Chutneys / Thogayals & Podis.

Peerkangai Thogayal ( Spiced Ridge Gourd Chutney).


Did you know that the botanical name of the Ridge Gourd/ Peerkangai/ Beera Kaya is actually Luffa Acutangula??? Awesome, coz  I did`nt! And that the vegetable is the unripe form of the fruit itself? And the mature ripe fruits are used to make natural cleaning sponges??? That’s how the Loofah was born I guess. The Ridge Gourd was never used in my maternal home as a vagetable and I never even knew its existence.  I have seen a couple of my friends use it in chutneys, thogayals, kootu and even pickles. I loved this version by Kaveri and adapted it to my own recipe for a regular thogayal.

A normal boring everyday meal can get totally zinged up by just adding a Thogayal/ Pachadi.  Every time I make Keerai Molagootal or Pumpkin Molagootal , I love to spice things up with a Vendakkai Thayir Pachadi or a Sweet and Tangy Kathirikkai Pachadi. On lazy summer afternoons, just adding a couple tender mangoes or Maavadu to left overs, makes a comforting meal in itself! I always try to use vegetables in these thogayals as they add to the nutritive quotient at the same time almost rendering an effect equal to having Spicy Lemon Pickle etc. This is one of my husband`s absolute favorite and in recent days mine too. It`s the same formula just as in the Onion Thokku – saute the vegetable, slow roast dry ingredients in oil, throw in some tamarind for some zing, pulse, season!


1 Big Long Peerkangai / Ridge Gourd.

2 1/2 Tbsp Urad Dhal.

2 Red Chillies.

A small ball of tamarind.

1/3 Cup Coconut.

1/4 Tsp Hing.

1 handful Corriander Leaves.

Salt to taste.


1 Tsp Gingely Oil.

1 Tsp Mustard Seeds.

Curry Leaves.



  • Wash, peel and chop the ridgegourd in to cubes. Set aside.
  • In a kadai add about 2 tsp oil and slow roast the urad dhal and red chillies until the dal turns a dull brown colour. Transfer to a mixer jar after it cools.
  • In the same kadai, add the chopped ridge gourd and the tamarind and saute until cooked.
  • Once the ridge gourd is cooked, add the salt else it will release water and reduce in volume.
  • Pulse the dry roasted ingredients in the mixer for a couple turns.
  • Add the cooked ridgegourd, tamarind, salt, coconut, corriander leaves and a little hing and pulse until smooth. You will not require water as the ridge gourd would be soft, but add a few drops if too dry.
  • Transfer to a serving dish.
  • Season in gingely oil with mustard seeds, curry leaves and hing and pour over the thogayal.
  • Excellent accompaniment with Idlis or Dosa.
  • Mix with hot rice with a dollop of gingely oil and enjoy Peerkangai Thogayal Sadam.




Chutneys / Thogayals & Podis.

Tomato Chutney with Sambar Powder?


This has to be one of the most easiest of all the tomato chutneys posted ever as it holds its taste on its own.  Its your regular tomato chutney with tomatoes and green chillies and onions, only its rehashed with a big spoonful of Grand Sweets Vethakuzhambu Powder. If you dont have the Grand Sweets Sambar Powder, add your home made sambar powder. It should still give it a very different spin! It`s super tangy from the tomatoes and there is a slight heat that hits you, as an afterthought. This chutney is made slightly watery and not so much like the ones that have coconuts or daliya. I served it with Healthy Oats and Flax Adai.


1 Medium Red Onion.

3 Ripe Slicing Tomatoes.

1-2 Green Chilies.

1 Tsp Salt.


1 Heaped Tsp Vethakuzhambu Powder.

1/2 Tsp Red Chilli Powder.


1 Tsp Mustard.

1 Tsp Broken Urad Dhal.

Curry leaves.



