasi halwa

I was not familiar with this sweet until a few months back. I had it at a feast, loved it and have been wanting to try it out ever since. As always, Mallika Badrinath has once again come to my rescue with her book on Sweets. I have modified the recipe slightly to suit my taste.

What you need:
Ash gourd(peeled, deseeded and grated) - a small one
Sugar - 1 cup
Red food colour - a pinch
Ghee - 4 tsp
Semolina/rava - 2 tsp
Microwave ashgourd without adding any water for 8 minutes on high heat. Let it cool completely. Measure the pulp. I got a little more than 1.5 cups of pulp and used 1 cup of sugar for it. Adjust sugar depending on how much pulp you have left after cooking the gourd.
Combine the cooked gourd, sugar and food colour and microwave on high for 8 minutes. Add 2 tsp of ghee and mix well. Heat for another 6 minutes, checking every now and then to make sure it doesn't become too hard. Roast rava until golden brown in 2 tsp of ghee. Add this to the halwa and heat for one minute. Garnish with sliced cashews or almonds.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Kanjeevaram idli

This recipe is adapted from Mallika Badrinath's Tiffin Varieties.

What you need:

Idli rice/parboiled rice - 1 cup
Urad dal - 1 cup
Black peppercorns - 1 tsp, heaped and crushed lightly
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp, heaped and crushed lightly
Sour, thick curd - 1 - 1.5 cups
Ghee - 2 tsp
Sesame oil - 3 tsp

Soak the rice and dal together in plenty of water for 3 hours. Drain all the water and grind to a thick, rawa consistency. Let it ferment overnight. Refrigerate until you are ready to use.
Just before steaming, add in all the other ingredients and mix well. Steam in an idli mould.
Serve with sambar/chutney/ molaga podi.

What I think of this recipe:
It is very soft - softer than regular idlis, most probably because of the curd and oil added to it. The texture is somewhere between that of rawa idli and regular idli. Taste wise, the only difference between this and a regular idli is the spiciness that comes from the pepper and the mild flavour and smell from the cumin.
What my little girl thinks of this recipe:
"Amma, don't make idli with this mavu (batter). Make it with white mavu."
That said, she ate it without further comment. For now, Iam content with that.

Vathal koottan/kozhambu

The chundakka vathal that I blogged about yesterday is most commonly used in vathal kozhambu. To me, curd rice served with some spicy and tangy vathal kozhambu is heaven on a plate.
Here's what you need to make vathal kozhambu:
Tamarind - a lemon sized ball
Sambar powder - 1.5 - 2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Gingely/Sesame oil - 2 tsp
Chundakka vathal - a handful
Shallots - 7 or 8, peeled and halved (optional)
Channa dal - 1 tsp
Urad dal - 1 tsp
Methi seeds - 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp

Soak the tamarind in two cups of warm water for 10 minutes. Squeeze to extract tamarind juice and set it aside.
Heat gingely oil in a kadai. Add in the channa and urad dal, methi and mustard seeds, and a pinch of asafoetida. When the mustard seeds pop, stir in the chundakka vathal and fry for a minute. Add the sliced shallots and fry till translucent. Pour in the tamarind extract. Add some more water if needed. Add turmeric powder, sambar powder and salt. Boil until the raw smell of tamarind is gone. Just before removing from the stove, mix a tsp of rice flour with a tbsp of water and stir this into the kozhambu. Garnish with fresh curry leaves. Serve hot or cold. This tastes great with curd rice.
As a child, I remember me and my cousins sitting in a circle around my maternal grandma while she used to place little balls of curd rice in our palms. We used to make a hole in the middle of the rice ball, pour vathal koottan into it and then proceed to gobble it up at a pace which today, is amazing even to me. Iam sure if polishing off a bowl of curd rice and vathal koottan had been an Olympic sport at that time, we'd have carried home the gold.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Summer goodies #4 -Chundakka vathal

I made these in summer and the post has been languishing in my draft for a really long time. Chundakka (Kerala tamil) or Sundakka (Tamil) is used in sambar and thoran in the fresh form. Very often, it is sun dried and turned into vathals so that it can be preserved for a longer period of time and used as and when needed. To see what fresh chundakka looks like, click here.

