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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Homemade, Sun-dried Potato Chips

Like most of the Indian women, my mother used to prepare (& still does) different kinds of vadiyalu (papads, loosely translated), sun dried chillies, potato chips during the hot summer months. Our Kitchen's top shelf used to carry these sun dried items stored in big containers. My mother fried them whenever we felt like snacking on them or to perk up our meal. We kids always enjoyed the process of making them from the scratch with our mother and so, I thought of sharing the experience and of course, some home made goodies :) with the little ones. This month luckily I had a couple of weeks of warmer weather here in Chicago and made use of it to a good extent. I am planning to share some of them here and the first in the series is going to be potato chips. I know that every super market has a dedicated aisle for potato chips with all different kind of flavors but I thought of preparing some of my own for fun. This is my mother's method of doing potato chips. It is quite simple and takes less than 30 minutes excluding the drying time. What you need: Potatoes as many as you need Salt A potato slicer & gorgeous Summer sunshine :) How to make the chips: Wash and scrub the potatoes well. (Peel the potatoes if it is hard to get rid of the dirt.) Slice the potatoes into thin circles using a slicer. (Don't go too thin.) Mean while, boil water with a little salt (Use like a 1/2 tsp salt for 10 potatoes). The water quantity should be such that when you drop potato slices in it, they should submerge in the water. When the water comes to a rolling boil, turn off the heat and set the water container aside. Add the potato slices to it and cover it for about ten minutes. Then drain all the water. Spread the potato slices on a plastic sheet in the sun. Arrange them in such a way that they are not crowded. Get them inside in the evening and put them outside in the sun again the next morning. Repeat the process till the chips are completely dry. If you have a temperature of 80 - 90 deg F outside, they would be dry in 2 -3 days. After they dry completely, store them in an air tight container. They would stay fresh for at least an year and need no refrigeration. How to cook them: Take 1/4 tsp each of salt and chili powder and mix well. Keep the mixture aside. Heat oil in a small pan. Add a few dried chips into the oil taking care not to overcrowd it. Fry the chips, remove and immediately drain on paper towels. It would take only a few seconds for the chips to get fried. Sprinkle the salt-chili powder mixture on the fried chips. Post a comment

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Palakoora - Mamidikaya Pappu

Translated from Telugu,
Palakoora - Spinach, Mamidikaya - Green Mango, Pappu - Dal, A lentil preparation from Andhra

If this would have been my MIL's blog, this would be her first post with out a doubt. Her adoration and jubilation towards the sour, green mango is unparalleled and was more than evident when she cooked during summers for us. Since mangoes are seasonal and appear during summers in India, our meals during th(os)e hot days certainly included green mango in one form or another (almost every day). It would be a pachadi, a pickle like avakaya, pulusu, mamidikaya pappu or (the most important one, which my MIL absolutely loves) pappu cooked with leafy greens like chukkakoora or thotakoora (amaranth). Though my MIL no longer cooks and I haven't eaten her food in a decade, the taste still lingers in my mouth when ever I think about this dish.
My assumption is that combining greens with green mango is common throughout the Andhra state since my MIL from Rayalaseema region did it and my maternal grand mother from the Kostha (Coastal Andhra) also used to cook the same way. Greens and mango each contribute their own flavors to the dal, making it one of the fabulous tasting dals from the region.
I have used spinach instead of my MIL's favorite chukkakoora as this is easily accessible to me

Ingredients needed:
1 cup toordal
1 small unripe, green mango or (about a cup of green mango cubes)
A bunch of spinach leaves (If using frozen, use about 5 Oz spinach)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
Salt as needed
2 tsp chili powder
3 Tbsp tamarind juice **
For seasoning - 2 tsp oil, 1 tsp each mustard seeds, 1 tsp cumin seeds, asafoetida powder
**Soak about a lemon sized tamarind in water or nuke it in a microwave (of course, with half a cup of water added) for about a couple of minutes. Squeeze the tamarind using your fingers or passing through a sieve. Discard the seeds and fibre. Use the thick puree extracted as required and save the rest for later use.
If using the ready made tamarind paste, the quantity mentioned above varies.

Prep work :
Wash the spinach leaves and chop them roughly. Peel the mango and chop them into cubes.Wash the toordal and throw away the cloudy water.
Cooking: Cook toordal along with spinach, mango cubes and turmeric powder adding about 2 cups water in a pressure cooker.
When the valve pressure is gone, remove the cooked dal. Add salt, chili powder and tamarind juice. Stir well and let it simmer for about five minutes.
Do the tadka/seasoning in a small saute pan. Heat oil and add the rest of the tadka ingredients. When the mustard seeds starts popping and the cumin turns brownish, turn off the heat and add them to the dal and mix well.
Serve hot with rice and a spoon of ghee for a fabulous, Andhra style meal. We had a hearty meal with tindora chutney, rasam & yogurt along with the dal.

