Whenever we have an overdose of marriages or functions in the family or if there are a lot of festivals one after the other, sometimes, we all do get tired of eating rich food filled with ghee or oil and spices. Many times, amma then makes a simple menu like Jeera Pepper Rasam to go with Paruppu Thogayal. Thogayal, is almost like a chutney that we have for dosa and idlis…Only thogayals are made to go with rice too. There are a gazillion varieties of thogayals that are made with all sorts of vegetables.
This is almost like eating the lentils uncooked, as they are simply dry roasted and then ground to a paste with spices and coconut.
1/4 cup of Bengal Gram
1/4 cup of Toor Dhal.
1/3 – 1/2 cup of coconut (The more the coconut, the tastier)
7-8 black peppers.
4-5 Red Chillies.
A pinch of Hing
Dry roast the bengal gram , toor dhal, black pepper and the red chillies in a clean kadai on a medium low flame. The secret is to slowly roast it until the aromas are exuded. Increasing the heat, will only burn the lentils and lead to loss of flavour and time.
Set aside to cool for a few minutes and then pop it in to a dry mixer jar.
Add the coconut (fresh coconut would be very tasty). dessicated would also do.
Add salt and then grind with as little water as possible. The consistency should be as shown.
Paruppu Vadai was one of my favourite fried items growing up….I don`t remember it being an integral portion of any festival menu except probably the Vishu or Varsha Purappu or the Tamil New Year`s Day so to speak. We would have it, as a side for sambar, rasam as well as curd. Some times, when its surprisingly left over, for the evening, I love to have it as Rasa Vadai, dipped in a bowl of steaming hot tomato rasam. I was always a rasam lover so I would find novel ways and means of having rasam more than my fair share!!!
This time, as I prepared Pruppu Vadai, as part of the new year lunch, I had to third the quantities, as we had resolved to keep a firm watch on fried items!!!
1 cup of Bengal Gram.
1/3 cup of Toor Dhal.
1 spoon of raw rice.
4 red chillies
1 spoon salt
Oil to Fry.
Clean the toor dhal and the bengal gram along with the spoon of raw rice. The raw rice helps in binding the dhals together. Soak the dhals and the rice for about 2 1/2 – 3 hours along with the red chillies.
In a mixer, grind the dhals, rice, salt, red chillies and curry leaves to a coarse mix without adding too much water.
Add required hing and more chopped curry leaves and chopped cilantro. Set the oil on the kadai on medium heat.
On non-festival days, you could add a dash of finely chopped onions and cilantro to the base mix before making the vadais.
Use an empty ziploc cover and first dab a little oil with your fingers or simply use an oil spray on the surface.
Now flatten a rounded ball of the batter on the oiled surface and flatten it gently with ur fingers/palm.
Drop it gently in to the oil and allow to fry well on both sides. Since the main ingredient is raw lentils, its important that its fried well before serving.
Allow to drain on a collander lined with kitchen tissue.
Today I complete exactly 3 months of blogging….It`s pretty short I know , come to think of it, but to me it seems like I started aeons ago. It has been a pretty interesting journey of learning and experimenting and incidentally, my husband has really got settled down to the general idea that this is how its going to be, interesting meals and combinations cooked to perfection…and I let him be…He`s never going to guess, that there would never be re-runs…!!!
This weekend the weather was alarmingly nice to us, that we did not know how to celebrate. S was in a very nice mood and since we were all down with a bad cold, he suggested Bisi Bela Bath. What I do, is simply my mother`s version of ths kannadiga preparation. It`s so much close to the original only as it has rice and dal and tamarind water and veggies. I gently carve out the gazillion extra spices so the end result reminds of a very fragrant variety of sambar rice. It does not have the masalas loaded with cinnamon, cloves or nutmeg.
1 cup raw rice.
1 cup toor dhal.
4 1/2 cups of tamarind water extract.
1/2 cup of fresh dessicated coconut.
2 small or 1 big onion chopped. ( 1 cup of shallots or small onions preferred for enhanced taste)
4-5 drumstick pieces .
2 carrots sliced in to rounded coins.
1/2 cup of french cut beans or beans cut in to 1 inch slices.
Fry in Oil:
3 spoons dhania.
1 1/2 spoons of urad dhal.
1/2 spoon venthayam
6-7 red chillies.
7-8 black pepper.
Small piece of cinnamon stick.
Wash the rice and the dhal together and cook with 6-7 cups of water. The ratio is 2 cups to 7 cups of water. After putting the weight in the pressure cooker, wait for three whistles and then switch off. We would require the consistency to be mushy and hence no electric rice cooker please. Get this working as the rest of the ingredients will be finished by the time the rice is cooked.
Grind the roasted ingredients to a powder and then add coconut and grind again with water to a very smooth paste.
In a large kadai, add 3 spoons of ghee and allow to melt. Add mustard, curry leaves and then the shallots/chopped onions. Allow to brown a bit and then add drumsticks, carrots, beans etc and immediately the prepared tamarind water extract.
