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Monday, December 12, 2016

Lemon Rice / Nimmakaaya Pulihora / Nimbekaayi Chitranna

This lemon rice was a part of the south Indian festival thaali I posted last month. My mother used to prepare lemon rice only once or twice in a year on a festival day and so, even the simple lemon rice was a special one to us while growing up. Later on, I entered a family where lemon rice was 'The designated festival rice' and the younger generation's immediate option whenever there was leftover rice. My husband still thinks that the lemon rice and potato curry are the ultimate combo on a festive day. No wonder considering that the lemon rice is one of the popular rice dishes from south India and is a quick one to prepare.

The preparation of lemon rice is quite a simple one and it is the most fuss-free dish compared to the other traditional rice options out there. The sour and spicy flavors are well balanced in the dish where as the addition of curry leaves and asafoetida make the rice flavorful. Peanuts and dals add a nice crunch and a welcome texture to the dish. It takes about five minutes to prepare the lemon rice if the rice is handy and so, it is a suitable dish both for festive occasions or impromptu/lazy meals. I always held myself back from posting a recipe for lemon rice considering that it is a basic recipe, from a south Indian perspective. However my Gujarati neighbors who ate my lemon rice a few years ago always keep praising it and ask for the tips to master it. This recipe is for those who are not familiar with the rice preparation and novices.

Ingredients: (4 servings)
1 cup rice (I used sona masuri.)
1 - 2 tbsp. oil
2 tbsp. peanuts
1 tbsp. chana dal / split chickpeas
1 tsp. urad dal /skinned and split black lentil
1 tsp. mustard seeds
3 chopped green chillies or 5 - 6 dried red chillies, broken into pieces *
1 stalk of curry leaves
1/8 tsp. turmeric powder
a few pinches of asafoetida powder
Salt to taste
3 to 4 tbsp. lemon / lime juice (Adjust depending upon the sourness of the lemon juice.)
Minced cilantro to garnish (optional)
* A combo of both green and red chillies can be used too. The number of chillies in the recipe can be adjusted according to one's preferred spice levels.

* Wash the rice in two exchanges of water and drain completely. Pressure cook the rice adding 1 & 3/4 cups of water. (Add 2 cups of water if using a rice cooker.) When the rice is done, spread it on a wide plate and fluff the rice. Or let the rice sit for a while before using.
* Once the rice is ready, heat oil in a pan / kadai. Add peanuts, chana dal, urad dal and mustard seeds. When mustard seeds start to sizzle and pop and the dals start to turn reddish, add chillies and saute for few seconds. Next add curry leaves, turmeric and asafoetida. Stir once and turn off the stove.
* Add rice, salt and lemon / lime juice and mix well. Taste the rice and adjust the salt or the lemon juice if needed. 
* Let the rice sit for at least 15 - 30 minutes for the flavors to develop. 
* It can be served on it's own or serve some papad / chips along with it.

1. Salt and lemon flavors tone down a bit after the resting period and so add those ingredients accordingly or taste the rice again after 30 minutes and adjust the quantities. 
2. In case if the lemon rice turns out too salty / too sour just add some more rice and mix well to combine.
3. Bottled lemon juice can be substituted for the fresh juice.


Sunday, December 11, 2016

Beerakaya Paalu Posina Koora

Today's curry comes from the south Indian state of Andhra pradesh and the preparation is more typical in the coastal areas. The addition of milk in the final stages of cooking is the interesting part in this style of preparation and it lends a creamy base for the curry. Subtly sweet vegetables like ridge gourd, bottle gourd suit well in this style of preparation.

1 big ridge gourd / 4 cups ridege gourd cubes
1 tbsp. oil
1 tsp. chana dal / split chickpeas
1 tsp. mustard seeds
1 - 2 green chillies, sliced lengthwise
Few curry leaves
1/8 tsp. turmeric powder
Salt to taste
1/2 cup milk at room temperature (or more depending upon the consistency preferred.)

