Monday, 31 May 2010

Kothavarangai poriyal / Goru chikudukaya koora / Cluster beans stir-fry


I love this vegetable a lot. We call it as kothavarangai or cheeni avarakai. In telugu it is called as goru chikudukaya, matti kaya or gokarakaya. In hindi it is called as gavar. In english it is called as guar or cluster bean. When my mom makes it I am the one to finish it off by eating it just like a snack. Vatral made out of cheeni avarakai is another delicay which has a unique taste and flavour. I am very happy to see fresh cluster beans in grocery shop. I picked quite a lot and made it in a way I like most. So here is the recipe and the nutritional benefits of this wonderful veggie.

The scientific name of this annual legume is Cyamopsis tetragonolobus. It is high in fiber and proteinaceous too. But it lacks an essential amino acid called methionine. Whole-wheat flour is rich in methionine and when  this beans is eaten along with chappathi made with whole wheat flour, the combination is comparable to meat or egg because it is then a complete protein meal. Guar gum is primarily extracted from the endosperm of this bean. Guar gum is found to hinder with cholesterol absorption and thus helps in reducing serum LDL and triglycerides. It also increases glucose tolerance. So it is an excellent veggie for diabetics and for dieters.



Ingredients :

Kothavarangai or cluster beans- 250 gms
Onion- 1 no or 10 shallots
Green chillies- 5 nos (adjust according to your taste)
Curry leaves- a handful
Coconut scrappings- 3 tbspns
Jeera powder- 1 tspn
Pepper powder (coarsely ground)- 1 tspn
Turmeric powder- a pinch
Mustard, jeera and channa dhal- 1 tspn (for tadka)
Oil- 3 tbspns
Salt to taste

Method :

Wash and tear the beans into small pieces with your nails (I think this is the reason for the name goru (nail) chikudukaya). Mince onions and green chillies. Heat oil in a pan. When the oil is hot enough do the tempering by ading jeera, mustard and channa dhal. When the seeds splutter add onions, green chillies, a pinch of turmeric and curry leaves. Fry for sometime until the onions turn translucent. Now add the kothvarangai and sprinkle two handfuls of water. Saute until the water evaporates. Simmer and fry on low flame until the beans are done. Now add jeera powder, pepper powder and coconut scrapping. Mix well and saute for a few more minutes. Add salt to taste at the end of preparation. A very tasty kothavarangai poriyal will be ready. Serve with chappathi or rice.

Taste enhancing tips for this recipe : It is very important to retain the firmness of the beans. Do not cook until it becomes mashed and soft. My dad always said that vegetables taste best when they are half-cooked. That is very true and the half-cooked veggies are healthier too. Pepper adds a nice aroma to this dish. Coconut scrappings impart a nice taste and flavour. Happy cooking !!!

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Friday, 28 May 2010

Urulaikizhangu varuval / Deep fried potato scrappings / Bangaladumpa fry



This unhealthy (yea I agree!!!) but a very tasty, crispy potato fry I learned form one of my sister. She prepared this for her daughter who was in hostel at that time. When we went to the place where she was studying,  my sister gave a tiffin box to us to give to her. When we reached the place we handed it over to her. She opened the tiffin box and I saw that the entire tiffin box is being filled with this golden, crispy fry. As usual I just picked some immediately and dropped it in my mouth. Wow !!! what a treat it was :).

Do any of you love the potato remains that sticks to tha bottom of a pan when your mom prepares potato fry ? I love it. I adore it. I used to wait for that one teaspoon wonder all the time near the pan and I used to get upset when the potato behaves good and doesn't leave its mark on the pan :). The potato remains taste exactly like this fry. So I enquired about the recipe and this is the first time I made it. Try it, your children will love it. This is not a healthy way to prepare potato but once in a while should be OK.




Ingredients :

Potato- 2 nos
Red chilli powder- according to your need and taste
Salt to taste
Oil for deep frying

Method :

Wash the potato well and scrap the potatoes using a scrapper. Now squeeze the scrappings to remove excess liquid. Deep fry them in hot oil. Take them out when they acquire a golden colour. Place them on tissue paper to remove excess oil. When they cool down add enough chilli powder and salt and mix well with your hands. Tasty potato fry will be ready in no time.

Taste enhancing tips for this recipe : Remove the excess liquid from the scrappings by squeezing them otherwise they will imbibe oil. You can add garlic scrappings and curry leaves when frying for that extra aroma. Add salt and chilli powder only at the end of preparation. Serve with rasam saadham. Happy cooking !!!

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Vendakkai finger chips / Ladies finger chips / Bendakaya vepudu


A very simple recipe with the gorgeous ladies finger. It will suit people who dislike its gluey nature. Children will absolutely love it. I loved it the first time I made it and finished it within no time.


  

Ingredients :

Ladies finger / Vendakkai- 250gms
Gram flour / besan- 2 tbspns
Rice flour or corn flour- 2 tbspns
Red chilli powder- 1 tspn 
Jeera powder- 1 tspn
Pepper powder- 1 tspn
Salt to taste
Oil- 4 tbspns

Method :

Mix besan, rice or corn flour, red chilli powder, jeera powder and pepper powder with enough salt and make a thick paste using water. Now cut the vendakkai as shown in picture. Apply a thin coating of this flour mixture to vendakkai. Heat oil in a heavy bottom pan and slowly roast the marinated ladies finger until they become crispy and golden brown in colour. It makes a tasty, fiber rich snack or it goes very will with dhal and rice.

Taste enhancing tips for this recipe : Make a thick paste with the ingredients. Do not make a thick coating  of batter on ladies finger. Make a very thin coating. Slow roast the ladies finger to get the desired consistency. If you do it on high flame the ladies finger for sure will get charred. Happy cooking !!!

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Chenai kizhangu fry / Suran fry / Yam fry


A very simple fry, yet very tasty. It pairs excellent with sambhar saadham. A healthy alternative to potatoes. Try it. You will love it.