What you need:

Chundakka - 1 cup
Urad dal - 2 tsp, heaped
Red chillies - 2
Sour buttermilk - enough to cover and soak the chundakka completely

Grind the urad dal and red chillies to a smooth paste.
Soak the chundakka in plenty of water for 10-15 minutes. Wash well and then crush slightly with a heavy pestle or stone. Add the buttermilk, salt, and ground paste to the chundakka. Mix well. Cover and set aside overnight. In the morning, take the chundakka out with a slotted spoon and dry it on a plastic sheet in direct sunlight. In the evening, soak it again in the buttermilk mixture. Repeat this process until all the buttermilk is absorbed. Dry for 2 or 3 more days in the sun and then store in an airtight container. If properly dried and stored, this will stay good for over a year.

Check out my other posts in this series:
Summer goodies #1 - Ela vadam
Summer goodies #2 - Microwave mango thokku
Summer goodies #3 - Pavakka vathal

This post goes to Roma's Long live the Shelf event.

Sunday, September 07, 2008


......where these pictures were taken???


Crumble-at-the-touch maaladus have always been a favourite of mine. This sweet treat is something that can be made quickly and without too much of a hassle.What you need:

Pottukadalai/ roasted bengal gram dal - 1 cup
Sugar - 1 cup
Ghee - as much as required to shape the flour into balls
Cashews - a handful, roasted in ghee (optional)
Raisins - a few, roasted in ghee (optional)

Powder the gram dal finely in a mixie. Powder the sugar as well and mix both the powders and the cashews and raisins together. Now add in warm ghee and shape into balls.

Restaurant review - Cholayil Sanjeevanam, Nungambakkam, Chennai

97, Nungambakkam High Road,
Nungambakkam, Chennai.

Healthy, vegetarian food.

Would I go back there?
I've been to Cholayil a few times now but it is only today that I got to taste their "Rajakeeyam meal" which is basically a South Indian vegetarian thali that serves healthy food. The food is served in a certain order and you are expected to eat it in the same order. First, there's a small bowl with cut up nenthrapazham(ripe plantain) and grated coconut, followed by a colourful array of juices (dates, nut milk, haritha buttermilk, vegetable juice and rice bran water). Once you down all of these, you are served four kinds each of uncooked veggies, semi-cooked veggies and fully cooked veggies in that order. You are not given water even if you ask for it, because they say that water fills up the stomach and hampers digestion. It is given to you only at the end. Once you are done with all of these, you are almost full. That's when red rice and parippu (dal) make an appearance. Then comes white rice with sambar, rasam, morkozhambu and buttermilk.
This is followed by payasam. The meal ends with a spoonful of honey poured into your hand.
The meal leaves you pleasantly full and it is nice to sit down and eat in an orderly fashion once in a while. There is no cloying sense of oil or fat that you leave with at the end of the meal.
At Rs. 120 a meal, it is good value for the money too.
However, if you do not like to be told that you should eat in the order that they ask you to, this restaurant is not for you. For me, it was a pleasant experience and I enjoyed the food.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Tell me honestly, do all you food bloggers out there love to cook all the time? I know there has to be a decent amount of liking towards cooking (and of course, eating) most of the time. But aren't there days when you just don't want to lift a finger, days when you get somebody else to dial in a pizza for you???

