Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Holidays!

It has been a great pleasure knowing all of you, interacting with you and enjoying your delicious recipes. I hope to see more and more of your holiday recipes come through this holiday season. Here is wishing you all a merry Christmas and a very happy, prosperous, fun and love-filled New Year!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Thayir (Yogurt) Bread

As soon as I spotted this recipe at Madhuri's blog, my dinner was decided instantly that day. On my way from work, I grabbed a freshly baked loaf of garlic and herbs bread and had a hearty meal. In addition to being very different from the traditional bread combos this was super easy to make. I also realized that this could be a very quick starter recipe when you are in rush to cook for a potluck party or something. I made it the traditional South Indian thayir vadai way without adding any chat seasonings (only because I ran out of them).

Ingredients (3 - 4 servings):

Fresh bread loaf - 1/2 if big or 1 if small (you can use any variety that you prefer)
Plain yogurt - 4 to 5 cups (using a measuring cup) whisked evenly with about a cup (using a measuring cup) of water
Salt to taste

To grind into a paste:

Grated/powdered coconut - about 2 cups (using a measuring cup)
Green chillies - 5 to 6 (vary this to suit your taste)

For seasoning:

Cooking oil - 2 teaspoons
Mustard seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
Asafoetida - a couple of pinches

Procedure:

1. Cut the bread loaf into 1 inch squares (you can trim the edges if you want to, but I didn't) and set aside.
2. Heat some oil in a small pan, pop mustard seeds, add asafoetida and transfer the contents to the whisked yogurt and mix well.
3. Mix the ground paste of coconut and green chillies with the whisked yogurt thoroughly along with some salt.
4. Pour 1/3rd of the yogurt mixture on to a flat and wide container and carefully arrange the cut bread squares from step 1.
5. Pour the remaining yogurt mixture on the bread covering every little exposed surface of the bread and garnish with freshly chopped cilantro.

Note:
Like Madhuri's says, you can add all the chat seasonings to it and garnish with grated carrots as well and that will be a nice twist from this preparation :-).

I couldn't wait to have it, so I had to eat it the instant I made it ;-), but you can serve it chilled. I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it & even made this at a friend's place the week after.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Egg Dosa

I came across egg dosa for the first time in Rohini's blog. Since I'm an ardent egg fan, I tried it the same day and just loved it :-). The dosas came out to be very soft.

Ingredients (makes 3 - 4 dosas):

Eggs - 2
Dosa batter - 2 cups (using a measuring cup)
Oil for making dosas
Salt to taste

Procedure:

1. Beat the eggs thoroughly in a bowl, mix in the dosa batter and adjust salt.
2. Make dosas the usual way and enjoy!

I had some left over potato masala and treated myself to awesome egg masala dosas :-).

If you are looking for a slight variation in dosas and if you are an egg lover, I strongly recommend this.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Simple Carrot Fry

Carrot fry/curry is of the easiest ways to make something totally yummy out of carrots. Normally, I add carrots to almost all the mixed vegetable dishes I make as they add a little sweetness to the dish, but don't make anything just out of carrots itself. But this curry has a great flavor that it makes me forget that I'm eating carrots :-).

Ingredients (2 - 3 servings):

Fresh carrots - 4 to 5 washed, peeled and chopped
Cooking oil - a couple of teaspoons
Mustard seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
Urad dhal - 1/2 teaspoon
Asafoetida - a couple of pinches
Dried red chillies - a couple of them broken by hand
Grated/powdered coconut (optional) - about 2 teaspoons
Red chilli powder (optional) - 1 teaspoon (vary this to suit your taste)
Salt to taste

Procedure:

1. In a pan, heat some cooking oil, pop mustard seeds, add the urad dhal, asafoetida and dried red chillies and fry until the urad dhal turns light golden brown in color.
2. Add the chopped carrots to step 1, mix well, cover and cook on low heat for about 10 - 15 minutes or until the carrots get cooked.
3. Add some red chilli powder and salt to step 2 and fry the carrots on medium heat for another 5 - 7 minutes and turn off the stove. You can add some grated/powdered coconut now, but otherwise the carrot fry is ready to go.

This goes great with rice and sambar or rasam.

A Backlog Of Awards Presented!

I've been intending to post this for a couple of weeks now, but never got to it. Blame it on my job!!! :-(. Even though I'm late, I wish to let all my blogger friends know that I have a whole new family here and I totally cherish this experience. Thank you for your constant encouragement and support :-).

Rohini has been kind enough to pass on these awards:

Babli has shared these awards:

Asha has showered me with these awards:

Sandhya has given me these awards:

The following blogger excellence award has been passed on to me by Aruna.

Thank you ladies for sharing the awards and keeping the spirits high in the blogosphere!