Ingredients :

Chenai kizhangu / suran / yam- 1/4 kg
Garlic- 10 pods, crushed with skin intact
Curry leaves- three fistfuls (its a lot but imparts a very nice flavour)
Red  chilli powder- 1 tspn
Turmeric- a pinch
Mustard, jeera and urid dhal- 1/2 tspn 
Salt to taste
Oil- 3 tbspns

Method :

Cut yam into small pieces as shown in picture. Crush the garlic with skin. Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan. When the oil is hot add mustard, jeera and urid dhal. When urid dhal browns add the crushed garlic,curry leaves and a pinch of turmeric. Fry for a minute and then add the yam pieces. Now slow raost the entire mixture on a low flame until the yam is cooked and turns crispy. When the yam is done sprinkle salt and chilli powder. Mix well and serve with sambhar saadham (rice). 

Taste enhancing tips for this recipe : Most important part is the slow roasting. Keep the flame on sim and roast it slowly until done. This adds very nice crispiness without getting overcooked. The curry leaves and  garlic also tuirns very crispy and very yummy to eat. You can sprinkle a handfull of water if needed. Add salt and chilli powder only at the end of preparation. You should select a good variety yam and everything depends on yam quality. Happy cooking !!!

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Spargelcremesuppe / Asparagus cream soup


Germans go nuts over spargel. The previous statement is not an overrated one. It is 100% true. When I came to Germany my labmate got a bundle of spargel from one of her friend. Her face was shining more than usual and I am very curious to know what that white coloured bundle was. She told me it is spargel and it is called as asparagus in english. I asked her how she will prepare it. She said she will prepare soup out of it or just cook and eat them. This vegetable is available only during a particular time period  (end of april to end of june) and they call this period as asparagus time or ''spargelzeit''. Every hotel in Germany will serve a special meal with spargel at this time.

Spargel come in green and white colour. The white ones are German's favourite. White asparagus are costly because of the enormous labour associated with its cultivation. The fields on which white asparagus is grown will be covered with a thick cover to prevent sun light entering the cultivation area. This totally prevents the photosynthesis and hence the white clour of the white-asparagus. The harvest of asparagus is also a time-consuming and labour-intensive process. It has to be harvested with hand. Because of all these reasons they also cost much. But nothing prevents Germans from enjoying this mild variety, nutty flavoured spargel. 

The amino acid asparagine got its name from Asparagus officinalis since it is rich in it. It has no cholesterol and contains very less calories and sodium. It is also a good source of vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium and zinc, and a very good source of dietary fiber, protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, thiamin, riboflavin, rutin, niacin, folic acid, iron, phosphorus, potassium, copper, manganese and selenium (Source : wikipedia). 

I got this recipe from a German cookbook, which I borrowed from a friend ( Thank you Julia !!) . This is my first try and I should say the soup turned out to be several times yummy than the commercially available soup powder.  Healthy, wholesome and very satisfying, one should definitely try this German delicacy.


 


Ingredients :

Asparagus- one bundle (10-12 stalks)
Whole milk- one cup ( I substituted milk for cream)
Spring onions- 1 bunch
Refined wheat flour or maida- 2 tbspns
Butter- 1 tbspn
Salt and black pepper to taste

Method :

Wash and peel the asparagus. It has a thick outer sheath. With a peeler remove that outer sheath. Discard the bottom muddy and woody region too (1/2 inch). Now cut the asparagus into small pieces and boil them in water for 15 minutes. Strain the mixture and save both the water and the cooked asparagus shoots. When the asparagus shoots cool down grind them to a smooth paste using a food processor. Now add the ground paste into the water in which asparagus was cooked and mix well. Take a pot and heat it. Melt the butter in it. Now add maida and fry it until it acquires a light brown colour. Add some minced spring onions too. When the flour becomes light brown add the asparagus mixture (ground asparagus in water). Add a cup of milk and bring it to a boil.  Simmer the mixture for another 5 minutes. Add salt to taste. When serving garnish with freshly ground black pepper and minced spring onions. A rich and  creamy asparagus soup will be ready to be relished.

Taste enhancing tips for this recipe : Take care to romove the outer sheath and the bottom muddy shoot. If you do not remove the outer sheath properly the preparation acquires a bitter taste. Make it more creamy and not watery. Happy cooking !!!

Monday, 24 May 2010

Oyster mushroom kuzhambu / Gravy with oyster mushrooms


Hi friends, hope you all had a wonderful weekend. Our weekend was fine. We went on a trip to a city called Hamm. There is a big Kamakshi Amman temple. Will be posting some pictures of the journey soon. Here in Germany, today is a holiday too. We enjoyed this long weekend and I really feel lazy to get up earlier tomorrow :(.

How many of you like mushrooms? I guess not many. I am also not a fan of button mushrooms but these oyster mushrooms are a lovely, tasty and healthy treat. The oyster mushrooms which grow naturally on bark of banana-plant during rainy season have no equivalents. Since I come from a village surrounded by banana plantation we used to get them during rainy season. They taste like mutton, even more tastier.  Village children  used to eat them raw. Here in Germany we get artificially cultivated oyster mushrooms. Although they are not as tasty as the natural ones they taste good. Fry it or make a gravy out of it like this, they make an excellent accompaniment for rice and cahppathis. Back in India, every sunday we used to enjoy this mushroom fry and kuzhambu. If you haven't tried oyster mushrooms its time to try. 

The scientific name of oyster mushroom is  Pleurotus Ostreatus. They have very low fat content. They are also rich in cholesterol fighting statin called mevinolin. Oyster mushrooms have high protein and B complex vitamin content. Hence they make an excellent meat substitute for vegetarians. They have proven anti-tumour, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and anti-bacterial property.





