HOME        |        ABOUT        |        COPYRIGHT        |        CONTACT        |        MY OTHER BLOG        |         EVENTS        

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Lemon Poha

Event: Blogging Marathon #42
Theme: Easy Tiffins

A simple and quick recipe when you are looking a for a light breakfast option or to beat those hunger pangs in between meals.

Ingredients:(3 servings)
3 cups thick poha
2 tbsp oil
2 tbsp peanuts
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp chana dal / split chickpeas
1 tsp urad dal / split black gram
2 - 3 green chillies, finely chopped
Few curry leaves
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
A couple of pinches of asafoetida powder
Salt to taste
1 tsp lemon juice

Method:
* Wash poha in a colander and drain. Leave the poha aside for about 5 minutes in the colander itself.
* Heat oil in a pan. Add peanuts, mustard seeds, chana dal and urad dal. When the peanuts and dals turn golden brown, add chillies, curry leaves, turmeric and asafoetida powder. Fry chillies for a few seconds.
* Next add poha and salt. Mix well, cover and cook for about 5 - 7 minutes on low flame. Add lemon juice to poha, mix well and serve warm.

Comments

Friday, July 18, 2014

Spinach - Cheese Sandwich

Event: Blogging Marathon #42
Theme: Easy Tiffins 

This spinach - cheese sandwich is a light yet filling snack for evenings or a quick breakfast / lunch box option.

Ingredients: (3 servings)
6 brown bread slices
1 to 2 tbsp butter
1 cup or about 5 oz frozen spinach or a little more quantity if using fresh spinach
A handful of corn (I used frozen one.)
A pinch of salt (optional since the cheese slices contain salt.)
Crushed black pepper to taste
6 cheese slices

Method:
* Thaw the frozen spinach in the microwave. Heat butter in a pan and add spinach and corn. Saute until the spinach is cooked and add pepper and salt if using. Fry for few seconds and turn off the stove.
* Place 3 bread slices on a baking sheet. Place one cheese slice on each of them. Spoon the cooked spinach mixture equally among the three bread slices such that the mixture is equally spread on the cheese slices. Cover each of them again with a cheese slice and a slice of bread. 
Finally the arrangement should be in this order - A bread slice, cheese, spinach mixture, cheese and another bread slice. Or you can use both cheese slices on the bottom bread slice itself. 
* Turn on the oven at 180 deg C / 350 deg F. There is no need to wait until the oven preheats. Place the baking sheet in the oven. There is no need to preheat the oven. Bake until the cheese melts and turn off the oven.
* Serve warm.

Note:
* I used cheddar cheese slices. However you can add white cheese as well and add directly to the spinach mixture while cooking. Just spoon the mixture between two bread slices and toast.
* I used the convection oven but a toaster oven / toaster can be used or the bread can be directly toasted on a griddle.

Comments

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Cracked Wheat Upma

Event: Blogging Marathon #42
Theme: Easy Evening Tiffins

Cracked wheat upma gets frequently made at my home as it is the quickest and easiest of upmas besides being healthy and delicious. Neither cracked wheat needs any prior roasting nor this upma needs onion to make it more tastier. The simple, the better. I usually go with the fine variety cracked wheat which gets cooked in a jiffy and makes it a perfect filling dish during time crunches or when one is feeling lazy. And besides one more advantage of cracked wheat over semolina is that it doesn't clump up even if you don't stir while adding it to the hot water. You can just dump the cracked wheat into the water and then stir. It makes it easier even for novices to cook a lump-free upma. 
Addition of vegetables is optional and you can add extra veggies like potatoes and beans if you prefer. If adding onions, add them along with chillies and fry them until translucent. Frozen vegetables can be substituted for fresh ones for a quicker option.

Ingredients:
1 cup cracked wheat 
1 tbsp oil (I used canola oil.)
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp chana dal / split chickpeas
1 tsp urad dal / split black gram
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp cashews / peanuts
2 green chillies - finely chopped
Few curry leaves
1 small carrot - finely chopped
2 tbsp green peas
2 cups water
Salt to taste

Method:
* Heat oil in a pan and add chana dal, urad dal, mustard seeds, cumin seeds and cashews in that order. When dals turn reddish and mustard seeds start to pop, add green chillies, carrot, peas and curry leaves. saute for 2-3 minutes.
* Next add water to the pan and bring it to a rolling boil.
* Lower the heat. Add salt and cracked wheat to the water and stir well. Cover and cook until done. 
* Serve warm with a chutney / pickle.