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Pazham Nurukku

An integral part of a traditional Onam Sadya, this dish has now also become a part of most festivals celebrated in the Thrissur district of Kerala. For us, no sadya (feast) is complete without some pazhanurukku. Making this is really easy. Restricting yourself to eating just a few pieces is not so easy.
Here's how you make pazhanurukku:
Cut 4 large, ripe plantains into thick, finger length pieces. Do not remove the skin. Take 3/4 glass of water in a large vessel. Add four or five pieces of jaggery to it. Also add the cut plantain pieces. Let it boil on low heat, stirring every now and then, until the plantains are cooked through.
Oh....and remember, this dish HAS TO BE made using nenthrapazham which is a special variety found in Kerala.

This goes to Priyanka who is hosting Festive Foods-Onam.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Simple potato curry

What you need:
Potatoes - 2 large, skinned and cut into medium sized pieces
Tomato - 4, cut into largish pieces
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Sambar powder or red chilli powder - 3/4 tsp
Take potatoes with about 1.5 cups of water in a pan and boil until cooked, but not mushy. Add turmeric powder, sambar powder, salt and tomatoes. Boil until everything gets blended together well. The tomatoes should not turn mushy.
This is a really simple curry that goes well with rotis.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Microwave baingan bhartha

I have always loved the microwave. I can put something in to cook, set the timer, go out for a stroll and come back to find it cooked just right. That said, I have always resorted to the old fashioned method of roasting a brinjal over an open flame to make baingan bhartha.. This time, though, I had a brainwave (yes - I do get one of those now and then) and decided to stick the eggplant in the microwave. The rest, as they say, is history.

What you need:
Eggplant/Brinjal/Aubergine - 1 large
Onion - 2, chopped fine
Green chilli - 2, minced
Ginger - a small piece, julienned
Garlic - 4 or 5 pods, chopped
Groundnuts - a handful (optional)
Tomatoes - 2 or 3 large juicy, ripe ones, chopped
Red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Garam masala -3/4 tsp
Turmeric powder - 3/4 tsp
Corriander leaves - a few, to garnish

Spread some oil all over the brinjal. Prick the skin on all sides with a knife and then microwave on high heat for 14 minutes or until the skin shrivels up and the brinjal gets cooked.Let it cool. Remove the skin and mash the brinjal.
Heat 2 tsp of oil in a microwave safe bowl. Add a tsp of jeera and the groundnuts to it and heat for 45 seconds. Stir in the onion, garlic, ginger, green chillies and heat for 3-4 minutes. Now add in the tomatoes and cook for another 3 minutes. Add turmeric powder, red chilli powder, garam masala, salt, sugar(optional) and the mashed brinjals. Stir well. Add some water if necessary and cook for 5 minutes.
Garnish with freshly chopped corriander leaves.This my entry to Fresh Produce of the Month featuring eggplant this month and hosted by Simona.

This also goes to Sunshine Mom's Food in colours - Red and to Srivalli's MEC-Potluck.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Tried and Tasted - Urad dal pooris and potato curry

Jugalbandi - a blog that I go to not just for recipes, but also for their anecdotes and fantastic pictures. When I came to know that T&T features them this month, I bookmarked a couple of recipes. I've religiously done this for the last 3 T&Ts but didn't get around to the cooking part of it. This time around, I did try out and taste the jugalbandits' urad dal pooris and potato masala. Here's the result.I made no changes at all to the puris. J&B are absolutely right when they say that these taste much better than regular puris. Next time around, I might add in some garam masala and amchur to the dough, though. To the potato masala, I added more green chillies and skipped the red chilli powder. Oh...and did I tell you these puris are so much prettier than the regular ones?
Thank you, Jai & B.