Ingredients :

Oyster mushrooms- 250 grams
Tomato- 2 nos
Onion- 1 no or 10 shallots
Coconut milk- one cup or 2 tbspns of coconut powder
Ginger- a small piece, crushed
Garlic- 2 pods, crushed
Green chillies- 4 nos
Coriander powder- 2 tspns
Chilli powder- 2 tspns (adjust according to your taste)
Garam masala- 1 tspn (optional)
Turmeric- a pinch
Curry leaves- fistful
Cloves- 4 nos
Cinnamon- a half-inch piece

Method :
Tear mushrooms with your hand into big pieces (they shrunk when cooked, they have high water content). Wash them and keep aside. Cut onions and tomatoes into small pieces. Mince green chillies. Crush ginger and garlic. Heat oil in a pan. When the oil gets heated add cloves and cinnamon. When they emit a nice aroma add onions, green chillies, crushed ginger and garlic, turmeric and curry leaves. When the onions turn translucent add  tomato pieces and salt to taste. Fry the mixture until the tomatoes become soft. Now add coriander and chilli powder and saute well until the raw smell goes away. Add oyster mushrooms  at this stage and saute well for a few minutes. When they ooze out water and shrink add a cup of coconut milk. Add some water if necessary. Bring the mixture to boil and simmer it until the oil seperates on the top. Tasty kuzhambu will be ready to be served.

Taste enhancing tips for this recipe : Use fresh coconut milk if possible. Use oyster mushrooms for a better taste. The stem potion of the oyster mushroom is the most tastiest. Please do not throw away the stem. Button mushrooms can also be used. Fry the mushrooms well before you add coconut milk. Add any garam masala at the end of preparation for more flavour. Happy cooking !!!

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Friday, 21 May 2010

Uzhundha vadai / medhu vadai / mina pappu garelu / urid dhal fritters


A very healthy and tasty snack,  especially for children. I love the smell, outer crispiness and inner softness of this vadai. Quick and easy to prepare and it makes a wholesome snack too. Any tamilian will go ga-ga for this vada preparation :). Usually this vada is served along with venpongal or idly in hotels and it goes very well with sambhar and coconut chutney. In south India it is a must during festival feasts.
 

 


Ingredients:

Urid dhal - 1 1/2 cup
Onion- 1 no
Green chillies- 4 nos
Ginger- 1/2 inch piece
Curry leaves- some 10 leaflets, minced finely
Jeera- 1/2 tspn
Pepper corns- 10 nos (coarsely grounded)
Oil for deep frying
Salt to taste

Method : 

Soak urid dhal in water for 40 minutes. Cut onions, green chillies and ginger into small pieces. Mince curry leaves and coarsely ground pepper corns. Grind the soaked urid dhal in a food processor to a smooth paste. Add enough salt when grinding. The batter should be thick and not watery. Now mix onions, green chillies, ginger, curry leaves, jeera and pepper to the ground batter. Mix well. Take a small lime-sized ball of batter and make it flat. Make a hole in the center of the flattened batter with your finger. Now drop it in hot oil. Fry all the batter in the same way. Crispy, soft medhu vada or uzhundha vada is ready to be served.

Taste enhancing tips for this recipe : You can add two teaspoon of tuvar dhal when soaking the uri ddhal and grind together. I read in a magazine that it increases the crispiness of vada. You can grind the batter coarsely too. That gives a different, more crispy taste. Do not soak the dhal for more than one hour. Do not make the batter watery. The batter should be thick enough so that the vada imbibes less oil.  But when the batter is too thick the vada becomes hard and rubbery. So find a balance in the consistency of the batter. You can shape the vada with your hand. But before doing this dip your hand in water so that the batter doesn't stick to your hand. Otherwise you can use polythene sheets which are coated with oil for shaping the vadas. You can add carrot scrapping, coconut pieces, any minced healthy greens to the batter for that extra touch. Serve with coconut chutney. Happy cooking !!!

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Vazhaipoo kola urundai / Arati puvvu vada


Vazhaipoo kola urundai is one of my favourite dish .  Plantain flowers not only look very beautiful but they are very tasty too.  Each and every part of banana plant is used in cooking. Since there are lots of plantain farms near my home we get these infloresence more often. When I come from school I can easily say whether there is plantain infloresence (Infloresence is the collection of banana flowers and it looks like as shown in the first picture of the collage)  in my home just by the smell of it. If you keep the plantain infloresence in your kitchen the entire kitchen smells very good. It is not like the usual  sweet scent of most flowers. It is different  (like the raw plantain smell, but more stronger ) and somehow the smell of these flowers stimulates my apetite. 

My dad and myself are big fans for these plantain flowers. My dad had many sweet memories associated with this. He used to remember his granpa more often. He would say that his granpa is such a nice and kind human being who is very fond of his grandchildren. When he goes to the plantain farm he used to bring these flowers for his grandchildren. The reason is, you can find honey dew within each banana flower and that nectar  tastes very sweet and refreshing. You should taste them....wow!!! They are one of my childhood favourites. When the plantain flowers are fresh and brought direct from the farm and most importantly in the early morning, you can find a drop of jelly-like, nectar inside each mature flower. My dad used to remember how his grandpa used to come from the farm with these banana infloresence hanging arond his neck, tied together by a rope and with a broad smile in his face. The grandchildren will be eagerly waiting for his arrival. The liquid which oozes out from the parts of plantain plant produces a nasty stain in the clothes. But his grandpa never cared about that. Still my great grandad's white shirts with banana stain is lying in my home. My dad kept them as a treasure and used to wear them during his granddads death anniversary every year, for sometime. That gave him  a kind of satisfaction. My great granddad's sole aim was to see the happy smile of his grandchildren when he brings them something to eat and I must say that my dad came from a very poor family and the children rarely had any rich snacks. When my dad explains all this I loved to see the light in his eyes. He will be deeply involved in his chilhood memories of his grandad and the enjoyment they had with these flowers when they are young. I am sure those lovely memories made him to teach me and my sister about these banana nectar and where to look for them :).

