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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Verdolagas Dal / Payalaku Pappu

'Paayalaku' or 'Goli koora' is one of the greens which are available in our native state, Andhra pradesh. They grow wildly near any water source. They are slightly sour when cooked and are considered very beneficial for nursing mothers.
Recently I came across the same greens sold as Verdolagas, here. After some googling, I came to know that they are native to North America and are also called as purslane. They are used in Indian, Greek, Middle Eastern cuisine.
Back at home, the greens are mostly used to prepare 'Pappu', the Andhra style dal.

Toordal - 1/2 cup
A bunch of verdolagas
Thick tamarind extract - 4 tbsp or adjust the amount to suit your taste
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Chillie powder

For tempering:
Oil - 2 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Cumin Seeds - 1 tsp
Asafoetida - A few pinches
A few curry leaves

Roughly chop the leaves. Chop the stems finely if they are tender or else discard them. Wash toordal thoroughly once or twice with plenty of water and throw away the water used.
Add the toordal, chopped leaves & stems, turmeric powder and sufficient water to a cooker or a thick bottomed vessel. Cook till you hear 2-3 whistles or till the dal reaches a fall- apart stage. (If using a cooker, 1 to 1.25 cups of water is enough.
Use only the amount of water needed to cook the dal. It should be not watery.)
After the dal is cooked, add tamarind extract, chillie powder and salt according to your taste and let it simmer for a few minutes on medium heat. Then turn off the stove.
Heat oil in a small pan and add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, asafoetida and curry leaves. When the mustard seeds start to splutter, turn off the stove. Add this tempering mixture to the cooked dal / paapu. Stir once and close the lid.
Serve hot with plain rice and a tsp of ghee.

"Verdolagas Dal' - My entry to Nupur's A - Z Indian vegetable cooking series.

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Karam Dosa

Everyday, I would love to see puri - sagoo on my breakfast table or a plate of masala dosa if some one would prepare and serve it. Since that is not an option, I go for my other favorite breakfast dishes which demand less time and labor like this karam dosa which are simple and healthy. As the name suggests (karam = hot/spicy in Telugu) the dosa is hot and spicy. It is some what on the lines of Tamilians' adai.
It needs a minimum soaking of three hours and doesn't need any fermenting. You are ready to go as soon as the batter is ground. If you like it to be more spicier, add more chillies or serve it with chutney, chutney/ any spicy powder or a pickle. Or you can eat those spicy dosas with out any side dishes. When we were kids, my mom used to serve this with powdered jaggery and even today, I like it that way :) . My son would go when he see them in his plate, 'Are they ones which go with jaggery'?

Ingredients for the dosa batter: Makes around 8 dosas
Rice - 1/2 cup
Urad dal - A handful
Chandal - A handful
Red chillies - 10 to 12
Grated, fresh coconut - 1/4 cup
Curry leaves - 20 / a tbsp
Cilantro - 1 or 2 tbsp
Asafoetida - half of 1/4 tsp
Salt - 1.5 tsp
Water - about a cup

Wash rice, chanadal and uraddal thoroughly. Soak them in plenty of water for at least three hours. Grind them with all the other ingredients into a coarse batter using only as much water as required. The batter should be on the thicker side. If you prepare a thicker batter with the above measurements, the dosas are going to be thicker unlike regular dosas. If you prefer thinner dosas, add some more water to the batter and also instead of adding onions to the batter, sprinkle them on the spread dosa on griddle like you do for oothappam.

To make dosas:
Finely chopped onions - 1 cup
Oil to make dosas

Heat a griddle or a shallow pan. When you sprinkle a few drops of water on the griddle, the water should sizzle and evaporate. This means the griddle is ready. Take a ladle full of batter and pour it in the center of the griddle. With circular motion, spread the batter into a circle with the help of the backside of the ladle. The batter would be thick and you cannot spread it into a thin circle as you would with regular dosas.
Take ½ tsp of oil and spread around the edges of the circle / dosa and roast it till it turns golden brown in color. Flip the dosa, spread some oil around it again and let it cook on the other side as well. Remove the dosa with a spatula. Repeat the process with the remaining batter.
Serve them hot. They won't be that delicious, when served cold.

This is for Trupti's WBB- 12 with the theme 'spice it up' . The person behind the concept of WBB is Saffron Trail's Nanditha .

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Monday, June 11, 2007

Stuffed Eggplant Sambhar / Sivangi Pulusu

Eggplants are dearly embraced in Indian cuisine. Whether it is for daily usage or any festive occasion, they get a happy welcome sign at Indian homes. They are widely available and are used to prepare a great number of delicacies. Just visit Indian food blogs and you would notice that no two bloggers cook this veggie in the same way and you would end up with hundreds of recipes, if you care.
One of the classic eggplant dishes of Andhra is of course the guttivankaya / nune vankaya koora. This stuffed eggplant/ brinjal curry has been taken to a higher level to please the palates, in the following recipe. Here is an enchanting dish, nune vankaya pulusu or the stuffed eggplant sambhar for you to enjoy....
I must thank Deepthi who gave me this recipe. She happens to be my BIL's DIL, the next generation bahu in our family. She enthusiastically shared some of the coastal Andhra recipes and here is one of them. She said this dish is called 'Sivangi Pulusu', which I found a bit funny. 'Pulusu' is of course the equivalent Telugu name for 'Sambhar'. Sivangi is the Telugu word for a lioness. Though I am not sure why the dish has been given this name, it sure is fiercely pleasing and fit for a royal feast.