Needless to say, this goes to Zlamushka for her Tried and Tasted event.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Restaurant review - Bombay Blue

45, College Road,

A hotch-potch of cuisines - Italian, Mexican, Lebanese and Indian

Would I go there again???
I went in expecting to find a lot of Bombay-ish stuff like chaats and street food, but found a menu that boasted food from four different parts of the world. The food is OK - not the kind that will have you raving about it, but not bad either. One of their specialities is the wide selection of sizzlers they offer. You will notice the smell of smoke almost as soon as you enter the restaurant. This is because nearly all the people who go in order a sizzler. We did too, and while I was not displeased with the way the sizzler tasted, I was not very excited about it either.
The soup that we ordered tasted more Indian than Italian, but it was good. The falafel and the sandwiches were good too. Again, nothing to rave about, but no rants either.
So, to answer my question - I wouldn't mind going back, but Bombay Blue is definitely not going to be my first choice if somebody were to ask me where I'd like to go.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Happy birthday

He's the first guy I lost my heart to and it's his birthday. To see what I made, click here.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Palak pulao

I love making pulao. Not for its taste, aroma, flavour or any of those things that often find a mention when you talk about pulao. All that is only of secondary importance to me. The numero uno reason why I love this dish is because it is so E.A.S.Y to make. Take some rice in a cooker, throw in veggies of your choice, spices.....fry it in some ghee, add water, salt and pressure cook. Doesn't get simpler than that, does it? You don't even have to cook up a fancy curry to go with it. Just pair it with some papad and raita/curd and you have a complete meal and just one pot to wash.
The palak pulao that Iam blogging about today is adapted from Tarla Dalal's Iron Rich Recipes. The original recipe calls for sweet corn. Having none, I substituted that with carrots.
What you need:
Spinach/palak - 1 bunch, washed and chopped fine
Carrots - 3, chopped
Onion - 1 large, chopped
Green chilli - 2 or 3
Black peppercorns - a few
Cinnamon - a small piece
Clove - 4
Cardamom - 4 pods
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Rice - 1 cup
Water - 2.5 cups

Wash rice, drain water completely and set aside. Heat 2 tsp of ghee/oil. Add cinnamon, clove, cardamom, and peppercorns. Stir until fragrant. Now add in the green chilli, and onions. Fry until onions become translucent. Add the spinach and carrots. Fry for a few minutes. Then add the rice, water and salt. Mix well and pressure cook until one whistle.
If you can get somebody to chop the veggies and clean up after, that will make it all the better :-)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Stuffed okra

This recipe is from Harveen Choudhary's book "Taste of Rajasthan - Delicious Vegetarian food from the Land of Rajasthan". I loved the methi theplas that I tried from this book and have had a couple of other recipes bookmarked for a while now. This curry is one of them.

What you need:
Ladies finger/okra - about 1/4 kg
Saunf - 1.5 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Garam masala - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Gram flour/besan - 2 tsp
Amchur - 1 tsp
Salt - 1 tsp or to taste
Oil - 3 tbsp (that sounds so much better than 12 tsp, doesn't it?)
Kalonji seeds - 1/2 tsp

Wash and dry the okra. Cut into finger length pieces after removing the head of the okra. Make a slit halfway through the cut pieces.
Mix 1 tsp of saunf with the besan, turmeric powder, garam masala, red chilli powder, salt, amchur and 4 tsp of oil. Once well mixed, it will be like a thick paste. Stuff this into the okra using the blunt end of a knife (which is what I did) or a spoon.Heat the rest of the oil in a pan. Add 1/2 a tsp of saunf and kalonji. When it smells really, really good, stir in the okra, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until soft. If you have any stuffing left over, you can add that along with the okra. Ramove the lid and stir on high heat for a few minutes until crisp.
Our dinner tonight - rotis, stuffed okra and panchratni dal
For the recipe of panchratni dal, click here.

I have followed Choudhary's recipe to the T - not even changing the quantities he specifies. The only difference is that the original recipe calls for a tsp each of dhania powder and jeera powder to be included in the stuffing. I had neither, so I skipped it.
The dish is definitely a keeper and will be one of the regulars in our home now. The only thing I will change is the quantity of oil used. Iam going to try it out with less oil next time.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Mint vada

Mint is one of my favourite herbs. It hasn't always been that way. Growing up, I didn't see mint featured on the regular menus in my home - quite likely because my mother hates it. I started enjoying the flavour of mint only after I began cooking on my own. Aloo pudina baath is something that I make quite frequently.
These mint vadas are adapted from Mallika Badrinath's book - 100 Snack Varieties. The smell of the vadas being deep fried and the minty taste when you bite into the crisp outer shell is an experience in itself.

