Side Dishes for Rotis/Dosas/ Naan.

Restaurant style Mushroom Butter Masala (Mushrooms sauteed and cooked in spiced butter cashew gravy)

Mushroom Butter Masala.Mushrooms have always been an all time favourite cooking ingredient of mine from all times. I love the texture that it lends to a dish as the main ingredient.  I remember my all time favourite mushroom dish was the Mushroom Butter Masala at TongueTinglers, a small time restaurant near my workplace in T.Nagar. Some afternoons of long drawn meetings would almost always end in a tongue tingling lunch ordered from this amazing restaurant. Combined with their Ginger Capsicum Fried Rice,  it was definitely a slice of heaven.   I recently found in my last trip to India, that they had closed. I never knew why, but I always miss their  amazing food. This recipe is a rehashed version of one that I read from an Indian magazine. Try it and I am sure you will love it`s richness in taste and texture.

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound button mushrooms washed and diced.

1/2 Red Onion diced.

3 Roma Tomatoes diced.

1 Tbsp Ginger Garlic Paste.

1 Tbsp Butter.

Handful of Cashews soaked in milk.

Pinch of saffron soaked in warm milk.

Pinch of Sugar

Salt to taste.

1 Inch Cinnamon.

5 Cloves.

1 Tsp Ground Elaichi Powder.

1/2 cup Water/ Whey.

Pinch of Turmeric Powder.

1 Tbsp Red Chilli Powder.

1 Tbsp Dried Kasuri Methi.

Ghee.

PREPARATION:

  • In the mixer grind the cashews, saffron and  warm milk to a smooth paste. Add a pinch of sugar and set aside.
  • In a kadai add a spoon of ghee and when hot add whole masalas – Cinnamon, Cloves and Elaichi Powder.
  • Next toss in the diced onions. Saute till pink.
  • When done, add ginger garlic paste and tomatoes and give it a quick stir.
  • Now add turmeric, red chilli powder and the aromatic kasuri methi. In my opinion, the kasuri methi acts as a catalyst and add a lot of body and character to the dish.
  • Allow the tomatoes to cook till they are mushy , stay on a medium flame and the ingredients come together. Keep aside to cool and puree to a smooth paste.
  • In the same kadai, add 1 spoon of oil/ ghee and toss in the diced mushrooms. Give it a quick stir.
  • Pour the ground paste and add salt and a blob of butter.
  • Cover and cook on medium low flame for 7-8 minutes.
  • Also add in the rich cashew paste and continue to cook on a medium low flame for another 5-6 minutes.
  • When  you see that the gravy just starts to come together remove from heat.
  • Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve Hot with Tiranga Pulav.
Snacks & Tiffin Items · Travel

Spiced Mini Kozhukattais. (Mini Kozhukattais spiced with Spicy Dhal Powder)

Mini Kozhukattais are an easy anytime quick fix snack. With the advancement in recent years, one can get clean rice flour which chops away many laborious steps in preparation of many delicacies having this flour as the base. In earlier days, one had to clean the rice, wash it well and painstakingly dry it on a clean white cloth to absorb all the extra moisture. Then one had to have it crushed to a fine powder in the local rice flour mill. Right after this process, one  had to make sure that the ground flour is not kept closed as this might cause condensation inside the vessel, which in turn would bring the moisture back in to the flour. Now all one has to do is to drive by to the local indian store and pick up a packet of Rice Flour. Agreed, that there is a definite loss in flavour with the short cuts, but at least it makes life a lot more easier.

My daughter and husband love the Ammini Kozhakattais that I so often make on the spur of a moment. I wanted a quick fix filling snack last sunday evening and I was tempted to make Bhajjis. But, with the consideration to the ever expanding waist lines, I decided against it. Then my mind came back to Ammini Kozhakkatais. My daughter loves to roll the dough in to little bite sized balls. Once the balls were steamed, I wanted to give it a little twist. I must tell you that they were downright delicious and  novel. This is for you to try too…

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup Rice Flour.

2 cups of water.

1 Tsp levelled of Salt.

2 Spoons of Coconut Oil.

Mustard, Curry Leaves, Chopped Green Chillies, Broken Urad Dhal for seasoning.

3-4 spoons of Home Made Dhal Powder.( Paruppu Podi).

