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Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Dal Mughlai

I had come across this dal a while ago and had bookmarked it to try later. This week seemed like a right occasion to try it when I am posting 'pigeon peas' based dishes. I am not sure about the origins of this dal or whether the dal has any connection with the royal kitchens. And if indeed it is the case, this dal seems like a precursor to modern day 'dal fry' recipe. Surprisingly this dal is not a 'rich' kind where any dairy product is used as in the case of Sultani or Nawabi dals. This is more like a simple and flavorful, every day kind of dal cooked in North Indian homes without all the spice powders. The dal goes well with rotis / rice or plain pulaos.

3/4 cup pigeon peas / toor dal
1/4 cup split chickpeas / chana dal
1 cup peeled and cubed bottle gourd / lauki
1 cup chopped tomato
1/8 tsp. ground turmeric
2 tbsp. ghee / oil
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1/2 tsp. garlic paste (I didn't use it.)
1 tsp. finely chopped green chillies
1 tsp. grated ginger
3/4 cup, sliced onions
Salt to taste
2 tbsp. minced cilantro to garnish

* Clean, wash and soak dals in enough water for a couple of hours and drain.
* Add the drained dals, tomato, bottle gourd pieces, turmeric and about 2 cups of water to a pressure cooker and cook for three whistles. When the valve pressure is gone, remove the lid and mash the dal well with the back of a ladle and keep aside.
* Meanwhile, heat ghee / oil in a pan and add cumin seeds. When they start to brown, add garlic, chillies, ginger and onion. Saute on low flame until the onion turns light brown.
* Add the mashed dals and salt to the pan and cook on medium flame for 3 or 4 minutes and turn off the stove.
* Garnish with cilantro and serve warm. 

This post is an entry for Blogging Marathon #101 under 'Cook 3 Side Dishes with One Ingredient' theme.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Poricha Kuzhambu

I didn't realize until I started to plan recipes this week that I had picked back to back weeks of 'side dish' themes for the blogging marathon event. I had picked gravy curries theme last week and this week, it is going to be three different side dishes prepared using one ingredient. The word 'side dishes' did not register while picking the theme and I had assumed three different dishes using one ingredient. It was curries last week and so, I decided to go with legumes this time and 'pigeon peas / lentils' aka arhar dal or toor dal is going to be my star ingredient for this week's dishes. 

The first one in the series is going to be this gravy from the Tamil Brahmin kitchens called as poricha kuzhambu. The kuzhambu is a delicious gravy made with a combination of vegetables and dal, prepared using a spice and coconut paste. This is a no onion and no garlic recipe and quite a simple one to prepare. Moong dal can also be used to make poricha kuzhambu. Vegetales like brinjals, pumpkin, drumsticks. chayote, broad beans usually go into this kuzhambu recipe but I have used mixed vegetables here.

Ingredients: (Yield 2 to 3 servings)
1/2 cup toor dal / pigeon peas
2 cups mixed vegetables (I used beans, potato, chayote and carrots.)
1/8 tsp. turmeric powder
1 cup water + extra as needed
1 tsp. oil
1 tsp. skinned black gram / urad dal (optional)
1/2 tsp. black peppercorn
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
2 or 3 dried red chili
A fistful of grated, fresh coconut (Frozen, shredded coconut can be substituted.)
Salt to taste
Minced cilantro to garnish (optional)

Ingredients for tadka / tempering:
1 tsp. oil
1/2 tsp. mustard seeds
1 pinch of asafoetida powder
A sprig of curry leaves

1. Wash toor dal in two exchanges of water and drain. Pressure cook toor dal along with vegetables for 3 whistles, adding a cup of water and turmeric, When the valve pressure is gone, mash the dal well with the back of the ladle and keep aside. 
(Soak the dal in water for a couple of hours before using if the dal takes longer than 3 whistles to cook. Or the vegetables can be cooked separately.)
2. Meanwhile, heat a tsp. of oil in a small pan and add black gram, pepper corn, cumin seeds, and red chilies. When the dal starts to turn reddish, add the coconut and turn off the stove. Saute the coconut for few seconds and let the mixture cool. Grind the mixture to a thick, fine paste adding water as needed.
3. Add the ground paste and salt to the cooked dal from step 1. Add about 1/2 cup or more of water as well keeping in mind that the gravy need to be on the thicker side. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for a couple of minutes more.
4. Heat oil in a small pan for tempering and add the mustard seeds. when they start to sputter, add curry leaves and asafoetida and turn of the stove. Add this to the cooked gravy and stir well.
5. Garnish with cilantro if needed and serve warm with rice.

