Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Pakoda / pakora / pakodi


Pakoda, a perfect companion for a cup of hot tea. When it is cold or raining outside a cup of hot tea and a crispy snack like pakoda will be a heavenly treat. It is a snack item prepared with gram flour or besan. It is a very famous bakery item in south India. But home made pakodas are  much tastier and healthier when prepared in the right way. Pakoda and bajis are made with the same variety of flour, yet they taste very different. Pakodas are hard and crispier while bajis have a much smoother texture.

I would always think of avoiding  deep fried items but my cravings usually take an upper hand. So as usual I ended up preparing pakoda on a lazy evening. We both watched IPL with a cup of hot tea and garam, garam pakodis. Hope you too will prepare and enjoy this snack.

Ingredients :

Gram flour (besan)- 1 1/2 cups
Rice flour- 1/4 cup
Onion- 1 no (big variety)
Curry leaves- 10 leaflets
Green chillies- 4 nos
Chilli powder- 1/2 tspn (depending on your taste buds increase or decrease)
Fennel seeds- 1 tspn
Ginger- a small piece (minced well)
Asafoetida- a pinch
Salt to taste and oil for deep frying

Method :

Mix together besan, rice flour. chilli powder, minced ginger, enough salt and asafoetida. In a pan heat 3 tbspns of oil. When the oil becomes hot, add it slowly to the besan mixture and stir it well with a metal spatula. Now add the cut onions, green chillies, fennel seeds and minced curry leaves to the besan mixture. Mix together all the ingredients. Onion has some water content in it. When you squeeze the onions with your hand the moisture in onion pieces will help in binding the flour together. Then sprinkle water little by little and mix the flour to form a thick, paste like batter. Be careful when adding water. Do it slowly and carefully. Take care not to make the batter watery. Then the preparation will turn into a baji. Now heat oil in a pan for deep frying. When the oil becomes hot enough add the batter slowly in batches. Fry till the pakodas turn golden, brown colour. Serve with a cup of hot chai.

Taste enhancing tips for this recipe : The texture of the batter is very important. It must be thick and paste like. Addig hot oil to the besan flour helps in making the pakodas crispier and they also imbibe less oil during the frying process. Try adding spinach leaves or any other greens for a healthier version. Happy cooking!!!


Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Rasam


Rasam is an integral part of tamilian cuisine. In my home rasam is almost prepared everyday. It is a comfort food for many people. My dad loved to drink rasam like a soup. Ofourse its a kind of soup and it tastes excellent with hot rice and papadam. My way of rasam preparation is very simple. Takes just a few minutes to prepare and I have received compliments for my rasam many a time. Please do not add rasam powder of any brand to your rasam. Definitely that is the first step to spoil your rasam. Rasam is a concoction of several spices which is very good for your general health and digestive system. That is why we tamilians used to finish of any 'virundhu saapadu' ( feast) with rasam. When people suffer from cold and fever rasam is an extremely comforting food. Pepper, turmeric, garlic and jeera added in the rasam, in its raw form definitely have many healing properties. Now comes the most sought rasam recipe :

Ingredients :

Tamarind- small  lemon sized ball
Red chilly- 4 nos
Green chilly- 3 nos
Black pepper corn- 1 tspn
Jeera- 1 tbspn
Ripe tomato- 1 no (big sized)
Garlic- 4 pods (with skin intact)
Coriander leaves- a handful
Curry leaves- some 10 leaflets
Urid dhal,fenugreek, mustard, and jeera seeds for tempering- 1/2 tspn each
Turmeric- 1/4 tspn ( a few pinches)
Asafoetida- 2 or 3 pinches
Oil- 4 tspn
Salt to taste

Method :

Soak the tamarind in water and extract juice. Dilute the tamarind juice with water and adjust its sourness according to your taste. Now powder the black pepper corn and jeera seeds into a  rough powder. Crush the garlic along with the skin. Do not remove the skin. Now to the diluted tamarind juice add asafoetida, turmeric powder, powdered pepper and jeera seeds, whole tomato, coriander leaves, curry leaves, red and green chillies. With your hand crush all the ingredients thrown into the tamarind juice nicely . The tomato should be torn into pieces, coriander leaves and curry leaves should be crushed nicely so that their aroma seeps into the tamarind water, crushed garlic must be crushed with your hand much more , the green and red chillies must be crushed and broken down into pieces. Continue this crushing process with your hands for atleast three minutes. Then wash your hand immediately with soap bcause many a time I end up keeping my fingers in my eyes or face. If it happens the burning will be horrible. Be careful. Now after all this step you have to make the tempering or talimpu. Heat a pan. Add 4 tspns of oil. When the oil gets heated add urid dhal and fenugreek seeds. When they turn brown add jeera and mustard seeds. When they splutter transfer the tamarind juice mixture into the pan. Now the most important thing, do not allow the tamarind juice mixture to boil. It should be about to boil but it should not boil. You can see white foam like formations on the top of rasam ( nuraithu varum). When such white foam occupy the entire surface area of rasam  switch off the stove. Add few more coriander leaves and salt to taste at the end. Very tasty and flavourful rasam will be ready to serve.