Comments

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Manapparai Murukku


For this month's Indian Cooking Challenge, we are traveling towards Tamilnadu. To be specific, towards a town called Manapparai in Tiruchi district. The town's name has somewhat become synonymous with their signature snack - The Manapparai Murukku. A man named Mani Iyer who used to run a vegetarian refreshment stall at the railway station had introduced these murukkus to the train passengers during 1920's. His murukku were so famous that passengers were drawn out of their compartments to buy them. Later these were sold in brown paper bags that were easily identified. Nowadays, murukku making has become a cottage industry in that town and they are available everywhere and are even exported to other countries.

Iyer used to mix butter to the rice flour and fry chaklis in coconut oil. The unique feature of these chaklis are that they are fried twice unlike the regular chaklis that are fried only once. I haven't personally seen or tasted these specific murukkus and going by the reference we had, I am sure that Mr.Iyer's recipe is safely locked somewhere in a vault. :))

The recipe we got for trial had a kilogram of rice flour with a dash of urad flour. Any seasoned chakli maker would tell you that the recipe is nothing but a disaster. Going against my instincts, I tried a small portion, following the recipe to the T, hoping to prove myself wrong and the result was hard to bite chaklis. Then I increased the urad dal quantity and got the good variety ones though the chakli dough somewhat is similar to thenkuzhal/thentharlu one. I fried them until they attained a lighter hue though I am not sure whether they should attain a light / dark golden hue.

And coming to the flours. Usually it is a practice to prepare the flours from scratch in India while preparing chaklis. I always use the store bought ones and they work just fine as the freshly prepared flours. Besides they cut down the work.

Ingredients:
2 cups rice flour
1/2 cup urad flour / Black gram flour
1 tbsp butter / hot oil
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp carom seeds / ajwain (I didn't add any.)
Salt to taste
Oil to fry (I used canola oil.)

Method:
1. Combine everything in a mixing bowl. Add water gradually and make a firm dough.
2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a wok / wide frying pan. Drop a bit of dough into the hot oil. When it sizzles and comes to surface, then the oil is hot enough for frying. If the dough doesn't rise to surface, heat oil for a couple of minutes more. However there is no need to bring the oil to a smoking point.
3. Fit a single star disc / 5 holed disc to the chakli press, fill the dough into the nozzle and press the dough circle on the back of a ladle. I did it on the backside of a greased, stainless steel plate. Allow the shaped dough circles to rest for about 5 minutes.
4. Drop the dough circles into the hot oil. Fit as many as the frying pan can hold without overcrowding. Fry them in hot oil for about 3 - 4 minutes, flipping in between. (Chaklis are only partially fried at this point.) Remove them with a slotted spoon and drain on absorbent towels to cool them a bit.
5. Now repeat the steps as above and partially fry another batch of chaklis. Remove them as well and drain on plates covered with absorbent towels.
6. Now drop the partially fried first batch of chaklis (from the step 4) into hot oil again and fry until they turn crisp. I kept them light hued but one can fry until they attain a dark golden hue.
7. Now fry the partially fried second batch chaklis from step 5 until they are completely done.
8. Repeat the steps of double frying the chaklis with the remaining dough.
9. Let cool and store them in an airtight container. 

Comments

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Keerai Kootu


Event: Blogging Marathon #42
Theme: South Indian meals 
Choice of state: Tamilnadu

Kootu, a comforting side dish from Tamilian kitchens is lentil and vegetable / greens based. This particular kootu is mild and tasty and needs no prior planning or preparation. It is simple in terms of preparation and is quick to put together. This keerai kootu is based on moong dal and spinach and was inspired from here.