Eggplants, round ones without any blemishes - 10
Chopped cilantro - 1/4 cup
Sambhar Powder - 2 tsp
Oil - 2-3 Tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1tsp
Asafoetida (hing) - a few pinches
Powdered Jaggery - 1 Tbsp (or 2 packets of sweetener)
Chillie powder - 1/2 tsp
Tamarind juice extracted from soaked tamarind (according to your taste or half of 1/4 cup of thick tamarind juice)
Few Curry leaves

Ingredients for filling:
Sesame seeds - 1/2 cup
Red chillies - 4

Dry fry the sesame seeds on low to medium flame, till they start to turn brown and start to crackle. Also warm the red chillies. Let them cool. Grind them into a fine powder along with required amount of salt.
Wash the eggplants and wipe them dry. Cut off the stalks. Keeping the base intact, cut twice vertically (like a + sign). Gently open up the slits with your left fingers and fill them with the above sesame seed powder using a spoon or your right hand fingers. To get an idea, see the picture here . You can fill as much as the eggplants can hold.
Heat 2 Tbsp of oil in a pan and add the stuffed eggplants carefully to the pan. Just turn around the eggplants with a spatula so that the eggplants are uniformly coated with the oil. Let them cook on low flame with in between stirring till they soften. (For beginners, here is a hint. Keep turning the eggplants till they change their color on all sides. By the time they change their color through out, they will be soft and cooked). Remove the eggplants carefully and keep them aside.
Take another pan and heat 2 tsp of oil. Add mustard seeds and when they start to crackle add asafoetida, curry leaves. Saute for a few seconds and turn off the stove. Now add 4 Tbsp of sesame seed powder (to thicken the gravy), tamarind juice, jaggery, sambhar powder, salt, chillie powder, chopped cilantro leaves to the pan. Also add required amount of water (may need 2 to 2.5 cups) and adjust the salt / tamarind/ sugar accordingly. Now carefully drop the cooked, stuffed eggplants to the pan. Turn on the stove and let the mixture come to a rolling boil. Lower the heat and let it simmer for a couple of minutes more. Turn off the stove.
I was told to serve this dish with rice and mudda pappu (lentils cooked with only required amount of water and salt added). It tasted excellent with plain rice too and this can be served with rotis as well.

This goes to JIHVA - Eggplant hosted by Sangeetha of Ghar Ka Khana and the creator of the event happens to be Indira of Mahanandi.
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Saturday, June 9, 2007

Tomato Gojju

Though not native to India, Tomatoes play a significant role in Indian cooking. Especially the North Indian subjis cannot be imagined without tomato and it's dear friend onion. The lycopene rich tomatoes never fail to contribute their delicious flavor to the dishes they are a part of and still go unnoticed. I always feel like that they are like a bunch of side dancers in Indian movie numbers who never take the center stage. There are a few exceptions, though where tomato is the king. Here is one such simple dish (in terms of preparation), 'Tomato Gojju' where tomato doesn't have to play a second fiddle to other veggies.
In our family, Tomato gojju used to be our number one preferred dish along with pooris when ever we went on a long train ride, back in India. It is a simple veggie preparation which is hard to screw up even for beginners. Just fry some juicy red tomatoes with onions and see how beautifully the dish brings out the flavor of tomatoes.
'Tomato Gojju' - My entry for
Nupur's A - Z Indian vegetable series.

2 Cups chopped tomatoes
2 Cups chopped onions
Salt - 1.5 tsp
Chillie powder - 1.5 tsp
Sugar - 1 Tbsp (This is optional. I love this dish sweeter and always end up adding sugar)
Oil - 3 Tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1 /4 tsp
Few curry leaves

Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds and cumin seeds. When mustard seeds start to crackle and cumin seeds start to turn brown, add turmeric powder and curry leaves. Saute for a few seconds.
Add onions to the pan and keep frying on low to medium flame till they turn translucent. Keep stirring in between and take care not to burn them.
Then add tomatoes to the mixture and continue frying till the tomatoes become mushy.
Now add salt, chillie powder and sugar to the tomato - onion mixture and stir. Let it simmer for a couple of minutes and turn off the stove.
Serve with rotis / pooris / rice / bread.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Masale Bhath / Masala Bhath