How to clean the banana flower :
The first picture of the collage shows the banana infloresence. Each bunch of banana flowers are covered by the purple coloured bract. Remove each bract you will find the slim, nectar-rich, tubular, toothed, white flowers. They are shown in the second picture of collage. I should confess that I never get a fresh plantain flower from the shops here. That is why you see a black area in the flowers. They are not spoiled but they have become black as a result of long storage and exposure to air. Now see the third and the fourth picture of collage. They demonstrate you which parts of the flowers are non-edible and has to be removed. The parts that has to be removed are too thick so they cannot be used in cooking. The fifth picture shows  the  immature infloresence you will find when you remove  a few layers of outer bracts and flowers. Just peel the banana infloresence layer by layer and you will find this immature collection of flowers at the center. They taste very, very, very yummy. When my mom is peeling the infloresence and collecting the flowers I will be eagerly waiting for this. You can just eat them raw :). The sixth picture of the collage shows the collection of flowers after removing the two non-needed parts. Now everything is ready for preparing the recipe. The more mature flowers will be on the outer layer of the infloresence and they become the banana or plantain in future and the lesser mature ones are more inside. When you buy a banana flower seperate the flowers into very mature and less mature ones. More mature flowers can be used for making this dish and the less mature ones and the beautiful immature infloresence in the fifth picture of the collage (if at all it is left without being eaten by you or your children) can be used for making yummy pulikuzhambu. This link has the best pictures please have a look.

Banana flower is rich in fiber. It is considered as an excellent remedy for painful mensturation and other menstural irregularities. It is thought to be good for lactating mothers. Beleive me this is very tasty too :).




Ingredients :

Banana flower (cleaned and chopped finely, mature ones on the top of the infloresence)- 1 cup
Fried bengal gram dhal / pottukadalai- 1/2 cup
Onions- 1/2 or 4 shallots
Coconut meat- 2 one inch pieces
Fennel seeds- 1 tspn
Pepper corns- 1 tspn
Dried red chillies- 5 nos (adjust according to your taste)
Ginger- 1/2 inch piece
Garlic-2 pods
Oil for deep frying
Salt to taste

Method :

Use the mature flowers of banana blossom or infloresence for this recipe. Remove the non-wanted parts from the individual banana flowers as shown in picture. Then cut them into small pieces and soak them in buttermilk. Now slice the coconut pieces. In a food processor grind together the banana flowers, fried gram dhal, fennel seeds, pepper corns, coconut pieces, dried red chillies, ginger and garlic with enough salt. The ground batter should be similar to vada batter. Now make small balls of the batter and fry them in hot oil. Repeat this process in batches. Very, very tasty kola urundai is ready to be relished.

Taste enhancing tips for this recipe : Selection of banana blossom or infloresence is very important. Look at the first picture of the collage. The blossom should have a red colour at the bottom. Then you can be sure that this blossom tastes good without the bitter taste. There are many varieties of banana and only the flowers from some banana varieties (country variety banana blossoms) taste good without the bitter taste. The removing of the unwanted parts from the flowers is a long job but be patient the final product will make you happy.  The unwanted parts has to be removed only from the mature flower and in the immature, little flowers they pose no problem since they are soft and edible. The liquid oozing from the banana blossom creates nasty stain on clothes and even in your hand. Take care not to bring them in contact with the clothes and apply oil in your hand to prevent staining of your hands when processing the flowers for cooking. Soak the cut flowers in buttermilk. This helps in preventing the unpleasant, black colour that they acquire when they are exposed to air. Do not forget fennel seeds and pepper corns. They add zest to the dish. If the batter has become thinner and watery add corn flour or rice flour to make it thicker. These kola urundai make excellent snacks for young children and adults. They taste yummy with 'pappu sadham' too. Happy cooking !!!

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Kollu rasam / Horse gram rasam / Ulava chaaru


Kollu in Tamil, ulavalu in Telugu, kulith in Marathi and horsegam in english, these lovely little beans  look very beautiful. My mom never used this lentil in cooking. I am introduced to this lentil by one of my friend named Singaravelan. He used to bring this rasam. He prepares it himself. Sometimes he even has beetroot in his rasam preparation :). Few times I got a chance to taste his kollu rasam. It tasted very good. He used to say that kollu has many medicinal properties. 

The scientific name of horsegram is Macrotyloma uniflorum. It is generally used as a horse feed. It is very rich in iron and molybdenum. They are also high in polyphenol content. They have high amonut trypsin inhibitor. So it is always better to soak them or roast them well before cooking, otherwise the trypsin inhibitors  willl interfere with protein digestion. 

Kollu or horse gram  is appreciated for its medicinal properties. In tamilnadu villages people prepare it when somebody in home is suffering from fever. It is also thought to help with water retention. People with kidney stones are encouraged to include it more often in their diet. Kollu is also claimed to be good for losing weight. Whetever might be,  the rasam prepared with kollu tastes wonderful with a mild nutty flavour. I love it. Hope you will  like it too.