Taste enhancing tips for this recipe : Do not add any rasam powder. Do not miss any ingredient mentioned. Do not grind all the needed ingredients using a mixer grinder. Use your hand as mentioned above. I love to see garlic skin in rasam. I am used to it. Never allow the rasam to boil. Rasam acquires a hard, unpleasant taste (kaduthu pogum) and the total effort will be spoiled. Another important thing is add salt only at the end. This also helps to prevent rasam acquiring a hard taste. Try it you will love it .  Happy cooking !!!


Monday, 29 March 2010

Carrot and potato fry


I love this dish because it is colouful, flavourful and very tasty. My mom makes this side dish more often with pappu. They together make a wonderful combination. I will be eagerly waiting to eat not only this dish but the by-product of this dish which sticks to the bottom of the pan . Golden and crispy remains of potato, hmm.... they tasted very good. I will be angry with my mom if she says that the dish didn't stick to the bottom . But now with the use of non-stick pan such simple joys are lost. Nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan and even if it does rarely, I become panicked beacuse I have to fight with the vessel  to make it clean and I have to also worry about the non-stick coating. For sure sophistication kills the simple joys in human life .

This shallow fry of potato and carrot is very unique in the way it is prepared. This recipe needs coriander leaves, green chillies, garlic and ginger for its preparation and I have never found any other potato and carrot fry recipe with these ingredients. One of my favourite recipe from my mom, it goes very well with rice and chappathi. Very simple to make and here comes the preparation :

Ingredients :

Potato- 3 nos
Carrot- 3 nos 
Onion- 1 no (big variety)
Green chillies- 5 nos
Coriander leaves- handful
Garlic- 3 pods
Ginger - 1/2 inch piece
Mustard, jeera and urid dhal- 1 tspn each
Turmeric- a pinch
Asafoetida- a pinch
Oil for shallow frying (some 4 tbspns)

Method :

Cut potatoes and carrots as shown in the picture. Cut onions, green chillies, ginger, garlic and coriander leaves into small pieces. Heat a pan (non-stick!!!). Add oil and when it is hot enough do the tempering with mustard, jeera and urid dhal. Add urid dhal first in oil and when it changes colour add mustard and jeera seeds. Let them splutter. Then add nicely minced onions, ginger, garlic, green chillies, coriander leaves, a pinch of turmeric and asafoetida. Saute them till the onions turn translucent. Then add the cut potato and carrot pieces. Fry them until they are cooked. Add salt to taste. Serve with hot rice and dhal. The smell of coriander, ginger and garlic along with potato and carrot makes this dish really superb!!!

Taste enhancing tips for this recipe : Use coriander leaves, ginger, garlic, green chillies and onion. Do not miss anything. Never use chilli powder. Make sure to use only green chillies for this recipe. Add coriander leaves when sauting onion. Do not add at the end as we always do. Adding coriander leaves in the beginning imparts a nice aroma. Mince ginger, garllic, coriander leaves and green chillies as small as possible. The most important thing is, do not add water when preparing. this dish. If there is an absolute necessary just sprinkle water. If you add water sometimes the potato becomes messy. They become overcooked. It spoils the taste of this recipe. Ofcourse you need good variety potatoes which do not become overcooked in a few minutes. Try not to use a non-stick pan and try using a sticky pan hehe. Even if you do not like to clean the mess, your children like me, will enjoy the golden, crispy potato remains sticking to the bottom of the pan . Try it and Happy cooking!!!



Sunday, 28 March 2010

Adai


Adai is one of my favourite breakfast item. It is a traditional, tamilian recipe. My mom used to make it once in a while, especially  when we were bored of the routine breakfast. It is made with a mixture of pulses and rice. Pulses are high in fiber, low in fat, contains high quality proteins and high in nutrients. Studies encourage us to include  a variety of pulses in our diet rather than using a single type of pulse more often. Each pulse has its unique combination of amino acids and if you eat a combination of pulses you will get all the essential amino acids. This is  especially true for vegans since they depend manily on pulses to satisfy their protein requirements.

"Eat breakfast like a king"- sorry friends I have to disagree with this. The above statement held true when our ancestors did lots of manual labour. Most of them worked on agricultural fields. They needed a high calorie breakfast beacuse their work demanded lots of energy expenditure and hence all the calories were utilized efficiently. But now, we are mostly couch potatoes. In such a situation we should never aim to eat like a king at any time of the day. We must eat wisely with calorie consciousness, inorder to escape obesity and it's related disorders. We should always have in mind that diabetic diet is not only good for diabetics but for everyone of us too. I would love to write a seperate topic on this because if I start writing everything here, this topic will never end. But in short you must have a breakfast which contains carbohydrates, proteins and healthy fats in a perfect balance. This will prevent rapid insulin spikes and promotes satiety.