* Peel the ridge gourds and taste it to check for bitterness. If any of the gourds are bitter, do not use them. Slice each gourd lengthwise into 6 to 8 slices depending upon the thickness of it and cube them.
* Heat oil in a pan and add chana dal and mustard seeds. When chana dal starts to turn reddish add green chillies and curry leaves. Saute for 30 seconds and add ridge gourd cubes, turmeric and salt. Cover and cook on low flame until it is done. The vegetable oozes a lot of water while cooking and so there is no need to add any extra water. The water would be almost evaporated by the time the vegetable is cooked. 
* Add milk and stir for 2 to 3 minutes so that it gets incorporated into the dish.
* Turn off the stove. Serve this curry warm with rice as part of the meal.

This goes to Blogging marathon #71, under the theme 'Make a Meal'. Check here to find out what the other marathoners are cooking as part of the BM.


Saturday, December 10, 2016

Bangala Dumpa Majjiga Pulusu

Today's recipe is a classic, sour yogurt based stew that is quite popular through out the southern regions of India. And as it is norm in India, the name and the preparation of this dish too varies regionally. Majjiga pulusu is from the state of Andhra Pradesh and today's version comes from my MIL's Rayalaseema kitchen. This version is slightly different than my mother's preparation of majjiga pulusu and is a strongly flavored one because of the addition of cumin, coriander and ginger.

I have used potato in today's pulusu but it can be substituted with ash gourd, bottle gourd, cucumber, cabbage or okra. Majjiga pulusu in Andhra homes is typically eaten with rice and muddha pappu / plain cooked dal mixed together instead of eating with plain rice and so it would taste good if prepared on a spicier side instead of being a bland preparation. This pulusu can be served with rotis too.

Ingredients for 6 - 8 generous servings:
1 cup sour yogurt
1 big sized potato / Bangala dumpa
2 tbsp. rice
2 tbsp. split chickpeas / chana dal
2 tbsp. cilantro leaves
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. coriander seeds (optional)
4 green chilies (or adjust depending upon the spiciness.)
1/4 cup fresh, grated coconut
1 inch piece of ginger
For tadka: 2 tsp oil, 1 tsp mustard seeds, curry leaves and a pinch of asafoetida powder
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
* Soak rice and chanadal together in water for at least an hour or more and then drain and rinse. Grind the soaked rice + dal mixture along with cilantro, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, green chillies, coconut and ginger adding some yogurt.
* Peel and cube the potatoes. Cook them in a microwave, adding about 1/2 cup water.
* Whisk the yogurt in a blender or using a churner.
* Heat oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds. When they start to pop, add curry leaves and asafoetida. Then add the potato cubes along with the water used to cook, turmeric powder, ground mixture, whisked yogurt and salt. Add about 2 cups water and bring it to a rolling boil on medium flame. If the pulusu appears too thick, add some more water and continue cooking. Turn off the stove after a couple of minutes more.
* Serve with rice, plain dal and ghee.

This goes to Blogging marathon #71, under the theme 'Make a Meal'. Check here to find out what the other marathoners are cooking as part of the BM.


Monday, December 5, 2016

Baked Vermicelli - Vegetable Cutlets

Here are some guilt free and flavorful vermicelli and vegetable based cutlets or tikkis to munch on along with a cup of tea in the evenings. I have used potato, carrot and beans here though other veggies like peas, cauliflower or greens can be added too. Vermicelli here can be replaced with other kind of noodles but I find the Indian variety short strands of vermicelli more convenient to use here. The tikkis of course can be pan fried or deep fried too instead of baking. (The tikkis in the background plate were pan fried.)
Ingredients: (Yiled 12 cutlets)
1 cup cooked vermicelli*
1 cup peeled, chopped and cooked vegetables (I used potato, carrot and beans.)
1/8 tsp. turmeric powder
1/2 tsp. chaat masala
1/2 tsp. chili powder or to taste
3/4 tsp. amchur powder
Salt to taste
1/2 cup (or as needed) bread crumbs
Oil to spray 
* Indian style 1/2 inch vermicelli strands
* Drain the cooked vermicelli and set aside to cool. Squeeze out any extra water if present.
* Drain the cooked vegetables taking care that no water is present. Coarsely pulse them using a food processor.
* Preheat the oven to 350 deg F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil if preferred and spray it with cooking oil and keep it aside.
* Add the cooked vermicelli, prepared veggies, turmeric, spice powders and salt to a mixing bowl and mix well with a spoon or hand. Add bread crumbs as needed and mix to form a cohesive mixture. 
* Pinch out lemon sized portions and shape them into discs. Arrange them on the prepared baking sheet and spray the tops with oil again.
* Bake them until the bottom portion turn golden brown and flip them and continue to bake until the other side browns too. (I forgot to record the time of baking but it may take around 30 minutes or so.)