Note: Use unripe, green mango and also the sourest kind you can find. Green mango gone ripe with a sweet taste doesn't work for this dal. Also the quantity of the tamarind used in the recipe depends upon the sourness of the mango used.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Tindora Chutney / Dondakaya Pachadi (దొండకాయ పచ్చడి)

Andhra style chutneys, especially vegetable based ones are a norm in my kitchen. I prepare them regularly and to avoid the monotony, I keep trying different varieties. Tindora chutney is one of them, learnt from my mother. This tindora chutney perks up any boring meal and would entice all tindora lovers. If you haven't liked tindora before, try this chutney and I am sure you will fall in love with this gourd immediately. Though basically eaten with rice, this chutney would taste fabulous even with rotis and other breakfast items like dosas, upma etc. Tindora = ivy gourd/small gourd Ingredients: Tindora slices - 1 &1/2 cup (wash the tindora, trim the edges and slice crosswise into thin circles of about 1/4 cms thickness) Red Chillies - 8 (use a couple more, if more spiciness is preferred) Salt as needed 2 Tbsp tamarind puree ** For tadka - 4 tsp canola / peanut oil, 1 Tbsp Urad dal, 1 tsp mustard seeds, a pinch of fenugreek seeds, asafoetida & turmeric powder each. ** Soak about a lemon sized tamarind in water or nuke it in a microwave (of course, with half a cup of water added) for about a couple of minutes. Squeeze the tamarind using your fingers or passing through a sieve. Discard the seeds and fibre. Use the thick puree extracted as required and save the rest for later use. If using the ready made tamarind paste, the quantity mentioned above varies. The cooking part: Heat oil in a saute pan and add uraddal and mustard seeds to it. When the mustard seeds start to pop and urad dal starts turning reddish, add the fenugreek seeds, chillies, asafoetida and turmeric powder. When the fenugreek seeds also turn red, add tindora slices and stir all the ingredients of the pan once. Lower the heat, cover the lid and cook tindora till done / soften. Stir the ingredients in between. Turn off the heat and let the tindora cool. Grind the tindora coarsely adding tamarind and salt in a blender. Serve with hot rice and a little ghee. Comments

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Loving Legumes ~~ Moong Beans With Veggies

In our family, Pushpa (M's SIL) prepares a lot of delicious moong dishes, which I have always enjoyed. I already posted her Moong bean khichdi. She prepares a couple of subzis with it, which I have devoured enjoying till the last bit. One version is drier while this one has equal amount of vegetables with moong. The moong is almost creamier and attains a melt in your mouth texture by the end in this dish. Serve this with a stack of rotis and some cooling yogurt / buttermilk for a hearty, healthy meal.

Ingredients required to serve generously at least six people:
1/2 cup green gram (moong beans/పెసలు)
Vegetables -1 carrot, 1 potato, 2 medium sized tomatoes, 2 medium sized onions, 10 - 15 green beans
4 -5 Serrano peppers - stems removed (or any other variety chillies can be used as needed)
A piece of ginger - 1inch by 1inch sized
1 tsp cumin and coriander powder
1.5 tsp salt
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp cumin seeds and mustard seeds each
About 2 Tbsp canola oil

The work:
Rinse the moong beans well and throw away the water used. Soak moong beans in plenty of water overnight or at least for 4 hours. later, throw away the water used to soak.
Peel carrot and potato and chop into cubes. Trim the ends of the green beans and cut into 1&1/2 inch lengths.
Place the moong beans, carrot, potato and green beans in a pressure cooker and add water as needed. Cook till you hear three whistles. In the absence of a pressure cooker, add all the ingredients with water to a pot and cook till the moong bean is cooked well enough while still holding it's shape.
In the mean while, peel the skins of the onion and ginger. Place the onions, tomatoes, ginger and chillies in a blender and grind into a fine paste. Use 1/4 c of water if needed.
Heat oil in a saute pan (non stick is the best) and add cumin and mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds start to pop and cumin seeds turn brownish, add the ground paste and turmeric powder to it. Cover the pan and keep frying the paste on low to medium flame for about 10 - 15 minutes till all the raw smell of onion - chillie disappears.
The valve pressure of the cooker would have subsided by this time. Add the cooked moong - veggies to the saute pan. Reserve the liquid used to cook them.
Stir in the cumin-coriander powder and salt. If the mixture appears thick, a little quantity of reserved water can be added.
Mix well and cook on slow flame for a couple of minutes till all the flavors are mingled.
Squeeze half a lemon, if preferred.

Any Comments?