Indian cuisine is as wide, varied and colorful as the country itself. Every part of India has it's own culinary heritage to boast about. Probably one's lifetime is not enough to even get to know about the regional cuisines of India.
Kudos to Lakshmi for starting such an amazing event, which gives us a glimpse of regional cuisines of India and an opportunity to try our hand at unfamiliar cuisines. This month's RCI is hosted by lovely Nupur of
One Hot Stove and the theme is Maharashtrian cuisine.
I know very little about Marathi cuisine, except a few things like the common foods (Maharashtra & neighboring states) prepared at my home, the chat foods we enjoy at the local eateries, Maharashtrian 'Goda masala' & 'Kokum' which I come across when I go to shop at Indian grocers which have an exotic appeal (to me). I had the opportunity to taste Maharashtrian food as a tourist and I know that this is no way to get acquainted with local cuisine in a true sense.
This event has inspired me to try Masala Bhath / Masale Bhath (this is more appealing, sounds more like Kannada), a spicy, Maharashtrian rice dish. It is a simple, delicious rice - vegetable preparation, spiced up with the masala (powdered spices) added to it. It is simple in terms of preparation. If you have prepared your masala powder in advance, then you can come up with this dish in matter of minutes. The vegetables usually that go into the dish are tindora, green peas and eggplants. Some how the tindora - eggplant combo was not appealing to me and hence I skipped eggplants from the dish. If you are not familiar with Marathi cuisine , then believe me, this dish falls under 'Crowd Pleaser' category.

Rice - 1 Cup, heaped
Washed and quartered, Tindora - 1 cup ( I used 10 oz frozen tindora)
Green Peas - 1/4 cup
Oil - 3 - 4 Tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Asafoetida - a few pinches
Cashew nuts - 1 Tbsp
Few curry leaves
For Masala powder, you need:
Grated Copra / Dry coconut - 1/4 cup
Sesame Seeds - 1 Tbsp
Cloves - 3 - 4
Red chillies - 5-6
1 inch Cinnamon pieces - 2
Coriander seeds - 1 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Cardamom - 1
For garnishing:
Chopped cilantro

Preparation of Masala Bhath:
I took the privileges of a cook and went the easier way. I cooked the rice before, instead of cooking at the end along with the veggies..
Cook the rice using two cups of water in a pressure cooker.
On low to moderate heat, dry fry all the masala powder ingredients till they turn light brown in color. Let them cool and grind them into a fine powder. Keep aside.
Heat oil in a pan/wok. Add mustard seeds to the oil. When they start to pop, add cashews, curry leaves and asafoetida. Saute them for a few seconds and add tindora and green peas. Cover the lid and keep stirring in between. Let the tindora cook till they are done. I fried my tindora till they were crisp.
Now add the masala powder to tindora and saute for a few seconds. Then add cooked rice and salt to the tindora mixture and mix till all the rice and vegetables are coated well with the masala powder.
Garnish with cilantro.
I served hot masala bhath with papad and raita. If there are any authentic Maharashtrian side dishes that go with this dish, please let me know.

Masala Bhath - My entry to RCI - Maharashtrian cuisine hosted by Nupur.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Spinach Rice

Vangi bhath powder is a 'must have' ingredient in my kitchen. It comes handy to prepare versatile rice dishes fit for any parties or when I am in a mood to go for easy breezy kind of stuff. I use the basic recipe and just change the vegetables to create dishes with different texture and tastes. Here is one such simple, yet very scrumptious rice dish which is a meal by itself. To nutritious spinach, I added some colorful carrots for flavor and a vitamin boost, added them to rice and spiced up with the vangibhath powder. Voila! Colorful and tasty spinach rice is ready.

This is my 'S' entry for Nupur's A- Z Indian vegetable event.

Sona masuri rice - 1 cup heaped
Spinach - A bunch (you would need around a cup of cooked spinach) or 10 oz frozen spinach
Carrots - 2
Vangibhath Powder (Home made or MTR brand) - 3 - 4 Tbsp (Less or more depending upon the spiciness preferred)
Cashews - 1 Tbsp
Mustard Seeds - 1 tsp
Chana dal - 1 tsp
Few Curry leaves
Oil - 4 tbsp
Salt Preparation: Cook the rice with two cups of water in a pressure cooker.
If using fresh spinach, chop the leaves finely. Peel the carrots and chop them into one inch pieces.
To minimise the usage of oil, I cook fresh/frozen spinach and carrots individually in the microwave.
Heat oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds and chana dal. When chanadal turns red and mustard seeds start to pop, add cashews and curry leaves. Toast them for a few seconds. You add the microwave cooked veggies now.
(If you have not cooked the veggies in the microwave already, then add chopped spinach and carrots to the pan and fry them on low flame till they are cooked).
Fry the cooked veggies for a couple of minutes. By the time, the spinach would have turned a darker shade. Add the vangibhath powder and salt. Adjust them according to the taste preferences. Stir the whole mixture properly so that all the rice and vegetables are uniformly coated with the vangibhath powder. Turn off the stove.
Serve hot with some potato chips or raita.
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