This goes to Blogging marathon #71, under the theme 'One Ingredient - Three Courses'. Check here to find out what the other marathoners are cooking as part of the BM.


Sunday, December 4, 2016

Vermicelli Kheer / Semya Payasam

A kheer or payasam denotes a festive dish and this semya payasam is one of the yummiest and the most commonly prepared sweet dishes in most of the Indian households. Especially it is so popular in the southern regions that it is probably one of the first sweet dishes that a novice learns to cook. The rich, creamy kheer is easy to prepare and hard to mess up unless one is not paying attention. Semiya payasam uses the Indian style vermicelli that is sold as 1/2 inch sized bits. In the basic and common version, the vermicelli is roasted in ghee until golden brown and then cooked in full fat milk and sugar and flavored with cardamom. It is finally rounded off with the addition of toasted raisins and cashews. Depending upon the occasion, this basic version kheer can be made more richer and creamier with the addition of condensed milk at the final stages of cooking. Or as they do in Bangalore region, the payasam can be made more flavorful with the addition badam mix powder (like MTR brand for example).

1 tbsp. + 2 tsp. ghee
1/2 cup vermicelli / semya
2 cups full fat milk (Don't substitute skim milk.)
3 tbsp. sugar or to taste
1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
1 to 2 tbsp. MTR badam mix (optional)
1 tbsp. raisins
1 tbsp. cashews

* Heat 2 tsp. ghee in a pan and roast vermicelli on medium flame, stirring continuously until the vermicelli turns uniformly golden brown. Turn off the stove and set the vermicelli aside.
Skip this step if using pre-roasted vermicelli. Vermicelli can be roasted without adding ghee too.
Take care not to burn the vermicelli and in case, accidentally if vermicelli is burned, throw it away and start over with fresh batch of vermicelli.
* Heat milk on low flame in a thick bottomed stainless steel pot or a non stick one. Add the roasted vermicelli to the milk pot and stir well with  a ladle so that the vermicelli does not form a clumpy mass. Leave the ladle in the pot so that the milk will not flow over the pot. Continue to cook, stirring intermittently until the vermicelli is done. The stirring is important not to let the milk scorch. (When vermicelli is cooked properly, it can be broken easily pressing between two fingers.)
* Add sugar, cardamom and Badam mix powder if using and cook until the sugar dissolves. Turn off the stove.
* Heat a tbsp. ghee in a small pan and add cashews and raisins to the pan. Toast them until the cashews turn golden brown and the raisins turn plump. Add this to the cooked payasam and mix well.
* Serve warm or chilled.

This goes to Blogging marathon #71, under the theme 'One Ingredient - Three Courses'. Check here to find out what the other marathoners are cooking as part of the BM.


Saturday, December 3, 2016

Vermicelli - Cracked Wheat Idli / Semya - Godhuma Rava Idli

Here is an idli idea using vermicelli and cracked wheat that needs no grinding and fermenting. These idli would be ready in less than an hour that includes the prep work and the steaming part. They would be great for any meal of the day and when served along with a sambhar would make a wholesome meal. Cracked wheat in the recipe can be replaced with semolina if preferred. I used the plate idli moulds here and cut the big idlis into triangles.

1 cup vermicelli
1 cup fine cracked wheat
1.5 cup yogurt or 1 cup yogurt + 1/2 cup water
1 tbsp. oil
1 tsp. mustard seeds
1 tsp. roasted chickpeas / chana dal
1 tsp. skinned black gram / urad dal 
1 green chillie, finely chopped (optional)
Few curry leaves, roughly chopped (optional)
1/8 tsp. turmeric powder
1/4 cup peeled and grated carrot
2 tbsp. fresh / frozen peas 
2 to 3 tbsp. fresh, shredded coconut 
1 tbsp. toasted cashew pieces (optional) 
1 to 2 tbsp. chopped cilantro
Salt to taste
1/4 tsp. baking soda / Eno's salt
1 tsp. ghee / oil to grease the idli plates
(I had added some toasted onions too.)