This post is an entry for Blogging Marathon #101 under 'Cook 3 Side Dishes with One Ingredient' theme.


Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Vegetable Makhanwala / Veg Makhani (No Onion, No Garlic Recipe)

Here is another rich and creamy curry as part of the 'Gravy Curry' themed marathon this week. Vegetable makhanwala or veg makhani preparation is similar to paneer butter masala and I prepared it using no onion or garlic. One of my sister in laws who is no more with us was married to a north Indian and the food prepared in her home was typically north Indian style one. I got to learn the basic variations of gravies for north Indian style curries from her daughters who are younger to me, during my initial days of cooking. The tips from them came to use for my yesterday's shahi paneer and today's curry. 

The curry is cooked using 'makhan' aka butter and hence the name veg makhani, though one can do away with oil if counting calories. Similarly cream can be omitted too if not preferring rich curries. However butter and cream enhance the flavor of the dish and the curry would be a great choice when having company. The gravy is tomato based one here and the cashews added along lend a rich base to the curry. One wouldn't notice the absence of onions in this makhani recipe and the curry tastes absolutely delicious in spite of it. This curry makes a perfect dish for those who abstain from onion or garlic. The vegetables that can go into the dish are potatoes, beans, carrots, capsicum, cauliflower and peas. I omitted cauliflower and capsicum this time. Paneer or soy chunks can be added to make it more nutritious.

3 cups mixed vegetables ( I used diced potatoes, diced carrots, beans cut into 1 inch pieces and peas.)
3 ripe red tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 inch piece of ginger
1 tbsp. cashews
1 tbsp. butter / oil
1 tsp. cumin seeds / caraway seeds
1 bay leaf
1/8 tsp. ground turmeric
1/2 tsp. red chili powder or to taste
Water as needed (About 1.25 to 1.5 cups)
Salt to taste
1 tsp. crushed kasuri methi / dried fenugreek greens
3 tbsp. cream
1/2 tsp. garam masala
Minced cilantro leaves to garnish

1. Pressure cook to 2 whistles or microwave the vegetables adding enough water. Save the water used to cook the vegetables to use later.
2. Grind together tomatoes, ginger and cashew together to a fine paste. (Garlic can be added if preferred.) 
3. Heat butter / oil in a pan and add the ground tomato paste, turmeric powder and chili powder. Saute until the raw smell leaves and the fat / oil starts to leave the sides of the pan, about 10 minutes.
4. Add about 1.5 cups of water to the tomato paste. (Use the water used to cook the vegetables plus extra water if needed to make about 1.5 cups.) Cook until the gravy thickens, about 6 - 8 minutes.
5. Add the cooked vegetables, salt, kasuri methi, and garam masala to the pan and mix gently. Stir in the cream finally and mix well to combine. Turn off the stove.
6. Garnish with cilantro if preferred. Serve it with rotis / rice.

This post is an entry for Blogging Marathon #101 under 'Gravy Curries' theme.


Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Shahi Paneer

As the name suggests, shahi paneer is a dish fit for royals. It is a flavorful curry prepared in a rich and creamy base of nuts, onion, yogurt and cream. This mild and delicious paneer gravy curry is quite easy to prepare and makes a perfect party dish. 

3 tbsp. ghee / oil
1 cup roughly chopped onion
1 inch piece of ginger
1 - 2 garlic cloves (I didn't use any.)
1 tbsp. cashews
1 tbsp. almonds
1 tsp. cumin seeds / caraway seeds
2 cloves
1 cardamom
1 inch cinnamon piece
1/8 tsp. turmeric powder
1/2 tsp. chili powder
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp. garam masala
1/2 cup full fat yogurt
1/2 cup water
A pinch of saffron, crushed
200 gm paneer cubes (more or less about 1 and 1/2 cups of paneer)
2 - 3 tbsp. cream (optional)