So coming back to adai, it is one of the healthiest breakfast available. With its right combination of carbohydrates and high quality proteins it gives a perfect start for the day. Look at the mixture of pulses which I used for making this adai, colourful isn't it?. We need more colours in our diet. We must include different coloured foods, especially the deep, dark ones. More colourful your diet is, more anti-oxidants you obatin. Anti-oxidants are proven to prevent many age related disorders. Now comes the adai recipe :

Ingredients :

Parboiled rice- 11/2 cups
Toor dhal
Channa dhal
Urid dhal
Masoor dhal
Moong dhal
Whole moong dhal
I usually take equal amount of dhal mixture and rice. I take handfuls of all the dhals and mix together. Then take 11/2 cups dhal mixture for 11/2 cups rice. If you like the taste of a particular dhal you can add more of it and decrease the others. But it is healthier to include equal amount of all the dhals.
Dried red chillies- 10 nos
Garlic- 3 pods
Ginger- an inch piece
Onions- 1 nos
Coconut- 1 big piece of its meat
Oil (preferably gingelly oil)

Method :

Soak rice and pulses in water overnight (approx.8 hours). (Why should we soak pulses ?) Then grind them into a smooth batter along with dried red chillies, ginger and garlic. Add enough salt when grinding. Cut onions, curry leaves and coconut into bite sized pieces and mix it with the batter. The batter should be thicker than the dosa batter. You can make adai immediately with this batter or wait for 4 hours before making adai. I would prefer this 4 hours ferementation step because it helps in the digestion process. You can use any oil for frying adai but gingelly oil is preferable. You can use ghee for children. Serve it with a chutney of your choice. I prefer eating adai with coconut chutney.

Taste enhancing tips for this recipe : Try to make the adai healthier by adding a variety of pulses. You can also add vegetables like carrots, cabbage, etc., to the adai batter. Cut vegetables into small pieces and mix it with the batter. Adai should always be on the thicker side. Do not dilute the batter with water and attempt to make a thin pancake. It compromises the native taste greatly. Do not allow it to ferment for more that 4 hours. It gains a sour taste when fermented too long. Sour tasting adais are not so appetizing. Yesterday when my husband complained that it is thick I said to him 'adai should not be like regular dosa'. You should also remember it.  You can serve adai with freshly made butter and palm sugar (vellam or bellam). Children will love it. Adai is a fulfilling breakfast. Yesterday when I had an adai for the breakfast, I didn't feel hungry for the next 5 hours. But that shows how slowly it is digested which is very good from the health point of view. Adai is very good for diabetics and for everyone of us too. Happy cooking friends!!!

I would love to submit this for jihva event hosted by Suma of Veggie platter.


Sporophytes of Tortula muralis (common moss)




If you are interested to know more about this small plant please follow this link. Happy week end friends!!!

Friday, 26 March 2010

Beauty of spring!!!



Vegetable cutlet


Cutlets are very tasty appetizers. One rainy day I felt very bored sitting at home. Wanted to make myself busy and that is how these cutlets were created. I have watched my mom  make vegetable cutlets. So the entire preparation is not that difficult and the final product was excellent. The cutlet itself looked very appetizing in the end because of the mixture of different vegetables containing different colours. Vegetable cutlet is a  healthy appetizer for young children who dislike their veggies. We loved it and hope you enjoy it too.

Ingredients :

Potato- 2 nos
Beetroot- 1 nos (1 small or half of a big one)
Peas- 2 handful
Beans- 1/2 cup
Cauliflower- some 10 florets
Carrot-  1 no (big one)
Green chillies- 6 nos
Garlic- 5 pods
Ginger- an inch piece
Coriander leaves- 1/4 of a bunch
Bread crumbs- 1 cup
Amchur powder ( dry mango powder)- 1 tspn
Garam masala- 1 tspn
Egg/ maida- 1 cup (used as a binder)
Onion- 1 no (minced into small pieces)
Oil- for deep frying
Some sauce which you like

Method :

First boil all the vegetables in a cooker with minimum amount of water. The vegetables should become soft enough to mash them completely. Allow it to cool. Grind together green chillies, garlic, ginger and coriander leaves into a coarse paste. Mix  half of the bread crumbs, amchur powder, garam masala powder, the ground green chilli, garlic, ginger, coriander paste and  enough salt with mashed vegetables and keep aside. The bread crumbs absorb excess moisture from the mashed vegetables. If the mixture is still on the watery side mix in more bread crumbs. After 30 minutes make flat patties with the mashed vegetable mixture as shown in the picture. Now before deep frying the patties you need a binding material. If you are a non-vegetarian you can use eggs. Egg whites are the best binders. If you are a vegetarian you can use maida mixed with water. Make a smooth, semi-solid paste of maida. Take the flattened vegetable mixture, dip it in beaten egg or in maida paste, apply bread crumbs on both sides and drop it in hot oil. Fry till they get a deep brown colour on both sides. Very tasty appetizer is ready to be served. Serve with raw onions and tomato sauce.

Taste enhancing tips for this recipe : Take care not to end up with a watery mixture of mashed vegetables. Never use red chilli powder when making cutlets. Use green chillies. Serve with raw onions. Raw onions with cutlet is really awesome!!! The binding agent should completely cover the flattened vegetable mixture. Otherwise they break in oil and imbibe more oil. The oil for frying should become really hot before you drop in the vegetable mixture. Have a beautiful week end!!! and happy cooking!!!  


Thursday, 25 March 2010

Kathirika(i), urulai kizhangu puli kuzhambu / vankaya, bangaaladumpa pulusu ( Brinjal and potato in tamarind gravy)


Puli kuzhambu is Rajender's favourite. I too like it but not that much.. I love potato in pulikuzhambu. It gives a nice aroma and the potato soaked in sour, tamarind gravy also tastes great. The next best vegetable in pulikuzhambu is kathirikai (brinjal), especially the smaller varieties. See those lovely, small, white brinjals, I got them from a chinese shop. In India they call them as mutta(i) (egg) katirikai,since they are white in colour and resemble an egg. In olden days  mutta(i) kathirikai pulikuzhambu was made and served to the groom before the nuptial night. Might be in olden days people beleived that it has an aphrodisiac property . Whatever it is these small, white brinjals taste very good. They are very firm and takes time to get cooked when compared to other brinjal varieties. All tamarind based gravies taste very good on the next day of preparation.