PREPARATION:

  • In a kadai, pour the water, add coconut oil and salt and allow to boil.
  • Immediatly, simmer the stove and add the measured 1 cup of rice flour in to the water very slowly stirring at all times with a whisk.
  • Use a whisk and remove all the clots quickly.
  • With a spatula, rapidly stir in the mixture as it will thicken using the water to cook the rice flour.
  • As before, keep stirring until you see that the water is all used up and the entire batter scoops up in your ladle as a single mass.
  • Switch off the gas and transfer to a mixing bowl.
  • Add 1-2 spoons of coconut oil and knead well to form a homogenous ball. This is the most important step in the whole process as this removes all the cracks and makes a smooth dough.
  • Greasing your hands, shape it in to smaller balls, say, the size of naphthalene balls and keep covered in a bowl.
  • Complete the dough by making small balls and arrange on greased idli plates.
  • Steam them in the pressure cooker without weight for 10 minutes on high. As they have already been cooked once, it will cook in the steam pretty fast.
  • Once the cooker is switched off, wait for a few minutes to open.
  • In a kadai, add 2 spoons of oil. When hot, add broken urad dhal, mustard, green chillies, hing and curry leaves.
  • Drop the kozhukattais and mix well.
  • Then pop in 3-4  spoons of Dhal Powder. Mix well.
  • Delicious Spiced Mini/Ammini Kozhakattais are ready to be served.

HINTS:

  • I dabbed the mini kozhakkattais with home made Dhal Powder.
  • You can also use Puliyodharai Powder which is store bought.
  • Another variation in taste can be achieved with Gun Powder or Molagai Podi/ Curry leaves Powder.
  • Sprinkle your favourite curry powder and enjoy the delicious taste it lends to the Mini Kozhakattais.
No Need of Onions!!! · Rice Varieties.

Aromatic Saffron flavoured Spinach Pulav.

Healthy meals have been an imperative rule in every household and ours is no exception.My daughter recently learnt from school that one has to eat at least 5 different vegetables in our daily diet and we have started a fun way to incorporate this rule almost every single day. When I was a small girl, we used to have two vegetables everyday. One of which would definitely be greens/ spinach etc. In India, there are so many different varieties of greens that are available, each unique in their taste and texture. Of course, our favourite preparation would almost always be Keerai Molagootal. Other varations would be Keerai masiyal, Keerai Sundal etc.

This time around I wanted to make spinach rice after seeing it in Viji`s blog some time back I so wanted to use my spinach in a one pot meal. It`s always easy to pick out ingredients from a party and throw them in to a rice pilaf preparation. This was one such preparation and the result was almost restaurant style rice pulav with a warm comforting aroma.

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups Basmati Rice.

1/2 cup Light Coconut Milk.

2 1/2 cups Water.

1 Bay leaf.

1 stick of Cinnamon.

Pinch of Ground Cardamom Powder.

1 tsp Fennel/ Somph.

Handful of chopped cashew pieces.

1 Bunch of fresh Spinach including the tender stalk.

5 Green chillies chopped fine.

1 Medium Red Onion chopped fine.

1 cup of fresh peas and corn kernels.

2 inch Ginger.

1 Tbsp Grated Fresh/Dessicated Coconut. (Optional).

Pinch of Turmeric.

1 Tsp Garam Masala.

Pinch of saffron soaked in a spoon of warm milk.

PREPARATION:

  • Wash the basmati rice and place in the electric rice cooker. Add 1/2 cup coconut milk, 2 1/2 cups water, a blob of butter, the saffron soaking in milk, salt and allow to cook.
  • When done, fluff the rice with a fork to seperate the grains and allow to cool.
  • The butter added coats the grains with a layer of fat, so this keeps the grains without sticking to each other.
  • In the mixer add ginger, a few pieces of green chillies, grated coconut and the spinach leaves. Pulse to a coarse paste adding a few drops of water if needed.
  • In a kadai add 2 spoons of ghee.  First fry the chopped cashew pieces and remove and keep aside.
  • In the same kadai, now add cinnamon, bay leaf, cardamom powder and allow to roast for a couple of seconds.
  • Slowly add the chopped green chillies and onions and saute well until the onions turn a light pinkish brown.
  • Next add the pulsed spinach paste and bring the flame to medium low.  Stir in the peas and corn kernels and allow the mixture to cook on the medium flame as this enhances the flavours.
  • After 8-10 minutes, all the water evaporates from the spinach paste and you see it coming together as one.
  • At this point, add the cooked  basmati rice and stir carefully so as not to break the rice grains.
  • Add a spoon of ghee if needed and serve with a garnish of saffron and grated coconut.

Aromatic saffron flavoured spinach pulav is a wholesome delicious meal ready in a matter of minutes. Serve with your favourite cucumber raita.

Sambar / Rasam / Kuzhambu Varieties.

