No Need of Onions!!! · Sambar / Rasam / Kuzhambu Varieties.

Tangy Tomatillo Lemon Rasam.

Tangy Tomatillo Lemon Rasam.
Tangy Tomatillo Lemon Rasam.

Cold weather and rains always make me remember Comfort Foods….Foods that have been a part of our growing up, something that I always took for granted for a long long time. When I went to stay in the hostel for my Masters, I realised the warmth and love that goes in to the food our moms make for us. Nothing that I can have in restaurants can even come close to the lingering fragrance and warmth from food cooked at home with loving hands.

After a festival or function,we would crave for amma`s home made simple pathyam food to cleanse our systems.  I always loved her simple lemon rasam with Beans Curry or Chow Chow Kootu and Appalam. I am not so happy with the tomatoes here in the U.S, as I feel they lack tartness and tang. Yesterday when I saw tomatillos at the local produce store, I bought a pound or two, all the while imaging endless possibilities. Tomatillos can be stored in paper bags and kept in the refridgerator for around 2-3 weeks. The tomatillos have a protective outside husk. Remove the husk and wash before use. Tomatillos are used in many places in teh treatment of fever. I had to make this lemon rasam today, as its been pouring since morning and I suddenly yearned for amma`s cooking…

Tomatillos with husks...
Tomatillos with husks...Pic Courtesy Gourmetsleuth.com

INGREDIENTS:

2 tomatillos.

2 green chillies slit vertically.

2 red chillies.

2 1/2  cups of water

4 spoons of cooked toor dhal.

Hing

Curry Leaves.

1/2 Lemon.

Salt

Cilantro to Garnish.

PREPARATION:

  • Chop the tomatillos in to little pieces so it saves cooking time. Dilute the cooked toor dhal in the 2 1/2 cups of water and set aside.
  • In a kadai, add a spoon of ghee and when it is hot, add mustard. When the mustard splutters, add hing, curry leaves, red chillies, slit green chillies, and finally the chopped tomatillos.
  • Allow to saute for a few minutes till the tomatillos are a little mushy.
  • Add 1 cup  of the dhal water at this stage and allow to simmer. Add salt, hing if required and  turmeric.
  • After about ten  minutes, remove in a spoon, a few cooked pieces of tomatillos and crush them with a spoon in a cup. Add the remaining 1 1/2 cups of toor dhal water to the crushed tomatillos and pour it all back in to the kadai.
  • Allow the whole rasam to simmer and then switch off in about 15 minutes or so.
  • After the rasam has cooled down a bit,  squeeze the juice from the lemon and keep closed.
  • Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with Beans Poriyal or Pumpkin Poricha Kootu.

NOTES:

The same rasam can be made with regular tomatoes too, but since the tartness is a lot lesser, I add a piece of tamarind to the dal water as it cooks.

Pickles & Thokku.

Sweet ‘N’ Sour Lemon Pickle.

Sweet `N` Sour Lemon Pickle.
Sweet `N` Sour Lemon Pickle.

This could hardly be called a pickle….its a pickle in the sense of the term that the lemons are preserved in brine or pickling liquid. It`s one that I gew up having. Whenver I felt nauseous, or on one of those days when you want to have easy simple lip smacking stuff, this pickle would alwas accompany my curd rice. It`s very easy and has many versions. This is my favourite version of the same. It`s one where there are no actual fixed measurements – Madurai amma would always use her hands and her measurements always came out perfect.

INGREDIENTS:

5 fresh lemons.

4  spoons of salt.

4  spoons of sugar.

2 spoons of raw jeera.

PREPARATION:

  • Wash all the lemons and dry them with a soft tissue.
  • Slice all the lemons in to cross sectional circles. Keep the slices as slim as possible.

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  • Place them in a porcelain or corelle bowl which has a wide mouth. Save all the juice from the lemons as well as from the ends of the lemon.
  • Add the 4 spoons of salt and sugar and the jeera.
  • Mix carefully so that the lemons do not break. Keep closed and allow 2-3 days for the salt and sugar to soak in.
  • Taste and you should feel the salt and the sweetness from the sugar exploding in your mouth. Adjust by adding more salt or sugar if  you want.
  • Eat with curd rice or mix a little with diluted buttermilk and drink on those days when you have a tummy ache or an upset stomach!
  • Your kids will love this one!!!
Fresh juicy lemons - Always a favourite!!!
Fresh juicy lemons - Always a favourite!!!
Brisk Breakfast · Kid Friendly Recipes. · Snacks & Tiffin Items

Quick Mango Lemon Sevai – Rice sticks flavoured with mango & lemon with temperings.

