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Sunday, May 12, 2019

Menthe Thambuli

Thambuli, a side dish from the state of Karnataka is a yogurt / butter milk based one and can even be loosely called a raita. The word thambuli comes from combining two Kannada words 'thampu' and 'huli'. Thampu literally means cool and this dish is normally preferred in the summer months for it's cooling properties. The dish is usually on a milder side and involves minimal cooking. The thambuli / thambli varieties are mostly prepared using herbs or some seasonal vegetables and adding a few simple, roasted spices. Today's version is a healthy one and uses fenugreek seeds / menthya kaalu. 

1 tsp. ghee
1/2 tsp. fenugreek seeds 
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
2 - 3 byadagi chillies
A fistful of fresh coconut, grated
Salt to taste
1 cup yogurt 
Ingredients for tempering:
1 tsp. ghee / oil
1/2 tsp. split black gram / urad dal
1/2 tsp. mustard seeds
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
Few curry leaves

* Whisk the yogurt well in a bowl.
* Heat ghee in a small pan and add fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds and red chillies. When the fenugreek starts to change color, add the coconut to the pan. Stir well and turn off the stove. Let it cool a bit.
* Grind the above mixture to a fine paste adding salt and little yogurt. Finally add the remaining yogurt and pulse once to combine.
* Heat ghee / oil in a small pan for tempering and add all othe other ingredients mentioned under tempering. When urad dal starts to turn brownish, turn off the stove. Let it cool a bit and add it to the yogurt mixture and mix well to combine.
* Serve it with hot rice.


This post is an entry for Blogging Marathon #100 under 'Regional Side Dishes' theme.


Saturday, May 11, 2019

Mixed Dal Fry

Dal fry is one of the popular north Indian style dals and is quite commonly served in Indian restaurants and dhabas though the recipe of the latter versions vary. This simple yet delicious dal is usually made with pigeon peas aka toor dal / arhar dal though I made a mixed dal version, inspired by a TV show. Keep the dal to a medium to thick consistency. Replace the coriander and cumin powders in the recipe with garam masala, if you prefer it that way. The dal goes well with rotis / rice / jeera rice or mildly flavored pulao / biryanis. I had made a mixed dal version to serve with my Zafrani pulao, which made an awesome combo.
1/4 cup pigeon peas / toor dal
1/4 cup split yellow peas / chana dal
1/4 cup moong dal
1 tbsp. oil / ghee
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. mustard seeds
1 red chili
1 sprig of curry leaves
1 tsp. minced ginger
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 sliced green chili
A pinch of asafoetida
1 onion, finely minced
1 tomato, chopped
1/8 tsp. turmeric powder
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. coriander powder
1/2 tsp. cumin powder
1 tsp. kasuri methi / dried fenugreek leaves
Salt to taste
Lemon juice (optional)
Minced cilantro to garnish

* Soak toor and chana dals for an hour. Rinse all the dals and drain. 
* Pressure cook them adding 1.5 cups of water for 3 whistles. Chana dal should still hold the shape after cooking. 
* Heat ghee / oil in a pot / pan and add cumin seeds, mustard seeds and red chili. When mustard seeds start to splutter, add asafoetida, curry leaves and stir. Add green chili, ginger and garlic and saute until raw smell leaves.
* Next add onion and fry until translucent. Add tomato and fry until mushy.
* Add turmeric, chili powder, coriander powder, cumin powder and salt and saute for seconds. 
* Next add the cooked dals and little water to adjust to desired consistency. Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed. Lightly crush the kasuri methi between palms and add it to the dal. Bring the mixture to a boil and turn off the stove. Add some lemon juice if desired.
* Garnish with minced cilantro before serving.
This post is an entry for Blogging Marathon #100 under 'Regional Side Dishes' theme.


Friday, May 10, 2019

Brinjal Dalcha

I had made a score of biryani / pulaos and side dishes to go with them, last month for the mega marathon. This dalcha was one of those side dishes that I had made to accompany my Ambur biryani. 'Dalcha' was created in the Hyderabadi Nizams' kitchens and is said to be a modified version of a Persian dried lamb with beans dish. The original dish is of course a non vegetarian version that uses mutton and chana dal / split chickpeas along with the spices to flavor it up. This is a flavorful and simple vegetarian version dalcha made with eggplants / brinjals and pairs well with a biryani / pulao. Eggplants can be replaced with soy chunks or with mixed vegetables.
Recipe source: Here
1/2 cup toor dal / pigeon peas
2 tbsp. chana dal / split chickpeas
1/8 tsp. ground turmeric
1 cup water
1 tbsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. ginger - garlic paste
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 small egg plants, sliced thinly
1/2 tsp. garam masala
1/4 tsp. cumin powder
1/2 tsp. chili powder
Salt to taste
Tamarind water to taste
1/2 cup water
Ingredients for tempering:
1 tsp. oil
1 tsp. mustard seeds
1/8 tsp. fenugreek seeds
2 dried red chilies, each broken into 2 or 3 pieces
1 stalk of curry leaves
2 pinches of asafoetida