Murungakkai Kara Kuzhambu (Drumstick and spices simmered in Aromatic tamarind tomato gravy)

Drumsticks have always been a favourite vegetable of my daughter and me of course…Every time amma made Drumstick Sambar, the aroma would simply fill the entire home.  The Drumstick is more valued for its tender pods. Homes in south india cook the drumsticks and eat the pods and the fleshy portions with great gusto. Nutritionally, drumstick pods and leaves are of great value as sources of acrotene, calcium, phosphorus and vitamin C. The leaves, flowers and fruits of drumstick which are used as vegetable have great nutritional value. Drumstick leaves are used in making delicious Murunga Yelai Adai. My husband`s home has a large drumstick tree filled with slender long drumsticks and every time we go there, we insist on picking them and getting them cooked in delicious sambar. Today I had picked a packet of frozen drumsticks from the local store and wanted to make someting very different. I chanced on Solai`s Murungakkai Kara Kuzhambu and decided that I had to make it for the day.

INGREDIENTS:

7-8 pieces of sliced drumsticks.

1 1/2 cups of Tamarind Water extracted from tamarind.

1 cup Water.

Salt to taste.

Turmeric.

2 Tsp Sambar Powder.

1 Tsp Dhania Powder.

2  Tsp Fennel.

15 Small Onions / Shallots diced.

1 Roma Tomato Diced.

Curry Leaves.

1/4 cup Coconut.

1/4 cup toor dhal cooked, diluted with water.

PREPARATION:

  • Keep all the ingredients ready to be used.
  • Grind together in the mixer : 1 Tsp Fennel, 1/4 cup Coconut, 2 Tsp Sambar Powder, 1 Tsp Dhania Powder. Using a little water grind to a smooth paste. Keep aside.
  • In a kadai, add 2 tsp oil and urad dhal, mustard, curry leaves for seasoning. When the mustard has spluttered, add onions and allow to saute.
  • When the onions are well done, add the diced tomatoes. Allow to saute well.
  • Now add the chopped drumsticks and 1/2 cup water and allow to cook well.
  • When the drumsticks have cooked in the water, add the tamarind water to the kadai.
  • Add salt and turmeric powder and then the ground paste.
  • Allow to come to a boil and then add the dliuted dhal water.
  • When it thickens a little switch off the gas.
  • Serve HOT with Urulai Roast or Beans Poriyal.
Rotis/ Parathas/ Flatbreads.

Crunchy Coconut Almond Biscuits – Home made Using just 5 ingredients.

Here I was in my favourite grocer`s buying fresh farm produce and my eyes suddenly lingered for a moment on the baking aisle. It had been quite some time since I had baked as I had a very difficult time eating whatI  had cooked through my pregnancy. I ventured in to the aisle, even as I heard my husband`s voice letting me know that It was time for us to leave. As I was walking unhurriedly, my eyes fell on a pack of Sweetened Coconut Flakes. Bingo…I knew I was looking for something exciting, and different….never realised that it could be from sweetened coconut flakes. Coconuts are a blessing for me as I love them in all forms – Fresh grated coconut for easy palakkad cuisine cooking, tender coconut water to be had as and when one felt thirsty, dessicated coconuts for baking, sweets and of course BAKING!!! I had seen Bobby Flay create a southern coconut cake with 7 layers and I was wondering on the taste. Another of my favourite chocolates – Almond Joy with sweet coconut filling!!! I had also recently chanced on Ria`s Peanut Cookies, so I wanted to replace the peanuts with Almonds and throw in a handful of coconut flakes…Here goes this easy breezy recipe…

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup All Purpose Flour.

1/2 cup melted margarine.

1/2 cup Almonds pulsed to a coarse texture.

1/2 cup sugar.

A handful of sweetened coconut flakes.

PREPARATION:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 F. The preparation hardly takes any time so you would need sufficient time for heating the oven to bake the cookies.
  • Start with melting the margarine simply by popping it in the microwave for 20 seconds. If you fall short of the 1/2 cup thats needed simply top it up with canola oil.
  • Pour this in to a mixing bowl.
  • Add the sugar, pulsed almonds and the flour.
  • Lastly add the coconut flakes. This is completely optional.
  • Use your hands and bring the dough together. The margarine helps in holding the mixture really well.
  • Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and keep ready.

  • Take lime sized balls of the dough and flatten them between  your palms. Place them 1 inch apart on the cookie sheet.
  • Continue until the dough is exhausted and neatly lined on the cookie sheet.
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes. Do not allow the cookies to get too brown.

  • Allow to cool for 20 minutes and enjoy crunchy Coconut Almond Biscuits with your favourite cuppa.
  • A quick snack for guests and for kids alike!!! NO ONE CAN EAT JUST ONE!!!