Rice sticks are as I already mentioned one of the things that I always have handy in my kitchen pantry. Whenever things run late, or there is no time to make an elaborate dinner, my first option would be rice sticks.I have already made Quick Mango Lemon Sevai in my previous posts. I some times use the 777 Dhideer Sevai or the Special Bihon rice sticks from the chinese section from a global market or a chinese store. They all use the same ingredients rice, cornstarch and water. All you need to do it so put a pot of water to boil with some salt and a few drops of coconut oil ( I love the flavour and aroma). Pop a whole bag and cook it only for 2 minutes and set to drain on a collander. Since the rice sticks are extremely thin, make sure not to overcook them. The oil in the water, prevents them from sticking to each other.
Once the rice sticks are done, the seasonings in to flavouring them should be done as soon as possible. I had made lemon sevai and tamarind sevai for dinner yesI:terday. These are the quick recipes for the same.
1 pack of rice sticks.
3-4 chopped green chillies.
Salt to taste
In a kadai, add 2 spoons of oil and when hot, add bengal gram, chopped green chillies, hing, curry leaves and turmeric. Make sure that the turmeric does not burn.
Switch off the flame and add the cooked rice sticks/sevai to the kadai. Mix well taking care that the sticks dont break when they are getting stirred. Add adequate salt.
Squeeze the juice from the lemon according to taste.
Serve Hot with mango pickle.
Traditionally this was the recipe used to make tamarind sevai, but many times, I simply use store bought Pulikachal Mix or home made Puliyodharai.
Rice sticks cooked.
A small gooseberry shaped tamarind ball soaked in 3 spoons of water and warmed.
3-4 red chillies.
In the mixer, grind soaked tamarind, red chillies, salt and hing to a fine paste.
In a kadai, add a spoon of oil and when hot, add mustard, curry leaves and this ground paste.
Saute the paste in the oil until its well cooked. As the tamarind is used raw this helps in cooking the ground paste.
When well done, switch off the stove and add cooked rice sticks and stir well.
Alternatively, if you have store bought pulikachal mix simply mix it in to the cooked sevai and add some seasoning with mustard and curry leaves for added flavour and moisture.
There are a hundred different ways of making one vegetable root – the potatoe. There cannot be anyone who does not relish this versatile root. I have already posted one Alu Fry in my posts earlier which is a little spicy and comes strong on the flavours. For those days when you want to sit back and make a quick and easy side, the Alu Podimas is the one. This version is a tad healthier as the potaotes are steamed and then garnished with spices. This takes 5 minutes to prepare once the potatoes are cooked.
4 Medium Potatoes.
1/4 cup of dessicated Coconut
2-3 green chillies.
Bengal Gram, Mustard seeds and curry leaves.
Wash and peel the skin off the potaotes and cook them with salt in a pressure cooker for about 10-12 mins. No need for weight. Alternatively you could wash, peel and pop the potatoes in a pot of boiling water.
Once cooked, remove, cool and mash it in to slightly bigger chunks.
In a kadai, add 2 spoons of oil and when hot, add bengal gram, mustard and curry leaves. When the mustard splutters, immediately add the mashed potaotes.
Add hing and a little more salt if necessary and stir it well.
In the mixer jar, pulse 3 green chillies and the coconut and add this to the cooked alu in the kadai.
Mix well and serve garnished with chopped cilantro.
All thorough my childhood I have grown up with my mum always telling me that the ladiesfinger is vegetable that renders exceptional memory powers!!! I would then scoop out a large ladlefull and eat it with gusto. This really helped me like the vegetable a lot. Okra is known to be rich in fibre, Vitamin B6 and folic acid. It1s also supossed to stabilize blood sugar and promote healthy bowels. My daughter also loves Okra so its a regular addition in our weekly grocery lists!!!
Chop the bhindi and keep them spread out on a plate. Sprinkle the salt on the bhindi.
Keep your kadai on the stove, add 2 spoons of oil and when it heats up, toss the urad dhal, the mustard and curry leaves.
Add the chopped bhindi, turmeric, hing. red chilli powder and dhania powder.
Alow to cook on medium flame constantly stirring so it does not catch the bottom.
If you feel that the bhindi is getting dry, spray a little bit of canola oil on it.