Now, it is my turn to share all of the awards from this post with Lata Raja, Mahimaa, Shanthi, Sanghi, Sangeetha, Pavithra and Parita. Please collect your awards and continue posting your mouthwatering recipes!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Simple Cauliflower Fry

This is one of the easiest dishes to make except for the time to clean and cut cauliflower.

Ingredients (about 2 - 3 servings):

Cauliflower - 1 big, washed and cut into small florets
Cooking oil - 1.5 tablespoons

Mustard seeds - 1/2 teaspoon

Urad dhal - 1 teaspoon

Asafoetida - a couple of pinches

Red chilli powder - 1 teaspoon (vary this to suit your taste)

Salt to taste


Procedure:

1. In a wide pan, heat some cooking oil, pop mustard seeds, add the urad dhal and asafoetida and fry until the urad dhal turns light golden brown in color.

2. To step 1, add the cut cauliflower florets, mix everything well and fry on medium high heat for about 3 - 4 minutes with constant stirring.

3. Once the cauliflower starts browning, add some red chilli powder and salt and fry until it gets cooked and turns nice and crispy. Turn off the stove.


A good variation would be to add about a handful of chopped onions to step 1 and fry them until golden brown before moving on to step 2. You can also add some chopped potatoes along with the cauliflower florets.


Tip:

I have noticed that separating the florets by hand instead of chopping them using a knife keeps them intact during the cooking process and that way I can cut them to the size I desire.


This goes a side dish with rice and sambar/rasam/plain yogurt. I even have it as a snack sometimes.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

My Mom's Style Vegetable Pulao

When my sisters and I were little, vegetable pulao was always on our list of things to order at a restaurant. We would always ask our Mom to make it for us at home. Little did we know that she didn't know to make pulao type dishes. One fine day, she surprised us with this veggie pulao and we were really happy and pleased that she made such a tasty dish for us. Apparently, she learned it from one of her colleagues and also passed it on to my grand parents' family. Till date, whenever my grandma makes veggie pulao, she asks us if it tastes similar to my Mom's :-) as she thinks pulao type dishes are not her area of expertise. It is not that she cannot make it well but just that pulao was never in the list of things that she learned to cook from her mother (my grandma and Mom are experts in making traditional Brahmin style dishes though). And, having tried different types of pulaos myself, I have learned that this is not a very unique recipe, but definitely one that will bring back all those childhood memories that I cherish :-).

Ingredients (4 - 5 servings):

Basmati rice - 2 cups uncooked
Cooking oil - 3 to 4 teaspoons
Onions - 1/2 finely chopped
Tomatoes - 1/2 finely chopped
Veggies of your choice - about 2 cups (I always like using a lot of cauliflower and peas in my pulao and don't even bother with any other veggies)
Red chilli powder - 1 teaspoon
Garam masala (optional) - 1/2 teaspoon
Fresh cilantro - a few strands finely chopped

To grind into a fine paste:

Onions - 1 big
Tomatoes - 1 big
Ginger - 1 inch piece (roughly)
Garlic - about 3 to 4 cloves peeled
Fennel seeds - 1 teaspoon
Star anise - a couple (some blenders don't handle this well, so you might want to break it into pieces before putting them in your blender/mixer)
Cloves - 3 to 4
Cinnamon - 1 inch stick broken into small pieces
Bay leaves - 1 or 2
Green chillies - 5 to 6 (vary this to suit your taste)
Fresh cilantro (optional) - a few strands broken by hand
Grated/powdered coconut (optional) - 1 tablespoon

Procedure:

1. Grind the ingredients from the above mentioned list and set aside.
2. In a wide pan, heat some cooking oil (you can be a little generous here actually), fry the chopped onions first, followed by the chopped tomatoes and once the onions have turned light golden brown in color and the tomatoes have cooked well, add the paste from step 1, mix in well along with some salt, red chilli powder and garam masala and cook for about 5 minutes on medium heat with constant stirring.
4. Now add the veggies to step 3 (I don't usually boil the veggies beforehand, but just let them cook in the gravy instead so that they don't end up mashed in the end), put the lid on and cook for about 15 more minutes on low heat.
5. You can take the lid off now and cook the rest of gravy for 15 more minutes or until the oil leaves the sides, on medium to high heat with constant stirring. Turn off the stove.
6. Wash and cook the rice and once it is done, spread it in a wide pan or a dish with a wide base, add a couple of teaspoons of cooking oil and the finely chopped cilantro to the rice, mix it in gently and set aside for about 15 minutes.
7. Mix the contents from step 5 with the rice gently, exercising caution not to break the rice. Serve with the favorite raita of your choice and/or potato chips.

It does take a little long to prepare this meal, but every bit is worth it :-). Some of my relatives prepare this by cooking the veggies, rice and spices together and that has a whole different taste to it.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Moar Kuzhambu

Moar kuzhambu is what I make when I don't have the enthusiasm to do any extensive cooking. I always have some kind of podi (instant spice powder to mix with rice) at hand and have podi rice with moar kuzhambu.

