Side Dishes for Rotis/Dosas/ Naan.

Aloo tamatar makhani

Aloo Tamatar Makhani.

All of you must be aware of my little fancy for the lovely tangy tomatoes. I try to use them in whatever form I can, my most favourites being the Tomato Rice and the Tomato Thokku which I absolutely cant live without!!! Yet there are more and more ways  of incorporating this fruit in so many of our preparations and this is one such rich and flavourful tomato makhani gravy. The essence of the dish consists in preparation of the base gravy and of couse can be modified with other veggies like capsicum which lends it a completely different flavour, or panneer which enhances the taste to a different level altogether! I use the little baby potatoes as they are  very comfortably  bite sized and hey, who is not a fan of the lowly potatoes???

Today I got a request from a reader friend of mine to post Gravies/ Sides so here it goes to you Prabha, and hope you like it.


5 tomatoes.

1 pound of fingerling potatoes or baby potatoes.

3 Bay Leaves.

3 Cloves.

1 Inch Ginger.

1 Tsp Red Chilli Powder.

2 Tsp kasoori Methi

1/2 Tsp Ginger Paste.

1/2 Garlic Paste.

2 Green Chillies slit long.

2 Cups Water.

1 Tbsp Butter

2 Tsp Honey.

1 Tsp Garam Masala.

Salt to taste.


  • Wash all the tomatoes and cut them into slightly big pieces and in to a vessel. Add 2 cups water, half of the red chilli powder, bay leaves, cloves and the shredded ginger.

  • Allow to cook in the the pressure cooker for 2 whistles.
  • When cool, strain and puree well. When you puree, add the minimum water to avoid splashing from the mixer jar.
  • In a kadai add a spoon of butter and allow to melt. Add ginger paste, garlic paste and the slit green chillies.
  • Add the pureed tomato mixture, salt, the remaining red chilli powder, salt and honey. Stir well.
  • Meanwhile clean all the baby potatoes, make a small dent on each of them with a fork/prong. This is to allow all the spices/seasonings/salt to permeate in to the potatoes.
Baby potatoes getting ready for a steam bath!!!
  • Cook them in the rice cooker until they are just cooked and a little soft to touch still retaining their firmness(Mine took about ten minutes!) .  Set aside.
  • Take the kasoori methi in a small bowl and dry roast it in the tava or microwave for about 30 seconds, until it begins to just crackle.
  • Add the roasted kasoori methi to the makhani gravy , garam masala and and allow to come together for a few more minutes.
  • When done, add the cooked baby potatoes and simmer for 4-5 minutes.
  • Garnish with chopped cilantro and fresh cream.
  • Serve immediately with soft parathas or Simple Tiranga Pulav.
Sambar / Rasam / Kuzhambu Varieties. · Side Dishes for Rotis/Dosas/ Naan.

Hotel Style Tomato Sambar – Side for Dosa / Idlis.

Hotel Sambar.

Yesterday I had a particular craving for the hotel sambar from Saravana Bhavan in Chennai and I could not wish this out of my head. There are days when you are far away from home and you  crave for amma`s chutney , pulikachal or sambar.  This was borne out of an accident in my kitchen yesterday and I decided this was going to be a regular. I meant to make ” Dhal” for parathas and decided I was going to go ahead and make the Hotel Sambar anyways! So i used more moong dal in this dish, and to my surprise, it was almost close to the version of hotel sambar that is replicated at home. I am sure, we can never get the secret of Saravana Bhavan style sambar!!!


1 Medium Onion.

4 Roma Tomatoes/ Vine Tomatoes.

1 Tsp Grand sweets Vethakuzhambu Powder.

1 Tsp Rasam Powder.

1 Tsp Red Chilli Powder.

1 cup Moong Dal cooked mushy.

1/4 Cup Toor Dhal cooked mushy.



Cilantro for garnishing.


1 Tsp Mustard.

1 Tsp Jeera.

Curry Leaves.


