Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Janmashtami bakshanam

Tomorrow is Janmashtami. Here are some recipes that are traditionally made on this day.Please click on the name of the dish to go to my earlier post which has the recipes.
Uppu cheedai
Vella cheedai

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Change is a good thing, but some changes make me sad. When I was a child, Onam was a festival that brought a lot of joy.....we used to pluck flowers from our didn't matter which flowers we used....all that mattered is that we got up early, plucked flowers, washed the front yard and decorated it with flowers. Even when we had pookkalam competitions in school, most of us used flowers that grew in our homes. The sadya was cooked at home and enjoyed by the entire family.
These days, not many children are aware of flowers like mukkutti poo and thumba poo. With more and more people living in flats, these flowers have all but disappeared. Onam has become just another reason for stores to offer discounts and grocers to rack up their prices. The commercialization of a festival that is celebrated by all religions and castes saddens me.
To help myself feel better, my pookalam on all 10 days was made of flowers and leaves from the neighbourhood. My ona sadya consisted of some basic dishes that make this season a special one.
Kaalan is one of the dishes that I made. You don't have to wait for Onam to make kaalan. Any time you have a lot of curd left over, you can turn it into this delicious dish.

What you need:
Thick,sour Curd - 3 cups
Turmeric powder – 1/2tsp
Black pepper powder – to taste
Yam –1/3 cup, peeled, cut into pieces, cooked and drained of water
Coconut – 1/2 cup, grated
Green chilli – 1 or 2

For Seasoning:
Coconut oil
Curry leaves
Red chilli

Beat curd well without lumps. Add turmeric pwd,salt and pepper to it and let it boil on low flame until all the moisture evaporates and it is reduced to an almost solid consistency.
This can be stored in the refrigerator for upto a month.
On the day you want to make kaalan, take the required amount of the stored mixture. Add cooked yam to it. Grind coconut and green chillies to make a smooth paste. Mix it in. Boil for a few minutes.
Heat a tsp of coconut oil. Add broken red chilli, mustard seeds and curry leaves. When the seeds pop, add methi seeds and remove from heat. Pour this over kaalan.
This can be eaten mixed with rice, or as a side dish.

The quantities given are approximate, as I did not measure the ingredients. Please use your judgement.
The more sour the curd, the better the kaalan will taste.
Plantain can be used instead of or along with yam in this recipe.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Restaurant review - Mahamudra

A new restaurant from Isha life that offers food that is healthy and nutritious. Most of the food is made from ingredients that have been traditionally used in Indian households for ages. There are some that are extremely familiar, and some that are new because the ingredients used are different.
Old No. 50, New No. 117, Luz Church Road, Nageswara Rao Park, Mylapore, Chennai - 600 004, Tamil Nadu, India.
For those who are familiar with the Mylapore area, this is close to Rangachari.
Will I go there again?
The restaurant definitely does have its plus-es and minus-es.
For one, the ambiance is fantastic. The whole place is done up extremely is hard to believe that such a place exists on a busy street in Mylapore. They also have a spa, a fitness center and a boutique that offers some interesting, albeit overpriced stuff.
The food is basic...they say that it is made using the best of oils and the freshest of ingredients. The usual dosas and idlis are present, with variants using ragi flour and kambu flour.
We started off with a lentil soup which, according to the menu, was to be served with ragi thattu vadai. I was looking forward to tasting the vadai when the waiter brought us three bowls of soup and a plate of bread. When I asked for the vadai, the waiter said they were serving bread instead. No complaints about the tasted fresh and good, but I was disappointed that there was no vadai.
The soup was good, but then, you can't expect mashed, watered down and salted dal to taste bad, right?
The husband had a dosa (can't remember what it was called, but it had fenugreek in it). It was light, and crisp with absolutely no trace of oil in it.
I had a thali which had akki roti, parippu vadai, 2 salads, ragi koozhu(porridge),wild rice payasam,keerai poriyal, broken wheat bisibela, and broken wheat curd.
When I saw the menu and saw that the thali had all this, I wasn't sure if I'd be able to eat it all, but I wanted to taste everything that was on it. When the thali arrived at the table, I knew that I could eat all of it and still eat something else. The portions were small....there were 2-3 tsps of all the dishes. The akki roti and the vada were of the same size and both would easily fit into your palm comfortably with space to spare. Everything tasted good, but I definitely wouldn't recommend going here if you are ravenously hungry. I really like their idea of making a bisibela and curd-rice equivalent with broken wheat. That is something I am definitely going to try out at home.
All said and done, I don't think I would want to spend 250 Rs on a thali that has stuff that I could easily make at home for a fraction of the cost.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Rules and methi kofta

Rules, especially in this part of the world that I live in, are meant to be broken. If there is a No-parking board on the road, chances are you will find that it is surrounded by parked vehicles. If there is a No-entry sign, you will find vehicles making a detour through that road.
Now, one of the first things we learn while beginning to drive is that, if you want to turn right, you switch on the right indicator....or in the absence of it, stick your arm out and point to the right....or do the same thing with your left arm/left indicator if you want to turn left. Apparently, MTC bus drivers either were not told of this rule, or they are a confused lot who can't distinguish between left and right. It is always better to give MTC buses a wide never know in which direction they might move. The bus in front of you might be at the right most corner of the road, with the right indicator flashing, and then, before you know it, the driver might make a W...I...D....E turn to the left. On Indian roads, might is right....and there's nothing mightier than a bus that is overcrowded with five times the number of people it is built to accommodate.
Which rules, when broken, make your blood boil?
Now, on to a recipe, where the only rules is Dig in with gusto!!!
Methi koftas
(Recipe source : Mallika Badrinath's 100 Delicious Vegetarian Curries)
What you need:

For the koftas:
Fresh methi leaves - 2 small bunches(roughly half a cup)
Sour curd - 1 cup
Gram flour/besan - 1 cup
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Garam masala - 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1/4 tsp

Mix gram flour, turmeric powder and salt with curd to make a thick paste. Heat a tsp of oil. Add cumin seeds and methi leaves. Fry for a minute or two till the leaves start to soften. Reduce the flame and add the flour paste. Keep stirring until it forms a thick mass. Once cool, mix in the garam masala and shape into balls.
After shaping into koftas, I used a paniyaram pan to fry these. You can deep fry in hot oil if that is what you choose to do, but believe me, there is no difference in the taste and this way, you use very little oil.
Add a little oil to each of the depressions in the pan and fry the koftas for a few minutes until the bottom starts to turn brown.

Turn over and fry until the other side turns crisp and brown.

Arrange the koftas in a serving dish and set aside.

For the gravy:
Grind together 1 onion, 2 tomatoes, a small piece of ginger, a green chilli, 1/2 tsp of dhania, 1/4 tsp of turmeric powder, a little sugar, salt, and red chilli powder.
Heat 2 tsp of oil in a kadai. Add the ground paste to it and fry on low flame until the raw smell is gone. Add a little water if you feel that it has become too thick.
Just before serving, pour this gravy on top of the koftas and garnish with corriander leaves.

Serve with parathas or rotis.

This goes to Divya's Show me your curry event.