Ingredients:

Potato- 4 nos
Brinjal- 6 nos
Onion-2 nos (smaller variety onions or shallots are the best for this gravy)
Tomato- 1 no (big, ripe one)
Green chilli- 3 nos
Garlic- 6 pods
Curry leaves- handful ( more the better)
Tamarind- size of a small lemon
Mustard, fenugreek and jeera seeds- 1 tspn
Chilli powder- 2 tspn
Coriander powder- 2 tbspn
Oil- 5 tbspns
Asafoetida- a pinch, turmeric- a pinch
Salt- to taste

Method :

Cut potato into big pieces. Cut the brinjals as shown in the picture. Cut tomato and onion into small pieces. Now heat a pan and add enough oil. Then do the tempering by adding fenugreek seeds initially followed by mustard and jeera seeds. When they splutter add onions, garlic pods, curry leaves, a pinch of turmeric and a pinch of asafoetida. Saute well until the onions become translucent and soft. Then add the tomatoes. Saute well until they become soft and completely mashed. Now  add the cut potatoes and brinjal. Let the vegetables cook for sometime in oil till the skin of brinjal turn slightly brown. Soak and extract tamarind juice. Now add the tamarind juice to the sauteed vegetable mixture and allow it to boil. Then simmer it untill the vegetables get cooked. When the vegetables are cooked add salt according to your taste. Remove from fire when the oil seperates out. These brinjals need lots of time for cooking. If you add salt before they get cooked, it takes much more time. So add salt at the end. Very tasty pulikuzhambu will be ready to be served with hot rice.

Taste enhancing tips for this recipe: If possible use gingelly oil for this preparation. Make sure brinjals are tender. Add enough tamarind juice. This recipe tastes good if they are sour enough. You have to balance the sour taste of tamarind with enough chilli powder and salt. Addition of enough curry leaves increases the flavour of this gravy. The onions and totmatoes should become soft enough before you add the vegetable and the tamarind juice. Please do not use a teaspoon of oil for the entire preparation. Definitely it will not taste good. Instead make it tastier with enough oil and reduce your intake, if your are calorie conscious. Adding garlic to any pulikuzhambu enhances the flavour and taste. Enjoy and happy cooking!!! 



Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Amazing nature!!!

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Puliyodharai/ chinthapandu pulihora (Tamarind rice)


Puliyodharai reminds me of my school day picnics and temples. When I go for picnics I used to take  puliyotharai with me. I would be eager to visit new places as well as to sit with friends and eat this tasty dish. My mom used to pack  puliyodharai in a banana leaf. The smell of banana leaf and puliyodharai will be mesmerising. Puliyodharai remains for a day or so without getting spoiled, even in that hot climate. That is the reason why these kind of  'kattu sadhams' are invented. The way I prepare puliyotharai will be very different from andhraites preparation. Puliyodharai given in temples has a very unique taste. I do enter the tample with puliyodharai in my mind . For me this dish  is very close to my heart and taste buds. Anytime I would be happy to eat it. Potato fry or coconut thuvayal (a dry version of cocnut chutney)  goes very well with this dish.  The preparation is also very easy.  So here comes the preparation in detail :

Ingredients :

Cooked rice- 4 cups
Tamarind- a big lime-sized ball
Channa dhal- 1 tbspn
Groundnut- a handful
Red chillies- 8 nos (broken into 2 pieces)
Gralic- 8 pods
Curry leaves- a handful of leaflets
Chilli powder- 1 tspn
Coriander powder- 1 tspn
Coriander seeds- 1 tbspn
Seasame seeds (black variety is preferable)- 1 tbspn
Oil-  approx. 50 ml ( gingelly oil is prefered)
A pich of turmeic, asafoetida
Mustard, fenugreek, urid dhal and jeera seeds- 1 tspn each

Method :

Soak tamarind for 10 minutes and extract its juice. Heat a heavy bottomed pan. Add oil. When it gets heated add fenugreek seeds, wait till it gets brown and emits a nice aroma. Then add mustard, fenugreek, urid dhal and jeera seeds. When the seeds splutter add the channa dhal and groundnuts. Saute for a minute until the nuts are fried enough. Now add the red chillies, curry leaves and garlic. Fry for a minute or so untill the garlic turns golden colour and the red chillies gives out a nice aroma. Please take care not to burn any item. Then add the tamarind juice, red chilli powder, coriander powder and enough salt. Let this mixture boil. When it starts to boil simmer it for 15 minutes or so with occassional stirring. You must simmer it until all the water evaporates and the oil seperates out. Now the most important part. Cook rice with enough water. Rice should be as seperate grains when cooked. Cool the rice until it becomes cold to touch. Then mix the prepared pulikaichal (tamarind mix) with the rice with your hands until all the rice is coated with the tamarind mix. My friend Raji once gave me an useful tip. She asked me to fry and dry grind coriander seeds, sesame seeds and two red chillies and mix it with the rice at the end. Doing this makes your puliyodharai taste like kovil (temple) puliyodharai. This pulikaichal can be stored in refrigerator for a week or so. Try it, you will become a fan of this humble dish.