Ingredients :

Kollu or horsegram - three handfuls
Tomato- 1 no
Tamarind- size of a small lemon
Green chillies- 3 nos
Red chillies- 4 nos
Jeera seeds- 1 heaped tspn
Pepper corns- 1 tspn
Fnugreek, mustard and jeera seeds- 1/2 tspn each for tempering
Turmeric powder- 1 /2 tspn
Asafoetida powder- 1/4 tspn
Garlic- 6 pods
Coriander leaves- a handful
Curry leaves- 20 leaflets
Oil- 3 tbspns
Salt to taste

Method :

First roast the kollu in a hot pan until they acquire a darker colour and emit a nice aroma. Then pressure cook it until they are cooked. The water in which the horsegram is cooked acquires a dark brown colour. This water should be used for making rasam. I guess this water is rich in polyphenols and iron. Seperate the cooked kollu from the remaining water. Grind the cooked kollu in a food processor to a paste. Soak tamarind and extract its juice. Now add tomato, coriander leves, curry leaves and kollu paste ( how much to add depends on you. If you need a thick rasam add more kollu paste) to the diluted tamarind water. With your hand mash the tomatoes and all other ingredients well. Now take red chillies, green chillies, garlic, jeera and pepper corns in a food processor. Just give a pulse spin to grind them coarsely. Tansfer these ground itmes into the tamarind water mixed with other ingredients. Mix everything well with your hand. Add turmeric and asafoetida powder to this mixture. Now heat a pan with oil. When the oil gets hot enough add fenugreek seeds. When they become brown and emit a nice aroma add mustard and jeera seeds. When they splutter add the entire tamarind water mixture to the pan. When the top of the mixture foaths remove from fire and add enough salt to taste. A very tasty, healthy, aromatic kollu rasam will be ready to be served.

Taste enhancing tips for this recipe : Kollu contains small stones hidden between them. Make sure to clean the kollu before you use. Either soak or roast kollu well before cooking. Never allow the rasam to boil. When it froaths on the top (as shown in last picture of the collage) you should remove from fire. Add salt only at the end of rasam preparation. Kollu gets charred easily. So when roasting stir them frequently: Happy cooking !!!

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Chaalna / Salna



Chaalna with parotta, a drool-worthy combination :). In Madurai there are lots of road-side restaurants and they were in news very recently for the wrong cause too. Please do forget about it and enjoy this post. Most road-side restaurants in Madurai prepare parotta and chaalna in the evening. If you cross those stalls the smell of this chaalna will be very inviting. When I get a chance to eat something from hotel, I used to ask my grandpa for this. He orders it from the nearby hotel and ofcourse without the knowledge of my parents. My dad would have been very angry with me if he knew that I eat from road-side stalls :D.  I make this combo at home now-a-days,  but very rarely. Rajender is not a fan of such heavy dishes. He loves simple and healthy ones and no need to say I am a person with an opposite taste. It is not a very unhealthy dish altogether. But it is better to have it rarely because of the heavy fat and carb content of parotta. In this post I will concentrate on chaalna recipe. Hope you will love it. This chaalna tastes excellent with chappathi too.

Ingredients :

Chicken- 1/2 kg
Onion- 2 nos or 10 shallots
Green chilly- 4 nos
Ginger- an inch piece
Garlic- 5 pods
Coconut meat- 2 big pieces
Fennel seeds- 1 tspn (very important ingredient)
Pepper corns- 1 tspn
Coriander powder- 2 tbspns
Chilli powder- 2 tspns (adjust accordig to your taste)
Cinnamon- an inch piece
Cardamom- 3 nos
Cloves- 4 nos
Star anise- 1 no
Mace- 1 no
Oil- 5 tbspns
Salt to taste.

Method :

Mince onions. Seperate the minced onions into two equal parts and keep aside. Make thin slices of coconut meat. Slit the green chillies. Mince garlic and ginger. Now heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a pan. Add onions, ginger, garlic, fennel seeds, pepper corns and green chilli pieces. Saute well for two minutes. Now add the coconut slices to the sauteed mixture. Saute everything well for another five minutes on low flame. Switch off the stove and cool the sauteed ingredients. Now grind everything in a food processor. Cut and clean the chicken and keep aside. Add oil in a pan and when the oil is hot enough add cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, star anise and mace. When they emit a nice aroma add the remaining onions and saute well until they turn translucent. Now add the chicken pieces and saute them in oil until the flesh becomes whitish in colour.  When the flesh of chicken becomes white add enough salt, coriander and chilli powder and mix everything well. Saute for a minute and then add the ground masala. Mix everything well and add enough water. Allow the mixture to boil and once it boils, simmer for further 15 minutes or until the chicken is soft enough. Serve with hot, hot parotta or lacha parathas.

Taste enhancing tips for this recipe : Never forget fennel seeds. Thats the ingredient which gives chaalna its nice flavour. Coconut is a must in this recipe. Do not discard the chicken fat completely. Add some fat pieces for a nice flavour and taste. The final preparation should not be too thick. It should be bit on the thinner side. When you pour it on the parotta it should soak the entire parotta and when you have them........hmmmmm...it will be simply yummy!!! I am drooling now :P. Happy cooking !!!

Thank you Prani :) I forgot the main ingredient chicken hehe...thats very kind of you to point it out.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Vegetable pulao

  


When I am in a hurry and need a wholesome luch or dinner I prepare this vegetable pulao. Since I love my dishes to be colourful, I use whatever veggie I have, both fresh and frozen. I prepare this one pot meal in rice cooker and it will be ready in minutes. Tastes simple and great. Definitely a bachelor freindly recipe :).



Ingredients :
Basmati rice- 2 cups
Any veggie of your choice- 1-2 cups
Onion- 1 no
Green chilli-  4 nos
Gralic- 4 pods
Ginger- 1/2 inch piece
Fennel seeds- 1 tspn
Cardamom- 3 nos
Cinnamon sticks- an inch piece
Cloves- 4 nos
Oil- 4 tbspns
Salt to taste

Method :

Slice onions,  mince green chillies, ginger and garlic. Heat oil in a pan. When it becomes hot add cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and fennel seeds. When the fennel splutter add onions, green chillies, ginger and garlic. Saute well for two minutes. Now add all the diced vegetables. Suate for one minute. Now add the basmati rice and again saute for a minute. Now add enough water ( I normally add 3 glass of water for 2 cups of rice). Amount of water needed depends on the type of rice you use. Add salt to taste. Now transfer everything to rice cooker and cook until done. A very easy, quick and wholesome lunch or dinner will be ready. Serve with any raita of your choice.