* Roast vermicelli and cracked wheat until golden brown and set aside to cool. This step can be done ahead in advance.
* Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds, chana dal and urad dal. When mustard seeds start to crackle and the dals turn gold brown, add green chillies, curry leaves, turmeric, carrot and peas. Saute for a minute and turn off the stove. Let it cool a bit.
* Add the roasted vermicelli, cracked wheat, coconut, cilantro, cashews, yogurt and salt to the pan and mix well to form a thick batter of idli consistency. (The amount of yogurt mentioned in the list should be sufficient for the right consistency of the batter. However if the batter seems to thick, add a little amount of water.)
* Allow the batter to rest for about 15 minutes and add baking soda / eno's salt to the batter just before steaming the idli and mix well.
* Pour the batter into greased idli plates and place them in a prepared idli cooker / steamer or a pressure cooker without the valve on.
* Steam them on medium flame until the idlis are cooked, about 20 minutes. Turn off the stove and leave them for about five minutes before demoulding the idlis.
* Serve them warm with chutney / sambhar.
This goes to Blogging marathon #71, under the theme 'One Ingredient - Three Courses'. Check here to find out what the other marathoners are cooking as part of the BM.


Saturday, November 19, 2016

Makai Methi Kebab

These kebabs make a guilt free and delicious evening snack. These are pan fried instead of deep frying and using a non stick tawa would help to ensure that only a little amount of oil is used in the preparation. This low calorie treat is easy to make and can be served with ketchup or green and sweet chutney or any other sauce you may prefer.
 Source: Tarla Dalal
Ingredients: (Yield 8 kebabs)
1 cup makai / corn kernels (I used frozen.)
1/2 cup boiled, peeled and mashed potato
1/2 cup methi / fresh fenugreek greens
2 tbsp. cilantro leaves
1 tsp. chopped green chili
2 tbsp. rice flour
Salt to taste
1 tbsp. oil
* Cook corn kernels in microwave for a minute or two adding a tbsp. of water. Drain and coarsely pulse them in a food processor.
* Wash and roughly chop the fenugreek greens.
* Now combine all ingredients except oil in a mixing bowl. Divide the mixture into 8 portions and pat them into discs.
* Place them on a large non stick pan and shallow fry them using the oil until they turn golden brown on both sides.

This goes to Blogging marathon #70, under the theme 'Cooking on a Tawa'. Check here to find out what the other marathoners are cooking as part of the BM.


Friday, November 18, 2016

Tawa Bhindi

Tawa subzi was what on my mind when I picked 'tawa recipes' as my theme for this week's BM. I went and bought even the needed vegetables only to back out at the last minute when I realized that too much work and time were involved in the preparation. At least in my case since I was planning to cook for one and that too for myself. And so instead I picked this spicy and delicious tawa subzi prepared with okra after I happened to come across it here. Tawa bhindi is stuffed okra curry that is prepared on a tawa / griddle. This curry uses a flavorful homemade tawa masala though a store bought version can be substituted for it. I did not play around the original recipe while preparing this tawa bhindi though I have reduced the quantity of red chili powder in the masala recipe given below. Tawa masala with a tbsp. of chili powder turned out to be a super spicy one, the kind which leaves you in tears especially if you use up all the masala prepared. And so, I recommend to go easy with the tawa masala, taste and adjust the quantity as needed in the tawa bhindi recipe. However I would like to add that this spicy masala is a flavorful one and would be a great addition to vegetable preparations and okra here can be replaced with other vegetables. 

Ingredients for tawa masala
1 tsp. oil
1 tsp. mustard seeds
1 tsp. cumin seeds
2 or 3 cloves
1 inch piece of cinnamon
2 tbsp. coriander seeds
2 tsp. kasuri methi / dried fenugreek leaves

1 to 1.5 tsp. red chilli powder
1 tsp. amchoor / dried mango powder

1 tsp. chaat masala
1 tsp. salt

Preparing tawa masala:
* Heat the oil in  a pan and add mustard and cumin seeds. When the mustard seeds start to crackle and pop, turn off the stove and add the remaining ingredients to the pan. Toast for a minute and let the mixture cool.
* Grind the ingredients finely and store it in an airtight container. Keep refrigerated and use as needed.