  • Chop the onions and the tomatoes roughly as they are going to get pureed in the blender/Mixer.
  • Start with about 1 tsp of oil in a kadai and season with chillies and a little hing.
  • Now add the chopped onions and allow to saute until pinkish light brown.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes and follow with turmeric powder, red chilli powder and Grand Sweets Vethakuzhambu Powder.
  • Allow to saute well and when its almost done, add the required salt.
  • Its not needed to saute until all the tomato juices have completely dried up. It can still be a little watery.
  • Allow to cool and puree in food processesor/blender with a 2-3 Tbsp of  coconut milk (optional)/water until required consistency is reached.
  • I like mine to be a little coarse with the texture of the onions and the tomatoes, so i don’t go all the way.
  • Season in oil with mustard seeds, broken urad dhal, hing and curry leaves.
  • Serve with Idli, Dosa or Adai, and yes,  let me know how it went!!!


Chutneys / Thogayals & Podis.

Fingerlicking Tart Tomato Chutney.


One of the best things about south indian food is its spread of chutneys and gravies and other accompaniements. Every region in India have their own version of hundreds of dishes. As far as chutneys go, almost every home in Tamil Nadu must have their own spin on chutneys. My quest is for finding somany different ways of cooking this lycopene filled tomato – so fleshy and juicy, sweet yet tart and pretty much a fruit in every style of indian cooking. When Madhuri poster her spin, I was a goner. I had to make it the vvery same day and I loved the crunchiness of the coconuts thrown in at the end! Simply fingerlicking delicious. Yes, its that good!


1 Medium Onion,

3 Beefsteak/ Heirloom/ Roma or 5 Indian tomatoes.

3 Pods of Garlic.

2-3 Red Chillies to suit your spice buds.

Lime sized ball of tamrind.

2 Tbsp of Jeera  seeds.

1/2 Tsp Turmeric Powder.

Salt to taste


A fistful of cleaned and chopped corrinader leaves.

Temper With:

1 Tsp Oil.

1 Tsp Mustard Seeds.

Curry Leaves.

Pinch of hing.


  • Heat 2 Tsp oil in a wok and add the cumin seeds. Allow trhem to splutter.
  • Add the finely chopped onions and then the turmeric powder. Saute for a couple minutes until they onions turn translucent and begin to sweat.
  • Add the diced tomatoes, garlic pods, red chillies, and the tamarind and cook unitl the tomatoes turn mushy and reduces to pulp. By now all the ingredients would have cooked well and marinated in the wok.
  • Remove from the flame and allow to cool for a couple of minutes.
  • Now tranfer to a mixer jar and give it a quick pulse.
  • Finally add the grated coconut and spin for a few pulses. I preferred the coconuts bits to be crunchy and hence never ground to a smooth paste.
  • Temper with the ingredients mentioned and mix them all in.
  • Deliocious tart and crunchy chutney is ready!
  • and yes…thank you, I know you loved it. Leave your thoughts for me!
Chutneys / Thogayals & Podis.

Mint & Cilantro Chutney for Dosa & Idlis.

Mint chtuneys make an interesting combination with breakfast preparations like Venn Pongal,Oats  Idlis, Dosas etc. Mint adds a refreshing zing to any drink especially a summer drink. When infused with mint leaves that are crushed, it makes it extremely fresh and adds zing to the drink!  In its natural form, mint aids in indigestion and also aids in relieving respiratory blocks. This recipe is inspired by Rak`s version and is definitely a keeper!


1 Bunch Cilantro.

1 Bunch Mint.

1 Medium Onion.

1 Tangy Tomatoe.

2 Tbsp Coconut Grated.


Roast in Oil:

2 Tbsp Channa Dhal.

1 Tbsp Urad dhal.

3 Red Chillies.



1 Tsp Mustard Seeds.

1 Tsp Urad Dhal.

Curry Leaves.


