Thursday, July 30, 2009

Indian Cooking Challenge - Dhokla

When Valli sent out a mail saying that she has started a new blog called Indian Cooking Challenge and that she'd set out recipes for us to make each month, I was a bit apprehensive 'coz I have great difficulty following instructions to the T - I almost always make little changes to recipes that I come across, but I was definitely interested as this is one great way to learn a variety of new dishes.
The first task that she has set out for us is to make dhoklas. The recipe is an authentic one, lent to Valli by one of her Gujarati friends. I have not made any changes to the recipe that she has on her blog. The blog is a private if you want to view the recipe, mail her or join the Challenge.

The experience
This is a pretty easy-to-do recipe. Inspite of not having made dhoklas before, I was able to turn out pretty decent ones by following the recipe and instructions. I steamed the dhoklas in regular idli plates and then cut each one into four before serving. Next time around, I would add more lemon juice and more chillies to the batter as I felt it could have been a tad spicier. The dhoklas turned out to be soft and spongy......though not as spongy or for lack of a better word, as juicy as the ones that you get at some of the typical chaat places. Any ideas, why???
The green chutney was delicious......I loved it......and plan to make it quite often.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Aval vadam

Ever since I read about "Cooking with Pedatha" on food blogs from around the world, I have been wanting to lay my hands on a copy of this book. So, when I saw a copy in my local library, I wasted no time in borrowing it.
The book is beautifully written....the recipes are listed out with very clear and easy-to-follow instructions. Almost all the ingredients that the different recipes require are easily available in South Indian homes.
I tried out Pedatha's recipe for aval(poha/rice flakes) vadiyalu (vadam/sun dried fritters). Unlike most other vadams, this requires no cooking or stirring. It does take quite some time to roll out the poha into little balls but other than that, the procedure is pretty simple.
With the permission of the authors of "Cooking with Pedatha", here is the recipe for aval vadam.

What you need:
Rice flakes/aval/poha - 500 gms (Use thick variety)
Onions- 3 large, chopped fine
Green chillies - 10, chopped into thin, fine circles
Salt - as required

Soak the poha in plenty of water for 2 - 3 hours. Make sure that you do this in a large bowl as the poha will double in size. Drain the water and squeeze out any excess water from the poha. Add in the other ingredients. Mix well and shape into small balls. Lay it out on a plastic sheet and dry it under the sun. It will take three to four days for it to become completely dry. Once dry, store it in an airtight container.When required, heat some oil and deep fry a handful of these vadams at a time.
(The quantities mentioned are not exactly the same as in the book. These are the quantities that I used. The original recipe also has thinly chopped ladies finger in the list of ingredients)

Also check out my recipe for Ela vadam

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Rajma pulao

There, I said it. Anyone who says sunshine brings happiness hasn't lived through a Chennai summer. There's nothing that I like about these hot and humid days......sweat, dirt, grime, crankiness - this is what I associate with summer. Why is my part of the world so hot and humid when others are flooded with rain? Give me cool rains or a cold winter any day.
I love the mangoes and the jackfruits that grow in summer, but NOT THE HEAT.
That said, here is a recipe for rajma pulao that I saw on a TV show and recreated at home. What I like about this recipe is that it uses none of those spices like cardamom, clove or cinnamon which are usually used in abundance in any kind of pulao.
What you need:
Rajma(Red kidney beans) - 1 cup (soaked in plenty of water for 6-8 hours)
Onion - 1, chopped fine
Tomato - 2, chopped
Green chillies - 2 or 3
Ginger - a small piece, chopped fine
Garlic - a few cloves, chopped
Coconut milk - 1 cup
Rice - 1 cup
Salt - to taste
Chopped cauliflower - 1/2 cup(Finely chopped capsicum can also be added)
Corriander leaves - to garnish
Red chilli powder - to taste

Add salt to rajma and cook it in the water in which you soaked it. Once cooked, drain the water and set it aside.
Add 1 cup of coconut milk and 1.5 cups of water in which the rajma was cooked to the rice. Add a little bit of salt and cook in a pressure cooker for two whistles.
Heat a tsp of oil in a pan. Add some cumin seeds to it. When it sputters, add the green chillies, ginger, and garlic and fry. Then add the onions and saute until pinkish. Stir in the tomatoes and the cauliflower and fry well. Add the cooked rajma and some salt. Heat until all the moisture is absorbed.
Stir in the cooked rice. Mix well. Garnish with corriander leaves.