Ingredients (3 - 4 servings):


Plain yogurt - 2 cups (using a measuring cup)

Asafoetida - a couple of pinches

Turmeric powder - a couple of pinches

Salt to taste


To grind to a paste:


Green chillies - 2 to 3 (vary this to suit your taste)

Fresh ginger - 1/2 inch stick

Grated/powdered coconut - 2 tablespoons

Channa dhal soaked in warm water for about 15 minutes - 1.5 tablespoons


For seasoning:


Cooking oil - 2 teaspoons

Mustard seeds - 1/2 teaspoon

Dried red chillies - 1 broken into half

Fresh cilantro - a few strands broken by hand

Procedure:
1. Grind green chillies, fresh ginger, grated/powdered coconut and the soaked channa dhal with a little water into a smooth paste and set aside.
2. Churn the yogurt into buttermilk in a deep vessel with about 2 cups (using a measuring cup) of water, add asafoetida, turmeric powder, salt and the paste from step 1 to it, mix well and heat on the stove top on medium heat for about 5 - 10 minutes until the mixture gets warm and turn off the stove. Exercise caution lest it will curdle.
3. In a small pan, heat some cooking oil, pop mustard seeds, add the dried red chillies and transfer the contents immediately into the buttermilk mixture from step 2.
4. Garnish with a few strands of fresh cilantro.

Note:
1. If you have some sour yogurt left, this is the best dish to use that up. I add some sour cream sometimes to add that extra richness and creaminess to the dish :-).
2. You can add veggies and vadas to this dish instead of keeping it plain.
3. Another variation in taste and flavor could be brought about by using dried red chillies instead of green ones and adding about a teaspoon of cumin seeds while grinding. You can also omit the ginger.

Yet another easy dish is ready!!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Paruppu Thogayal

This is one absolutely simple thogayal that goes very well with poondu (garlic) rasam. Let me get straight to the recipe without blabbing much here ;-).

Ingredients (2 - 3 servings):

Cooking oil - a couple of drops
Toor dhal - 1/2 cup
Dried red chillies - 1 or 2 split into half
Salt to taste

Procedure:

1. Heat a couple of drops of cooking oil and fry the toor dhal first until it turns light golden brown in color followed by the dried red chillies.
2. Soak the fried toor dhal in water (just enough to cover the dhal) for about 15 - 20 minutes.
3. Grind the soaked toor dhal, fried red chillies along with some salt into a thick paste and your thogayal is ready.

You can mix the thogayal and ghee (clarified butter) with hot, steamed rice and it will take you to heaven.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Simple Semiya (Vermicelli) Upma

This is a quick fix breakfast/snack item if you have semiya (vermicelli) at hand. I never get bored of it :-).

Ingredients (1 serving):

Semiya (vermicelli) - 1/2 cup (using a measuring cup)
Cooking oil - 1 full tablespoon
Mustard seeds - 1/4 teaspoon
Channa dhal - 1 teaspoon
Asafoetida - a couple of pinches
Dried red chillies - a couple broken into half
Curry leaves - a few
Water - 1 cup (using a measuring cup)
Salt to taste

Procedure:

1. Dry fry semiya in a pan until it turns light golden brown in color and set aside.
2. In a deep vessel, heat some cooking oil, pop mustard seeds, add the channa dhal, asafoetida, dried red chillies and curry leaves and fry until the channa dhal turns light golden brown in color.
3. To step 2 add 1 cup (using a measuring cup) of water (I use semiya:water in the ratio 1:2 and it comes out perfect every single time), some salt and bring it to a boil.
4. Add the semiya from step 1 to step 3, mix the contents well and keep stirring until the semiya gets cooked in the water.
5. Now, turn off the stove, put the lid on and let it stand for 5 minutes.

Optionally, you can add some chopped onions to step 2 and fry them until golden brown before proceeding with step 3. You can serve the hot upma as is or with sugar, plain yogurt or the favorite chutney of your choice.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Stuffed Italian Peppers

When I first saw the Italian peppers at the grocers, the first thing that came to my mind was bajjis (an appetizer made by dipping the veggies in a spiced up batter and deep frying them). A while ago, I noticed a friend of mine using them to make stuffed pepper dishes. I thought it was a good way of using up the left over curries and turn them into a totally new and tasty dish. Btw, those peppers are no where close to hot. In fact, they have a slight sweetness to them and will be great for bajjis as well.

