Monday, February 05, 2018

Muringakkai puli kuzhambu (Drumsticks cooked in a tangy tamarind base)

This is another simple, every day meal that we love. Most South Indians tend to love the tanginess that tamarind lends to any dish. I am no exception. Drumsticks grow in abundance in my parents' home. When I lived there, I couldn't care less for this vegetable. Now that I have access only to frozen drumsticks, and on rare occasions, fresh ones which don't match up to the robust flavor of home-grown Indian drumsticks. I miss those little things that I took for granted. This kuzhambu makes use of frozen drumsticks and frozen pearl onions which I buy as a matter of convenience, not non-availability of fresh ones. It is similar to vathal kuzhambu. The main difference between the two is that this one uses fresh vegetables whereas vathal kuzhambu makes use of sun dried vegetables and berries.
Do check out my earlier posts on vathal kuzhambu and the making of sundried sundakka vathal.

What you need:
Tamarind - Lemon sized ball soaked in enough hot water to yield two cups of extract
Oil (preferably sesame) - 2 tbsp.
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Urad dal - 1/2 tsp
Chana dal - 1/2 tsp
Methi seeds - 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves - a few
Pearl onions - 8-10
Drumsticks - 8-10 pieces if using frozen (2, chopped if using fresh)
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Sambar powder - 2 tsp
Asafoetida - a generous sprinkling

Heat oil in a kadai. Add the dals. When they start to redden, add mustard seeds, methi seeds and curry leaves. When the mustard pops, add pearl onions and saute till pink. Add tamarind extract, drumstick pieces, asafoetida, turmeric, salt and sambar powder. Stir well and let it come to a boil. Boil on low flame for a few minutes to allow the gravy to thicken. If you feel that it is too watery, it can be thickened by adding rice paste which is made by adding one teaspoon of rice flour to water to make a thick paste. This rice paste can be stirred into the kuzhambu, with constant stirring.
Serve the kuzhambu hot with rice and a dollop of ghee or sesame oil.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM

Saturday, February 03, 2018

Schezwan Vegetable fried rice

If you've been reading my blog for a while, then you know that I love recipes that are quick and easy to make. This Schezwan fried rice ticks both boxes. In addition, it is also colorful and loaded with vegetables. The one thing that does take time is making the Schezwan sauce. If you don't want to do that, you can use any brand of store bought Schezwan sauce. I have used homemade sauce, which I usually make in large quantities whenever I have the time, and store in the refrigerator. The sauce recipe will be shared in a different post.

What  you need:
Rice - 1 cup, cooked and completely cooled
Oil - 2 tbsp.
Ginger - 1 inch piece, julienned
Garlic - 4 cloves, minced
Onion - 1 small, chopped into thin, long pieces
Celery - 1 stalk, chopped fine
Vegetables - 3/4 cup (I used a combination of cabbage, carrot, beans and peas)
Soy sauce - 1 tbsp.
Schezwan sauce - 1 tbsp, heaped (Don't be tempted to use more, as the sauce is quite spicy)
Salt - to taste
Spring onion greens - to garnish
In a large pan or wok, heat oil. Add ginger and garlic. Saute for a few seconds. Add onion and continue to saute. Stir in celery, followed by the vegetables. Saute on high heat for a few minutes. Add soy sauce and schezwan sauce and mix well. Add in the cooked, cooled rice and salt to taste and stir to ensure that the sauce and vegetables mix well with the rice. Garnish with chopped spring onion greens.
This can be served as is or with any Indo-Chinese curry of your choice.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM

Friday, February 02, 2018

Pulingari - a tangy tamarind based gravy

When I chose the theme Gravies/Rice main course for the February blogging marathon, the first few dishes that I thought of are restaurant favorites - rich gravies and exotic rice dishes. However, what I often make and  what we truly enjoy is our simple, every day home cooking. This pulingari is an authentic Kerala Iyer recipe. Like all recipes from my home state of Kerala, this one too makes abundant use of fresh coconut which is ground along with some roast spices and added to vegetables cooked in tamarind.It is light and easy on the stomach, with no added lentils, and with an appealing tanginess that is balanced by the coconut masala paste. Pulingari literally mean a curry made of tamarind.  This is eaten with rice and a side of vegetables and papadam.