  • Cook the Moong Dal in ample water unless its soft and squishy.  Mash well and set aside.
  • In a kadai, add 2 tsp oil and then the seasonings – Mustard, Jeera, Curry Leaves and then the hing.
  • Now add the chopped onions and saute until they are beautiful golden brown colour.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes, salt, turmeric, vethakuzhambu powder, rasam powder, red chilli powder and allow to saute well until all the water is almost evaporated.
  • Now add the mushy moong dal and toor dal  to the kadai and a little more water and some more salt for the dals added.
  • Swirl on a little bit until its gets to a nice sambar like consistency and garnish with chopped cilantro.
  • Enjoy Hotel style Tomato Sambar with crisp Ragi Dosas or Soft Fluffy Idlis.
Snacks & Tiffin Items

Mixed Vegetable Semiya Upma.


Mixed Vegetable Semiya Upma.

Mixed Vegetable Semiya Upma is one of my all time favourite dinner options.  Its simple as its the same concept as a simple rice pulav, versatile as I can throw in whatever veggies that I have left in the pantry and vermicelli hardly takes any time to cook. In all, its a simple substitute for rice for making Lemon Semiya Upma, Tomato Semiya Upma etc. This was a mish mash of veggies in the pantry, made steaming hot on a cold weeknight enjoyed with chutney, and chips!!!


2 Green Chillies Chopped fine.

1 Tsp Chopped Ginger.

1 Tsp Chopped Garlic.

Handful of broken cashews.

1 Medium Onion Chopped fine.

1 Medium Tomato Chopped.

2 Carrots diced fine.

1/2 cup baby corn thawed.

Handful of thawed Sweet Peas.

2 Cups Vermicelli cooked as per instructions and drained on colander.


  • Apply a few drops on oil on the cooked vermicelli and keep it aside. This is so that the vermicelli does not stick to each other and become a gooey mass.
  • Microwave all the veggies – Carrots, Beans, peas, corn etc for 3-4 minutes so they are almost half cooked.
  • In a kadai, a spoon of oil and allow to heat up. Add mustard, curry leaves, ginger, garlic, green chillies and allow to crackle for a few minutes.
  • When done, add the chopped onions and saute it well.
  • When the onions have turned a dull brown, add the diced tomatoes and allow it to get mushy and cook through until all the water has disappeared.
  • Add salt, turmeric, the half cooked veggies   and allow a couple of minutes for it to cook through.
  • Now add the cooked vermicelli and mix it well.
  • Add more salt and bring the veggie semiya upma together.
  • Add a drop of ghee, garnish with chopped cilantro and keep it closed until its ready to be served with Cilantro Chutney.

Chutneys / Thogayals & Podis.

Corriander Chutney. (Peanut flavoured corriander leaves chutney)

Coriander Chutney.

Chutneys and Thogayals are a very important part of our cuisine, and our everyday cooking. The flavour of Idlis is enhanced by serving them with a side of Chutneys, like the Chettinad Tomato Chutney, Coconut Chutney etc. In South India, many people love to order idlis and Dosas, from hotels, more for the pleasure of the accompaniments, rather than the dish itself! I had almost two bunches of Cilantro in  my pantry and I wanted to make a peanut based cilantro chutney, and I turned to Sailu for help…Very creamy chutney there, and very versatile, as I could moderate the consistency based on the main dish. This is because the essence  of the chutney is the roasted peanuts, which offer a bold nutty flavour and a lot of body. I served this amazing chutney with Mixed Vegetable Vermicelli Upma.


3/4 Bunch Corriander Leaves without stalk.

3 Thai Green Chillies.

3/4 Cup Roasted Peanuts.

2 Inch Piece of Tamarind.

1/4 Tsp Jaggery.

Salt to taste.


  • Take a kadai and add a tsp of oil. When it is warm add the slit green chillies and the coriander leaves.
  • Allow them to cook for 2 minutes or so, stirring them on and off and switch off the stove.
  • Soak the tamarind in 3 Tbsp of water and pop in the microwave for 1 minute.
  • This would soften the tamarind considerably.
  • In the mixer add the roasted peanuts, cilantro and chillies from the kadai, salt, jaggery and the tamarind with the soaked water.
  • Give it a quick spin and behold, you have thick CorianderChutney.
  • Adjust the water and make it thick or slightly thin, depending on whether you are serving it withl PongalAdai, Upma, Dosa or Idlis.

Salads/ Recipes for the Calorie Conscious. · Snacks & Tiffin Items

Healthy Low Cal Cracked Wheat & Oats Pongal. (Diabetic Friendly Recipes)

Healthy Low Cal Cracked Wheat Pongal.