Ingredients for tawa bhindi:
1 lb. okra / bhindi (25 medium sized okra)
1/4 cup tawa masala or as needed 

 3 to 4 tbsp. oil

* Wash the okra and wipe them dry thoroughly. Otherwise the slime builds while chopping. 
* Chop off the edges of okra and make a slit along the entire length of it without chopping it into two pieces. Stuff the okra with a pinch or two of tawa masala and don't go overboard with the stuffing. Gently wipe away if any stuffing sticks on the okra as we don't want the mixture to burn while cooking the okra. Prepare all the okra this way and keep them aside.
* Heat oil on a tawa / skillet and add the stuffed okra. Toss them well to coat with the oil. Cook them on medium flame turning intermittently, until they are done to the desired crispness. Add oil if needed in between. (Cook in a saute pan if you are uncomfortable with cooking on a tawa.)
* Sprinkle a little salt and some tawa masala over the okra and toss well before turning off the stove. (Go easy with the salt since the tawa masala has already salt in it. The original recipe did not have this extra sprinkling of masala over the okra.)
* Serve with rotis / rice.

This goes to Blogging marathon #70, under the theme 'Cooking on a Tawa'. Check here to find out what the other marathoners are cooking as part of the BM.


Thursday, November 17, 2016

Tawa Paneer Masala

Today is turn for a quick and delicious paneer based curry made on a tawa. A tawa is a slightly concave griddle that is commonly used in Indian kitchens to prepare flat breads. Apart from flatbreads, there are a few other dishes that are associated with the tawa like a tawa pulao or this paneer masala for example, though the flat griddle seems like an unusual implement to cook them. Of course one can easily opt for a saute pan instead of a flat griddle when cooking at home, if the tawa cooking seems trickier and messier. This tawa paneer masala is entirely cooked on a tawa where paneer cubes are simmered in a spicy, sauteed base of onion, capsicum and tomato.

1 onion
1 small or 1/2 big sized green capsicum 
2 tomatoes 
1/2 cup paneer cubes
1 to 2 tbsp. butter / oil
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 small sized green chili
1 tsp. ginger - garlic paste 
2 pinches of turmeric powder
Salt to taste
1 tsp. pav bhaji powder
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. coriander powder
1/2 tsp. cumin powder
2 tsp. kasuri methi

* Finely chop onion, capsicum and green chili. Puree the tomatoes.
* Heat butter / oil on a medium / large sized tawa / griddle and add cumin seeds. When they start to turn brown, add green chillies and onions and saute until the onions turn translucent. Add ginger - garlic paste and capsicum and saute on low flame for about five minutes. 
* Next add turmeric, salt, pav bhaji masala, chili powder, coriander powder and cumin powder. Stir for few seconds and then add the tomato puree. Cook until the raw smell of tomatoes disappear and butter / oil starts to leave the sides of the tawa. Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed. Sprinkle a few tbsp. of water if the mixture appears dry while cooking.
* Stir in the paneer cubes next and cook for a couple of minutes more. Gently crush the kasuri methi between palms and sprinkle over the curry. Stir the curry once more and turn off the stove.
* Serve warm with rotis or bread of your choice.
This goes to Blogging marathon #70, under the theme 'Cooking on a Tawa'. Check here to find out what the other marathoners are cooking as part of the BM.


Saturday, November 12, 2016

Podi Atukulu / Spicy Beaten Rice Flakes / Chutney Powder Chivda

This easy poha / beaten rice flakes based snack takes hardly 10 minutes to prepare irrespective of whether it was made for one or many. This guilt free snack is perfect when those evening hunger pangs kick in and one is not in a mood for a calorie laden treat or when one do not have enough time for elaborate prep work. This poha comes from my mother in law's kitchen and I have heard that the older kids in the family would make this quick fix snack for themselves while growing up. This is equivalent to our version of this sweetened milk poha while growing up, a snack that kids could make without disturbing the matron of the family. I had heard often about this podi atukulu from my husband over the years but somehow I had relegated it to weird food category until I tried it myself recently. This no fuss poha really tastes good and makes a nice crunchy snack. It can also be a part of picnic or travel food too. The original recipe do not have peanuts or curry leaves but they would make a great flavorful addition.