Quick Mango Lemon Sevai
Quick Mango Lemon Sevai

Rice sticks are definitely a quick and easy substitution for its fresher variant we do back home – “Sevai”….Sevai is when grind rice that has been soaked, cook it over a stove top to make it thicker, shape it in to dumplings and steam them in the cooker and then extrude the cooked rice dumplings in the form of noodles with the help of a press. This is then flavoured with lemon, tomato, pulikachal (tamarind paste), coconut or some times eaten as they are!!! Many of us, when we were kids, liked the unprocessed sevai, smelling of a trace of hing, and coconut oil….YUM!!!

When I was a school kid, sevai was an elaborate event planned for every alternate saturday afternoons. Madurai amma would supervise the grinding of the rice batter by my mami and amma would chip in, after half day`s work at the bank, by cooking the 4 cups of rice batter on the stove top. We lived in a lovely large joint family of 8, so there would definitely be no holds barred. Then all the children of the family would be called for shaping the cooked balls in to rough round dumplings to steam in the cooker in multiple rounds. THEN, all of us would take turns in extruding the sevai from the iron press – This was one with a huge tripod stand, and a big receptacle for the dumpling to sit in and a large handle to push in the press, to extrude out the steaming hot sevai. This pressing would have to be finished when the dumplings are still hot, so Madurai amma would be watchfully overseeing us, to make sure that there is no small talk in the middle of the proceedings! Then she would divide them in to 4 portions – The bigger portion would be for the spicy tamarind sevai, one portion for the lemon sevai,  one for the coconut sevai and the plain tiny portion for my little baby cousin!!!  The fruit of the 3 hours labour would vanish when we all sit down and partake of  our favourite sevai for tiffin as well as for dinner!!!

When my daughter S, visited Madras last year, and we were all helping out with the usual Sevai routine, she was thrilled to see white steaming noodle ribbons getting pressed out and she exclaimed in glee!!! Madurai amma happily doled out a huge portion to her which she ate in minutes with hundreds of tiny pieces strewn on the dining table, expectantly asking for more…S loved it so much, she offered to press the sevai to help us with it…Madurai amma was proud of her great grand-daughter…She had dutifully wanted to chip in to the family tradition!!!

Knowing that my daughter loves Sevai,  I can only give in to her request, which are pretty much last minute, by using 777 Dhideer Sevai or Rice Sticks that are available in the Asian Grocers. Both have to be cooked in boiling water for 5 mins, but I indulge by adding a few drops of coconut oil, so that the rice sticks are fragrant and dont stick to one another. Once they are cooked, drain them on to a collander, and allow to stay for ten minutes. Take the precaution to  keep the collander closed so that the rice sticks are not robbed of their moisture.

Today, I wanted to try lemon sevai, but decided to add Mango also to it….My friend Rekha, had once made Mango Rice and so I adapted it to suit my daughter`s palate!!! This is an excellent dish to take when you have long drives ahead of you. Easy to eat, as its non-fussy, very tasty and requires minimal time in the kitchen!! Also great for potlucks and parties and kids always love them!!!

INGREDIENTS:

1 pack of rice sticks.

1 Mango freshly grated.

Juice from 1/2  lemon.

Turmeric Powder.

1 Onion chopped.

Salt to taste.

2 Green Chillis chopped.

Cilantro to garnish.

Seasoning:

Oil. Mustard, Channa Dal, Curry Leaves, peanuts.

PREPARATION:

  • Take a wide mouthed kadai and add 3 spoons of oil. When warm, add mustard, bengal gram, peanuts, green chillis and curry leaves in that order.
  • When the mustard splutters and the dals are a little brown, add the chopped onions and saute well till they are pinkish brown.
  • Add turmeric and salt and grated mango and simmer the stove to very low.
  • Mix in all the ingredients carefully so as not to break the soft grated mango pieces.
  • Swirl in the cooked rice sticks and mix well with the cooked ingredients after adding adequate salt.
  • Finally squeeze juice from half a lemon and garnish with chopped corriander leaves.
  • You can also serve HOT with coconut flakes garnish.

This delicious tangy Mango Sevai makes an excellent easy Breakfast to be sent to Divya`s Show Me Your Breakfast.