Will I be making this again???
That's a definite YES!!!
This is a wholesome and tasty pulao which does not require any accompaniment. The rajma water gives the rice a beautiful pinkish brown colour. The kidney beans, coconut milk and chillies combine to give the rice a very different and unique flavour and aroma.

This is my entry to the 13th edition of My Legume Love Affair, and event started by Susan of the Well Seasoned Cook and currently hosted by Sunshine Mom of Tongue Ticklers.

Though this was made on the stove top, it can be easily adapted to be made in the microwave. I would suggest using canned kidney beans if you are going to make it in the microwave. So, off it goes to Ramya who is hosting MEC - Protein rich food.
MEC is an event that attempts to show how easy it is to cook everyday food in the microwave and was started by Srivalli.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Avakkai - super spicy mango pickle

Avvaka has always been something that I've thought of as best left to the expert hands of mothers and grandmothers. That is, until I tried making it myself. Armed with my aunt R's fool proof recipe, I discovered just how easy it is to come up with a pickle that tastes better than any that you can buy at a store.
There is a special variety of mango called avakka manga which is used just to make this pickle. However, you can use any sour,firm, fully matured unripe mango. It has to be cut in a special way.....usually the person who sells these mangoes will cut them for you if you ask....they usually cut it in such a way that the shell surrounding the seed is retained.

Here's the recipe:
Cut mango - 5 cups
Red chilli powder - 1 cup
Turmeric powder - a few heaped teaspoonfuls
Salt - 1 cup
Gingely oil - 1 cup
Mustard powder - 1/4 cup (powder mustard in the small jar of your mixie and use it)

What to do:
Spread the cut mango on a clean white towel. Wash the mangoes before you get them cut, not after. Wipe dry. Rub the part around the shell well and remove the thin layer resembling plastic that you'll be able to see. Not all mango pieces will have this, but most of them do, and it is important to remove this.
Mix all the ingredients together. Stir well. Cover properly and set aside. Stir once a day for the next few days until the oil rises to the top. This usually takes about three to four days. Store in a glass container or a bharani (see first pic). If you are using a bharani, set aside a small quantity of the pickle in a bottle for daily use and then tie the mouth of the bharani with a clean white muslin cloth and close it.
Following this recipe exactly will give you a super hot and spicy pickle which is best enjoyed with curd rice. If you cannot tolerate high spice levels, modify the amount of red chilli powder used.This is my entry to Srivalli's Mango Mela.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Three years of blogging

I have learned that moving from one home to another is easy compared to the work involved in getting basic services shifted to the new apartment. It has taken me a little over a month to get my phone and broadband shifted to the new address. So now you know my break was not intentional. I have learned that if BSNL promises you that something will be done in two working days....they mean...well, they just don't mean it. Also, if your cooking gas company promises you that shifting your gas connection is a "five minute process, madam".......remember that it means you'll probably have only five minutes in a day to actually sit down and put your foot up....what with running around to get vouchers signed, addresses proved and identity established.
That said, Iam back.....I finally have my broadband up and running.....will be back to posting recipes soon.
My third bloggiversary went by without so much as a post from me, thanks to BSNL. When I started blogging, I never thought I'd be interested in it for so long. I still remember how I stumbled on to some food blogs and thought, Hey....I should do this too. That's it......there was no thinking twice....I started typing in a recipe....and that's how this blog was born. To use an age old cliche, three years have gone by really fast and I look forward to making lots of blog friends in my fourth year.