Taste enhancing tips for this recipe : The main important point to remember is to cook the rice in a way such that the individual grains do not stick together. This task can be accomplished by adding proper amount of water when cooking rice. Immediately after cooking  take a big tray or thambalam and spread the rice on it and allow it to cool. This step is very important. This helps the rice to cool dowm without becoming softer and stickier. Another important point is mix the pulikaichal only when the rice cools down. Never mix it with hot or warm rice. Fry coriander seeds, seasame seeds and two red chillies, make a powder of it and add to the puliyodharai. It greatly enhances the taste and flavour of puliyodharai. If you love crispier groundnut and channa dhal in the puliyodharai fry them seperately and mix with the dish at the end. Please adjust the spiciness of this dish according to your tolerance level. But remember you have to balance the sourness of the tamarind with enough chillies and salt. Happy cooking friends!!!


Monday, 22 March 2010

Vandikaran pachadi / Pachi pulusu (Raw rasam)


Simple dishes always taste great!!! Vandikaran pachadi or pachi pulusu is no exception for this rule. I knew pachi pulusu only after my marriage. I didn't also know until very recently such a dish exist in tamil . The credit of introducing vandikaran pachadi goes to Mani anna. He said that people  prepare this dish (perhaps as a quickie!!!) when they travel by bullock cart from one place to another during olden days (golden days!!!). Hence the name vandikaran (bullock cart owner!!!) pachadi (?). This dish also shows  how our ancestors were able to make quick, tastier dish with minimum ingredients available locally.

There are many varieties of rasam but this rasam is very unique and any other rasam which needs extensive preparation can't even come near it in taste. Bachelors can easily prepare this dish within a matter of few minutes. When you have a simple lunch or dinner with this dish your stomach will definitely be happy


Ingredients :

Red chillies
Mustard seeds
Garlic- 1 pod (optional)
Onion- 1 no (cut into bite sized pieces)
Tamarind- small lemon sized ball
Oil- 1-2 tspns

Method :

Soak the tamarind in water and extract it's juice. Add enough water and adjust the sourness according to your taste. Now heat a pan, add 1 tspn of oil. When the oil gets heated add the mustard seeds. Let it splutter. Then add the red chillies. Saute untill the red chillies get fried a bit (perhaps a minute or so). Then add this tempered material into the diluted tamarind juice. Now add enough salt,cut onions and crushed garlic piece inside the tamarind juice and with your hands crush everything together untill the red chillies are broken into small pieces. Taste the rasam once again and adjust salt according to your taste. The smell of raw onions, fried red chillies and mustard in tamarind water, hmmm.... simply heavenly!!! and it tastes heavenly too!!!!!  On the next day of preparation this dish tastes even better. When you eat rice along with this rasam you get a crispy onion with every bite of rice and I just enjoy it. Try it for a quick, tasty meal. Serve with hot rice and with any fried dish from chicken to papadam.

Taste enhancing tips for this recipe : The main imporatant thing you have to check is the sourness of tamarind and the salt. It should match your taste buds and let it be a little hot (add enough red chillies). Definitely you will be conquered by it's taste. Happy cooking!!!


Sunday, 21 March 2010

Spring is here....yeah!!!!


Have a wonderful weekend !!!


Saturday, 20 March 2010

Mango and curd rice - an incredible combo!!!


Today we went to the farmers market and guess what, I found a nice, ripe, flavourful, delicious mango there. Here in Germany, we get ripe mangoes most of the time in a year. Those mangoes are sweet but minus it's delicious smell and flavour. Imagine a mango without its smell, horrible right, thats how I felt when I tasted those mangoes in the beginning. But in the shops run by Indians and Pakistanis you get imported mangoes which are as tasty and flavourful as the mangoes we get in India. But the mango in the picture above was as good as our Indian variety mangoes. Now-a-days few big supermarkets in Germany sell Indian variety mangoes too.

When I think of mangoes and curd rice I remember my school days. When I studied 6th class I had a friend named Vijayarani. Still I am in contact with her and I found her in orkut after almost 15 years!!! In the first scrap I sent her I mentioned about the mango and curd rice combo she brings for lunch. We used to eat together and when she opens her tiffin box during summer months (which is also the mango season) a wonderful aroma of mangoes and curd rice fills the entire place. In my home we are not used to that combo at that time. Definitely I used to drool on the combination. And surprisingly she too remembered the dish which I used to take for lunch very often (thattam payiru kuzhambu). Might be it impressed her too (?). Viji very happy to meet you and please do keep visiting my blog and let me know your invaluable comments.

When I came home form the weekend market I made curd rice and devoured the sweet, ripe mango along with it. Rajender likes this combo too. I temepred the curd rice with mustard, urid dhal, ginger pieces, onions, chillies, fresh coriander leaves and a pinch of asafoetida. This kind of tempered curd rice and pickle is what I took for lunch during my school and college days . During my masters my classmates staying in hostel loved to empty my tiffin box. At that time I didn't understand them. I would think whats there in a curd rice?!! But now I do miss many of the simple dishes what my mom made. So today with sweet mango and curd rice we had a sumptuous meal. Try this combo if you haven't, you will love it too. Happy cooking and have a wonderful weekend!!!