What you need:
1 cup bengal gram (channa) dal
1 cup fresh mint leaves
A handful of corriander leaves
Green chillies - 2 or 3
Oil - for deep frying

Soak the dal in plenty of water for an hour. Drain all the water and grind the dal along with mint, corriander and green chillies to a coarse paste. Add salt.
Heat oil in a kadai. Take a small ball of batter in your hand, flatten it on your palm and drop it into the hot oil and deep fry until golden brown on both sides. Do this over medium heat to ensure that the inside gets cooked.
Also check out my Parippu Vada recipe here.

On a different and more serious note, Srivalli of Cooking for all Seasons is organizing a fund raiser to help Lakshmi, her household help and a mother of two toddlers, to meet the expenses of a major heart surgery she has to undergo. Please check this post of Valli's for details and do chip in.

Poli - a sweet treat

Poli or Boli as I call it, is something that I have always associated with waking up early, kneading mounds of flour relentlessly, rolling out the dough, the air filling up with the fragrance of ghee, and the thin, soft polis disappearing almost as soon as they appear on the table. Until now, I have only been personally accountable for the disappearance of the polis. I have never wanted to venture into areas that I hitherto thought were reserved for more experienced(read mothers, aunts....) people. Never one to prepare traditional sweets for festivals, I've not really had a reason to try my hand at making this. So, what exactly made me decide to try this out??? I don't really know - maybe a whim, a fancy or a desire to prove to myself that I can do it.
What you need:

For the outer covering:
All purpose flour - 1 cup
Gingely Oil - LOTS (I didn't really measure the exact amount)
Salt - a pinch
Yellow food colour or a tiny bit of turmeric powder

Mix all the ingredients together and knead into a smooth, pliable dough adding as much water as needed. The dough should be loose and elastic.. Don't stint on the oil if you want tasty, soft polis. Cover and let it rest for 3-4 hours.

For the filling:
1 cup channa dal
1 cup sugar
1 tsp cardamom powder

Pressure cook the dal with enough water. Drain all the water and grind it to a smooth paste along with the sugar. Take this mixture in a kadai, add cardamom powder and heat,stirring continuously, until all the moisture is absorbed.

To make poli:
  • Take a banana leaf or a small plastic sheet. Oil it.
  • Take a lemon sized ball of dough. Pat it with your finger tips (apply some oil on your fingers too so that the dough doesn't stick to it) into a circle. Keep a bit of filling inside, close it iand then pat again into a large, thin circle.
  • Heat a tawa. Turn the poli onto the tawa. Spread some ghee over it and cook till the underside has golden brown spots. Turn over and cook for a minute.
  • Serve with a dollop of ghee on top.
  • Notes :
    Instead of patting the polis into a circle, you can roll them out with a rolling pin. If you choose to do that, use less oil. Make a dough that is the consistency of chapati dough and then roll out into circles.

    Poli is traditionally made for Avani Avittam which falls on the same day as Rakshabandhan. So Iam sending this to Priti who is hosting Festive Foods-Rakhi-Thread of Love.
    It also goes to Easycraft's What's Your Favourite Colour Event.

    Sunday, August 17, 2008

    Spicy bittergourd curry with no oil

    A super spicy and tasty dish that can be made entirely in the microwave....this is a recipe that I found in one of my Microwave Cookbooks.What you need:
    Bitter gourd - 3 large, deseeded and chopped fine
    Thick, sour curd - 1/4 cup
    Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
    Rice flour - 1 tsp
    Red chilli powder - 1 tsp

    Take the bittergourd and just enough water to cover it in a microwave safe bowl and heat for 3 minutes.
    Drain the water completely. Mix in the other ingredients. Spread on a microwaveable dish and heat for 8 minutes or until crisp.
    Tastes great with rice or just by itself.