What you need:
Vegetables - 1/2 cup, diced (The commonly used vegetables for pulingari are pumpkin, ash gourd, brinjal, carrots, and colocasia. These vegetables can be used in combination or separately)
Tamarind - a lemon sized ball soaked in 2 cups of hot water
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Grated coconut - 1/2 cup

To roast:
Oil - 1 tsp
Red chilli - 3
Curry leaves - a sprig
Methi seeds - 1/4 tsp
Raw rice - 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida - a small piece (If you use powdered asafetida, add it after the flame is turned off)

Heat oil in a pan. Add red chillies, curry leaves, asafoetida and raw rice. Roast over a low flame. Add methi seeds and roast for just a few seconds, taking care to see that the seeds do not burn, as this will make the curry bitter. Once cool, grind this with the grated coconut, adding a little water to make a smooth paste. Set aside.

In the same pan, take the vegetables. Add tamarind extract, turmeric powder and salt. Boil partly covered until the vegetables are three-fourths cooked. Add the ground paste and let it boil again until the vegetables are well cooked. The curry should be of a pourable consistency. So if you feel it is too thick, add some more water and if you feel it is too thin, let it boil till the desired consistency is reached.
In a separate pan, heat a teaspoon of oil (preferably coconut oil). Add 1/2 tsp each of mustard seeds and urad dal. When the seeds pop, pour this over the pulingari. Top with a sprig of fresh curry leaves.
Serve hot with rice and a dollop of ghee.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Candied orange peels

One of the things that I am consciously trying to do these days is reduce the amount of waste that is produced by my household. Though I still have a long way to go to be zero waste, I am on the path towards this goal. To this end, I now take my own cloth shopping bags to the stores, use reusable storage bags to store fresh produce and am trying my best to avoid single use plastics. Most vegetable peels are turned into stock and I make my own household cleaner with citrus peels. This time, though, I tried something different with orange peels. I made candied orange peels. This is quite an easy recipe, though it requires a little bit of time. The candied peels add great flavor to simple bakes like breads and cakes.

To make candied orange peels, you will need:
Peels from 3 oranges (washed and sliced into thin, long strips)
Water - 1/2 cup
Sugar - 1/2 cup

Boil 7-8 cups of water in a large saucepan. When it starts to boil, add the orange peels and let it boil uncovered, for 5 minutes. Drain and repeat the process again. This is done to remove the bitterness of the peels. If the peels are very bitter, you can boil and drain the water thrice. The orange peels that I used this time were not very bitter and it was enough to boil them twice.
Heat half a cup of water in a pan. Add sugar to it. Once the sugar dissolves, add the orange peels and let them cook on low heat for 20-25 minutes. Remove the peels onto a cooling rack and leave them to dry overnight. If there is any sugar syrup left, you can use it in smoothies or juices. Store the peels in an airtight container.

Do check out what my fellow marathoners have cooked today for BM# 84.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Foxtail millet (thinai) kozhukattai

I've been experimenting with millets in my kitchen and am trying my hand at substituting millets for rice in most of my everyday recipes. One such recipe where foxtail millet worked out really well as a substitute is this kozhukattai. Foxtail millet, known as thinai in Tamil and thina in Malayalam is a widely used variety of millet in South India. In this dish, the millet is coarsely ground along with some spices and then cooked, shaped into balls and steamed. This makes for a hearty and nutritious tiffin.