Ingredients:
1/4 cup moong dal
2 cups chopped greens (I used spinach.)
1/8 tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp urad dal / skinned, split black gram
2 green chillies, finely chopped
A pinch of asafoetida powder
1 onion, chopped fine
1 tomato, chopped fine
1/4 cup shredded, fresh coconut
1 tsp rice flour
Salt to taste
Clockwise from left to right: Kootu, Eggplant curry, Mixed veggie sambhar, Rasam, Yogurt and Chayote curry

Method:
* Pressure cook moong dal adding spinach, turmeric and about 1/2 cup water. When the valve pressure is gone, remove the dal and mash it well with the backside of a ladle.
* Grind coconut and rice flour adding a little water.
* Meanwhile, heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds, cumin seeds and black gram. When mustard seeds start to pop, add green chillies and asafoetida. Fry for about 20-30 seconds. 
* Next add onion and fry until translucent. And then add tomatoes and cook until they turn mushy.
* Now add the cooked dal, ground coconut paste and salt to the onion mixture. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil, lower the heat and simmer for a couple of minutes. Turn off the stove and serve warm with rice.

Comments

Friday, July 11, 2014

Sundakkai Vathal Kuzhambu

Event: Blogging Marathon #42
Theme: South Indian meals 
Choice of state: Tamilnadu

Sun-drying vegetables has been one of the inexpensive and smart ways to preserve the surplus bounty in all cultures over the world, when agriculture was the primary occupation. Even now, it is a common practice in Indian homes to sundry vegetables / fruits. They come handy on a rainy day or offer variety from the humdrum of everyday meals. The word "Vathal" in Tamil refers to basically any sun dried vegetable and vatha kuzhambu refers to the stew made with any of such sun dried vegetables. It is what we call "varugu" in Telugu as referred in this post here.  
Sundakkai or Turkey berry happens to be one of the various vegetables that are sun-dried in Tamilian homes. Sun-dried sundakkai or fresh ones can be used in preparing this kuzhambu / spicy stew. During my last India trip, I bought a pack of the dried berries when I came across them. I had seen them in blogs several times over the years and besides, my SIL who was with me shopping recommended them. This stew is prepared on these lines and so we loved it.

Ingredients: (2 servings)
2 to 2&1/2 cups water
A small lime sized tamarind
2 tsp oil 
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
A pinch of methi seeds /fenugreek seeds
1/4 cup sundried Turkey berries
A few pinches of asafoetida / hing
2 red chillies
Few curry leaves
1 big onion, chopped fine
1 tsp jaggery powder
1 tbsp sambhar powder
Salt to taste
Method:
* Soak tamarind in water for about 30 minutes or zap it in microwave for about 3 minutes. Squeeze the tamarind and extract the thick pulp. Throw away the strands and the pith.
* Heat oil in a pan and add mustard and cumin seeds. When the mustard seeds start to pop, add fenugreek seeds, asafoetida, red chilles, curry leaves and vathal. Fry until vathal turns brown.
* Next add the onion and fry until they turn translucent.
* Add the tamarind extract, sambhar powder, salt and jaggery. (The vathal have salt in them and so add alt accordingly.)
Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed.
* Cook until the mixture thickens and turn off the stove. 
* I served it with okra fry, plantain curry, yogurt and steamed rice.
Comments

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Vazhakkai Podimas

Event: Blogging Marathon #42
Theme: South Indian meals 
Choice of state: Tamilnadu

According to the theme of the marathon, the dishes that are going to be showcased this week should belong to one particular south Indian state and a part of lunch menu. This was the least stressful theme considering that I am from the southern region and the dishes I chose were no fuss dishes and were a part of our lunch menu this week. It was so easy that in fact I cooked 2 sets of dishes from 2 states for this theme. I cooked Andhra dishes earlier but changed my mind and cooked Tamilnadu dishes again this week. 
The first one in the series is going to be a tasty and easy plantain stir fry called vazhakkai podimas. At my home, roasted plantain is the most preferred one among the curries I prepare using plantain. I have been noticing over the years that the Tamil kitchens have several other yummy versions and was planning to try them for sometime now. I used this opportunity to try out the podimas recipe. The plantain is parboiled and then grated to prepare the curry and surprisingly, the texture of the plantain and this cooking method makes this version of plantain curry yummy. This simple curry needs no prior planning or preparation and goes well with rice / rotis. Serve along with a dal for a filling meal.

Ingredients: (4 - 5 servings)
2 small / medium sized plantains (I used about 1 & 1/2 large sized plantains.)
2 tsp oil (I used canola oil)
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp urad dal / skinned, split black gram
2 red chillies
2 - 3 green chilies (or adjust as needed)
A couple of pinches of asafoetida / hing
1/8 tsp turmeric powder
A sprig of fresh curry leaves
1/4 cup fresh, shredded coconut 
Salt to taste

Method:
* Wash and pressure cook the whole plantains directly without peeling the skin, for one whistle. (The plantains I used were big in size and so, I cut them in half to fit into the container I used. If you are using a container to go into the pressure cooker like I did to cook the plantains, add water to the container as well.) If you are not using a pressure cooker, cut the plantains into 2 or 3 pieces and cook in a sauce pan adding water just until done. Whatever method you pick to cook, the plantains should not turn mushy but just be done (or parboiled).