Add salt, turmeric, hing and allow to boil well. The raw smell of the ingredients would be gone in about twenty minutes. This also enhances the flavour as its slow cooked.
Now add the ground paste and allow to boil for 4-5 minutes.
Add the mushy rice+dal to this sambar gravy and mix well.
Allow the riced to become homogenous and add more salt for the rice.
Stir well and switch off when done.Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve steaming hot with a dollop of ghee , with a side of raita and veggie crisps or jalapeno chips!!!
Bhajjis – and I remember pouring rain and my family sitting at home, watching tv or chatting sipping piping hot cups of decoction coffee. A favourite of my uncles though would be the Balajee Bhavan bhajji which would be an astounding reddish orange colour and smelling so heavenly. The bhajjis would be served with thick coconut chutney and spicy tomato chutney and would be devoured in no time. Everytime my uncles would come from Delhi, they would have their monring breakfast the very first day, only from Balajee Bhavan. And he would take one of us to go with him….there would be an unwritten rule, that the child that accompanies him, would get to eat the bhajji and Venn Pongal piping hot at the restaurant and then there would be a considerable parcel packed for home. On one such occasion, as we were eating, my uncle asked me ” You are so lucky to be living in T.nagar that too so close to BB. When was the last time you came here?” and I promptly replied “When you came here the last time uncle”!!! and he was astounded…The truth really was that we live so close to many hotels and restaurants. but we never frequent them…Now living so many thousands of miles away….my thoughts wander around my home and its niceness and familiarity.
Last weekend, it poured so much that my husband was suddenly hungry for bhajjis. I hardly ever make it these days because of the oil and the general laziness of making a batter, cutting the vegetables so thin and then frying it in oil. This time, even I felt like having it, and so I set round to making them. I was out of brinjals and so I made them with Onions, Green Plantain and Alu.
1 cup Gram Flour or Besan.
1/2 cup Rice Flour.
1 spoon chilli powder.
1 spoon salt.
1 cup of Water
Oil for frying.
1 Alu, 1 Plantain, 1 Onion.
Pour sufficient oil in to a medium sized kadai with a flat base. Keep the flame on low so that the oil is ready to be used by the time the other prep works are done.
Peel the onion, plantain and alu. Slice them in to thin cross sectional circles and set aside.
Keep the batter mixing to the end as besan tends to change consistency over a period of time.
Add besan, rice flour, hing, salt and red chilli powder to a mixing bowl. Measure out the required water.
Although I have mentioned 1 cup, first add 3/4 cup and then slowly if needed ,you can add the remaining 1/4 cup little by little.
The batter should be thick and NOT a thin pouring consistency.
Now dip the vegetables one by one, and carefully drop in to the heated oil.
Allow to cook well on both sides and drain on to a collander lined with kitchen tissue.
Gooseberries were an integral part of my childhood snacking ingredient. Everytime we went to Nalli or Kumaran in T.nagar for shopping, me and D would longingly look at the little roughly made wooden carts filled with gooseberries bursting with freshness and goodness. The vendors would parcel the gooseberries in triangular packages and throw in a little spice from red chilli powder and salt. The pure delight in eating those ripe bursting fresh gooseberries with the chilli powder mix is completely unexplainable. Madurai amma would make pickles in summer from the bigger variety. There is also a smaller more tart variety thats eaten plain with salt and chilli powder. Love the tartness and the combined sweetness of the gooseberry in my mouth.
Gooseberries are very very rich in Vitamin C and has many more health benefits. It helps assimilation of the body vitamins, flushes out unecessary toxins, promotes hair growth, is a natural body coolant and also is beleived to nourish the brain and our mental functioning. When I saw the packet of frozen Amla in the Indian store, I decided to give it a try to see if it was even worth the effort of pickling it. When I thawed it for some time and tried a small piece, I was astonished to find the same sweetness and tartness exploding in my mouth. The gooseberries are cleaned, washed and slightly cooked I presume. It was AWESOME. Although it was not as fresh as the ones that you can pick off a street vendor, I was happy that I could at least taste it after almost two years!!! Here is the recipe for the pickle. Best with anything….even parathas!!!
1 packet of frozen Amla from Indian store.( Fresh Amla around 20 numbers)
2 spoons of Iodised Powder Salt
5 red chillies
1/2 spoon of mustard
1/2 spoon of methi seeds.
3-4 spoons of Idhayam gingely Oil.
If using frozen amla you are already good to go. In case of fresh gooseberries, wash the amla fruits well and boil in water with a little salt for about ten minutes. The Amlas should be a little soft, but not squishy.
Throw out the water and allow to cool. When cool, you should be able to pry out the little portions along the lines. Put them in a little ceramic bowl.
Take a little kadai and roast in oil the following: Red Chillies, methi seeds and then finally the hing. Do not allow to burn, and roast carefully on a medium low flame with constant stirring. Powder this along with the raw mustard and set aside.
Sprinkle the mentioned salt on the gooseberries and then the powdered spices on top of the gooseberry pieces. .