* Pressure cook toor dal, chana dal and turmeric adding a cup of water for 3 whistles or until the dal is softly cooked. When the valve pressure is gone, mash the dal well and keep it side.
* Heat oil in a pot / pan and add onion. Fry until translucent and add the ginger - garlic paste. Saute until the raw smell of the paste leaves.
* Next add brinjal slices, tamarind water, chili powder, and cumin powder. Mix well, cover and cook for about 5 minutes.
* Add cooked dal and salt to the pan. Stir and add about 1/2 cup or more of water. Cover and cook until the brinjal pieces are done.
* For tempering, heat oil in a small pan and add mustard seeds, red chilies, and fenugreek seeds. When mustard seeds start to sizzle and pop, add curry leaves and asafoetida. Turn off the stove and add the tempering to the dalcha. 
* Serve warm with biryani / pulao.


This post is an entry for Blogging Marathon #100 under 'Regional Side Dishes' theme.


Sunday, May 5, 2019

Stuffed Dates

Stuffed dates are bite sized appetizers that are quick and easy to prepare and look quite attractive. They can be easily customized according to one's tastes and make a great snack that is not on the sweeter side. The filling can be made sweeter by whipping the cream cheese with a small amount of sugar or honey. I have used salted pistachios though almonds, walnuts, pecan or any other nuts can be substituted. Similarly any variety of cream cheese or mascarpone can be used.

Pitted dates (I used deglet noor variety.)
Cream cheese
Chopped, salted pistachios or any other nut

* Open up the pitted dates without slicing them into two, to create pockets. 
* Fill them with cream cheese.
* Sprinkle chopped nuts over the cheese.
This post is an entry for Blogging Marathon #100 under 'Stuffed Dishes' theme.


Saturday, May 4, 2019

Dum ki Bharwan Bhindi

Stuffing vegetables with spicy fillings is quite a popular concept in regional Indian cooking. The commonly used vegetables to stuff are eggplants, okras, bitter gourds, capsicums, ivy gourds and others. I tried this recipe from The Indian Vegetarian Cookbook, which is perfect for bhindi / okra lovers and also for those who enjoy spicy stuffed vegetables. The okra are slit and stuffed with a mixture of ground spices and cooked in dum style, where they are covered and cooked in steam on low heat. The stuffing is enough for the mentioned quantity of okra and if you have any left over spice powder, don't be tempted to sprinkle on the cooked okra. I used less okra and spice powder than the quantity mentioned in the recipe and ended up sprinkling the left over spice powder over okra which was too spicy for our taste.

A green colored looking okra dish is not welcome in my world. Give me some okra and I am sure to give you back a platter of browned and crisply done okra. This dish was like a challenge where I had to resist that temptation to fry but still ended up browning some of them anyway. You can cook the stuffed okras just until done, still green looking since browning them is not a required step here. 

2 tsp. coriander powder
2 tsp. mild red chili powder
2 tsp. fennel powder
1 tsp. dry mango / amchur powder
1/4 tsp. black pepper powder
Salt to taste
3 tbsp. oil
9 oz / 250 gm. okra
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
A pinch of asafoetida

* Combine all the ingredients mentioned under stuffing, in a small bowl.
* Wash and pat dry okra. Remove the ends. Slit the okras lengthwise using a sharp knife to create hollow pockets, without cutting them into two.

* Stuff the okras with the mixture equally.

* Heat oil in a pan and add cumin seeds. When they start to brown add asafoetida and stir. Next add the stuffed okra and sprinkle little salt over them. Cover and cook on lowest heat setting.
* Stir them gently from time to time and cook until the okra re cooked through. It is fine if some of the stuffing spills into the pan while cooking. (I like my okras crisp and browned, therefore browned them and there is no need to do so.)

* Serve them warm with rice.

This post is an entry for Blogging Marathon #100 under 'Stuffed Dishes' theme.


