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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Kala Chana Sambhar

Though the South Indian Sambhar is associtated with toordal / lentils, other beans can be substituted to prepare this spicy side dish. Of course, using different beans means bringing their signature flavors and own oomphs to a dish. In this recipe, the star is the nutritious chana with an earthly flavor. I have gone with the kala chana - the dark complexioned sister of Kabuli chana (Garbanzo beans) for this wholesome, spicy dish.

Ingredients to serve 4 - 6:
2 onions, finely chopped
1 tomato, finely chopped
1/2 cup kalachana
1.5 tsp salt
Thick tamarind puree - 2 tbsp
Powdered jaggery - 1 to 2 Tbsp
1/4 cup fresh coconut (dry coconut / copra can be substituted)
Ingredients to fry:
1 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
2 one inch cinnamon pieces
2 small petals of raathi puvvu / stone flower / daagad phool (optional. I happen to use them while preparing all spice powders) 10 red chillies
Ingredients for tadka:
2 Tbsp oil, 1 tsp mustard seeds, 1 tsp cumin seeds, a pinch of asafoetida, curry leaves

  • Soak the kalachana over night or for at least 6 hours. They will swell and you would have about a cup of chana. Pressure cook the chana. Though they can be cooked on stovetop, it would take longer. Put the cooked chana in a colander and rinse them with fresh water.
  • Fry all those ingredients mentioned in the list and keep aside.
  • Take half of the cooked chana, fried ingredients, coconut and grind into a paste using water.
  • Mean while, heat oil in a kadai / pan and add tadka ingredients in the order mentioned. When mustard seeds start to pop, add onions and fry till they turn translucent. Then add tomatoes and saute them till they turn mush. Then add chana, ground paste, tamarind, jaggery and salt to the onion- tomato mixture. Next add water. Adjust the quantity of water to get a consistency of sambhar. Also keep in mind that it thickens a little after cooking. Taste and adjust the quantities of salt, jaggery and tamarind if needed.
  • Simmer the sambhar for about 10 minutes and turn off the stove.
  • Serve hot with rice and a little ghee.

Recipe Source : Smt. Rajya Lakshmi, my beloved mother-in-law.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Subzis For Siri: Sprouted Peas - Potato Subzi

My sister recently asked me whether I could post some recipes for subzis which go well with rotis. She was bored with the monotony of cooking the same subzis over and over. She thinks that I have a little more gyan than her in the cooking area since I own a blog and have been cooking longer than her. I think anyone who cooks on a daily basis for about a dozen years obviously becomes knowledgable to some extent ( sticking to cooking). :)) Like most of the women in India, she doesn't go looking for recipes over the web or in a book. Who does anyway when family members / friends are nearby? She therefore thought it would be easier for her to look for recipes here instead of googling. I am sure she would appreciate this easy and simple subzi recipe. I have paired nutritious sprouts with yummy potatoes. Sprouted green peas can be replaced by dry green peas. Soak them for a minimum of 4 hours and pressure cook them. You can see how to sprout here and here. Ingredients needed to serve 4 : 1 cup sprouted green peas 2 of each - potato, onion, tomato - chopped into cubes 2 tsp salt or according to taste 1 tsp chili powder 1 tsp coriander powder 1/4 tsp turmeric powder 1-2 tsp sugar (Optional) For tadka: 1 Tbsp oil, 1/2 tsp mustard seeds, cumin seeds The cooking part: Heat oil in a kadai / sauce pan and add mustard & cumin seeds to it. When they start to sizzle, add onion and fry till it turns translucent. Then add tomato and fry for a couple of minutes more. Then add potato cubes, sprouted peas, turmeric powder, salt and 2 & 1/2 cups of water and cook on high heat till potatoes are done. Add a little more water if needed. Now in goes coriander powder, chili powder and sugar. Simmer for another five minutes and turn off the stove. Serve hot with rotis. Related Posts here: Ghuguni This goes to FIC - Yellow hosted by Sunshinemom. Post a Comment

Friday, January 23, 2009

Moong Bean Khichadi

Our last India trip was to celebrate the Kanakabhishekam of M's parents. Though the trip was a short one, there was no dearth for the family gatherings and home cooked, good food. When ever I came across something I liked, I would ask for a pencil and paper and note down the recipe, with out feeling any embarassment. Of course, that happened many times as M comes from a big family filled with amazing cooks. By the time I came home, my purse was full of loose sheets with recipes scribbled all over.
Among those scribblings was this fabulous khichadi from Pushpa, who is M's SIL. She comes from a Kannadiga family and naturally her recipes are influenced by Kannada Cuisine which is less hotter compared to Andhra cuisine. She uses moong beans (green) and moongdal (yellow) a lot in her cooking with lot of variations. This khichadi is an example of it.
This Moong khichadi is meant for people who love quick, one pot meals. It hardly takes 15 - 20 minutes to prepare this dish if you have a cooker. Pair with some chutney / gojju and some yogurt, you will have a complete meal.