  • In a kadai add about a spoon of oil and roast the channa dal, urad dhal and the red chillies with one or two fresh curry leaves. Transfer contents to a mixer and set aside.
  • Now to the same kadai, add the onions and let them saute well., Now add the chopped tomatoes, turmeric and salt and let them saute well.
  • Add the roughly chopped cilantro and mint leaves and allow them to wilt. Switch off the stove and allow contents to cool.
  • Now transfer to the same mixer jar and give it a quick pulse.
  • Pulse to a near smooth paste adding as little water as needed and transfer to the serving bowl.
  • Temper with the specified ingredients and serve with soft hot idlis!

Chutneys / Thogayals & Podis. · Kid Friendly Recipes.

Make your own Peanut Butter at home – Preservative Free and Fresh!

Home made Peanut Butter

There are really only two ways one can feel about peanut butter – To Love it and and Love it not !  My love with peanut butter started when I came to the US when I was newly married and tasted the reese`s peanut butter cups. It was heaven all rolled up and pressed in to a little cup sized wonder and I couldnt help but enjoy the sweet and salty taste all rolled in to one goodness. The sweet of the chocolate hits you and then the palates sit back and savour the mild saltiness cutting through the chocolate coming  from the goodness of the peanut butter. Needless to say the kids love them a lot and S loves her PBJ sandwich twice every week to school. Since the store bought  versions are filled with hydrogenated vegetable oil or other times with  palm oil to stabilise it and prevent oil seperation and mild amounts of dextrose etc to sweeten the peanut butter. I felt it is best for my readers to see the health concerns as put forth by wikipedia..


For people with a peanut allergy, peanut butter can cause reactions, including anaphylactic shock, which has led to its being banned in some schools.[7]

The peanut plant is susceptible to the mold Aspergillus flavus which produces a carcinogenic substance called aflatoxin.[8] Since it is impossible to completely remove every instance of aflatoxins, contamination of peanuts and peanut butter is monitored in many countries to ensure safe levels of this carcinogen. In 1990, a study showed that average American peanut butter contained an average of 5.7 parts per billion of aflatoxins, per the U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines of 20 parts per billion.[9][10]

Some brands of peanut butter may contain a small amount of added partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, which are high in trans fatty acids, thought to be a cause of atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, and stroke; these oils are added to prevent the peanut oil from separating. Natural peanut butter and peanuts do not contain partially hydrogenated oils. A U.S. Agricultural Research Service (ARS) survey of commercial peanut butters in the U.S. showed the presence of trans fat, but at very low levels.[11]

At least one study has found that peanut oil caused relatively heavy clogging of arteries. Robert Wissler of the University of Chicago reported that diets high in peanut oil, when combined with cholesterol intake, clogged the arteries of Rhesus monkeys more than butterfat.[12]

Peanut butter can harbor Salmonella and cause salmonellosis, as in the Salmonella outbreak in the United States in 2007.

As always, its better to moderate whatever we eat and balance it with healthy alternatives.


1 Cup Salted Roasted Peanuts.

1/8 Cup Olive Oil.

2-3 Tbsp Honey.


  • I used the salted roasted variety as I had tonnes of them in my pantry. Feel free to use unsalted roasted, or unsalted unroasted, with or without the skin.
  • If you are using unroasted, use a dry kadai and lightly roast them until you smell the aroma.
  • You might want to remove the skin by crushing the roasted cooled peanuts and blowing the skin away.
  • Transfer to a food processor. Add the oil and give it a quick pulse.  When its a little smooth and ground, add the honey.


  • Now give it a a quick pulse and you will see creamy smooth and shiny home made peanut butter with the sweet and salty kick to it!
  • Spread it over your bread with Blackberry Jelly for a great lunch option for kids! Use it with rotis and roll it up for a sweet and salty snack.
  • As a healthier alternative use it with a thinner and it will double up as a gret sauce over your paste or your salads.
  • Add a spoon to your health drink or your fruit juice and it will work wonders for you.
  • Combine it with sauteed veggies and thai green sauce for another rocking healthy entree.
  • When you buy peanut butter in the stores, watch the labels for hydrogenated oil and trans fat. Simply buy the organic version that has only salt and peanuts. Even better make your own at home!


