Sunday, January 19, 2014

Super soft idlis - the quintessential South Indian breakfast

How we perceive food is influenced by our regular eating habits and the culture that we are from. While idli is considered healthy,light and easy on the stomach as it is oil-free and steamed by most South Indians, I recently came across a person who believes that idli is a very heavy food as it contains dal.
Idli is something that is made in my household quite often. In spite of that, I have never thought of posting it on the blog so far, as it is something that I consider to be simple, everyday food. However, many friends have spoken to me about how difficult they find it to make soft, fluffy idlis. Hence, this post.

What you need:
Idli rice* - 4 cups
Urad dal - 1 cup
Methi/fenugreek seeds - 1 tbsp

Wash the rice and dal and soak separately in plenty of water for at least 8 hours. Add the methi seeds to the urad dal after washing the dal.*
After an hour or two of soaking, pop the urad dal with the water in which it is soaking into the refrigerator. *
Grind the urad dal, along with the cold water until it becomes light and soft. This takes close to half an hour in a grinder.
Add the soaked rice, in batches, with water if necessary, and grind until smooth. This will take another 20-25 minutes. In the last few minutes of grinding, add in some salt.
Set aside the ground batter over night to ferment.
In the morning, grease the idli plates, pour the batter into it and steam for 10-12 minutes.
Let it cool for 5 minutes and then serve hot with molaga podi, chutney or sambar.

Notes :
* Idli rice is not the same as the regular rice used for cooking. It is labelled and sold as idli rice in most major grocery stores.
* Methi seeds can be soaked with either rice or dal. However, since the urad dal is ground for a longer time in the grinder, I have found that the seeds are well ground if they are soaked with the urad dal, whereas, if you were to soak it with the rice, you might find little brown flakes of methi in your idlis.
* Putting the urad dal in the refrigerator is optional. However, I have found that the yield of batter is significantly more if this is done.

This is my post for Blogging Marathon #36, under the theme Oil-free breakfast.
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 36
This is also my 14th post for Blogathon 2014, a daily blogging event for the month of January. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Peppy tomato oats to start the day with

Masala oats (oats in different Indian flavours) have been doing the rounds for a while now. Somehow, I have never been tempted to buy these. The only way I have eaten my oats till now is cooked and then mixed with milk, nuts and raisins. However, this recipe that I saw on a TV channel tempted me enough to buy Saffola masala oats. Loaded with vegetables, this is a great way to start your day.

What you need:
Saffola masala oats (I used the peppy tomato flavour) - 2 pkts (40 gm each)
Onion - 2, chopped fine
Ginger - a small piece, julienned
Green chilli - 2, minced
Carrot - 1, grated
Capsicum - 1/2 of a large one, chopped fine
Tomato - 1, chopped fine
Fresh green peas - a handful
Moong bean sprouts - a handful
Salt - to taste (Be careful with the salt as the oats comes with salt added to it)
Oil - 1 tsp
Jeera/cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp

Heat oil in a pan. Add the cumin and mustard seeds. When the seeds pop, add the green chilli, ginger and onions. Saute until onions turn translucent. Add in the rest of the vegetables(except tomato) followed by the masala oats. Mix well, lower the heat, cover and let it cook for 2-3 minutes. You do not need to add water, as the water from the vegetables is sufficient for the oats to be cooked. Add in the tomatoes. Stir again and heat covered until the oats is well cooked. (takes 2-4 minutes). Switch off the heat and top with a handful of chopped corrainder leaves.
Serve hot.

This is my post for Blogging Marathon #36, under the theme Oil-free breakfast.
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 36
This is also my 13th post for Blogathon 2014, a daily blogging event for the month of January. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Mor kuzhambu and roast potatoes

The final post for this week's Blogging Marathon, brings you a classic combo from the South Indian state of Tamilnadu - mor kuzhambu (spiced buttermilk gravy with coconut and green chillies) served with a side dish of spicy, roast potatoes. In the Kerala Iyer community, we make mor kuzhambu with ripe plantains and call it pazham (plantain) mor koottan. However, here I have stuck to more traditional vegetables and used ash gourd. Other vegetables that can be used are colocasia/arbi and ladies finger.

What you need
For the mor kuzhambu :
Ash gourd - 1/2 cup, peeled and chopped
Sour curd - 3 cups, beaten well.
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Grated coconut - 3/4 cup
Green chilli - 3
Curry leaves - a few
Oil - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Methi seeds - 1/4 tsp
Urad dal - 1/2 tsp
Red chilli - 1, broken

Grind the grated coconut and green chilli, along with half a cup of curd, to a smooth paste.
Add some water to the ash gourd (just enough water to cover the vegetable) along with turmeric powder and salt. Cover and heat until the gourd is cooked. Add the ground paste and let it boil well. Reduce the heat. Add the remaining curd and heat until it just begins to froth. Take care to not let the mixture boil.
Switch off heat. Heat oil in a small pan. Add mustard seeds, urad dal, broken red chilli, curry leaves and methi seeds. When the mustard pops, pour this tempering over the kuzhambu.