1. Heat a tbsp. ghee / oil and add onion, ginger and garlic. Fry until the onion is cooked. Let the mixture cool. Blend it to a fine paste along with almonds and cashews, adding a little water.
2. Heat 2 tbsp. ghee / oil in a pan and add cumin seeds, cloves, cardamom and cinnamon. Saute for few seconds, until the spices start to release their aroma.
3. Next add the ground onion - nut paste, turmeric, chili powder garam masala, and salt. Fry for a couple of minutes on low flame.
4. Whisk the yogurt until smooth. Lower the heat and add the whisked yogurt and water. (Add more water if needed. The mixture gets quite thickened after cooking.) Stir and let the mixture simmer until it thickens, about 10 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed.
5. Add saffron, paneer cubes and whisked cream if using. Simmer for a couple of minutes more and turn off the stove. 
6. Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl since the curry tends to cook further and gets quite thickened if left in the same pan.
7. Garnish with roughly chopped cilantro leaves and serve with rotis / rice.

* 1 or 2 drops of kewra water can be added finally, if preferred.
* Paneer cubes can be lightly fried before adding to the gravy if preferred.
* Vegans can substitute tofu and non dairy yogurt.  
* Tomatoes can be added to the recipe if preferred. Add them after onions are sauteed and cook until mushy.
* The nuts added to the onion paste alone makes the gravy richer. I therefore avoid using ghee and cream in this recipe if cooking for ourselves. However they enhance the flavor of the dish.

This post is an entry for Blogging Marathon #101 under 'Gravy Curries' theme.


Monday, June 10, 2019

Bhindi Ka Salan

Salan is a thick gravied, tangy curry from the Hyderabadi cuisine that is slowly cooked in a peanut, sesame and coconut base. Aromatic, flavor loaded salan traditionally was prepared as an accompaniment to rice / rotis though it has become synonymous with biryanis over the time. If you are interested, go through this interesting excerpt on the origins of the mirchi ka salan in the royal kitchens. Today's recipe of course is not the popular mirchi ka salan version which uses the green chillies but an okra / bhindi based one. 

I prepared this bhendi ka khatta salan to go with my 'Hyderabadi Dum Biryani' during the April Mega marathon. This is a dish to have in one's repertoire, if one is an okra fan. Choose small sized, tender okra while preparing this salan. The okra is fried before adding to the gravy so that the final salan doesn't end up being slimy though one can add okra without frying and cook. I used my air fryer instead of deep frying. I used very little oil to cook this dish and so my final salan doesn't look greasy with oil on the top, which seems to be the signature look of a salan. The dish doesn't demand any fancy ingredients though linked to imperial kitchens and even a novice cook can nail it with satisfactory results. It is a simple and easy enough dish and needs little supervision though it is cooked a little extra time than most of the dishes. 

To toast and grind:
2 tbsp. peanuts
1 tbsp. sesame seeds
2 tbsp. coconut
4 byadagi chillies / less spicy variety dried red chillies
1/2 inch piece of ginger
1 or 2 garlic cloves (I didn't use any.)
Other ingredients:
12 okra / bhindi
Oil to fry bhindi (if frying)
1 tbsp. oil
1/2 tsp. mustard seeds
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
1/8 tsp. fenugreek seeds
Few curry leaves
1/2 cup minced onion
1/8 tsp. turmeric powder
2 - 3 tbsp. tamarind juice
Salt to taste
Jaggery to taste (I used 2 Stevia packets)
1 tsp chili powder that is not very hot (I used 1.5 tsp )
Water as needed (I used 2 1/2 cups of water in total for grinding the paste and to cook the salan.)

* Dry roast peanuts, sesame seeds, coconut and chillies on low flame, until slightly browned. Keep aside and let them cool.
* Grind the toasted ingredients along with ginger and garlic if using, to a smooth paste. Add water as needed to grind. (Ginger - garlic paste can be skipped here and added while sauteing onions instead.)
* Wash the okra, remove the ends and wipe them dry.
* Heat oil if deep frying okra. Fry okra on medium heat until slightly browned. (I used an air-fryer instead.)
* Heat oil in a pan and add mustard, cumin and fenugreek seeds. When mustard starts to sputter, add curry leaves and onion. Saute until golden brown.
* Next add the ground paste, turmeric, chili powder and salt to the pan. Add enough water to make it into a thin consistency mixture (about 1.5 or 2 cups of water). Stir well and cook the mixture covered for about 20 minutes on low flame, stirring intermittently. The mixture would have thickened by the time and the oil would have separated. Add tamarind and sweetener next, taste and adjust the seasonings if needed and cook for about 5 minutes. (I usually add tamarind and sweetener along with the paste at the beginning.) Add the fried okra and cook for a couple of minutes more. Turn off the stove and let it sit for few minutes before serving.
* Garnish with cilantro and serve with biryani / pulao / rice or rotis.