  • !


Chutneys / Thogayals & Podis.

Ginger Carrot Peanut Chutney.

This is was a chutney borne out of my experiments in the kitchen with ingredients left over in the refrigerator. It was one of those days when your heart craves for steaming hot crisp dosas accompanied with garam sambar and chutney, only to realise that you are basically out of a couple tomatoes and coconut slices! Ditto with the cilantro and the mint was  already dry and on its way out! I was left with a bag of fresh carrots and of course ginger that keeps for a long time so I decided to marry them off together to make something flavourful. Carrots are packed with beta carotenes and I always love this Ginger Carrot Creamy Soup so I decided they would complement each other in this chutney…they did and how!!!


1 Inch Ginger peeled and sliced in to long pieces.

2 Carrots peeled and diced.

1 tomato diced.

Small gooseberry sized ball of tamarind.

1 Tsp Jaggery.

2 Green Chillies.


1/2 Cup Peanuts. (Use roasted de-skinned variety to save time)


  • If you only have the raw variety on hand, roast the peanuts on a dry tava for a couple minutes and when cooled remove the skin. Set aside.
  • In a kadai, add a tsp of oil and when its hot, add the split green chillies, ginger, and allow it to saute for a few minutes.
  • Then add the tomatoes and saute until they are mushy.
  • At this point add the diced carrots and allow to mix well.
  • Add salt and then the tamarind and jaggery and when they all come together switch off the flame.
  • When all the ingredients cool off, puree in the mixie to a smooth paste.
  • Transfer to a serving bowl and season in oil with mustard, urad dhal and curry leaves. I was in a dash and clicked this pic before seasoning it!
  • Serve with soft Idlis or Spicy Chettinadu  Cauliflower Masal Dosa.
Chutneys / Thogayals & Podis.

Peanut Onion Chutney for Dosa / Idlis.

During my initial days of my banking career, before marriage, I had to report for work an hour before the other staff came in, so I could learn the ropes without the disturbance of customers at my desk .  Some of my colleagues commuted from afar, so they  used to be at work at 8 AM and so breakfast at work was inevitable.  Many of them used to get idlis for breakfast every single day and the   sides for the Idlis would be a variety of  chutneys and sambars. Pudina chutney, tomato garlic chutney, red chilli chutney, andhra tomato sesame chutney, tamil nadu white coconut chutney, onion chutney, tomato thokku etc. Every day a different side or chutney, rendered in itself a totally different taste to the idlis. I always enjoyed going to work early and settling in, taking in the peace of the mornings, checking mails, and having a healthy breakfast reading the news on the paper on my desk,  and grabbing my cuppa. When I think back on those days of crazy deadlines, sales targets, customer interactions and late meetings, I cant believe it is a world, that I  have left far far behind!!!

Whenever I make chutneys, I always recollect those days with a smile….


1 Cup Roasted and Peeled Peanuts.

1/2 Big Red Onion or 1 Medium Onion.

3 Dry Red Chillies.

3 Garlic Flakes.

Small pinch of jaggery.


Small Tamarind Piece soaked in 1/2 cup water.

Pinch of Turmeric.



Mustard Seeds.

1 Tsp Broken Urad Dhal.

Curry Leaves.



  • Add a spoon of oil in a kadai and allow to heat. Pop in the chopped garlic and red chillies and a pinch of turmeric  and saute it for a few minutes.
  • Now add the chopped onions and saute them well.
  • Switch off the flame and allow to cool.
  • Warm the tamarind soaked in water in the microwave for about a minute.
  • In a mixer add the roasted peanuts (with skin removed), the contents of the kadai, jaggery, tamarind with the water, salt and pulse to a smooth chutney consistency.
  • Season with mustard, urad dhal, curry leaves and hing.
Chutneys / Thogayals & Podis.

Chettinad Onion Tomato Thokku – 5 Ingredients – 5 Steps!