It has been a constant endeavour to enrich the quality of the food we eat, by reducing unwanted fat, cholestrol, calories, and increasing the fibre, protien and nutrients. After reading up about the benefits of Cous Cous , Quinoa , Bulgur Wheat and Cracked Wheat, I have been waiting to experiment by substituting rice with these protien and fibre rich ingredients.


Cracked Wheat  is a wheat product made from whole raw wheat kernels which are crushed or cut into smaller pieces. There are a large number of uses for cracked wheat, and the food makes a popular dietary supplement in many cultures. Many grocery stores carry cracked wheat, which should be stored in a cool dry place until use so that it does not go rancid. If not used within one year, cracked wheat should be discarded.

A similar product, Bulgur wheat, is also made by cracking wheat kernels. Bulgur, however, is made from wheat kernels which are steamed and toasted before cracking, so that they develop a rich, nutty flavor. Bulgur also requires minimal cooking, since it is already partially cooked. Cracked wheat, on the other hand, uses whole raw wheat berries.

Because cracked wheat is made from whole wheat berries, it carries a great deal of nutrition and fiber since it includes the fiber and nutrient rich outer bran  and germ of the wheat. For this reason, it is often added to healthy diets, especially those eaten by people who are concerned about heart health. Other whole cracked grains may be used as well, for variation in flavor and nutrition.

There are a wide range of uses for cracked wheat. Many people use it as a base, like couscous serving vegetables or meats alongside it. It can also be used in grain pilafs, and many recipes for multi-grain pilafs call for cracked wheat, since it is fluffy and flavorful. Many people also include cracked wheat in multi-grain bread,pancakes, upma, dosa , and other grain dishes. The crushed wheat berries may be soaked or partially cooked when they are included in recipes such as bread, to ensure that they are fully cooked when the food is served.


As with all grains, cracked wheat should be washed before use, to remove residual dirt and other compounds which may have adhered to the wheat during growing, processing, and shipping. The easiest way to do this is to measure the wheat out into a fine grained colander, running water over it and gently stirring it with a spatula or by hand to make sure that each grain is washed. Soaking the washed cracked wheat will also make it cook more quickly.  Cooked cracked wheat can be stored in a snug container under refrigeration for several days for use in salads, pancakes, and other foods.


Cracked Wheat + Oats + Moong Dal.

1 1/2 Cup Cracked Wheat.

1/2 Cup Old Fashioned Rolled Oats.

3/4 Cup Moong Dal.

6 Cups Water.

2 Tsp Pepper Cummin Powder.

1/2 Cup Finely Grated Carrots. (Optional).



1 Tsp Ghee.

8-9 Whole Black Pepper.

1 Tsp Jeera.

2 Tsp Pepper Jeera Powder.

Handful Cashews.

1 Tsp Jeera.


  • Dry roast the cracked wheat on a dry tava until you get the aroma. Set aside on to a cooker vessel.
  • Dry roast the oats also on the tava and grind to a coarse texture. Add to the cracked wheat.
  • Dry roast the moong dal and add to the same vessel.
  • In a seasoning ladle, add a spoon of ghee and when hot, pop in the whole pepper, 2 Tsp finely chopped ginger and curry leaves. When all of them are well fried, add this to the ingredients in the vessel.

  • Lastly add the finely grated carrots, salt and 6 cups of water.
  • Stir in well and pressure cook for 2 whistles. Allow the  steam to completely vanish and then open the cooker.
  • Take a flat bottomed pan and add 2 spoons of ghee. When melted, add curry leaves, whole black pepper, jeera,  1 tsp pepper jeera powder, 2 tsp grated / chopped ginger and fry for a couple of seconds.
  • Now add the cooked craked wheat + oats + moong mixture to the kadai and mix in well.
  • IF you feel that its hardened up a little, simply add some milk to the kadai so it will loosen up the pongal and make it mushy.
  • Add sufficient salt and the remaining 1 Tsp Pepper jeera powder and mix in well.
  • When the Pongal has come together, add one more spoon of ghee and switch of flame.
  • Keep closed to lock in the flavours and serve Hot with Chettinad Onion Tomato Chutney


  1. Moderate the amount of water depending on the graininess of the Cracked Wheat and the rolled oats. If you use Quick Cooking Oats, it hardly takes any time to cook. If you feel that the water is a little too much, simply let it stand for a few minutes and this will harden up the moong dal. Then proceed to make the Pongal.
  2. If its too thick, simply add milk, as mentioned in the post to loosen it up.