Friday, 19 March 2010

Chicken kuzhambu / Kozhi kuzhambu / Kodi pulusu



Cow meat is called as beef, pig meat is called as pork, goat meat is called as chevon and can you tell me what chicken meat is called as ? Chicken meat especially country chicken (naatu kozhi) meat is considered healthy when compared to red meat. There must be thousands of ways to cook chicken. Almost all parts of chicken are eaten including it's feet. Ofcourse chicken meat is delicious. When I am young my ayyama (my dad's mom) would come to visit us. When she comes, she  will bring with her a wonderful chicken kuzhambu. She reared chicken at home. So when visiting her son and grand children she will catch one of the veda kozhi ( a hen ready to lay egg), sacrifice the veda kozhi ( I don't want to use the word kill, I do feel guilty ) and make wonderful gravy out of it for us to eat. I still remember seeing small, small eggs in that kuzhambu (taken from the oviduct perhaps!!!). Unfortunately I don't remember the taste. She left us when we were young and my dad used to talk about his mom's cooking talents most of the time. I always would think, if ayyama would be alive I would have learned cooking from her. My dad used to say her cooking is very simple, with minimum ingredients, yet very tasty. To appreciate my cooking sometimes my dad would say '' you are gifted with my moms cooking talent'' .

Ok coming back to the chicken kuzhambu, this chicken kuzhambu I learned from my mom's mom. When I am studying 8th class my grandma came live with us for few months. She is also a good cook. One day on my mom's request she made this chicken kuzhambu. I remember standing beside her and helping her with obtaining all the necessary ingredients. So I still remember everything very well. Of all the different chicken gravy I make, this is my most favourite.

Ingredients :

Chicken- 1/2 kg
Curd- 2 tbspn
A pinch of turmeric
Onions- 2 nos
Green chillies- 4 nos
Ginger- an inch sized piece
Potato- 2 nos (optional)
Chilli powder - according to your taste

For frying and grinding:

Coriander seeds- 3 tbspns
Fennel seeds- 1 tspn
Cardamom seeds- 4 nos
Cinnamon- an inch piece
Cloves- 5 nos
Pepper corns- 6 nos
Coconut (scrapped)- 5 tbspns

For tempering :

Cardamom- 3 nos
Cloves-4 nos
Cinnamon- 1/2 inch piece
Curry leaves

Method :

Cut and clean chicken. Trim off the visible fat. But if you are young and healthy a few pieces of fat is not really bad for you. Fat is the taste providing ingredient in any item. After cleaning the chicken marinate in 2 tbspn of curd (yogurt) with a pinch of turmeric. Now take the items for frying. Heat a pan and fry all the items. Add the coconut scrappings at the end after you get a nice aroma of all the spices. Take care not to burn the coconut scrappings. Turn off the stove when the coconut scrappings turn brown. When you fry the coconut a mind-blowing aroma arises . Cool the fried items and with a mixer-grinder grind them into a paste with little water. Then cut onions and green chillies into small pieces. Crush the ginger piece. I love potatoes cooked along with chicken or goat meat. If you like it you can also add 2 potatoes (cleaned and cut into big pieces). Now take the pressure cooker. Heat it, add enough oil for tempering, When the oil gets heated add the items mentioned in the tempering section, saute for a minute and then add onions, green chillies, curry leaves, crushed ginger piece and enough salt. Saute well until the onions turn translucent. Then add the cut potatoes to it and mix. Now wash the marinated chicken in water to remove yoghurt (actually marinating in yoghurt makes the chicken meat tender). Do the above step atleast 10 minutes before so that the excess water from the chicken meat is drained out.  Then add the chicken pieces into the sauteed ingredients. Mix well and cook for 5 minutes. Do not add water. The chicken oozes water from its meat and gets cooked in it. When the chicken meat turns white in colour add the ground ingredients, chilli powder and enough water. Close the cooker and pressure cook for 2 minutes (if it is broiler chicken 2 minute time is enough, if it is country chicken you can leave for a whistle or two, since the naatu kozhi meat takes longer time to cook). Do not pressure cook the chicken more than the  time mentioned above. If you overcook the chicken all the taste will be lost. Then open the pressure cooker adjust salt and chilli level and simmer the whole mixture until the oil seperates out.

Taste enhancing tips for this recipe: Add fat pieces when making kuzhambu if you do not have any health issues. Beleive me you will be safe. Add more curry leaves, it enhances the flavour. Take care when frying the coconut. Do not allow it to burn. Non-vegetarian items should not be bland. Add enough chilli powder. More hot it is, better it tastes. Use red onions. Do not add water before the chicken gets cooked partly in oil. First saute the chicken well in oil and then when the flesh turns white add ground masala and enough water. Salt must be added along with chicken pieces or before that step. This helps the salt to enter the chicken pieces well. Add potatoes, you will love the taste of potato soaked in chicken gravy. If you are not sure about the time you can totally omit the pressure cooking part and cook normally. But pressure cooking for a short period makes the chicken a bit tender and tasty. Happy cooking!!!