Chettinad Onion Tomato Thokku

Its always a pleasure to cook with tomatoes as I love its versatility. From pasta sauces, to salsas, to pickles, to rasams,  and a strong base for so many gravies, tomatoes are a wonderful fruit. Rich in “Lycopene” there are loads of research linking Lycopene to anti cancer properties. This carotenoid found in tomatoes (and everything made from them) has been extensively studied for its antioxidant and cancer-preventing properties. The antioxidant function of lycopene-its ability to help protect cells and other structures in the body from oxygen damage-has been linked in human research to the protection of DNA. Rich in anti-oxidant properties and good for your heart and an excellent anti-inflammatory properties.

This amazing onion tomato thokku was borne out an accident in my kitchen!!! Instead of adding “Rasam Powder” to my rasam which was in one stove, I added it to the kadai roasting onions and tomatoes for my chutney. The result was super yum and terrific!!!


1 Onion chopped.

3 Medium Tomatoes diced.

4 Dry Red Chillies.

5-6 Curry Leaves.


1 Tsp Rasam Powder.


Mustard Seeds, Broken Urad Dhal Seeds, Curry Leaves.


  • Heat oil in a kadai and when ready, add red chillies, curry leaves and the onions.
  • Saute well and then add the diced tomatoes and the 1  tsp of your favourite rasam powder  and cook until mushy.
  • Cool and grind the above ingredients in a mixer , adding required salt . Use little or no water. Set aside.
  • In the same kadai add seasoning ingredients – Mustard seeds, Broken Urad Dhal seeds and curry leaves and add the ground paste.
  • Saute until the oil seperates from the thokku and store in a glass jar. Use as chutney or pickle whichever suits you best!

Serves as an excellent side for Plain Dosa, Oats Idlis, Cracked Wheat Khichdi, Adai or even delicious curd rice. Give me thick curd rice and this pickle any day!


Dosa with Chettinad Onion Tomato Thokku


  • The ground paste itself serves as a quick chutney as its already made with roasted ingredients. Sauteing it in the oil again simply pulls out all the moisture and gives it a longer shelf life.
  • Alternatively add a handful of chopped corriander for an even better taste completely different from what you get here. But you know me, I love my tomatoes any day!
  • Similarly add  a bunch of diced mint leaves for a totally new avatar of this chutney.
Chutneys / Thogayals & Podis.

Idli Molagaipodi – Gun Powder for Idli & Dosa.


Any south indian meal is never complete without the fluffy Idlis and the spicy powder accompaniment – MolagaiPodi. As litle kids, whenever Maduraiamma used to give us dosas or idlis, the most favoured side would be the MolagaiPodi. Doused with nutty sesame oil which is well mixed in, nothing can ever beat this taste. Many times I would go for seconds of the podi rather than the idlis itself! This powder is not ground completely smoothly, but has a coarse grainy texture to it. with bits and pieces of the ingredients showing up here and there., which imparts an unusual taste to it. I always make a batch ahead of time and store it in an air-tight container for keeps!


1/2 Cup + A a handful of  Bengal Gram.

1/2 Cup Urad Dhal.

15-18 Dry Red Chillies.

3/4 of 1/4 Cup of White Sesame Seeds.

1 Tsp Salt.


3-4 Curry Leaves.


  • In a kadai add a little oil and roast the bengal gram on medium low flame until it turns a darker shade and you find the aroma of roasted dhal. Set aside in a dry mixer jar.
  • In the same kadai roast the urad dhal and the red chillies separately. Take care to see that the roasting is uniform and yet does not burn. Keep the flame low.
  • Add the urad dhal and the red chillies also to the mixer jar.
  • Finally roast the white sesame seeds and when its almost getting done, add the curry leaves and hing and salt.
  • Immediately transfer to the mixer jar.
  • Allow a couple minutes to cool and pulse to a near smooth powder.
  • Store in an air tight container and enjoy Molagaipodi with gingely oil along side of Cracked Wheat &  Oats Idlis, Masala Dosa or Adai.

Idlis with Molagaipodi.
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.