Ingredients: (Yield 1 serving)
1 cup poha / beaten rice flakes (I used thick variety poha.)
1 tbsp. chutney podi (adjust as needed)
Salt to taste
1 tbsp. oil
A sprig of curry leaves
1 tbsp. peanuts

* Dry toast the poha on low flame until the flakes feel crisp thin to taste, about 5 minutes.
* Heat oil and add peanuts and curry leaves if using. Toast until the peanuts turn golden brown and turn off the stove. Add chutney podi, salt and mix well. Next add the poha and combine with a spatula until the poha flakes are coated well with the podi. Taste it and adjust the salt and podi quantities if needed.
* This can be eaten immediately or can be stored in an airtight container once it cools down.
This goes to Blogging marathon #70, under the theme 'Cooking for One'. Check here to find out what the other marathoners are cooking as part of the BM.


Friday, November 11, 2016

Banana and Chia Seeds Overnight Oats

Though I jumped late on the 'overnight oats' band wagon, I have come to realize that I love it more than the cooked oatmeal because of the texture of the oats. It doesn't turn mushy and there are zillion ways to jazz it up. All you need to do is mix equal parts of rolled oats, milk, yogurt, sweetener and flavoring agent if preferred in a sealed jar / container and refrigerate it overnight. And a hearty breakfast in a creamy base is ready by the morning to eat or carry it to go. There is no cooking involved and it is a fuss free preparation that hardly involves a couple of minutes of one's time. Just before serving it in the morning, fruits / dry fruits / nuts can be added to make it more interesting and nutritious. Or they can be added along with the oats at night. Overnight oats would make a perfect breakfast especially on hot summer days. 

I usually prepare this overnight oats using a little over 1/3 cup rolled / old fashioned oats but depending upon one's intake the oats quantity can range anywhere between 1/3 to 1/2 cup for one serving. Any dairy or non dairy milk can be used depending upon one's dietary preferences for the liquid portion. Though usually equal quantity of oats and liquids are used in an overnight oats recipe I tend to add more milk and yogurt since I don't prefer my oats with a thick consistency. Sweetener can be anything ranging from honey, sugar, maple syrup, agave nectar, again depending upon one's taste and choice. I prefer to add the sweetener in the morning to decide the quantity depending upon what toppings I am going to use. In today's recipe, I mashed a overly sweet banana and added a tiny quantity of sweetener. Ditto with the flavoring agent though it is optional. Some of the choices would be vanilla, cardamom, cinnamon and pumpkin spice. The basic overnight oats preparation is like a blank canvas though with garnishes and one's creativity, it can lead to great variety of breakfast options. There is no problem in eating the plain, basic version of oats but however it can be made more colorful and interesting with toppings. They can range anywhere from fresh and/or dried fruits, nuts, seeds, coconut, chocolate and many more. For today's version, I used a mashed banana, chia seeds, raisins and sweetened dried cranberries.
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup yogurt (I used homemade fat free yogurt.)
2/3 cup milk 
1 tbsp. chia seeds
Sweetener to taste (I used honey.)
1 banana, mashed or sliced into discs
1 tbsp. dry fruits / nuts to garnish (optional. I used sweetened cranberries and raisins.)

* Whisk oats, yogurt, milk and chia seeds in a pint sized container with a lid.
* Close the lid and refrigerate the oat mixture overnight or about 4 to 6 hours.
* Add banana slices or a mashed banana and toppings of your choice to the oats. Mix well and taste it before adding the sweetener to make sure whether it is needed.
This goes to Blogging marathon #70, under the theme 'Cooking for One'. Check here to find out what the other marathoners are cooking as part of the BM.


Thursday, November 10, 2016

Ringan Methi nu Shaak / Gujarati Style Eggplant & Fenugreek Greens Curry

I had come across recently a Gujarati style curry prepared using eggplants and greens and I was itching to try it ever since. The unusual combination had caught my attention and I was intrigued to find out how complimenting the vegetables and flavors were in the dish. I did try it over the weekend for our lunch, which ended up being a Gujarati meal without prior planning. 

I come from a region where eggplants are cherished in cooking but honestly speaking, I am not a fan of them though my husband is the opposite and loves any eggplant based dish. I try only those eggplant dishes which sound good to my senses and this curry was one of them. The methi used in the recipe may have played a part in it since I love the strong flavored greens. Spinach may be substituted in place of fenugreek greens for a different flavored curry. The dish doesn't take longer to cook as eggplants cook faster and is flavorful. My daughter and I enjoyed the simple and tasty curry and the below measurements are for one serving.