When almost done, add the mixture of1 spoon of besan + 2 spoons of flax powder. Your family will never know that there is flax in it as its the same colour of the besan, and this addition increases the flavour and protien content of the dish.
Add 2 spoons of bhindi fry, a pinch of red chilli powder and a pinch of salt to a cup of thick curds to get smooth creamy vendekkai pachadi which is a great accompaniment to sambars and molagootal.
One of the most staple preparations at home, when I was a little, was the Molagootal. It`s the kerala preparation of the “kootu”….only its not a side.It`s our substitute for sambar or kuzhambu. The molagootal is a slightly bland broth and so we have spicy tangy options to go with it. One such side is the Inji Pulikachal. Simply translated it means “ginger simmered in tamarind”. One of the highlights of Pulikachal is the rush of tastes when you lick even a drop of it…There`s the heat from the chillies, the spice from the ginger, the slight sweet lingering in your mouth from the jaggery and the tanginess from the tamarind. What can one say of the result ??? Heavenly!!!
There is really not a specific measurement – It depends on one`s own requirement of spice, heat and tanginess. These are my indicative measurements. Again, there are differences in the tamarind, chillies etc, so you would need to adjust the proportions accordingly.
1 1/2 cups of Tamarind Juice.
3 Tbsp of Chopped Ginger.
3 Tbsp finely chopped green chillis.
2 spoons of jaggery.
1 spoon of rice flour dissolved in 4 spoons of water.
Salt to taste.
Bengal Gram Dhal, Mustard & Curry Leaves.
In a kadai, add 4 spoons of gingely oil and when hot, add bengal gram, chopped ginger and chopped green chillis.
Allow it to fry in the oil well and then add the mustard and curry leaves.
Now add the tamarind juice, hing, salt and the required turmeric.
Mix well, add the jaggery and allow the gravy to simmer on medium flame for about 30 minutes or so.
At the end, add the rice flour dissolved in water to thicken the pulikachal in a “pachadi” consistency.
As an option, you could allow it to simmer for more time, until all the water evaporates and it gets in to a paste form. This will keep for many days in the refreigerator.
Brinjals are an all time favorite and render themselves to be cooked in a hundred different ways. It`s always been a pleasure for me to cook with good tender brinjals as they get done in minutes. I always pick up tender tiny brinjals from the Indian store or better still, use the Japanese Eggplant. You can make Yennai Kathirikkai, Kathirkkai Podimas, Brinjal Pepper Kuzhambu , Kathirikkai Curry with minimalistic masalas, vangibath, baingan bartha, baghara baingan, and Kathirikkai Poricha Kuzhambu. Each of them take a different taste because of the way they are concocted. My husband loves the way, brinjals are cooked slowly over a medium flame and slathered with the mix of roasted spices. It`s also a favorite among my friends and a regular addition to all potlucks and get-togethers.
Brinjals/Eggplant – Medium (10-12) or 1 Big Japanese Eggplant.
Mustard, Oil, Urad Dhal, Curry Leaves.
ROAST IN OIL:
Boiled Rice – 3 spoons
Bengal Gram – 2 spoons
Dhania – 1 spooon
Red Chillis – 4
Curry Leaves – 3-4
Hing – A pinch.
Chop the brinjals in to slightly longer pieces as they cook very fast and you dont want them to get mushy.
Slow roast the mentioned ingredients in a spoon of oil, allow to cool and grind them to coarse powder and set aside. You can proportionately increase the measurements two fold depending on the number of eggplants. Extra powder can always get stored in an air tight container doubly sealed with cling film to contain the freshness and aroma of the ground powder.
Pour 2 spoons of oil in a kadai, season with mustard , urad dhal and curry leaves and throw in the chopped brinjal pieces.
Add salt, turmeric and hing and cook on medium flame for about ten minutes till the brinjals are cooked well.
Switch off stove and add ground powder for flavouring.
Garnish with chopped cliantro and serve HOT with Lemon rasam or Spinach Morkuzhambu.
Spinach and other forms of greens have been an excellent source of vitamins and iron for the body. It is of no wonder that we discover novel methods of ingesting greens so that we can derive the intrinsic rich sources of vitamins for our benefit. This instant keerai masiyal is an express method of cooking and flavouring the greens so that a twist in the taste would make us feel we are eating a different vegetable in a different form.