* Let the plantains cool for a bit and peel off the skins. Grate the plantains using a grater. I had about 2 cups of grated plantain.
* Heat oil in a pan and add uard dal and mustard seeds. When mustard seeds start to pop, add chillies and fry for few seconds. Then add curry leaves, turmeric and asafoetida.
* Stir and add grated, parboiled plantain, coconut and salt. Mix well with a spatula, cover and cook for 5 - 6 minutes, stirring once or twice in between.
* Turn off the stove and serve warm. I served it with fresh, steamed rice and eggplant sambhar.

Comments


Saturday, July 5, 2014

Rava Laddu / Sooji Laddu / Sweet Semolina Balls

Event: Blogging Marathon #42
Theme: Festival Special ~ Sri Krishnashtami

Rava laddu is a sweet dish that is usually featured in an offering platter to Lord Krishna on Janmasthami day. It is simple and quick to prepare when compared to other traditional dishes that are a part of the neivedyam that day. These yummy laddus are very easy to prepare and hard to mess up even by novices. My mother prepares these laddus with coconut while my husband's family follow the below recipe.
 
Ingredients: (yield a dozen laddus.)
1 cup rava / semolina
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup ghee or 2 tbsp ghee + 2 tbsp milk
2 tbsp cashews, chopped roughly
2 tbsp raisins
1/4 tsp cardamom powder
Method:
* Add rava to a pan and toast it on low flame. Keep continuously stirring, until it starts to change color, about 5 - 7 minutes. Take care not to burn it. Transfer the toasted rava to a wide plate and keep it aside. Let cool
* Heat about 2 tbsp ghee in a small pan. Add cashews and raisins to the pan and toast until cashews turn golden brown and the raisins turn plump.

* Finely grind the sugar and keep it aside.
* Grind the toasted rava as well.
* Now transfer the rava, powdered sugar, cardamom powder, toasted cashew - raisin mixture along with the ghee used to toast them to a wide plate or a mixing bowl. Next add the remaining ghee (or milk) and mix well.
* Fist about a lime sized portion from the mixture and shape into a ball. Repeat the process with the remaining mixture to from laddus. 
* Store the laddus in an airtight container. 
  
Notes:
* If not preparing for a festive platter, toasted semolina (without any ghee) and sugar can be powdered ahead and stored in a container. Just add toasted dry fruits and prepare laddus on a short notice.
* To make these laddus guilt free, half the quantity of ghee can be replaced by milk as mentioned in the ingredients' list above. However the shelf life of the laddus decrease because of the milk used. If not planning to eat the laddus immediately, they can be refrigerated.
* Usually shaping laddus should not be a problem with the above measurements. If at all the mixture is too dry to shape, add a little more ghee / milk to the mixture, mix and try to make laddus. 
* For a yummy variation, add about a cup of fresh, shredded coconut to the toasted rava and sugar. There is no need to powder rava or sugar in this recipe and use only a tbsp of ghee to toast cashews - raisins. The coconut is enough for binding and so, the remaining 3 tbsp of ghee or milk is not needed. However note that the shelf life of the laddus reduce because of the coconut used. Check here for the recipe.
Comments

