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

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.

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


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


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


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


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.



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


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.



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


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 :-)

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


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.