Its also a quick addition to the regular vegetable everyday, specially for kids and toddlers, to be eaten along with their course. Traditionally, its made with “Ara Keerai” or Mola Keerai in our homes, but I use any green leafy vegetable that I have. Today I`ve used a combination of Spinach, collards and turnips.The variation in the taste is in fact, the effect of the seasoning.
Spinach/Collards/Turnip/Kale – 1/2 a packet or a bunch cleaned.
Coconut Oil, Mustard/Curry Leaves. Broken Urad Dhal, red chillis (3).
Take the washed and cleaned greens and pop in to a microwave safe dish and microwave on HIGH for 5 mins. Optionally, you could also sprinkle water and cook it on the oventop stove for 5 mins .
Do not allow the leaves to get bruised, but cook it only 60% or so.
Pulse the cooked and cooled greens along with salt in the mixer to a smooth paste. There is NO need to add water, as cooking itself brings out the inherent water in the leaves.
If you feel that there is still some raw smell of the greens, that is not agreeable, pop in in to the microwave for an extra 2 mins.
Warm a seasoning kadai on the stove and add 2 spoons of coconut oil.
When hot, add broken urad dhal, allow to slightly brown, red chillis, add mustard, hing, curry leaves and pour over the ground greens paste.
Serve as a side with rice, or over dhal rice, or as a course in itself to mix with rice.
Avial, a kerala dish, was always a favorite of mine. There are many different ways of making this simple dish, but I love the way my grandmother used to make it. She had no methods and proportions, but all her dishes would be extremely tasty and very well done. I dont ever remember even a single incident where she felt that her salt was more or less or the dish was not well done. Her cooking was perfected over years and years of practice. As I lived with her during my student years, I had learnt this dish from her first hand!! Traditionally, Avial is made either as a side in a slightly thick form, or as a “kuzhambu” form where its slightly more thinner.
Normally, Avial, is a choice when I see I have a lot of leftover vegetables at the end of the week. It could be made with a variety of gourds and roots so its pretty versatile. Typically, its made with ash gourd, yam, potatoes, drumstick, carrots and raw plantains and some times even mango! . I am posting this simple recipe for the benefit of all my friends who have been wanting to try this for a long long time. In Tamil Nadu, people pair “Avial” with “Adai” for a filling evening tiffin or dinner.
(ALL THE VEGETABLES HAVE TO BE CUT IN TO 1 INCH LONG PIECES)
Ash Gourd – 1/2 pound.
Yam – 1/4 pound
Raw Plantain – 1 Medium sized
Potatoes – 1 Big sized or 2 Medium Sized
Carrots – 1 Long
Long Eggplant – 1
Tamarind Water- 1/4 cup
Thick Yoghurt – 1/2 cup.
Coconut – 1/3 cup
Green Chillis – 6-7
Turmeric – A pinch.
Arrange the heavier root vegetables like the carrots, potatoes, yam and plantains at the bottom of the vessel, and the more lighter ones like the gourds and eggplant on the top.
Sprinkle salt and turmeric powder and pour the tamarind water over the veggies and allow to cook in the cooker for JUST ONE WHISTLE.
Do not overcook the vegetables as this would make them mushy.
Pulse the chillies and the coconut to a smooth paste.
Take a heavy bottomed vessel and move the cooked veggies to it.
Swich on the stove and add the ground coconut paste.
Stir in the paste carefully to avoid breaking the cooked vegetables.
After simmering for 5-6 mins, add the thick curds and salt.
Stir again to mix in the yoghurt, add curry leaves, 3-4 drops of coconut oil and switch off the stove.
Definitely an acquired taste, bitter gourd (Latin Momordica charantia) is also called Balsam pear or bitter melon. Young immature bitter gourds are the best for cooking: the skin is bright green in color, the flesh inside is white, and the seeds are small and tender.Bitter gourd contains vitamin A, B1, B2, and C. It also contains minerals like calcium, phosphorous, iron, copper and potassium.It helps purify blood tissue, enhances digestion, and stimulates the liver.
When I was a small girl, I used to watch my grandfather have his daily dose of this bitter vegetable and wonder why he would even want to try?? He was a diabetic, but a very strict person in his diet. You could not tempt him to eat anything that he did not want to. As a rule, there were no exclusions for any of us, kids to avoid any vegetables. No matter what is cooked, had to partaken by all of us. That way, I would also get a small dash of the pavakkai from my mami, as she had to play with the rules. Nevertheless, I knew she would just dollop a little as she knew how much I hated it. As days went by, I actually started liking this vegetable..Although Madurai appa left us in 1995, I still remember him everytime I eat this vegetable, in whatever form I make it.