Indo-Chinese Cooking. · Rice Varieties.

Restaurant Style Steamed Vegetable Dumplings/ Dimsum/ Momos – Delicious Indo Chinese Starters!!!


Steamed Vegetable Momos.

The very first memory if having a steaming hot dimsum was in a restaurant in Bangalore just after I was married. I remember that I really loved the taste of the filling, combined with the soft elastic outer cover, almost stuck with the filling, and dipped in a red fiery sweet sauce in a teeny white ceramic cup, I was transported to heaven. It always strikes me as to why appetizers always taste way better than the main course, and the reason why we only get to sample one or two???  The next time around, it was at Mainland China, Chennai. I remember the plate of steaming hot dumpling served with the fragrant Black Pepper Sauce. This time around I had been craving for this dish as usual and I decided it was really time to try it on my own. It is a slightly labour intensive procedure but the end result is definitely worth the effort. As a starter for a small party or at a dinner for friends, it is better to make the stuffing ahead and simply assemble it before hand. Easier said than done right???


2 Cups All Purpose Flour/ Maida.

1 Tsp Sesame Oil.

1 Tsp Salt.


Vegetable Stuffing.


( I grated all the veggies in a mini food processor so the filling was very finely chopped. )

1 Cabbage julienned.

1 Carrot grated finely.

1/4 Cup fresh Sweet Corn kernels.

1/8 Cup Shredded Paneer.

6 Garlic Pods chopped finely.

2 Inch Ginger chopped finely.

1 Bunch Spring Onions chopped finely.

1 1/2 Tsp Pepper Powder.

Salt to taste.

3-4 Green Chillies Chopped very fine.

1 Tsp Sesame Oil.

Finely Chopped Cilantro.


  • For the outer dough mix all purpose flour, sesame oil, salt and water to make a pliable dough. Keep covered until assembly.
  • To prepare the filling, take a wok and allow to heat. Add the sesame oil and the chopped ginger, garlic and green chillies.
  • Allow a few minutes for the oil to get perfumed with the ingredients in it.
  • Now add the thinly chopped cabbage, carrots and the sweet corn. (I was out of  paneer to I made my dumplings without them.)
  • Optionally you could run the veggies through a food processor and mash them up roughly to get a homogenous mass. I am guessing the guys at Mainland China do that!!!!
  • Allow all the veggies to mix in with each other. They should not be overcooked at this point as they will  anyways getting steamed inside the filling.
  • Add pepper powder and salt and finally the shredded panner. Mix thoroughly.
  • Garnish with finely chopped cilantro.
  • This step alone could be prepared ahead and stored in an air tight container.


  1. Roll out 4-5 balls with the all purpose flour dough and take out one. Keep the rest covered.
  2. With a rolling pin make in to thin chappatis dusting with the flour.

  1. Using a round cookie cutter or a steel tumbler, cut out rounds from the chappatis.
  2. Flatten and roll out each little circle to make them thin and elastic.
  3. Transfer the  cover on to your left palm and spoon out some of the filling on to the centre.
  4. Use sesame oil to line the inside of the top semi circle of the dumpling.
  5. Use your fingers to pleat and pinch the edges together to form a closed dumpling.If this is too challenging, simply make the dumplings in to “half moons” ( bring the edges together) or “big hugs” ( almost like a kozhakattai.)
  6. As you make each dumpling, transfer them directly to the  idli plates generously brushed with sesame oil and arrange on them neatly so they do NOT stick to each other.Keep these dumplings covered too.
  7. Once you have completed making the little dumplings, steam in medium heat for about 8 minutes.
  8. Switch off and transfer to a casserole and serve HOT with Tomato Sweet & Spicy Dipping Sauce.


  1. Keep the dough and dumplings covered at all times as they dry up very fast, as its the quality of maida to harden with exposure.
  2. While making the fillings, you can also try stretching the little dough circles that you have cut up. If the consistency is  just right, you might be able to make them a little longer just by stretching. Else you can always use the help of the rolling pin.
  3. I served them up in Manchurian Sauce as a gravy side dish with Indo Chinese Fried Rice.