Ingredients to serve 4:
Rice - 1 cup (I have used sona masuri)

Moong beans (green gram) - 1/4 cup, heaped
Chopped vegetables - 1 cup
(I used carrot, potato, tomato, green beans and green peas).
Water - 2 cups
Salt 1.5 tsp
Sambhar powder 1Tbsp
For tadka /seasoning: 1 Tbs ghee, 1 tsp grated ginger, 1 tsp mustard seeds and few curry leaves

Pressure cooker cooked moong khichadi

The cooking part:
Wash and soak moong beans for about an hour. In the mean time, do the prep work. Peel the carrot and potato and wash the remaining veggies. Chop them finely.
Heat ghee in a small saute pan and add ginger and fry for a few seconds and then add mustard seeds and curry leaves. When mustard seeds start to pop, turn off the stove. You can do tadka directly in the pressure pan or cooker in which the khichadi is going to be cooked.
Wash the rice and throw away the water used. Add rice, soaked moong beans (with out the water used to soak), vegetables, salt, sambhar powder, the tadka and the 2 cups of water to a container and place it in a cooker and cook till you hear 3 whistles. Note that this khichadi should not be mushy.When the valve pressure is gone, remove and serve hot with dalia - coconut chutney.

This is going to
Susan's 'My Legume Love Affair' - The seventh helping hosted by Srivalli of 'Cooking 4 all seasons' this month.
and 'Harvest - The festival of rice' event hosted by Sudeshna of 'Here I cook'.

The quantity of moong can be increased to 1/2 cup. 1 cup rice + 1/2 cup lentils (toordal) + a handful of moong is another variation. Adjust the quantity of water accordingly.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Fried Poha Snack / Veyinchina Atukulu

Ten minutes of time and the common ingredients found in any Indian kitchen are enough for this simple, crunchy evening snack.


Ingredients for 4 servings:
2 cups poha (Thick variety)
1/4 cup peanuts
2 Tbsp roasted chickpeas (dalia)
4 red chillies 1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp mustard seeds
few curry leaves
1 cup oil to fry + 1 tsp oil for tadka

Heat oil in a kadai / pan and add peanuts to it. Fry till they turn golden brown, remove them with a slotted spoon and keep them aside. Then add poha in small batches (about 1/4 cup) to the same hot oil. In a couple of seconds , the poha comes to the surface, sizzling and also changing it's color from the pale to a brighter white shade. Immediately, remove with a slotted spoon and drain the poha on a paper towel covered plate. Now the tadka part. Heat 1 or 2 tsp of oil in a small saute pan and add mustard seeds, red chillie pieces, curry leaves and turmeric powder in that order. When mustard seeds start to pop, turn off the stove. Add the fried poha, peanuts, dalia, tadka & salt to a bowl and mix well. Serve with hot coffee or tea.


1. Do this test to know whether the oil is hot enough to fry poha. Drop a couple of poha flakes in the hot oil. If the poha flakes sizzle and come to the surface immediately, then the oil is ready. If poha sinks to the bottom, heat the oil for one more minute.
2. Dry coconut (copra) cubes can also be fried in the hot oil and added to the poha mixture. 1.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Seema Vankaya Koora / Seeme Badanekayi Palya / Chayote Fry

Chayote, the pale green gourd with a mild sweetish flavor is a commonly found vegetable in India. My chayotes usually go in Indian style subzis and dal preparations. Chayotes are one of the good canditates for hassel free, simple and quick dishes.
This happens to be one of my favorite veggies. In the initial days of our marriage, some how my in laws came to conclusion that I favor only veggies with a sweet flavor. One of the reasons being that I was not in great love with the commonly available veggies in Andhra like brinjals, okra or bitter melon and loved mostly carrots, beets and such other stuff. M used to tease me all the time that I prefer rabbit food. My MIL however used to buy ridge gourds and chayotes for me even though she did not know what to do with them.
After more than a dozen years of our association and my cooking, M's point of view towards some of the vegetables have changed. Now, whenever I send M to grocery shopping, he makes it a point to buy some of these green beauties which have become his favorite too.
I usually follow my mom's steam - saute method while preparing this dish. The addition of fresh coconut lends a subtle sweetness to the dish.
What is needed:
One chayote -peeled, quartered, the seed removed and cubed
1/4 cup fresh coconut, grated
Chili Powder - 3/4 tsp
Salt to taste
For tadka - 1 Tbsp oil, 1 tsp chanadal, 1/2 tsp mustard seeds, 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, few curry leaves, 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
How it is done:
Heat oil in a saute pan and add all the tadka ingredients in the order mentioned. When the mustard seeds start to pop and the chana dal starts to turn reddish, add the chayote cubes and salt. Stir once , cover the pan with a lid and cook on a low flame till the chayote cubes turn tender. Then add chili powder & coconut and mix well. Let it cook for a couple of minutes more and turn off the stove.
Serve with rice / rotis.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Potlakaya Pappu / Snake gourd Dal