3 small eggplants (1 cup eggplant slices)
1 cup methi leaves / fenugreek greens
1 tbsp. oil
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
A pinch of asafoetida powder
2 pinches turmeric powder
Salt to taste
1/4 tsp. cumin - coriander powder
Red chili powder to taste

* Wash and chop the stalks of the eggplants. Chop the eggplants into two lengthwise and chop each half crosswise into thin slices. Wash and roughly chop the methi leaves.
* Heat oil in a small pan and add cumin seeds.When cumin starts to turn a few shades darker, add the eggplant slices, turmeric, asafoetida and salt to the pan. Mix well and sprinkle a little water.
* Cover and cook on low flame until the eggplants are about 50% done. Next add the methi leaves, mix with a spatula and continue to cook covered until the eggplants turn tender. Don't let the eggplants turn mushy.
* Finally add cumin - coriander powder and chili powder to the pan and cook for a couple of minutes more. Turn off the stove and serve it warm with rice / rotis.
This goes to Blogging marathon #70, under the theme 'Cooking for One'. Check here to find out what the other marathoners are cooking as part of the BM.


Saturday, November 5, 2016

A Simple South Indian Festival Thaali ~ Potato Bajji

I am wrapping up my thaali series this week with a festive one. This kind of thaali is a commonly prepared one on a festival day in majority of the homes across southern parts of India. I specifically chose dishes that are generic to the region than the ones which are specific to a particular state. The dishes chosen on a festival day would be vegetarian and do not even include onion and garlic. The usual fare of rice served along with a pickle, vegetable based side dishes, lentil based side dishes and yogurt with papad / lentil wafers on the side can be seen. And besides those, a traditional rice dish (like tamarind rice or raw mango rice), savories like bajji or vadas and sweet dishes would mandatorily appear as special festive treats.

My festival thaali of the day contains the following dishes.
Mango pickle 
Potato fry
Carrot curry 
Beans & Carrot Sambhar
Lemon Rice
Potato bajji
Poli / Holige
Semiya Payasam / Vermicelli Kheer 
Vadas based on black gram or split roasted chickpeas or bajjis are the commonly prepared savories during festivals in south India. While vadas need soaking and grinding the beans, the bajjis provide a quick alternative. Bajjis are fritters where thinly sliced vegetables coated with a spicy chickpea flour batter are deep fried. I chose potato bajjis for today's post and the recipe is below.

2 to 3 cups oil to deep fry (I used canola oil.) 
2 potatoes
1 cup chickpea flour / besan
2 tbsp. rice flour
1 tsp. cumin seeds
Salt to taste
Chili powder to taste
1/8 tsp. turmeric powder
2 pinches of asafoetida powder (optional)
1/8 tsp. baking soda
About 3/4 cup water

* Heat the oil in a deep frying pan on medium heat. Don't bring it to the point of smoking.
* Peel the potatoes and slice thinly using a mandoline. Immerse the potato slices in a bowl of water to prevent them from turning brown.
* Sieve garbanzo flour into a mixing bowl. Add rice flour, cumin seeds, salt, chili powder, turmeric and asafoetida to the bowl and mix to combine. Next add water and make a batter of semi-thick consistency. It should be neither thick nor watery but should be able to coat when the potato slices are dipped in it. (I added about 3/4 cup water and the quantity can be increased if the batter is too thick to coat the potatoes.) Add the baking soda at the end and mix well.
* Drop a pinch of batter into the oil to test whether the oil is ready for frying. If the batter sizzles and immediately comes to the surface, it's ready to fry. If the batter sinks and doesn't rise, the oil needs some more heating. 
* Dip the potato slices in the batter so that it is coated well on both sides and drop it into the oil carefully. Drop as many coated potato slices as the pan can fit, without crowding.
* Fry on medium flame until they turn golden brown on both sides. Remove them with a slotted spoon draining as much oil as possible  and leave them on absorbent towels. 
* Repeat the steps with the remaining potato slices and the batter.

This goes to Blogging marathon #70, under the theme 'Thaali Recipes'. Check here to find out what the other marathoners are cooking as part of the BM.