Mix well and allow to stand for a few minutes.
Heat 3-4 spoons of Idhayam Gingely Oil and pour over the gooseberries.
Allow 2-3 days for the salt and spices to seep in.
Delicious gooseberry pickle is ready to eat. Can be used as a tasty side for parathas, curd rice, molagootals etc.
I guess this Kootu is built on the lines of the Kosumalli. The only difference is that this quick preparation, the moong dal is cooked over the stove top. This quick kootu can be used as a side for any sambar or vethal kuzhambu and also as a side for rotis and phulkas. Cucumbers are a water based vegetable and hence a diuritic and rich in vitamins. It gives a feeling of being filled and is widely used by people on diets. In my opinion, the cucumber is a versatile fruit that is tasty eaten in any form. Its used in salads, pickled in vinegar, in curries, in south indian cooking, and even as a thirst quencher.
This is an excellent recipe for people looking to cut calories as this is filling and wholesome, with no coconut, but contains cucumber, and moong dal which has lesser carbs than toor dhal or bengal gram. This is also an excellent recipe for diabetics as with parathas, it quenches the dryness and is filling.
2 cucumbers peeled and diced.
1/2 cup of moong dal.
Cialntro to garnish.
Mustard, Curry Leaves, Hing.
In a kadai, add a spoon of oil and when it heats, add the mustard and curry leaves and hing. Now immediately add the washed and cleaned moong dal.
Pour in 1/2 cup of water add salt for the moong dal and turmeric .
Allow the moong dal to cook in the water. If you feel that the water is used up and the moong is not yet cooked, feel free to add another 1/4 cup more.
When the moong dal is cooked well, simply add the chopped raw cucumber pieces.
Add sufficient salt and mix well to get desired consistency and switch off the heat.
Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with Parathas or Vengaya Sambar or Vethal Kuzhambu.
This was one of my sister S`s favourite sides. She always used to like it when mami made kovakkai fry. One of the best combos for Kovakkai Fry was to have it with spicy Morkuzhambu. Kovakkai I have heard is good for health as its rich in Vitamin A and also in fibre. Somehow my mom was never too thrilled with Kovakkai as a vegetable as its only way of cooking it is as a fry, which in itself is not very healthy. Kovakkai has to be bought fresh and the only way I know that its not too good that when cut, it has little pinkish tinges. I never keep it in the refridgerator for too long when I buy it in the stores here as the water sprayed on the vegetables in the stores is not too good for them to stay fresh.
1 pound of Kovakkai
1 spoon of red chilli powder.
1/2 spoon of sambar powder.
A pinch of turmeric powder.
Mustard, Broken Urad Dhal, Curry Leaves.
Slice the kovakkai vertically or else cut them in to cross sectional circles.
Allow them to dry out for a few minutes before lighting up the stove. Meanwhile sprinkle the kovakkais with the red chilli powder and hing.
Switch on the stove and pour 3 spoons of oil on the kadai. Allow to heat for a few minutes and then add the urad dhal and mustard seeds and when they splutter the curry leaves and hing.
Immediately add the chopped kovakkai and turmeric and salt. Mix well and then add the sambar powder.
Sprinkle a little water to aid in cooking. Keep stirring so it doesnt catch the bottom of the kadai.
Add oil whenever you feel that the vegetables are cracking up on the heat.
Vengaya Sambar or Onion Sambar is the most delicious of all the sambar varieties. It`s in fact the unwritten favourite of all the kids in every tamil household. Vengaya sambar and Urulai Fry would probably be the most cooked combination, for a lazy sunday morning brunch. This is the variety that is ground with coconut and roasted spices and then simmered till done.
1 1/2 cups of Tamarind Water
20 – 22 shallots or baby onions available in Indian Stores.
1/2 cup of cooked toor dhal.
Salt to taste.
1 Tsp Mustard.
A small piece of ginger.
To Fry in Ghee:
2 Tsp of Dhania
4 Red Chillies
1/2 Tsp Venthayam/ Methi Seeds.
1 tsp Bengal Gram.
1/3 Cup of fresh dessicated coconut.
Roast the dhania, methi seeds and red chillies in a spoon of ghee. The roasting should be done on a medium low flame until you get the aroma of the spices that are roasted.
In a kadai, add a spoon of ghee and a spoon of oil and when hot, add mustard, curry leaves and the baby onions. Allow to saute well and to slightly brown a little.
Grind the roasted spices along with coconut, about 4 browned onions, and a small piece of ginger and a little water to get a smooth paste. Set this aside.
Now add the tamarind water, salt, hing, turmeric and curry leaves and allow to simmer on a medium flame.
After about fifteen to twenty minutes when the tamarind water is slightly reduced and the raw smell is gone, add the ground paste and the mashed cooked toor dhal to the simmering kadai.
Mix well and add a little water to adjust the consistency of the sambar.
Allow to boil again and when done, switch off the stove and add a dash of chopped cilantro leaves.