In India, beans are a great source of protein irrespective of one's dietary habits. What variety of beans (dal) are used or how they are cooked at home, depends upon where you are from. They are used both in savoury and sweet dishes.
Coming to South, lentils (toordal/kandipappu) are extensively used on a daily basis. Again each state have unique dal preparations which are special and delicious in their own way. From the state of Andhra, one can find such a distinctive dal preparation called pappu. Though it can be prepared with most of the vegetables, mamidikaya pappu (mango dal), gongura pappu, dosakaya pappu (cucumber dal) stand out.
Though I like all my pappus, I am partial towards those with Indian gourds like snake, bottle or ridge gourds. They are quick and simple. Tamarind - chili powder mantra very common to dal preparations, is a big NO here. It is cooked in such a way that the unique flavor and the mild sweet taste of the gourd stand out instead of the other ingredients added.
Snake gourds are long gourds (and probably why the name) with a beautiful green shade covered with white stripes. They are mildly sweet to taste after cooking. When using the fresh gourd, trim off the edges and slice crosswise into thin circles. If using frozen ones, wash the sliced gourds and use. I have no qualms in using frozen vegetables when fresh ones are not available or when we need to drive 40 miles around or when I need to pay more. Especially the snake gourds where I have to shell out around $8 per pound while I can get the same quantity of frozen variety at less than quarter the price.

Ingredients required:Toordal - 3/4 cup
Potlakaya / snake gourd, chopped into slices - 1 cup
Water - 1 & 1/2 cups
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
4 Serrano peppers, slit lengthwise (or use any other variety green chillies. Quantity can be increased or decreased)
Salt - 1 tsp
For tadka: 1 tsp oil, 1/2 tsp each of mustard & cumin seeds, curry leaves, a pinch of asafoetida

The cooking part:Put all the ingredients except salt in a pressure cooker and cook. When the valve pressure is gone remove the lid. Add salt and mix well with a ladle. Mash the dal a little bit, if needed.
Alternatively, add all these ingredients to a sturdy pot and cook on low flame with constant stirring. Water quantity should be increased accordingly. When cooked the dal must reach fall apart stage and need to be mushy and not watery.

Heat a tsp of oil in a small pan. Add 1/2 tsp each of mustard seeds and cumin seeds, a pinch of asafoetida and few curry leaves to the hot oil. When mustard seeds start to splutter, turn off the stove and add these ingredients to the cooked pappu (dal) and stir once more.

Potlakaya pappu served with steamed rice, a tsp of ghee & sundried, salted chilies

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Chakkera Paramannam

Happy Sankranthi to everyone.


Ingredients required to serve 6:
Rice - 1/2 cup (Preferably sona masuri rice)
Chanadal - 1 tbs or a handful
Milk - 5 cups
Fresh, grated coconut - 1/2 cup
Sugar - 1/2 cup
1/4 tsp Cardamom powder
A pinch of pacha karpooram (edible camphor)
1 Tbsp each of ghee, cashews and golden raisins


The cooking part:
Wash and soak rice and chana dal in water for about an hour. This step is optional and can be skipped. I do this as rice cooks faster this way. I prefer using a non stick sauce pan to avoid the rice mixture sticking to the bottom of the pan while being cooked. Or a sturdy pot / vessel can be used but attention need to be paid that rice does not stick and scorch. Add rice, chanadal and milk to the non stick pan and cook with frequent stirring on low - medium flame. Take care that milk doesn't boil over. (The quantity of milk mentioned above in the list can be added at once or little by little as needed when the rice is cooking). When the rice - dal mixture (paramannam) is cooked and becomes thicker, add coconut and sugar. When the sugar melts, add cardamom powder and the pacha karpooram and stir the mixture well. Turn off the stove. Heat ghee in a small pan and toast cashews till they turn golden brown. Remove them and add raisins to the same ghee. Toast them till they turn plump. Add toasted raisins, cashews and ghee to the cooked paramannam and mix well. This can be served warm or cold.