Ingredients (about 2 servings):

Italian peppers - 4 to 5
Any left over dry curry - about 3/4 to 1 cup (using a measuring cup)
(I make this often with left over potato curry, but you can use any dry curry that you have)
Cooking oil - a couple of teaspoons
Black pepper powder - a few pinches
Salt to sprinkle

Procedure:

1. Wash the peppers, slit around the cap and take the cap and seeds off. If you are filled with patience, you can use a small knife and take away the veins too and make more room for your curry filling :-).
2. Fill each pepper with the left over curry and set aside.
3. In a wide pan, heat a couple of teaspoons of cooking oil, place the peppers when the oil gets hot and sprinkle some salt and pepper. Now, turn and cook them uniformly until you see that nice brown char on them. This doesn't even take long since your stuffing inside is already cooked. Isn't it a really sweet makeover of leftovers??!! :-)

These taste great with chappathis and also parathas. Needless to say, you can also have them with rice dishes.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Kuzhi Paniyaaram

I had not had kuzhi paniyaaram until I came across this in Mahimaa's blog. I asked my special friend to get the paniyaara kal (the cast iron pan used to make sweet and savory paniyaarams) from India and tried this really easy and yummy snack :-).

Ingredients (about 2 - 3 servings):

Dosa batter - about 3 cups (using a measuring cup)

Onions - about 1/4 cup (using a measuring cup) finely chopped

Ginger - 1 teaspoon finely chopped

Green chillies - 2 finely chopped

Oil - a drop for each hole in the paniyaara kal

Salt to taste


Procedure:


1. Mix the chopped onions, ginger, green chillies and salt to taste with the dosa batter.

2. Heat the paniyaara kal and add a drop of oil into each hole once it gets hot.
3. Spoon the batter from step 1 into the holes and cook both sides by flipping until golden brown in color.

This can be had as is or with any chutney/pickle of your choice. I had some puli inji in my refrigerator and it tasted good with it :-).

Dosas & Idlis

I started making idlis and dosas from scratch only after I came to the US. Until then, I had only used the already made batter. Anyhow, a roommate who became a very good friend of mine, first taught me how to make dosa batter using just the regular rice instead of raw rice. She also taught me a little trick for the batter to ferment well as winter lasts for almost 4 - 5 months in the part of the US that I live. I'm going to jot that down here so that others could benefit from it.

Dosa

Ingredients:

Split white urad dhal - 1 cup (using a measuring cup)
Uncooked rice - 2.5 cups (using a measuring cup)
Cooked rice - 1/2 cup (using a measuring cup)
(Using cooked rice is the trick to quick fermentation)
Salt to taste

Procedure:

1. Soak the urad dhal and uncooked rice separately for about 5 - 6 hours.
2. Wet grind the urad dhal and rice (the soaked uncooked rice and the cooked rice) separately such that the batter falls easily but is not runny, mix them both in a container and let it sit outside for about 12 hours (this is variable) for it to ferment and rise.
3. Once the batter is well-fermented, add salt and refrigerate.

You can keep it for nearly 1 - 2 weeks and enjoy a whole variety of dosas with a wide range of chutneys and other side dishes.

Idli

Ingredients:

Split white urad dhal - 1 cup (using a measuring cup)
Coarse idli rava - 2 cups (using a measuring cup)
Salt to taste

Procedure:

1. Soak the urad dhal and idli rava separately for about 4 - 5 hours.
2. Wet grind the urad dhal, drain all the water from the soaked rava and mix the ground urad dhal with the rava.
3. Set it aside for about 12 hours (this is variable) for the batter to ferment and rise.
4. Add salt after the batter has fermented and refrigerate.

Even this batter keeps for about 1 - 2 weeks and you can enjoy different varieties of idlis :-)

Note:
1. My Mom says adding salt after fermentation has taken place helps keeps the batter from turning more sour.
2. Sometimes if it gets way too cold here, I heat the oven (conventional) for a couple of minutes, turn it off, wait for a few more minutes and place the batter inside the oven with a plate underneath so that the warmth enhances the fermentation process. You can also consider wrapping the batter container in a piece of woolen cloth.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Koththavarangaai (Cluster Beans) Fry

Cluster beans, called koththavarangaai in Tamil, is one of my favorites. Frankly, I like this beans better than the other varieties. Here is one very simple fry with koththavarangaai.

Ingredients (about 2 servings):

Cluster beans - about 1/4 lb cut into about 1 inch pieces
Cooking oil - 2 tablespoons
Mustard seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
Urad dhal - 1 teaspoon
Asafoetida - a couple of pinches
Red chilli powder (optional) - 1 teaspoon (vary this to suit your taste)
Salt to taste

Procedure:

1. Wash, trim the edges, remove the veins from the sides and cut cluster beans into 1 inch pieces and set aside.
2. In a wide pan, heat some cooking oil, pop mustard seeds, add urad dhal and asafoetida and fry until the urad dhal turns light golden brown in color.
3. To step 2, add the cut cluster beans from step 1, mix everything well, put a lid on and cook on low heat for about 5 - 7 minutes until the beans becomes slighlty tender.
4. To step 3, add some salt and red chilli powder (if you need that little extra kick :-)) and fry it on medium heat until the beans gets cooked thoroughly. It roughly takes about 15 - 20 minutes.
5. Serve as a side dish with rice and sambar/rasam.