For potato roast :
Potato -2 large, boiled, peeled and cubed
Oil - 2 to 3 tbsp
Sambar powder/red chilli powder - to taste
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp

Heat oil in a pan. Add the mustard seeds and some curry leaves. When the seeds pop, add the diced potatoes,  salt, and sambar powder. Stir to mix well and let it roast at low heat, until well browned.

Serve a generous helping of the kuzhambu with rice and roast potatoes on the side.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Idiyappam and tirunalveli sodhi

Traditionally, string hoppers (idiyappam) are made with rice flour. However, ever since I started using ragi, I have almost entirely stopped making this dish using rice flour. This is both a tastier and healthier variation. I usually pair it with vegetable stew, but this time,  I have tried a side dish that has its origin in the Tirunalveli district of Tamilnadu. Vegetables, lightly spiced and cooked in a watery coconut milk broth,  this dish is served to a newly married bridegroom by his mother-in-law and so, is also known as mappillai (son-in-law) sodhi. It is very similar to the stew that is made in Kerala. The only difference is that there is a final tempering of curry leaves and cumin seeds here and also an addition of lemon juice.

What you need:
For the idiyappam (string hoppers) :
Ragi/nachni/kezhvaragu/finger millet flour - 1 cup
Rice flour - 1/4 cup
Salt - to taste
Water - 2 cups
Oil - 1 tsp

Boil the water and add a tsp of oil to it. Add salt to the flour and dry roast the flours in a pan until the raw smell goes away. Add the boiling water to the flour, little by little, mixing it well with a spatula until it forms a pliable dough. Wet your hands and knead the dough until smooth.
While the dough is still hot, using an idiyappam press, squeeze it out into circles and steam in an idli pan for 10-12 minutes.

For the sodhi :

Potato - 1,peeled and diced
Carrot - 1. peeled and diced
Onion - 1, chopped fine
Beans - a few, chopped
Green peas - a handful
Thick coconut extract - 1/2 cup
Ginger - a one inch piece
Green chilli - 2
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Salt - to taste
Coconut oil - 2 tsp 
Juice of half a lemon
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - a few

Cook the vegetables in a cup of water until soft,but not mushy. In a pan, heat a tsp of oil. Crush the ginger and garlic coarsely and add this to the pan. Saute a bit and then add in the onions and heat till they turn translucent. Add the cooked veggies along with the water and bring to a boil. Add the coconut extract and heat for a minute or two,  until it is heated through, but does not begin to boil. Switch off the heat and then stir in the juice of half a lemon. Heat a tsp of oil. add the cumin seeds and curry leaves to it and heat. Pour this tempering over the sodhi .
Serve hot with idiyappam.

This post is part of the Blogging Marathon under the theme Combo dishes. Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 36
This is also my 9th post for Blogathon 2014, a daily blogging event for the month of January. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Aloo tikki chole

January is a special month for us for many reasons. For one, it is the beginning of a new year and so, a time for renewed beliefs and hopes. It is also the birth month of the little girl and she starts planning her birthday right from January 1st. Everyday, she adds people to her invitee list and comes up with ideas for possible dishes on the menu.
This aloo tikki chole chaat is something that is filling, looks good and tastes good too. Crisp and perfectly cooked potato patties topped with a spicy, warm chickpeas curry and then layered with chopped raw onion, cilantro, sev and a tangy chutney. What's not to love about it, eh?

What you need :
For the tikki :
Potato - 4, medium sized, boiled, peeled and mashed
Bread - 4 slices
Salt - to taste (Please resist the temptation to add onions, cilantro, garam masala or any other condiment)

For the chole :
Kabuli chana/white chick peas - 1 cup (soaked in water overnight)
Onion - 1, chopped
Tomato - 2 , chopped
Ginger - a one inch piece, chopped
Garlic - 4 cloves
Black peppercorn - 4
Clove - 4
Cardamom - 3
Chole masala - 2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Oil - 2 tbsp
Salt - to taste

For serving:
Onion - 1, chopped very fine
Corriander - chopped fine
Tamarind-date chutney

To make tikkis :
Dip the bread in water. Squeeze out all the water and add it to the mashed potatoes. Add salt. Mix well and shape into patties. Shallow fry on a tawa drizzling a little oil over the patties until well browned on both sides.
To make chole:
Pressure cook the chick peas until soft.
Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a pan. Add the black pepper, clove and cardamom. Fry a little and then add chopped ginger, garlic and onion. Saute till onions are translucent. Add the tomatoes and cook till they soften.
Let this cool and then grind to a smooth paste.
Heat the remaining oil in a kadai. Add the ground paste, turmeric powder and the cooked chick peas. Add salt and chole masala. Reduce the heat and let it boil for 15-20 minutes or until the chole thickens.

To serve:
Arrange two tikkis on a plate. Pour a generous helping of chole on the tikkis. Top with some chopped onion, corriander, chutney and sev.

This post is part of the Blogging Marathon under the theme Combo dishes. Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 36
This is also my 7th post for Blogathon 2014, a daily blogging event for the month of January.