Taste enhancing tips for this recipe : Potato and green beans add nice flavour to the dish. If you wish you can add 1/2 cup of coconut milk. Replace this 1/2 cup of coconut milk for 1/2 cup of water.  Otherwise you can add 1 teaspoon of coconut milk powder. This tastes equally good. You can also add coriander leaves for extra flavour at the end of preparation. Replacing 1 tablespoon of oil with butter also adds taste to the dish. If you wish you can garnish with roasted cashews. Take care to add proper amount of water and not to make the rice mushy. Happy cooking !!!

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Friday, 14 May 2010

Milagai bajji / Mirapakaya bajjilu / Fritters with green chilli peppers

 

Do you love the smell of green chilli peppers? I do. I just love the smell and these bajjis are  an excellent way to enjoy their warmth and flavour. My first meeting with chilli bajjis was during our school trip to Ooty. Everywhere you can see small vendors selling them hot, hot and for that cold ooty climate they make an excellent snack. Recently, during our India visit we had fresh, very hot green chillies direct from the farm.  They looked very tempting. So me and my mom-in-law made some bajjis with it. I noticed that my mom-in-law made a very quick and easy filling just with garam masala. They tasted very good. So I would like to share her method with you all.


Ingredients :

Green chilli peppers (less hot variety)- 6 nos
Garam masala- any garam masala of your choice, chat masala will also be too good- 1 tspn
Besan or gram dhal flour- 1 cup
Rice flour- 1/4 cup
Red chilli powder- 1/2 tspn
Baking soda- 1/8 tspn (optional)
Asafoetida- few pinches
Salt to taste
Oil for deep frying

Method :
Mix besan, rice flour, red chilli powder, asafoetida, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Now add water to make a thick paste. The consistency of the batter should be similar to idly batter. Wash the green chillies. Wipe them with a clean cloth. Make slit on each chillies as shown in picture. Now mix the garam masala of your choice with little salt. Apply this mixture into the slit as a thin coating. Then dip individual chillies into the batter and and deep fry them in hot oil. Very tasty bajjis will be ready.

Taste enhancing tips for this recipe : Batter consistency is important. It should be thick enough to coat the chilli peppers uniformly. I love if the chillies are a bit hot. Try this garam masala stuffing, it tastes really good. But the garam masala mixed with salt should be applied only as a thin coat, do not stuff it. If you use a hot variety chilli try removing its seeds and try soaking them in salted water for 8 hours . This will help to reduce their hotness.  Happy cooking !!! and have a wonderful weekend ahead!!!

Actually there are several types of filling used for making milagai bajji. Some people use ajwain seeds containing filling, some use seasame seeds and some use onions but for me the bajjis taste very good without any filling because I feel the fillings mentioned above overpower the real taste and flavour of chilli peppers. The filling my mom-in-law used was perfect. It did not overpower the real chilli pepper taste.Hope you will also like it too :)

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Maangai thuvayal / Raw mango chutney


A very simple, no-cook dish. I love it from my childhood. When my mom makes it I will be waiting nearby her to get that first tasting experience. Remembered it after a long time and asked my mom for the recipe and here it is for you all. The fresh smell of raw mango, pearl onions, green chillies and ginger makes this dish divine !!!

Ingredients :

Raw mango- 1 small, sour one
Pearl onions / shallots - 2-5 nos, depending on its size
Green chillies- 4 nos
Coconut piece- 2 big ones
Ginger- a small piece
Salt to taste

Method :

Cut everything into pieces and grind them together using a food processor. Maangai thuvayal will be ready. It tastes excellent with rice congee, pazhaya saadham ( previous day rice soaked in water), curd rice and also makes an excellent companion for idlies.

Taste enhancing tips for this recipe : Never do tempering. Use only fresh coconut. You can also use red chillies in the place of green ones. Do not forget ginger.  Happy cooking !!!

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Vengaya bajji / Onion bajji / Fritters with onion


Very tasty and aromatic snack. Can be prepared in no time. When we go to Rajender's native and visit our friends and relatives there, this was the main snack item they serve us. Enjoying their talk, sitting with a plate of vengaya bajji in hand and a cup of hot tea - that is what is called as heaven on earth :). This is a perfect dish for onion lovers.





Ingredients :

Onions- 2 nos
Bengal gram flour- 1 cup
Rice flour- 1/4 cup
Chilli powder- 1 tspn
Green chillies-3 nos (optional)
Egg- 1 no (optional)
Asafoetida- few pinches
Salt to taste
Oil for deep frying

Method :

Cut onions as shown in picture. Mix the gram flour and rice flour with onions nicely with your hand. The flour should coat all the onion pieces. If you are using egg, break the egg open and mix with onions and flour mixture at this stage. Now add water little by little to get a consistency which is not so watery and not too thick. Actually it should be close to the thicker side but not too dry. Mix in chilli powder, asafoetida and enough salt. Now heat oil in a pan and fry the prepared batter containing onions in batches. Tasty, tasty snack will be ready in a jiffy.

Taste enhancing tips for this recipe : Bajji should be soft and not that crispy as pakodas. You can adjust the crispiness by varying the amount of water. The final mixture should not be very dry. It shoould not be too watery too. Adding egg imparts that extra softness. Do not forget asafoetida. If you are allergic to besan you can use moong dhal flour. The taste of bajjis made with moong dhal flour will be a bit different but it will not compromise the taste. Enjoy the pakoda with a glass of hot tea on a cold day for that extra effect :). Happy cooking !!!

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Chenai / Senai kizhangu pulikuzhambu / yam in tamarind based gravy


Back again with another pulikuzhambu :). I hope most of you know about this senai kizhangu. In english it is called as yam but there are several varieties of yam. Yam is a common name for starchy tubers of the family dioscorea. I have seen some varieties of yam that are unique to Africa and  Srilanka. The picture above shows an Indian variety yam. Yams are high in vitamin C, dietary fiber, vitamin B6, pottasium and manganese. Yam products generally have lower glycenic index than potato products. 