    Friday, August 15, 2008

    Tandoori Aloo or maybe I should call it Microwavi Aloo

    This is a quick snack that I tried last night with good results.
    Make a marinade by mixing 6 tsp of sour, thick curd, 1 tsp all purpose flour, 1 tsp red chilli powder and 1 tsp garam masala. Peel baby potatoes. Prick them all over with a fork and marinate for about 30 minutes. Microwave on high for 8 minutes.
    We ate them hot off the oven and that left me with no pics. Will update the pics next time I get around to making this. The only hard part of this recipe is peeling the baby potatoes....It took sooooo long.

    This goes to Valli's Potluck.

    Thursday, August 14, 2008

    Peas Usal

    I came across this book called Ruchira by Kamalabai Ogale at the local lending library. I loved the title Ruchira....and that's what made me pick this book up. It is a collection of Maharashtrian Vegetarian Recipes. All the recipes come with easy to follow instructions, and most of the ingredients are what we usually have at home. The featured dishes are all healthy, made with minimum oil and quite easy to make on an everyday basis. Kamalabai's Peas Usal is the first one that I've tried out, making very minor modifications along the way.To make Peas Usal, you need:

    Green peas - 2 cups (I used dried peas, so I soaked it in the morning and used it in the evening)
    Coconut - 1/2 cup, grated
    Green chilli - 2 or 3
    Corriander leaves - 1/2 cup
    Cumin seeds - 2 tsp
    Oil - 2 tsp
    Garlic - 3 cloves
    Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
    Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
    Asafoetida - a little
    Amchur powder - 1/2 tsp

    Cook the peas with some salt and set aside. Grind the corriander leaves, coconut and cumin seeds to a smooth paste, adding a little water if needed. Heat the oil. Add mustard seeds, asafoetida and turmeric powder to it. When the seeds pop, add the peas, salt, sugar and the ground mixture. Cook for a few minutes until the mixture thickens. Add the amchur powder. Stir well and boil for a minute or two.
    Serve hot with rice or rotis.

    • The original recipe called for lemon juice. However, I absolutely L.O.V.E amchur powder. These days I use it in a lot of dishes. I would probably up the amount of amchur the next time I make this dish.
    • No sugar next time around. The peas and the coconut lend a sweetness to the dish....and additional sugar, however minimal, is not necessary.
    • The usal was a very simple, not-too-hard-to-whip-up accompaniment which tasted good without leaving an oil trail all the way from the mouth to the stomach.

    Wednesday, August 13, 2008

    Supermarkets are bad for me

    I went in to buy a pack of turmeric powder and some poppy seeds.....and came back lugging two bags full of stuff that was a little too heavy for me to carry.

    Monday, August 11, 2008

    Spring Onion Chutney

    Most of the weekends over the last few months have been spent travelling. So much so that I've come to think of the railway station as a home away from home. It also means that I usually try and use up anything that is likely to spoil if left in the refrigerator over the weekend.

    A bunch of spring onions + an upcoming weekend trip = this recipe.

    What you need:
    Spring onions - 1 bunch, chopped (the greens can also be chopped)
    Red chilli - 2
    Oil - 1 tsp
    Tamarind - a gooseberry sized piece, soaked for 10 minutes in just enough water to cover it
    Urad dal - 3 tsp

    Heat the oil, urad dal and chillies in a microwaveable bowl for 2 minutes or until the dal turns reddish brown. Stir in the chopped spring onions. Heat for another 4 minutes or until the onions are browned.
    Let it cool. Blend coarsely along with the tamarind and salt.
    Heat a tsp of oil in a pan. Season with some mustard seeds. When the seeds pop, pour it over the chutney.
    Enjoy with dosas or as a dip.

    This chutney goes to Valli's potluck and to Culinarty's Original Recipe Round-up.