Creamy, melts in the mouth kind of chakkera paramannam (sweet pongal prepared with sugar) was offered as neivedyam on this Sankranthi day at my home.

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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Capsicum With Chickpea Powder (Pappula Podi)

I think adding pappula podi to vegetable preparations is a rayala seema speciality. I may be wrong but I have never seen my part of the family who come from the coastal area ever using it. Obviously, the recipe comes from my MIL who is from Kadapa. I had tried several variations with capsicum over the years and finally settled with this version which happens to be M's favorite one. It is a neat, simple and quick preparation and I prefer it when we have company. Chick pea powder is the star ingredient of the recipe which lends the curry a subtle sweetness and flavor. What do you need for 4 servings: 3 Capsicums (around 4 cups when chopped). Chilli powder 1 tsp Salt according to taste 1 Tbsp dalia - coconut mixture* 1/4 tsp turmeric powder For seasoning / tadka - 4 -5 tsp oil, 1 tsp chanadal, 1/2 tsp mustard seeds How I make it: Quarter the capsicum. Cut out the stalk, remove the seeds and chop. Heat oil in a saute pan / kadai and add all the tadka ingredients. When the chanadal starts to turn reddish, add the chopped capsicum, stir the ingredients once and cover the pan. Let the capsicum cook in its own juices for the next 10-15 minutes on low heat. Stir a couple of times in between for uniform cooking. Then add the chilipowder, dalia - coconut mixture, salt to the curry and increase the heat to medium. Stir once and let the curry cook for five minutes more. Can be served with rice / rotis. * I usually keep the dalia - grated dry coconut mixture ready to use with curries like capsicum and brinjal. Just dry grind dalia (roasted chick peas) - grated copra (dry coconut) in 2:1 ratio into a fine powder and store it in a clean, dry jar. If using the pappula podi, adjust the quantity of chili powder and salt used in the above recipe as the podi already contains red chillies & salt. Post a Comment

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Coconut Upma on Vaikunta Ekadasi

Today happens to be vaikunta ekadasi / mukkoti ekadasi - an auspicious day in Hindu calender. The day is meant to revere Lord Vishnu - one of the Hindu trinity. It is said that the vaikunta dwaram or the doors to Heaven are open this day. Devotees pray and fast on this day. Some do the katora upavas like not eating for the whole day while some others do partial fasting. It is another thing that the partial fasting people avoid eating rice and feast on all other things. :) I have seen my mother not eating anything until she visited the temple in the evening on this day. When we were kids, she used to prepare coconut upma (ofcourse sans onions) and sooji halwa for the dinner. Since onions are a taboo on hindu festival days, upma was made with coconut. I prefer making this for breakfast regularly as it happens to be one of the quickest upmas to prepare with out the hassle of frying onions and tastes awesome. What is needed to serve two: Semolina / Rava - 1 cup Fresh, grated coconut - 1 cup Water - 2 cups 3 serrano peppers, finely chopped (increase/decrease the qty of chillies depending upon the hotness preferred) Salt - 1.5 tsp For tadka / popu : 1 tbsp oil, 1 Tbsp peanuts / cashews (optional), 1 tsp chana dal, 1/2 tsp mustard seeds, 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, few curry leaves Preparation: Toast the semolina in a skillet on medium flame till it starts to attain a light golden hue. Heat oil in a wide pan / kadai and add all the tadka ingredients in that order. When the nuts and dals turn reddish, add the green chillies and saute for a few seconds. Then add the water, salt and the coconut. When water comes to a rolling boil, turn down the heat to the lowest setting and gradually add the semolina with constant stirring. When the semolina appears to have incorporated into the water with out lumps, cover the pan. Let it cook till done and the upma becomes fluffy. It would take less than ten minutes. Stir the whole mixture one more time and turn off the heat. Serve with any chutney / chutney powder. Post a comment

Monday, January 5, 2009

How do we eat our Corn?

One of the simple and absolutley my favorite way to eat corn is by toasting it. Though the pictures are self explanatory, Here is how I do it. Toasting the corn: I remove the husks and toast by placing the corn on my gas stove top (or placing directly on the burner as in the second pic). Hold the corn at one end with your hand and keep turning it around till it has developed black / brown spots through out without burning it. You hear little popping sounds while toasting, which you need not worry about. You can use a dry, clean towel if you need to hold the hot, toasted portion. Take care to keep your hand away from the flame while toasting the corn and if you can not do it, don't attempt this. I like to eat the freshly toasted corn as it is while my husband rubs it with a lemon slice sprinkled with salt on. This goes to Sharmi's 'Cooking for Kids - Corn' event. Post a Comment