If you add a little chilli powder, you can have this even with chappathis.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Back With Awards!

Life has been terribly busy for me lately and to top it off, I pinched my sciatic nerve on my left leg and was going for physical therapy for a couple of weeks in between. Although I couldn't get to blogging, I've been following all my dear blogger friends regularly and even tried out a few recipes from their blogs. Now that things have eased a little and my leg is feeling better, I thought I'd first thank Sanghi and Kitchen Queen (too bad that I don't know her actual name... sorry!) for their encouragement by passing on these awards which helped keep my spirits high over the last month :-). I apologize for the delay and thanks for thinking about me among your other friends!




Before I get to posting recipes, here is a picture of my rose bush with the last bloom for this season. I admired those flowers (they were as big as the size of my palm and were very fragrant) all through the summer and am happy that the plant survived the extreme summer that we had this year (I hope it survives the winter too, just like last year... we'll see...).

I'll see you guys soon in another post. Take care everyone.

Monday, August 24, 2009

My Style Dhal

This may not be a unique recipe, but was so different to me about 5 years back (during my memorable student days), when I made this one fine day - just by following my instincts for the use of ingredients, as I got terribly bored of the plain dhal that I used to make. Later on I came to know that many people make dhal this way. Nevertheless, I'm going to have it here just for old times sake :-).

Ingredients (about 2 - 3 servings):

Uncooked toor dhal - 1 cup (using a measuring cup)
Cooking oil - 2 tablespoons
Mustard seeds - 1 teaspoon
Green chillies - 2 to 3 finely chopped
Urad dhal - 1/2 teaspoon
Cumin seeds - 1 teaspoon
Asafoetida - 1/4 teaspoon
Red chilli powder - 1/2 teaspoon (vary this to suit your taste)
Coriander powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Turmeric powder - 1/4 teaspoon
Onion - 1 medium sized finely chopped
Tomato - 1 medium sized finely chopped
Curry leaves - a few
Cilantro for garnish - a few strands finely chopped
Salt to taste

Procedure:

1. Pressure cook toor dhal with turmeric powder in 3 cups (using a measuring cup) of water (I normally use dhal and water in the ratio 1:3) for about 3 whistles and set aside.
2. In a pan, heat some cooking oil, pop mustard seeds, add cumin seeds, urad dhal, chopped green chillies, asafoetida and curry leaves and fry until the urad dhal turns light golden brown in color.
3. To step 2, add the chopped onions and fry until they turn golden brown.
4. Add the tomatoes to step 3 and fry until they get cooked.
5. Add red chilli powder, coriander powder and some salt to the contents of the pan from step 4 and fry for a couple of minutes.
6. Transfer the contents from step 5 to the pressure cooked dhal, mix well (you can add some water if the dhal is too thick), bring it to a boil and turn off the stove.
7. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with hot, steamed rice or rotis.

Sometimes, I add about a teaspoon each of finely chopped ginger and finely chopped garlic to step 2 for a variation in flavor.

Rita, an amazing friend of mine, makes this dhal regularly. She uses all kinds of lentils in her recipe and it tastes great! :-).

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Cucumber Kosumalli or Kosambari

Kosumalli or Kosambari (as it is called in Kannada), I hear, is a dish that gets its origin from Karnataka. There is no real cooking involved in making this and yet the ultimate result is this hell of a healthy dish. How sweet is that???!!! Now, a very dear friend of mine, Rita, had given me a couple of cucumbers from her garden and a few fresh basil leaves and I immediately thought of this nourishing salad to enjoy (yes, you heard me right and I DID say the words "salad" and 'enjoy") :-).


Ingredients (about 2 - 3 servings):

Cucumbers - peeled and finely chopped about 2 cups (using a measuring cup)
Moong dhal - 1/4 cup (using a measuring cup)
Salt to taste

For seasoning:

Cooking oil - 1 teaspoon
Mustard seeds - 1/4 teaspoon
Urad dhal - 1/4 teaspoon
Green chillies - 1 or 2 cut into small pieces
Asafoetida - a couple of pinches
Cilantro - a couple of strands finely chopped
Grated/powdered coconut (optional) - a couple of tablespoons
Fresh basil leaves (optional) - a couple finely chopped

Procedure:

1. Soak moong dhal in water in a bowl for about an hour, drain the water and set aside. Using warm/hot water will speed up the soaking process :-).
2. Add the finely chopped cucumber, cilantro, basil and grated/powdered coconut to the moong dhal and mix well.
3. In a small pan, heat some cooking oil, pop mustard seeds, add the urad dhal, asafoetida and green chillies and fry until the urad dhal turns light golden brown in color and pour the mixture over the contents of step 2, add some salt, mix well once again and bam!!!! What you've got is one tasty salad!!!!