This post is an entry for Blogging Marathon #101 under 'Gravy Curries' theme.


Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Nuvvula Podi / Spicy Sesame Powder

Here is a simple flavored podi / spicy powder from my kitchen, as part of the 'Condiments - Spicy Powders' themed blogging marathon this week. This is a very simple and easy recipe made with the basic ingredients. It can be used to eat along with rice and ghee or to flavor any south Indian style curry. This is how my mother prepares this powder though I skip the garlic from the recipe.  

1 cup white sesame seeds
8 dried red chillies (or adjust the quantity as needed.)
Salt to taste
1 or 2 garlic cloves
* Toast sesame seeds and red chillies on low flame, stirring continuously until the sesame seeds start to turn light brownish in color. Turn off the stove and let them cool completely.
* Grind the toasted sesame seeds, chillies, salt and garlic cloves together finely and store it in a container with tight fitting lid.


This post is an entry for Blogging Marathon #101 under 'Condiments' theme.


Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Endu Kobbari Podi / Spicy Coconut Powder

We make a kobbari podi aka coconut powder in Andhra using fresh coconut that is usually eaten with rice and ghee. The traditional method of preparation involves a lot of stirring and in turn, loads of patience. The fresh coconut is grated (or even frozen shredded coconut can be substituted) and toasted on low flame until it is uniformly browned. The coconut is then let cool and ground with the basic spices - salt, red chillies and cumin. The powder stays fresh for months, tastes awesome and is worth the time. Today's version is slightly different and uses the dried coconut instead which makes the podi making process much simpler but tastes equally delicious.
2 tbsp. split chickpeas / chana dal 
2 tbsp. skinned black gram / urad dal 
8 to 10 spicy dried red chillies or as needed
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 cup grated dry coconut
Salt to taste
Optional ingredients:
1 tsp. coriander seeds. 
A pinch of fenugreek seeds 

* Toast split chickpeas, urad dal and red chillies together on  medium flame, constantly stirring. When the dals start to turn reddish / brown, add cumin seeds and the ingredients mentioned as optional, if using. Toast for a minute or until the coriander starts to change a shade of color. Turn off the stove and let the ingredients cool completely.
* Grind the toasted ingredients along with grated dry coconut and salt finely. 
* Store in a container with a tight lid. The powder remains fresh for months with or without refrigeration.

This post is an entry for Blogging Marathon #101 under 'Condiments' theme.


Monday, June 3, 2019

Horse Gram - Flax Seeds Idli Podi

I had bought a bag of horse gram for the first time recently to try ulava biryani for the pulao / biryani based April mega marathon. I could not try it unfortunately but have started to use the bean in various other ways. This spicy idli podi from here is one of those recipes and it is a great condiment to go with several south Indian breakfast dishes like idli, upma, dosa or even can be eaten with rice and a dollop of ghee.

1 tbsp. oil
A pinch of asafoetida
1/4 cup horse gram
1/4 cup split yellow chickpeas /  chana dal 
1/4 cup split, skinned black gram / urad dal
2 tbsp. flax seeds
Dried red chillies (I used 5 spicy and 5 byadgai variety chillies.)
2 sprigs of curry leaves
2 garlic cloves (optional)
Sat to taste

1. Heat oil in a small pan and add asafoetida. Turn off the stove and keep it aside.
2. Add horse gram, split chickpeas, black gram, flax seeds, red chillies to a pan and toast on low flame until the dals start to change color uniformly. Add curry leaves at the end and toast for few seconds. Turn off the stove and let them cool completely. 
3. Grind the ingredients from step 2, garlic and salt together finely.
4. Add the oil from step 1 and blend to combine.
5. Transfer the mixture to a jar and use as needed. The mixture need not be refrigerated and stays fresh for at least a couple of months.

The step 1 can be skipped and the ingredients in step 2 can be toasted in oil and asafoetida can be added at the end of toasting. I don't do it that way since my American blender cannot grind the dry ingredients well if oil is added. I prefer to add the oil at the end and pulse enough to blend.

This post is an entry for Blogging Marathon #101 under 'Condiments' theme.