    Wednesday, August 06, 2008

    Iam "it"

    Nidhi tagged me to do the booky meme. I've watched this tag going around with quite a bit of interest. Here's what the meme requires me to do:
    Pick up the nearest book
    • Open to page 123
    • Find the 5th sentence
    • Post the next three sentences
    • Tag 5 people and acknowledge the person who tagged you.
    Well, here goes....

    You hate me because you know....
    Because he knew what?
    What could he possibly know about George Hatfield that would make him hate him?

    Do those lines tell you what Iam reading currently???

    Sra, I'd like to know what you read.
    Rachel, what's on your bookshelf, girl?
    Vani, what do your books tell you?
    Divya, what's on the pages for you?
    A and N, my newly discovered blogger buddies, it's now your turn to be "it".

    Monday, August 04, 2008

    Cooking with leftovers - Vermicelli upma pakoda

    When it comes to making upma, I do not know the magic proportion that will yield just enough for two. I ALWAYS end up with more than we can eat. When the same situation arose yesterday and I was left with enough upma after breakfast to safely see us through lunch and dinner and maybe breakfast the next day, I had a brainwave (oh yeah....I do have one of those once in a while...) and that's how this dish was born.

    What you need:

    Leftover semiya upma
    Red chilli powder
    Gram flour/besan
    Rice flour
    Oil - for deep frying
    (Quantities depend on how much upma you have leftover.)

    Mix all the ingredients together. Use just enough besan and rice flour to for a really thick batter. Add water only if needed and even then, just sprinkle a few drops at a time.
    Heat oil in a pan. Drop spoonfuls of the upma-besan mixture into hot oil. Deep fry until golden brown. Drain excess oil and serve hot with ketchup/chutney.

    Thoughts : The pakodas turned out nice, brown and crisp. Perfect way to use up leftovers.

    Note : To make upma, heat 2 tsp of oil. Season with mustard seeds and urad dal. Add chopped onions, ginger, green chillies, garlic, tomatoes, veggies of your choice and stir fry for a few minutes. Add 2 cups of water for every cup of vermicelli you use. Once the water boils, add in the vermicelli and salt. Cook until all the moisture is absorbed and the vermicelli is cooked through.

    This goes to Rushina's Pakora Contest and also to the Original Recipe Event at Lore's Culinarty.

    Friday, August 01, 2008

    Aloo baingan curry

    To while away the time between me reaching play school to pick my daughter up and them opening the doors and letting her out, we parents usually indulge in some light banter. Today the topic veered around to food....or rather, the cooking of it. It seems most people have a cook or someone(usually parents/in-laws) living with them and taking care of the cooking. I felt(still do, in fact) like a RELIC....Maybe I am one....Maybe I ought to be in a museum...
    I cook all our meals myself.....we do eat out often and order take-away but every single meal that is cooked at home is made by me from the scratch. I guess I missed the bus that brought the cooks in :-))
    Anyways, here is a simple recipe that you can whip up in almost no time at all or when the cook decides to take a break.....What you need:
    Potatoes - 3 medium sized, peeled and chopped into pieces
    Brinjal - 7 or 8, chopped
    Green chilli - 2 or 3
    Garlic - 4 cloves
    Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
    Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
    Oil - 3 tsp

    Heat oil in a pan. Add the cumin seeds...roast for a minute and then add the potatoes and brinjal. Stir well, add about half a cup of water, turmeric powder and salt and cook covered for about 8-10 minutes or until the veggies are almost done. Grind the chillies and garlic coarsely in a blender without adding any water. Stir this into the cooked veggies. Remove the lid and stir fry for roughly 3 minutes or till the moisture is absorbed.
    Enjoy with rotis/puri.

    This is my entry to Srivalli's Curry Mela.

    Thursday, July 24, 2008

    This is what I woke up to last weekend.....
    The misty mountains of Coonoor

    No vacation is complete without good food....