This is very common in most of the South Indian Brahmin style wedding menu and also special religious functions and one such wedding was my first encounter with this salad. Btw, you can use grated carrots or be innovative and try other veggies in the place of cucumber :-).

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Kreativ Blogger Award

First of all, I wholeheartedly thank Ann @ Happy and Healthy Cooking for passing on this wonderful award. I'm so proud to have found friends like her and am only inspired more now :-).

The award calls for 7 interesting things about me and here they are, although I leave the "interesting" part to the interpretation of the reader :-).

1. I am a great fan of music - North/South Indian classical, melodies, folk, hip-hop and at times heavy metal. I've a passion for Carnatic music. Having been trained in the same for nearly 13 years, am now giving classes for the first time.
2. I am a vegetarian for the most part (I eat eggs and only Indian dry chicken dishes), but have a COMPLETELY non-vegetarian boyfriend who seems to like almost all the dishes that I make. I consider that a plus :-).
3. I cook what I crave and I mean it. On one of those extremely cold winter days during my master's days, my friends and I were sitting in the dorm lounge watching a late night movie and all through the movie I kept telling them that I crave hot bajjis. Once the movie got over (around 1 or 2 AM), I did make bajjis and we all went to bed after eating hot bajjis. How's that for craving?
4. I dress up the way I want to and do not care much about what others think of it. It doesn't mean my dressing sense is way off the chart, but sometimes I don't care much about the normal trend among people and do something different, especially when it comes to bright colored clothes (I love 'em).
5. I am a perfectionist and a neatness freak which might get those who live with me into trouble ;-). My Mom had a hard time when she came to visit me last summer and one fine day she asked me not to bother too much at least until the time she was here. Among my sisters (I have two younger sisters), I'm well-known as the one who shouts when things are not in place.
6. I have a thing for German cars and simply love my Volkswagen Passat.
7. Aside my passion for Carnatic music, my hobbies include painting, origami, blogging and gardening.

And now, it is time to pass on this award along with the rules to 7 other friends (although I would have loved to pass it on to everyone) and here they are:

Sunitha
Tina Noble
Tadakala Rakesh
Sweta
Justin
Preety
Ramya Vijaykumar

Here are the rules:
1. You must thank the person who has given you the award.
2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
3. Link to the person who has nominated you for the award.
4. Name 7 things about yourself that people might find interesting.
5. Nominate 7 other Kreativ Bloggers.
6. Post links to the 7 blogs you nominate.
7. Leave a comment on which of the blogs to let them know they have been nominated.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Karuveppilai/Milagu Kuzhambu

This is a very traditional style dish and is considered to be full of medicinal value because of the curry leaves (karuveppilai in Tamil) and whole black pepper (milagu in Tamil) that is used in this. A little bit of this kuzhambu mixed with rice and sesame oil every other day for a week or 10 days is supposed to be really good for pregnant moms and also those who have already delivered :-) (I know about it because I've seen my Mom/Grandma make this whenever a friend/neighbor is pregnant or had just delivered).

Ingredients:

Curry leaves - 2 cups (using a measuring cup)
Tamarind soaked in warm water - about the size of a small lemon
(If using paste, about 3/4 to 1 teaspoon of it)
Sesame oil - about 3 to 4 tablespoons (you can even use regular cooking oil)
Mustard seeds - 1 teaspoon
Turmeric powder - a pinch
Asafoetida - 1/4 teaspoon
Salt to taste

To dry fry one after the other and set aside:

Dried red chillies - 4 to 5 broken into half
Coriander seeds - 2 full tablespoon
Toor dhal - 1 tablespoon
Channa dhal - 1 tablespoon
Whole black pepper - 1 teaspoon (the pepper corns actually burst when you fry them... beware!!!!)

Procedure:

1. Extract the juice from the soaked tamarind to yield about a cup (using a measuring cup) of it or dilute the paste to get a cup (using a measuring cup) of tamarind water and pour it into the blender.
2. Add the curry leaves and the dry fried ingredients to the blender in step 1 and grind into a smooth paste (can be a little liquidy as well).
3. In a deep vessel, heat the sesame oil (or regular cooking oil), pop mustard seeds, add the turmeric powder and asafoetida and immediately pour the paste/liquid from step 2 and mix in well. You might want to keep the heat on low when you pour the liquid into the oil to avoid getting hurt and a lot of splatter.
4. Add some salt to step 4 and cook on medium heat with constant stirring until the raw smell of the ingredients subside and the greenish color of the paste/liquid turns sort of brownish. It takes about 20 minutes roughly to get to that stage. Turn off the stove once done and you can refrigerate it in an airtight container for about a fortnight.

Note:
You can even dry fry the raw curry leaves quickly for about 10 - 15 seconds on medium heat and then grind them along with the other ingredients in step 2.