Friday, November 4, 2016

Punjabi Mini Thali ~ Jeera Rice & Punjabi Style Kadhi

My 'thaali' of the day comes from Punjab, a northern state of India. People who have tasted Indian food in any restaurant, especially in the western world can be automatically assumed to have tasted Punjabi food. The North Indian cuisine especially served in these restaurants is basically the delicious, calorie laden Punjabi food. The famous tandoor breads like naans, kulchas and parathas, the stuffed breads come from the region as are the paneer (Indian cheese) based side dishes. And of course the region can also boast about their mouthwatering side dishes like rajma, chole, dal makhnis which are equally popular in the other parts of  the country. And the scrumptious carrot halwa, the ultimate dessert of the bollywood movies also is a gift from the region to the Indian subcontinent.
My today's thaali consists of the following items and I had tried to cut down calories wherever I can though traditionally it is not done so. I baked the samosas instead of deep frying, prepared a microwave version of gajar ka halwa using skim milk, didn't use butter in dal and made rotis using a little oil. I wanted to try the famous combo of 'makki  di roti and sarson da saag' but wasn't sure how it would be received at home and decided to stick with roti, dal and palak paneer instead. I am posting recipes for jeera rice and Punjabi style kadhi today.

Baked mini Punjabi Samosa
Mithi chutney / Sweet chutneyJeera rice / Cumin flavored rice
Roti (Wheat flour based flat bread)
Achaar (Mango pickle)
Dhaabay di dal  (Mixture of lentils cooked in a spicy base)
Punjabi Kadhi (Spicy chickpea flour & yogurt based gravy)
Palak Paneer 
Gajar ka halwa
Onions and chillies on the side
Salted lassi

Ingredients for jeera rice:
1 cup Basmati rice
1 tbsp. ghee
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 small bay leaf
1 inch cinnamon stick
1 or 2 cardamom pods
Salt to taste
* Rinse and soak rice in water for 10 to 15 minutes and drain. 
* Heat a tbsp. ghee in a pan and add cumin seeds, bay leaf, cinnamon stick and cardamom. When cumin starts to brown, add rice and saute for a minute. 
* At this point, the rice can be continued to cook in the pan or pressure cooked. 
Add 2 cups water and salt to the pan and bring it to a boil. Cover and cook on low flame until the rice grains appear cooked and fluffy. Don't be tempted to stir in between.
Or transfer the mixture to a container to place in a pressure cooker or directly to a small pressure cooker. Add 1&1/2 cups water and salt to it and pressure cook for 3 whistles.
Ingredients for tadka / tempering: 
1 - 2 tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp fenugreek/methi seeds
1 or 2 small dried, red chillies, broken into bits
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. ginger paste / minced ginger
2 pinches of asafoetida

Ingredients for the Punjabi kadhi:
2 small onions, thinly sliced lengthwise or chopped
1 cup sour yogurt
1/3 cup besan / chickpea flour
Salt to taste
Red chili powder to taste
1/8 tsp turmeric powder
About 2 & 1/2 cups water or as needed
1/4 tsp each garam masala or as per tasteMaking kadhi:
* Heat the oil in pan and add cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, bay leaf and red chillies. When cumin starts to brown, add ginger and saute for few seconds. Next add asafoetida and onion and fry on low flame until the onion turns translucent.
* Mean while churn / beat the yogurt to get a uniform consistency. Sieve the besan. (Sieving beforehand helps in preventing the besan forming lumps when added to the yogurt.) Add the yogurt to the besan and mix well. Pass the yogurt - besan mixture through a sieve again to avoid any lumps if present. (I take this extra measure to avoid the trouble of lumps in the kadhi mixture later.)
* Add this yogurt mixture, chili powder, turmeric powder and salt to the fried onions. Also add about 2&1/2 to 3 cups of water to it. Cook on low heat for about 15 - 20 minutes till it thickens. Stir now and then. In between, the heat can be increased once or twice for a minute or so to quicken the cooking process. Add garam masala and amchur too if preferred to the kadhi. Cook for a couple of minutes more. Turn off the stove.
Kadhi further thickens after sitting for a while and so prepare the kadhi a little thinner than you like.

This goes to Blogging marathon #70, under the theme 'Thaali Recipes'. Check here to find out what the other marathoners are cooking as part of the BM.