My mom prepares it in a  very tasty way. She uses fried coconut for making this dish. In Kerala they call it as 'theeyal'.  Wikipedia says theeyal can be literally translated as 'burnt dish'. Coconut is fried or 'burnt' until it acquires a dark brown colour and hence the name 'theeyal'.  Look at the colour of this dish. Beautiful rich brown colour right? This colour is obtained by adding fried coconut and tamarind juice. Tastewise nothing can compete with it.. If you crave for 'meen kuzhambu' (fish curry) and you have only this senai kizhangu, do not worry. This dish tastes like meen kuzhambu minus the fish smell. The next day of preparation this dish will be extra yummy. You can have this with hot rice. It goes very well with idly and dosa too.




Ingredients :

Senai kizhangu - 1/4 kg
Tamarind- size of a small lemon (soaked in warm water and juice extracted)
Coconut scrappings- 4 tbspns ( dried ones are also OK)
Dried red chilli- 8 nos (be careful, adjust according to your taste)
Onion- 1 no
Tomato- 1 no
Curry leaves- some 30-40 leaflets
Coriander powder- 2 tbspns
Turmeric powder- a pinch
Asafoetida- a pinch
Fenugreek seeds-1 tspn
Jeera and mustard seeds- 1 tspn each
Oil- 4 tbspns (preferably seasame oil)
Salt to taste

Method : 

Cut onions and tomato into small pieces. Soak the tamarind in warm water and extract juice. Fry coconut scrappings and red chilli in medium heat until the coconut scrappings become dark brown. The smell of fried coconut will be very nice and inviting. Then grind the fried coconut and red chilli into a smooth paste in your food processor. Heat a pan. Add oil and when the oil is hot enough add the fenugreek seeds. When they become brown and emit a nice aroma, add mustard and jeera seeds. When they splutter add onions, tomato, turmeric and asafoetida powder. Saute well until the onions turn translucent. Now add coriander powder and the ground coconut, red chilli paste. Mix well. Add tamarind water and allow the mixture to boil. When it boils simmer it for 15 minutes until the oil seperates out. Add salt only at the end of preparation. A very tasty puli kuzhambu will be ready.

Taste enhancing tips for this recipe : The nature of senai kizhangu is very important. You should be lucky enough to get a good variety tuber which cooks well. Sometimes you end up with senai kizhangu which is very watery in nature. So they will never become soft. They will remain crispy how much you cook.  Add salt only after the yam is cooked. Add enough salt and chilli to balance the sourness of the tamarind. Happy cooking !!!

Monday, 10 May 2010

Tomato, potato and capsicum curry


Before, Rajender used to prepare this gravy very often. Actually you give him tomato and any other veggie, he can make a curry out of it. He loves tomatoes. He taught me this. He used to say that his friend's sister taught him this curry. I just love it. This curry tastes excellent with hot rice and goes very well with chappathis too. The flavours of capsicum, potato and tomato mingled together in a colourful gravy will make anyone drool. This is one of our comfort dish. Try it you will love it for its simplicity and flavour.

Ingredients :

Tomato- 4 nos
Potato- 2 nos
Capsicum (green)- 1 no
Onions- 1 no
Green chillies- 4 nos
Curry leaves- some 20 leaflets
Chilli powder- 1 tspn 
Garam masala powder- 1 tspn
Turmeric powder- a pinch
Channa dhal- 1 tspn
Mustard, and jeera seeds- 1/2 tspn each for tempering
Oil- 4 tbspns
Salt to taste

Method :

Cut tomato, potato and capsicum into bite sized pieces. Heat oil in a pan. When the oil is hot enough add channa dhal. When it starts to brown add mustard and jeera seeds. When they splutter add minced onions, green chillies, curry leaves and a pinch of turmeric. Saute well until the onions turn translucent. Now add potato and capsicum pieces and saute well for few minutes. At this stage add enough salt, chilli powder and tomato pieces. Mix well and allow the tomato to become soft. When the tomato is cooked well  adjust salt once again. Before switching off the stove add a teaspoon of any garam masala powder and mix well.  Serve hot with rice or chappathi.

Taste enhancing tips for this recipe : You can add a teaspoon of ginger-garlic paste when sauting onions. Adding fresh coriander leaves at the end of the recipe preparation adds much flavour to this recipe. The sourness of tomato should be balanced with enough salt and chilli powder. Use sour tomatoes for this recipe. Happy cooking !!! and have a wonderful week ahead!!

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Thayir saadham / Curd rice / Dadojanam



When Jyoti of Panch Pakwan announced mother's day event, I am not sure what to send. I thought of many dishes which my mom makes. But nothing felt so special. I needed a dish which speaks of my moms love, which is very soothing to my heart and stomach. Atlast I decided that, this thayir saadham will be the best entry for her event. From my schooling to college, most of the days my lunch box consisted of this thayir saadham. My mom would wake up daily at 4'O clock in the morning. She prepares morning breakfast and also looks after all other petty things that has to be taken care. My dad and sister will be the first persons to leave home followed by me. Before that she has to prepare and serve us breakfast, pack our lunch box, arrange things for my dad and she has to feed our pets too :). It will be a pretty busy day for her. No servant-maid to help her too.  But at that age I never understood all that. Never helped her in anything nor did I stop complaining. I would say ' amma, everyday I have to eat only this thayir saadham, but all my friends bring many different variety of dishes'. I am sure that would have hurt her. She would try her level best to meet my demands. 

After coming here to Germany I realised the difficulty she would have undergone.  Here, I never woke up early enough to prepare and have a good breakfast. I never could pack my lunch for the afternoon too just beacause of my laziness. I spent my earlier days here skipping breakfast and munching on dry bread for lunch. During those times my eyes would fill with tears on the mere thought of my mom and her warm smile. I missed her so much. 