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Love for coriander- Kothamalli thuvayal / Kothimira pachadi (Coriander chutney)



This dish is my mom's speciality and I love this very much. When I go to Madurai, my mom will be eagerly waiting for me with hot, hot idlies and kothamalli chutney. I could feel my mom's wondeful love for me in this dish . This is one of my comfort food and it carries with it so many nice memories. There will be farmers market near my home on thursdays. So me and my mom will go the market thursday evening. When my mom finds nice kothamalli leaves she will definitely buy it to make chutney. Going to farmers market is one of my most favourite pass time. I find many, many nice things to eat there from koiyakai to palapazham. When we come back we will sit together, watch TV and remove the hard, mature part of the kothamalli stem and clean it. The next morning before I get up hot idlies and kothamalli chutney will be waiting for me. Still when I call her she used to tell me that she saw nice kothamalli leaves in market and she was thinking of me. One more interesting happening which is related to this recipe is, this time when I went to India my periyamma (aunt) bought ground hibiscus leaves, with henna and many other things added to it.It is stored in some kind of oil for applying on hair. It looked exactly like this chutney. My mom left it in the table. I looked at it, immediately took a teaspoonful in my hand and licked it. Phew it tasted awful. My mom had a  hearty laugh . 

This chutney will be very tasty and goes very well with idly, dosai and even with rice. In english kothamalli  is called as coriander/ chinese parsley/ cilantro. All parts of coriander plant is edible but leaves and dried seeds are more commonly used. Coriander roots are also more commonly used by chinese. Coriander roots have more intense flavour than the leaves. Coriander has many medicinal properties. It is rich in vitamin C. It aids in digestion. In Iran folk medicine coriander is used for the releif of anxiety and insomnia. Experiment in mice proved that it has anti-anxiety properties. It is also used as a diuretic. But some people are allergic to it(Courtesy:Wikipedia). This recipe is very simple eventhough you  have to do an extensive pre-work like cleaning and seperating the fresh, tender leaves and stem.

Ingredients:

Kothamalli- 3 bunches (approx. 1/4 kg)
Ginger- oneinch piece
Garlic- 6 pods
Red chilli- 8 ( increase or decrease according to your taste)
Urid dhal- 4 tbspns
Tamarind- a marble sized piece
Mustard seeds, jeera, urid dhal (1/2 tspn) and a pinch of asafoetida for tempering.

Method:

First remove the mature leaves and mature stems from the bunch. If you are able to break the stem with your hands thaen those stems are tender. If you are not able to do so then they are matured ones. Use only the leaves and the tender stems. Fry all other ingredients except kothamalli untill the urid dhal acquires a golden brown colour. Then grind the fried ingredients first with enough salt. Then little by little add the coriander leaves and grind well. Actually when the grinding is done traditionally with ammi kal (a form of manual grinder) it tastes much better. After grinding all the leaves with the fried ingredient remove form the mixie jar. Add enough oil (actually you have to add atleast a cup of oil, beacuse the wet kothamalli absorbs lots of oil) and temper it using the tempering ingredients mentioned above. Then add the ground kothamalli mixture and saute it untill the oil seperates out. It needs lots of patience at this stage. Take care it doesnt get burned at the bottom. Use a heavy- bottomed vessel for this purpose. Tasty coriander chutney will be ready. This chutney keeps very good for a week and even more when kept in refrigerator.

Taste enhancinh tips for this recipe: Urid dhal is a must in this recipe. Add enough oil when sauting. Don't be too health consious when it comes to adding oil in this recipe. If you do you will be left with a dry mass at the end which is not so appetising. Anyhow you will not eat the entire portion in a day. One tablespoon a day will be the maximum amount you can consume ( if you are not like me  ) and the oil you consume in that one tablespoon will be less. So be lenient in the amount of oil. Select fresh leaves for the chutney. Small leaves are much flavourful than the big ones. Grind the chutney manually if possibe, and what are you looking at, try it!!! And the most important thing, never saute the leaves first and grind it, grind the fresh leaves and then saute it. It really helps in retaining the flavour. Happy cooking!!!


Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Boli / Obattu / Bobbatlu


OMG!!! after a long research in internet I am still not sure how to call this dish . But one thing is for sure, this dish tasted and tastes really awesome . We tamilians mostly call it as boli. If poli is the right word for it I could understand why we do not want to call this dish with that name. In tamizh poli means imitation and why to call such a nice dish with such a defamatory word . Whatever it is I will address the dish as boli as of now. If somebody could give me the correct name I will definitely correct myself. But afterall whats in a name?, when it comes to dishes only taste matters . Yesterday was Ugadi and when I went home at six in the evening I am almost tired. But I really wanted to make and eat something sweet. Few days back my friend blogged a boli recipe made of sweet potato. I started to drool on seeing boli after a long time. So I decided to make it. I had maida, palm sugar (jaggery) and moong dhal. I started the boli making process. I should tell you that the sweet turned out to be very, very soft and very tasty. Rajender simply loved it and I am satisfied .