Friday, July 4, 2014

Milagu Aval / Pepper Poha

Event: Blogging Marathon #42
Theme: Festival Special ~ Sri Krishnashtami

Poha / Beaten rice flakes is said to be a favorite of Bhagavan Sri Krishna and it is reiterated in the Sudhama story. Sudhama, a childhood friend of Krishna faces adverse conditions later on in his life and upon his wife's advice, decides to visit Krishna in the hope of receiving some help. As they could not afford anything to gift Krishna because of their poverty, his wife packs him a small quantity of poha. However after meeting his friend in Dwaraka and seeing his riches, Sudhama feels embarrassed to present his humble gift. However as nothing can be hidden from Lord Krishna, he himself asks about the gift and enjoys the simple poha. It is mentioned that though Sudhama forgets to ask for the help, Krishna provides riches and comforts to his friend's family. 
And so a savory or a sweet poha dish is usually prepared on the Krishnashtami day. I was looking for a poha dish that I hadn't tried before and came across this spicy, pepper poha. The versions I saw on the web are almost on the similar lines and this is a very quick dish to put together. A simple dish with the hints of pepper and curry leaves' flavors. I have added coconut to tone down the spiciness from the peppercorns.
Ingredients: (2 servings)
2 cups thick poha
3/4 to 1 tsp peppercorns
1 tsp cumin seeds
15 - 20 curry leaves
1 to 2 tbsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp / split, skinned black gram / urad dal
1 tbsp cashews / peanuts
1/4 cup shredded, fresh coconut (Optional but recommended.)
Salt to taste

Method:
* Wash the poha in a colander, drain completely and leave aside the poha for about 5 minutes.
*  Dry grind peppercorns, cumin and curry leaves coarsely in a grinder.
* Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds, urad dal and cashews. 
* Toast until mustard starts to pop and cashews turn golden brown. 
* Next add the ground pepper mixture and saute for a few seconds. Then add the poha, coconut and salt. Mix well to combine, cover and cook for about 3 - 4 minutes. 
* Turn off the stove and serve warm.

Comments


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Manugu Poolu / Manuboolu

Event: Blogging Marathon #42
Theme: Festival Special ~ Sri Krishnashtami

Krishnasthami / Janmashtami / Gokulashtami is the day which commemorates the birth of Lord Krishna and is celebrated in India on the eight day of krishna paksha of shravana month (August - September). There are regional variations of this celebration across the country, as is the usual case with all the Indian festivals. In the Southern parts, people who observe this festival usually fast for the day. An odd number of sweet and savory dishes are freshly prepared in the evening and are offered as an offering, the naivedyam to the Lord before breaking the fast. 
Some savory, fried items like chaklis, nippattu, kodbale and paalakayalu are usually prepared on the day. Usually thentharlu/thenkuzhal  are the mandatory ones prepared in my in laws home on the occasion. However these manugu poolu are the only chaklis my mother ever prepares in her kitchen and follows her mother's version. These spicy, delicious chakli are the most we ate growing up and so I am quite partial towards them. My mother would prepare loads of these chaklis and store them in large containers for us, to snack on in the evenings. They are just crunchy and yummy.
Rice flour and roasted chickpeas powder are used in 4:1 ratio for this chakli. My mother usually gets her rice and roasted chickpeas ground in the local flour mill as she prepares them in large quantity. I use the store bought rice flour and it works fine.

Ingredients:
4 cups rice flour (Store bought flour will do.)
1 cup finely ground roasted chickpeas (Chutney dal)
Salt to taste
Red chili powder to taste
Few pinches of asafoetida powder
Oil to fry (I used canola oil.)
(I added about 2 tbsp each of white sesame seeds and cumin seeds as well this time but are not generally used in this chakli.)
 
Making chaklis:
* Heat oil in a kadai on medium flame.
* Combine the flours, salt, chili powder, asafoetida and 1 - 2 tbsp of hot oil in a mixing bowl. Then add water slowly to the flour mixture to form soft (not watery) dough that can be passed through the chakli press.
Now to test whether the oil is hot enough to fry, slowly slide a pinch of dough into the oil. If it sizzles and comes to surface, then the oil is ready. If not, heat the oil a little longer.
* Take a small portion of the dough and fill in the chakli press. Using your hands, press the mould over the hot oil making circling motion so that coils of dough from the mold dropping into the oil make a circle shape. (Disc with multiple stars is used to make this chakli but I used a single, star shaped disc here.) Or you can first press the chakli on an oiled plastic sheet or a flat spoon and flip it into the oil.

Usually we make chaklis, the frying pan size instead of small ones. When they cool down, we break them into small bits and store them.
* Flipping now and then, fry them on low flame until they turn golden brown. Don't let the chaklis turn dark brown. And also don't be in a hurry and fry on high flame. They brown faster without turning crunchy.
* Remove them with a slotted spoon and drain them on paper towels. Repeat the process with the remaining dough.
* Let them cool and store them in an airtight container. They will stay fresh without going stale for at least a couple of weeks and don't need refrigeration. They can be left on the kitchen counter.

Comments