Friday, May 3, 2019

Potato - Spinach Curry Sandwich

I am quite in a relaxed mood after the biryani / pulao / khichdi themed month long blogging marathon. I am back onto the weekly BM series and this month marks a special milestone for the blogging marathon group as it hits the '100' mark.  Kudos to Srivalli, the group creator and coordinator who has managed to sustain the interest and enthusiasm of the group, for eight long years now. I am going with the theme of 'stuffed dishes' for this week and the first one in the series is going to be a spicy and yummy sandwich using an Indian inspired potato and spinach curry. One can easily modify the recipe to suit their preferences. The curry can be made ahead the previous night so that one would end up with a fuss-free, filling and tasty breakfast in the morning rush hours with little work. The curry also goes well with rotis / pooris / rice or even can be used as a paratha stuffing. I had made more curry than needed for the sandwiches.
Ingredients: (Yields about 2.5 cups of curry)
2 cups cooked and mashed potato *
1 tbsp. oil
1 tsp. mustard seeds
1 tsp. cumin seeds
A pinch of asafoetida
1 big onion, chopped fine (about a cup)
1/8 tsp. turmeric powder
Salt to taste
1 tomato, diced (about 2/3 cup)
1 cup, chopped and tightly packed spinach
1 tsp. garam masala
Red chili powder to taste
Bread slices as needed
* I used about 3 medium sized potatoes.

* Peel, dice and cook potatoes in water until fork tender and place them in a colander. The water used to cook potatoes can be saved for other things if preferred. Mash the potatoes roughly and keep aside.
* Meanwhile, heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds and cumin seeds. When mustard seeds start to sizzle and splutter, add asafoetida, onion, turmeric and salt. Saute until onion turns golden brown.
* Next add tomato and spinach. Cook until tomato is mushy. If the mixture is getting stuck to the bottom of the pan, scrape and add a  tbsp. or two of water if needed. (One can use the potato water from step 1).
* Add garam masala, chili powder and saute for about 20 to 30 seconds. Then add the mashed potatoes and stir well. Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed. Cook for a couple of minutes on low to medium flame and turn off the stove.
* Use the curry as filling and prepare the sandwich in a sandwich maker. Or toast the bread slices in a bread toaster. (One can apply butter and toast them on a pan if preferred. ) Spread as much curry as preferred on a toasted bread slice and cover it with another toasted slice.



Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Round up of A - Z Indian Biryani / Pulao / Khichdi Series

Off and on, I have been part of a blogging groupcoordinated by my blogger friend, Srivalli for the past 98 months. Yes it has been that long. Each month, we publish 3 posts per week under set themes as a group and during April and September months, we do month long posting dubbed as mega-marathon. Each marathon, I have something old and traditional and something new to offer. The former category usually helps me record the family recipes while the latter are those I come across and try to explore from my contemporary, real and virtual worlds. This particular marathon has been unique in it's own way as it has been a part of my leaning curve. A regular visitor on my blog would have noticed the series of biryanis, pulaos and khichdis posted here for the past one month. 

I am not new to khichdis but honestly speaking, the mothers in my life never ventured into the biryani / pulao worlds. My grand mothers and my mother in law had started their families even before India got independence and it sounds ridiculous to even imagine them doling out biryanis / pulaos in their traditional south Indian vegetarian kitchens where even the usage of onion and garlic were taboo. I think the Andhra vegetarian cooking was never influenced by the Muslim culture and does not use the spices liberally. Andhra was a part of the Madras presidency before independence and not a part of the Nizam's Hyderabad whose kitchen is the torchbearer for the biryani revolution. My mother has kept up the tradition since my father doesn't eat onion / garlic and they don't even like the spice combination used in the garam masala. The funny thing is that they use all the spices in one form or another but not in that particular combination. I have seen many south Indians who don't prefer garam masala in their food,  surprising it may sound to North Indians whose main variety of rice dishes depend on them for the flavor quotient

I ended up with a husband who occasionally can enjoy a biryani / pulao but prefers south Indian style rice dishes over them any day. I used to make a simple vegetable or peas pulao at home now and then like most of my husband's family does though as a blogger, I come across the classic versions. With that kind of background, I was obviously oblivious to the varieties, the biryani and pulao world had to offer until I ventured into it, thanks to this mega marathon. Biryanis and pulaos, a craftsmanship evolved over centuries in the hands of khansamas of the Mughalai / Nawabi kitchens may or may not be replicated to perfection in today's world but along with them, there are plenty of modern varieties and also an equal number of vegetarian versions to suit the palates of vegetarians. For this marathon, I have tried to stick mostly to the versions that were vegetarian in origin except a handful of classic versions from the Nawabi kitchens that I wanted to try, converting them to vegetarian versions. It's like I have opened a pandora's box now and I have plenty of varieties to try later. 😋  Here is my humble effort to record my 'evolution' as one from being not able to differentiate between a pulao and biryani preparation to confidently pull off a decent preparation of a 'biryani / pulao' on my own. I chose to stick with Indian variety grain based dishes in an alphabetical order and here is the list for you to enjoy.

A for Ambur Biryani

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