When I think of my mom, I  would always appreciate her patience, her warm smile even during difficult times of life, her humour sense, the sacrifices she had made for her children and for her husband, her love for animals, her willingness to help people who are in need, her humbleness and many more things. Everyone loves her. I am very proud that I am blessed to be her daughter. Even now, when I go through my share of difficult days, a phone call to her will make most of my unhappiness melt away. I feel I am charged with new energy. Her possitive energy fills me with happiness. Amma, thank you very much for being  there for me always. I have hurt you unknowingly, I have dumped my unhappiness on you and have taken your happiness with me many a time, yet you continue to love me with all your heart. Thank you very much amma and I LOVE YOU SO MUCH !!!

I wish my mom could read this because certain things can never be spoken so easily :).

Ok, coming back to this recipe...don't you think it looks yummy? It does. Fresh onions, ginger root,  green chillies  and coriander leaves imparts a nice aroma to this curd rice. With a dollop of pickle this tasty rice will fill me with warmth and happiness. I hope it does that magic to you too :).


Ingredients :

Rice- 2 cups ( either fresh or a day old rice)
Curd- 2 cups
Onions- preferably shallots, 5 nos
Ginger- a half inch piece
Green chillies, 4 nos (minced finely)
Coriander- a handful of fresh leaves minced finely
Curry leaves- 10 leaflets ( mince them into tiny pieces)
Urid dhal- 1 tspn
Channa dhal- 1 tspn
Jeera and mustard seeds- 1/2 tspn each
Asafoetida (hing) - a pinch
Oil for tempering- 3 tbspns
Salt to taste

Method :

Very simple. First mix the curd with rice. Add enough salt at this satge. Mix rice and curd with your hand very well. Add water if the mixture is too thick or too dry. Mince onions, ginger, green chillies, coriander leaves and curry leaves. Heat a pan. Add oil. When the oil is hot enough add urid dhal and channa dhal. When the lentils brown add jeera and mustard seeds. When they splutter add a pinch of asafoetida powder and minced ginger, onion, curry leaves and green chillies. Saute for few minutes until the onion is soft enough. Switch of the stove. Add fresh coriander leaves and transfer this mixture to the rice mixed with curd. Mix everything well. Serve with pickle of your choice.

Taste enhancing tips for this recipe : I would love the curd rice to be simple. You can add cashews or whatever you like. Even pomegranate is added to curd rice. Raw mango pieces definitely imparts a nice taste and flavour to the dish. When it made with leftover rice, which is soaked in water overnight, the taste  of curd rice increases several times. Happy cooking !!! and have a nice weekend ahead!!

This dish goes to Jyoti's Mother's day event. Thank you Jyothi !!! your event brought out out many happy memories burried in me :).

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Happy mother's day!!!

Happy weekend!!!

Friday, 7 May 2010

Kurbis suppe/ kürbissuppe / Pumpkin or cucurbita or squash soup



Yesterday was a very cold and rainy day. The weather forecasts say that, this horrible condition will last for another week. I need sun and warmth. I just hate Germany's weather. Because of this weather I felt very lazy and just wanted some warm fluid food to gulp down. No mood for the routine rice dishes. So thought of making some rich soup. I love soups. I am a big fan of Knorr soups which are sold in India. My dad loved soups too. The mushroom and  chicken Knorr soups sold in India are just awesome. On a very relaxed evening, me, my dad and my sister would sit with a bowl of Knorr soup and will have a nice chit chat. My mom hates soup and so is my husband :). Eventhough still I swear that the Knorr soups are very tasty they are too unhealthy. To be honest those soups only had some thickening agent like corn powder and some flavouring agents. Juts a bowl of unhealthy carb and nothing else.  

I have seen Germans make this pumpkin soup. The veggie in the picture is a pumpkin but a different variety than the Indian one. Here they call it as kürbis. I had kürbis soup once in a scientific conference and I just loved it.  One of my German friend  gave me a recipe book and I followed the recipe from there.  To tell the truth the final product was not as tasty as Knorr ones but definitely this soup is very healthy. I loved the colour and texture of this soup and the taste is bit different for my Indian taste buds. If I have added home made vegetable stock definitely the soup would have tasted much better but I used a store bought  vegetable stock cubes.

Before going into the soup recipe a few words about this kürbis. The flesh has a deep orangish yellow colour. It  is bit sweet and this veggie is very ric in fiber content. A bowl of kürbis satisfies 50% of your daily vitamin A requirement. It is also rich in vitamin C and phytonutrients which are found to have cancer-protective properties. They are also a rich source of folate. Whatelse reason do we need to enjoy a bowl of warm kurbis soup :) ?




Ingredients :

Kürbis / any yellow fleshed pumpkin-  1/4 kg
Onions- 2 nos
Butter- 2 tbspn
Vegetable stock- 1/2 liter (I used maggi stock cubes)
Nutmeg powder- few pinches
Black pepper- as per your taste
Salt as needed

Method :
Cut the pumpkin and remove its skin. (This is the most difficult part. It is as hard as a stone. To make the process easy you can also put half pumpkin in the oven for half-an-hour and then you can scoop out the flesh).  Remove the seeds and cube the flesh. Melt the butter in a pan and add sliced onions. Saute for a few minutes until they are soft. Then add the cubed pumpkin pieces and saute for a few minutes. Now add the vegetable stock, salt, a pinch of sugar and nutmeg powder and allow the mixture to boil. When it boils simmer it until the pumpkin pieces are soft enough. Then puree it. I used a mixer-ginder to puree it.  Garnish with freshly ground pepper powder. Have the soup with some crusty bread. A very wholesome, nutrient-rich soup will be ready to be served.

Taste enhancing tips for this recipe : Use a home made vegetable stock.  If you like it richer, garnish with few tablespoons of fresh cream. You can also try adding our spice mixture or few garlic pods when cooking. If the flesh is not sweet enough add a little sugar to bring out the sweet tinge. If you have a better version please let me know. Happy cooking !!!