Ingredients:

Maida- 2 cups
A pinch of salt and few pinches of turmeric
Boiling water for making dough out of maida
Moong dhal / channa dhal- 1 cup
Palm sugar (jaggery)- 1/2 cup to 1 cup (if you need it sweeter use more jaggery)
Rice flour- 2 handfulls
Cardamom- 5 nos (crushed)

Method:

First add a pinch of salt and few pinches of turmeric to the maida and mix well. Now boil water. Add the piping hot water slowly to the maida and mix it using a spatula. Be very careful. Do not use your hand for mixing the flour. When the flour starts to glue together,  make dough out of the flour by using your hand. Make sure you can tolerate the heat before doing so. If you need more water you can use room temperature water now. The dough should have a consistency of paratha dough. Knead the dough well with your hands and keep it aside. Now for the filling boil the dhal. When the dhal is soft enough strain the dhal to remove excess water ( I used this water for making dough). Then cool down the dhal and grind it to a smooth paste. In a heavy bottomed vessel add 1/2 a cup of water and then add the jaggery. When the jaggery melts (if you think there are impurities like small sand particles in the jaggery then filter it and proceed) add the ground dhal paste and crushed cardamoms. Stir it continuosly so that it forms a thick paste. Take it out when the dhal has absorbed all the water and mixed well with jaggery syrup. The consistency of the dhal mixture is very important. When the dhal, jaggery mixture cools down you should be able to form a well-formed ball out of it. Now everything is ready to make boli. Take maida dough and spread it using a roller pin . Then take a lime sized ball of dhal filling and keep it on the spread dough and close the dough from all sides. Now flatten a little with your hand. Apply rice flour on both sides and spread it well using the roller pin. Try to spread as thin as you can. If you are good in paratha making (stuffed parathas) then it will not be a problem in making good bolis. When this process is finished fry them in a non-stick pan by applying ghee on both sides. Awesome boli will be ready to eat .

Taste enhancing tips for this recipe: First important thing is, if you need soft bolis, use boiling water to mix the flour. Adding boiling water makes the dough a bit pre-cooked and soft. Atleast for me it worked very well. Read carefully, I just said a few pinches of turmeric. Never add more than that ( a tspn or so). You will end-up with bolis smelling strongly of turmeric. The next point is the dhal-jaggery mixture. Do not panic if it has become watery. Add rice flour little by little to the dhal-jaggery mixture until you get the desired consistency. This also will enhance the taste. Apply rice flour on both sides when spreading the dhal filled dough ball. Somehow this made the spreading process really easy. Use ghee for frying. Do try it and Happy cooking!!!



Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Muruku / Jantikalu


When I think of muruku I remember Deepavali. Thats the only time of the year my mom used to make this delicacy. I should confess that I couldn't get the taste of her preparation when I make it . Might be it's due to the difference in the rice flour. I used a store bougt one and my mom used to soak raw rice, dry it in shade and then grind it along with roasted urid dhal. Even the ground flour smelled too good. Rajender likes this snack. So I made it few days back.  I wanted to post it on this special occassion of Ugadi. I should also mention about my mom-in-law in this post. She is very talented in preparing snacks and sweets. Even the neighbours seek her help for making snacks. When my mom-in-law prepares adhirasam / arisil there will be many of her friends present. It will be like a festival. They easily prepare hundreds of arisil a day. There will be lots of interesting chatting going on and at the same time their hands will be working very artistically. I really admire my mom-in-law. Once I tried making adhirasam myself. I thought being her daughter-in-law I should also be good in making snacks and sweets . So one fine day I told Rajender, I am going to prepare arisil. He looked at me and said Manju no need. Why do you want to trouble yourself? (the hidden meaning is please do not trouble me by dumping all the extra works on me!!! ). I replied 'no, no I have seen athamma prepare it. Thats very easy. Get ready to eat wonderful arisil'. I worked on it very hard. Even the rice flour when mixed with jaggery syrup tasted superb. I am in an elated state of mind till I dropped the prepared dough in oil. All my happiness vanished in a second. The prepared dough broke into pieces (not even into big pieces). And there ended my story of making adhirasam. But I am sure I will be as proficient as my mom-in-law in making adhirasam one day . So coming back to the muruku story, I prepared muruku using store bought rice flour. It tasted good but not as good as my mom's or mother-in-law's . So here comes the recipe for it:

Ingredients

Rice flour-3 cups
Urid dhal flour- 1/2 cup
Seasame seeds- 2 tbspns
A pinch of asafoetida
Salt to taste and oil

Method

Dry roast a cup of urid dhal til they become slightly brown. Then grind them into a fine powder using mixier grinder. Now mix the ground urid dhal flour with rice flour. Then add seasame seeds, asafoetida and salt to the flour mixture. Prepare the dough by adding water to the mixture stirring continuously with a spatula. Be careful when adding water. You must be able to make a smooth dough out of it, the dough should not be watery.  Now take the muruku press and add enough dough into it. Then press it and at the same time circle your hand so that you get shapes as shown in the picture. Finally deep fry the prepared dough in enough oil. Tasty, crispy muruku will be ready.

Taste enhancing tipe for this recipe:  The amount of water you add to the flour in making the dough is very important. The dough should not be very dry. If it is dry the muruku will not have a proper shape. When you drop them in oil they will break into pieces. When it is too watery you cannot use them in muruku press. Do not overcrowd the pan when frying. If you overcrowd the pan you will loose the crispiness because of the drop in oil temperature. The dough should  prepared just before you are ready to make muruku. If you prepare the dough earlier the muruku will imbibe more oil. Happy cooking!!!


Ugadi Subakankshalu!!!

                               

    Wish you all a very beautiful year ahead!!!