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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Mysore Saaru

Saaru is an equivalent term to sambhar in Karnataka and there are several prominent regional variations of this day-to-day dish in the state. Today's version is from the Mysore region that I had bookmarked from Asha's blog many years ago. One of my close friend's mother happens to be from the region and so I had the opportunity to taste Mysore saaru plenty of times in her kitchen even though I didn't know what it was at that time and realized it only after trying today's version. Unfortunately it was a period when I was neither interested in the cooking process nor favorable towards the sambhar dish itself considering my affinity towards Andhra pulusu, growing up. Now since I could appreciate the flavors of sambhar, I keep on rotating sambhar powder recipes for variety sake. If you are like me, here is a variety for you.

The sambhar powder prepared from the following measurements yield more than you require for one time preparation of the sambhar and so it can be prepared ahead and used as and when required. The original recipe uses only a couple of dried red chillies and so if you exactly follow the original recipe, the sambhar would be very mild for those who are used to the spice levels of any regular sambhar. My friend's mother sambhar never used to be bland and so I increased the red chillies' quantity. Or red chili powder powder can be added while preparing the sambhar. I used mixed vegetables instead of the onions alone used in the recipe.

1 cup toor dal / lentils
1 tomato finely chopped
1 cup mixed vegetables of your choice
1/8 tsp. turmeric powder
Salt to taste
1 tbsp. thick tamarind puree (Adjust as needed.)
Cilantro to garnish
Ingredients for tempering:
 2 tsp. oil
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. mustard seeds
Few curry leaves
Pinch of asafoetida powder
1 dried red chilli
Ingredients to toast and grind:
2 tbsp. toor dal / lentils
2 tbsp. dhaniya / coriander seeds
2 tbsp. grated dry coconut
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. poppy seeds
1 tsp. rice
1 tsp. mustard seeds
1 tsp. peppercorns
1/2 tsp. fenugreek seeds
1 inch cinnamon piece
2 dried red chillies*
* I increased the quantity.

* Dry toast, cool and grind all the ingredients mentioned under 'to toast and grind'. Store the sambhar powder in a dry container. This powder can be prepared in advance and can be stored for about a couple of months.
* Pressure cook the lentils, vegetables and turmeric adding 2 cups of water.
* Heat oil in a sauce pan and add mustard seeds, red chili and cumin seeds. When mustard seeds start to crackle, add curry leaves and asafoetida. Next add cooked lentils along with the vegetables, tamarind juice, 2 tbsp. sambhar powder, salt and red chili powder if using. Add water to bring the sambhar to desired consistency. Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed. Bring the sambhar to a boil and then let it simmer for a couple of minutes on low flame.
* Garnish with cilantro and a tsp. of butter if preferred.
* Serve piping hot with some hot, steamed rice.

This goes to Blogging marathon #58 under the theme 'Bookmarked Dishes'. Check the link to see what other marathoners are cooking.


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Thapala Chekkalu / Sarva Pindi

Andhra's thapala chekklau are equivalent to Karnataka's version rice flour rottis and also go by the name sarva pindi in Telangana region. Thapala refers to 'thappela', the round bottomed vessels, mostly the brass ones once associated to traditional Indian kitchens. A thappela and not a griddle was the original choice to make these rice flour based flat breads and hence the name. We grew up eating rottis for breakfast on a regular basis and so I am quite familiar with the dish but what caught my attention when I saw this recipe on a cook show was the interesting add-ons to the basic version besides adding a healthy dose of chickpea flour. This version did not use onions or coconut but still was very delicious with peanuts adding a nice texture and flavor.

1 cup rice flour
1/2 cup chickpea flour / besan
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp. green chilli paste / 2 chopped green chillies or chili powder as needed
Salt to taste
2 tbsp. finely minced curry leaves
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tbsp. sesame seeds
1/4 cup toasted and skinned peanuts, slightly crushed
1/4 cup soaked chana dal / split chickpeas *
2 tbsp. hot oil
Luke warm water as needed. (I added about 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp. water.)
Oil to make thapala chekkalu (I used canola oil.)
* Soak chana dal in enough water for 1 -2 hours or until they soften.

* Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl except water and the oil mentioned at the end, using your fingers. Add luke warm water as needed to form a firm dough.
* Divide the dough into four portions and roll each one into a ball. Work with one dough portion at a time and keep the rest covered.
* Pour a tsp. of oil in the center of a griddle / skillet and place the dough ball at the center of the griddle. Pat it using fingers till a thin, flat circle is formed. (It doesn't need to be super thin like tortillas.)  Thapala chekkalu can me made as big as the griddle size or smaller ones. Poke some holes randomly using index finger if you wish or just leave it out.
* Pour a tsp oil around the edges of the dough circle and over it. Cover with a lid and turn on the stove. Let it cook on a low - medium flame and flip it using a wide spatula when golden brown spots develop on the bottom side and the upper side doesn't look raw. It may take around 5 to 6 minutes. 
* Add half a tsp of oil around the edges again if needed. Cover it again and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes or until the other side turns light brown too. Turn off the stove and remove the cooked chekka
* Repeat the above steps with the remaining dough portions, making sure that the griddle is cool each time before it is used. Wash the griddle with cold water after each use to quicken the cooling process or use 2 griddles to cook simultaneously.

This goes to Blogging marathon #58 under the theme 'Bookmarked Dishes'. Check the link to see what other marathoners are cooking.