Even if you run short of curry leaves, you can use less of the curry leaves and still make an awesome kuzhambu. Moar kuzhambu and karuveppilai kuzhambu are an awesome combo and so is karuvadaam and karuveppilai kuzhambu. Enjoy!!!!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Guththi Venkaaya Koora

This is another dish with small/baby eggplants and is similar in idea to the Yennai Kaththirikkaai Kuzhambu, but definitely tastes different. During my master's days, I was roommates with this wonderful lady from Andhra and she used to make these exotic Andhra specialties (this dish was one among them). I learned this from her and recently came to know that almost everyone from Andhra is a big fan of gutti vankaya koora.

Ingredients (about 2 - 3 servings):

Baby eggplants - about 8 to 10 cut into 4 quarters almost up to the stalks (the idea is to use the whole eggplant with the stalk so that the stuffing doesn't fall out)
Cooking oil - about 2 to 3 tablespoons
Jaggery/sugar - 1 teaspoon
Salt to taste

To fry in a teaspoon of oil and grind into a thick coarse paste:

Channa dhal - 2 tablespoons
Urad dhal - 2 tablespoons
Dried red chillies - 5 to 6
Coriander seeds - 1 tablespoon
Peanuts - about 2 tablespoons
(If using roasted peanuts, you need not fry them again)
Fenugreek seeds - about 4 to 5 just for the flavor (beware!!!! using more of this will turn the dish slightly bitter)
Curry leaves - a few
Garlic - 2 to 3 cloves
Asafoetida - 1/4 teaspoon
Cumin seeds - 1 teaspoon
Turmeric powder - a pinch or two
Tamarind - 1/2 inch stick
Salt - about 1 teaspoon

Procedure:

1. In a pan, heat a drop of oil, fry the red chillies first, add the channa dhal next, fry until it begins to brown slightly, add the urad dhal and wait for it to turn slightly brown, add the rest of the ingredients one after the other and fry until the dhals turn light golden brown in color. Use caution to not burn the dhals. After the ingredients cool down, make a thick coarse paste out of them and set aside.
2. Stuff the slit eggplants with the paste from step 2 and set the remaining paste aside.
4. In another wide pan, heat some cooking oil and place the stuffed eggplants neatly and cook evenly by turning them until they become soft. This roughly takes about 15 - 20 minutes on medium heat.
5. Once the eggplants are soft, add the remaining paste from step 3, a little water to get the gravy consistency and bring it to a boil. Boil until the eggplant is thoroughly cooked.
6. Add the sugar/jaggery to step 6, mix in well and turn off the stove.

Note:
1. As a variation, you can fry about 1/2 a medium sized onion that is finely chopped and then grind it along with the other ingredients in step 1. You can add some chopped tomatoes at the very end, like 5 minutes before turning off the stove and garnish with fresh coriander leaves.
2. If you want this as a dry dish, you can make a coarse powder of the ingredients in step 1, use the entire powder to stuff your eggplants and shallow fry them thoroughly until they are cooked.

This goes very well with steamed rice. Although it takes a little effort to make this, in the end, it is all worth it. This may not be the only version of gutti vankaya koora as there are many different variations that exist.

I'm sending this to Sanghi's Fall in Love - Brinjal event and Shanti Krishnakumar's State Specials event. I dedicate this to the person who I learned this from, a very good friend and ex-roommate, Bindu :-).

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Payatham Paruppu Sundal

Payatham paruppu or moong dhal is very good for health and my Mom would make the sundal or paayasam with payatham paruppu once a week, for sure. This sundal is also there on one of the days during the 9 days of Navarathri celebrations at our house :-).

Ingredients (about 3 - 4 servings):

Uncooked split moong dhal - 1 cup (using a measuring cup)
Cooking oil - 2 teaspoons
Mustard seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
Urad dhal - 1 teaspoon
Asafoetida - a couple of pinches
Dried red chillies - a couple split into half (vary this to suit your taste)
Grated/powdered coconut - 2 to 3 teaspoons (vary this to suit your taste)
Curry leaves - a few
Salt to taste

Procedure:

1. Boil moong dhal in water along with a little salt (the dhal doesn't get cooked fast if you add more salt) until it gets cooked (but NOT mashed), drain the water and set aside. You can even microwave the moong dhal along with water if you find that approach easier.
2. In a pan, heat some cooking oil, pop mustard seeds, add urad dhal, asafoetida, dried red chillies and curry leaves and fry until the urad dhal turns light golden brown in color.
3. Add the cooked moong dhal from step 1 and some more salt to step 2, mix in well and fry for about 5 - 7 more minutes on medium heat with constant stirring.
4. Turn off the stove, add the grated/powdered coconut to step 3 while the contents are still hot and mix well.

Your sundal is ready to snack on!!!!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Instant Raw Mango Pickle

When I saw these utterly fresh raw mangoes at the Indian grocers, I instantly knew what I was going to make. My first thought was, "Oh my!!! I has been ages since I had that pickle with yogurt rice".