What you need:
Foxtail millet - 1 cup
Tuar dal - 1 tsp, heaped
Black pepper corn - 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Oil - 3 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Urad dal - 1/2 tsp
Chana dal - 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves - a sprig
Red chilli - 2, broken into pieces
Grated coconut - 1/3 cup
Asafoetida - a few generous pinches
Water - 2 - 2.5 cups (Start with two cups and if you feel the mixture is too dry, add up to another half cup)
Salt - to taste

In a blender, coarsely grind the millet, dal, pepper and cumin.
In a large kadai, heat oil. Addd mustard seeds, urad and chana dal, curry leaves and red chilli. When the seeds pop, add asafoetida and coconut. Saute for a minute or two and then add water and salt. When the water starts to boil, add the ground millets, a little at a time, stirring to make sure that no lumps are formed. Stir and cook until all the moisture is absorbed. Let this mixture cool.
Once it is cool enough to touch, pinch out small lemon sized portions and shape into balls. Place this on a greased idli plate or steamer plate and steam for 8-10 minutes.
Serve hot with coconut chutney or any other chutney of your choice.

Do check out what my fellow marathoners have cooked today for BM# 84.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Ragi idli

When it comes to new year resolutions, I have finally realized that it is better I do not make any. Until a few years back, the first of January would see me ready to go to the gym or do yoga or some such thing. This enthusiasm would last, at best for about a week to ten days, after which it would fizzle out gradually. This year, I have no resolutions as such, but I do hope to include more millets, whole grains and natural foods in our diet. Blog wise too, I hope to do certain things, which you will read about in the course of the next three days when I will doing the Blogging Marathon under the theme New Year Challenge.
Ragi or finger millet is one of the millet varieties that I am most familiar with, given that it is the first solid food that I introduced my child to. Rich in nutrients, this millet is consumed in various forms - as a drink (ragi kanji/ragi malt), flatbread (ragi roti), dosa and idli. The recipe that I will be sharing today is an easy one for ragi idli.

What you need:
Urad dal - 1 cup
Methi seeds - 1 tsp
Idli rice - 3 cups
Ragi flour - 1 cup
Salt - to taste

Wash well and soak the rice and dal separately in plenty of water. Soak the methi seeds along with the dal. In a grinder, first grind the urad dal, adding water, a little at a time, until the dal turns light and fluffy(approximately 25-30 minutes). Add the rice to it and grind again until the grains are well ground and the batter is smooth. Add water, as necessary, to give the batter a thick, pourable consistency. Add salt and ragi flour. Grind for a few minutes so that everything gets mixed together well.
Pour into a large bowl, making sure that there is plenty of place for the batter to ferment and rise in the bowl. Cover and leave in a warm place to ferment overnight.

To make idlis:
Grease idli plates. Heat water in the idli steamer. Pour the batter into the idli plates and steam for 8-10 minutes. Let cool for a minute or two and then remove the idlis from the idli plate.
Serve hot with chutney and sambar.

Do check out what my fellow marathoners have cooked today for BM# 84.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Love letter - my favorite hostel snack

Like all hostels, the one I lived in when I went to college was not known for the food it served. In fact, there were some dishes that were downright unpalatable. However, given the fact that we were young and almost always ready to eat, we polished off pretty much everything that was served in the mess hall, no matter how it tasted. One of the things that I really looked forward to is a snack that the chechis in the mess made in the evening. Popularly known as "love letter", possibly due to the fact that it has something sweet rolled into it, I am not sure if this dish has a different name.

What you need:
All purpose flour - 1 cup
Salt - a pinch
Mix the ingredients to a smooth batter of pourable consistency.

For the filling:
Grated fresh coconut - 1/4 cup
Sugar - 2 tbsp
Cardamom powder - a pinch
Mix the ingredients together in a small bowl.

To make:
Heat a dosa tawa. Pour a ladleful of the batter and spread it into a circle. When you see bubbles beginning to appear, flip over and cook until there are brown spots on both sides. Place some filling inside and roll tightly.
Serve hot.

Do check out what my fellow marathoners have cooked today for BM# 84.