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Masala Kobbari Annam ~ Spicy Coconut Rice

I watch a Telugu TV cook show religiously because of the chef who presents two interesting segments in each episode. I can vouch by my personal experience that the recipes presented by him are mostly fool proof. He makes it appear even the tedious traditional Indian recipes' preparation a breeze and no cook show has ever held so much appeal to me as this one and that too it has held my interest for years now. This easy breezy, yummy rice dish is courtesy of that show. I watched this a couple of weeks ago and immediately tried it and as usual the chef did not disappoint me. The rice doesn't even need any vegetables, tastes absolutely delicious and provides an interesting variation to the mundane cooking. It can be prepared in a short time, making it an appealing lunch box item or a quick fix meal.

2 cups cooked Basmati rice
3 tbsp. oil
1 tbsp. cumin seeds
6 cardamom pods
3 one inch cinnamon pieces 
3 cloves
1 bay leaf 
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tsp. ginger & garlic paste (I used ginger alone.)
1 tsp. garam masala
Salt to taste
Ingredients to grind:
1/2 cup fresh coconut pieces
3 tbsp. mint leaves
3 tbsp. cilantro leaves
2 to 3 green chillies
1/4 cup yogurt


* Heat the oil in a saute pan and add cumin seeds, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and bay leaf. Fry them until cumin seeds starts turning to a darker shade. Add onion, ginger-garlic paste and fry until the onion turns translucent.
* Meanwhile grind together all the ingredients mentioned under 'to grind' into a fine paste. And let the cooked rice cool a bit.
* When onion is done, add the coconut paste and salt and fry for a couple of minutes more.
* Add the rice and garam masala and mix well so that the paste is coated uniformly to rice grains.
* Serve immediately. This rice doesn't need any side dish to serve with but some yogurt may be served.

This goes to Blogging marathon #58 under the theme 'Rice Dishes'. Check the link to see what other marathoners are cooking.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Arroz con Leche Colombiano

This recipe was on my mind ever since I bookmarked it while searching for recipes during "Around the world in 30 days", the month long marathon we did last year, based on the food from global table. Arroz is rice and leche is milk in Spanish. This Colombian version of rice pudding was appealing to my south Indian palate because of it's close resemblance to our own sweet pongal. The addition of condensed milk lends a thick, creamy consistency to the pudding. The all familiar aromatic cardamom and camphor from the Indian version are replaced by cinnamon and vanilla and provide the flavor factor to this thick, creamy and yummy pudding. 

Recipe source: Here
Ingredients: (2 servings)
1/4 cup long grain rice
1/2 cup water
1 cup milk
2 tsp. butter
1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tbsp. sugar

* Add cinnamon stick and water to a medium sized sauce pan. Bring it to a boil, continue to cook for about 10 minutes and then discard the cinnamon stick.
* Next add rinsed rice, milk and butter to the cinnamon water and cook uncovered stirring intermittently, until the rice is done and thickens to a desired consistency.
(I used a pressure cook to cut down the cooking time. All the other ingredients too were added at this step but I chose to add after the rice is done.)
* Then add condensed milk, sugar and vanilla and cook again until the condensed milk is almost absorbed and the pudding is thick and creamy. The pudding thickens further when cool and so cook accordingly.
* Remove from heat and let cool. Chill before serving.
This goes to Blogging marathon #58 under the theme 'Rice Dishes'. Check the link to see what other marathoners are cooking.


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Karivepaku Annam / Curry Leaves Rice

This is a spicy rice dish that I had tried a few years back after seeing on a food blog and has been a regular in my home since, though I cannot recall the source now. The recipe is based on curry leaves and so, the rice is obviously a flavor filled one. It doesn't taste like curry leaves powder mixed with rice though both recipes use almost the same ingredients. The spice powder can be prepared ahead for a quick and yummy lunch box idea or for a lazy meal. And don't be fooled by the long list of the ingredients in the recipe. This is indeed a simple and quick dish and most of the ingredients are either ground or go into tadka /seasoning.

2 cups cooked rice (I used sona masuri rice.)
Salt to taste

Ingredients to toast:  
2 tbsp. urad dal / black gram
1 tbsp. chanadal / split chickpeas
4 to 5 dried red chillies
1 tsp. tamarind
1 cup tightly packed curry leaves  
A pinch of methi seeds / fenugreek seeds
1/2 tsp. black peppercorns

Ingredients for seasoning:
2 tbsp. oil
1 tsp. mustard seeds
1 tsp. urad dal / black gram
1 tsp. chanadal / split chickpeas
A generous pinch of asafoetida
2 tbsp. cashews
1/8 tsp. turmeric powder

* Wash the curry leaves and pat them dry.
* Heat a pan and dry toast chana dal, urad dal, red chillies and tamarind. When the dals start to turn reddish, add peppercorns, fenugreek seeds and curry leaves. Toast them for another minute.
* Transfer them onto a plate and let cool. Grind the toasted ingredients into a coarse powder.
* Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds, chana dal and urad dal. When the dals almost start to turn reddish add the cashews and toast them as well to golden brown. Add asafoetida and turmeric to the pan and turn off the stove. 
* Now add the rice, spice powder and salt and mix well. Serve warm.
(If less spice level is preferred, start with adding half of the spice powder. Taste and adjust the quantity of spice powder as needed.)
This goes to Blogging marathon #58 under the theme 'Rice Dishes'. Check the link to see what other marathoners are cooking.