Ingredients:

Raw mango - chopped into small pieces
Red chilli powder - 1/2 teaspoon (vary this to suit your taste)
Cooking oil - 1 teaspoon
Mustard seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
Asafoetida - a couple of pinches
Salt to taste

Procedure:

1. Take a bowl, add the chopped mango pieces to it and some chilli powder, but DO NOT mix.
2. In a small pan, heat some cooking oil, pop mustard seeds, add asafoetida and immediately pour the hot oil right over the chilli powder in step 1.
3. Add some salt and mix everything well.

Your instant pickle is ready to go!!!!

Simple Eggplant Fry

I love eggplant fry when it is made from the small/baby eggplants. Personally, I feel that the big eggplants do not have as much flavor and taste. Whenever I go to the Indian grocery store, I would definitely grab some of the small eggplants and make this dish.

Ingredients (about 2 servings):

Small/baby eggplants - 1 lb cut into bite sized pieces
(Soak the cut eggplants in water so that they don't turn black)
Cooking oil - 1.5 tablespoons
Mustard seeds - 1 teaspoon
Urad dhal - 1 teaspoon
Asafoetida - a pinch
Turmeric powder - a pinch
Salt to taste

To fry in a drop of oil and grind into a coarse powder:

Channa dhal - 1.5 teaspoons
Dried red chillies - 1 or 2 (vary this to suit your taste)
Coriander seeds - 1 teaspoon

Procedure:

1. Fry channa dhal, dried red chillies and coriander seeds in a drop of oil, grind into a coarse powder and set aside.
2. In a wide pan, heat some cooking oil, pop mustard seeds, add the urad dhal, assfoetida and turmeric powder and fry until the urad dhal turns light golden brown in color.
3. To step 2, add the cut eggplant, mix the contents well, put on a lid and let it cook until the eggplant gets soft.
4. To step 3, add some salt and the spice powder mix from step 1 and keep frying until it cooks thoroughly and turns crispy and turn off the stove.

If you feel lazy to make the spice powder, you can add just a little (or more) chilli powder to step 4 or can do without any spices too. Alternately, you could even make large quantities of that spice powder and store it for later use. When I was little, my Mom and Grandma used to set aside a portion of this curry for me before adding the spice powder and I got so used to that taste that they still do it for me till date :-)

You can serve this as a side dish with rice.

I'm sending this to Sanghi's Fall in Love (FIL) - Brinjal event. Once again, I'm dedicating this to my boyfriend who learned it from me and actually makes it quite often these days :-).

Yennai Kaththirikkaai Kuzhambu

Kaththirikkaai is the Tamil name for eggplant/brinjal/aubergine. I first had this dish at my dear friend Bamini's place during my undergrad days (about 6 years back). Her Mom had made it along with a few other wonderful treats for lunch that day. I forgot all about this dish until a couple of weeks back. I immediately called Bamini's Mom and tried her recipe. It felt so good to have it after so many years with exact taste and flavor that I was looking for.

Ingredients (about 2 - 3 servings):

Small/baby eggplants - about 8 to 10 cut into 4 quarters almost up to the stalks (the idea is to use the whole eggplant with the stalk so that the stuffing doesn't fall out)
Cooking oil - about 2 to 3 tablespoons
Tamarind soaked in warm water - about the size of a small lemon
(If using paste, about 3/4 teaspoon of it)
Asafoetida - 1/2 teaspoon
Curry leaves - a few
Sugar or jaggery - 1 teaspoon
Salt to taste

To dry fry and grind into a coarse powder:

Channa dhal - 1.5 tablespoons
Urad dhal - 1.5 tablespoons
Dried red chillies - 4 to 5
Coriander seeds - 1 tablespoon

Procedure:

1. Extract about 1.5 cups (using a measuring cup) of tamarind juice from the soaked tamarind or dilute the paste to yield about 1.5 cups (using a measuring cup) of tamarind water and set aside.
2. Dry fry channa dhal, urad dhal, dried red chillies and coriander seeds one after the other, grind into a coarse powder, mix with asafoetida and some salt and set aside.
3. Stuff the slit eggplants with the powder from step 2 and set the remaining powder aside.
4. In a pan, heat some cooking oil, pop mustard seeds, add curry leaves and place the stuffed eggplants neatly and cook evenly by turning them until they become soft. This roughly takes about 15 - 20 minutes on medium heat.
5. Once the eggplants are soft, add the remaining powder from step 3 and saute for 2 minutes.
6. Add the tamarind water from step 1 to step 5, some more salt if necessary and bring it to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes on medium heat or until the rawness of the tamarind goes away.
7. Add the sugar/jaggery to step 6, mix in well and turn off the stove.

This goes very well with steamed rice and also yogurt rice. I hope you all like it :-).

This recipe goes to Sanghi's Fall in Love - Brinjal event. I dedicate this to my boyfriend who is a big time brinjal fan :-).