Today as I had saved a little after making the Pavakka fry, I decided to make the Pitlae. I am guessing this is the “Pal Brahm” way of doing it, but I can never be too sure. It`s simple and easy and very good for health.
Bitter Gourd – 1/2 de-seeded and chopped.
Tamarind – 11/2 cups of juice extracted.
Toor Dhal – Cooked 1/4 cup
Turmeric – A pinch.
Salt, Hing, Curry Leaves
To Roast in Oil:
Bengal Gram – 2 spoons
Pepper – 8-10
Red Chillis – 3-4.
Coconut – 1/4 cup.
Take a kadai and pour a spoon of oil, when warm add mustard and allow to splutter.
Add curry leaves and immediately the chopped bitter-gourd and allow to saute for 3-4 mins.
We do this to get a better flavour as well as to slightly tone down the bitterness of the bitter-gourd.
Now add the extracted tamarind juice.
Add sufficient salt, hing, and turmeric and allow to boil on medium heat.
Roast the aforementioned ingredients in oil and grind to a smooth paste with water and set aside.
When the tamarind mixture along with the vegetable is reduced by 1/3`rd, and when you feel that the raw smell is done with, add the ground paste, along with the cooked toor dhal.
Stir well and allow to boil. Finally add curry leaves and a chopped cilantro.
Keerai Molagootalhas of course our “keerai” or spinach as the main ingredient. Spinach being known as a rich source of iron and calcium would figure in our menu at least twice a week. Whenever Amma used to make it she would be sure that there would be no problems as my sister and me loved it so much. Madurai amma would get the keerai from the vendor fresh that morning and she would not hear of me getting it ahead of time from the freezer in FoodWorld. She would take the previous week`s newspaper, spread it all over the dining table and painstakingly seperate the weeds from the “keerai” and then the next process would be to wash it in the huge collander.She would wash it and then hand it over to me to chop it roughly.as they were anyway getting ground. Here all I need to do is to open the box of Organic Baby Spinach leaves and hey pronto!!! We would do it in Madras with the “molai keerai” or the “are keerai”, but I replicate this recipe with collard greens. spinach or even broccolli. When I was pregnant with S, my amma and patti would make keerai for me almost every alternate day. But one never gets bored as there are so many sides to go with it!!!
Keerai Molagootal is best served with “Chenai Arachu Kalakki”, or Vendekkai Thayir Pachadi, or Vendekkai/Kathirikkai Puli Pachadi, or Kadu Manga Arachu Kalakki or Inji Pulikachal or plain Lemon Pickle!!! Its the most versatile, easy, delicious and satvik preparation of spinach. .In fact many of my non-tamil friends here swear by it.. Of course they have found a way to rehash it with lots more red chillis, buy hey…to each his own!!! Here is the recipe for you to try and relish.
Spinach – A bunch/A box. Can also use the aforementioned “keerais” or the collard greens too!)
Toor Dal – Cooked and mashed – 1/2 cup
Salt – To Taste.
Jeera – A spoon
Coconut – 5 Tbsps
Broken Urad Dhal – 2 Tsp
Red Chillis – 3 -4
Clean the spinach and cook in the microwave/stove with a few drops of water for 4 mins and grind to a fine paste.
Clean and cook the toor dhal so its mushy.
Roast the urad dhal and red chillis in a spoon of oil till the urad browns and set aside to cool.
Grind the urad dhal and red chilli with the coconut and jeera with a little water to a fine paste.
Take the kadai and simply pour the spinach paste, add salt and allow to cook.
Slowly stir in the ground coconut paste and mix well.
After a few minutes add the mushy toor dhal along with the water. Mix well now with a ladle and make sure that the whole mixture has a sambar like pouring consistency.
Season in a spoon of coconut oil (optional) with mustard and broken urad dhal.
Since there is a lot of caution on using coconuts, please feel free to vary this recipe by slightly increasing the toor dhal and reducing the coconut to that extent. The consistency has to be maintained as this is not as free flowing as rasam.