Thursday, September 25, 2008


This is among many items in the drafts folder for the last 1-2 weeks. Picked this one to post today. I usually keep boiled rajma, channa or peas in the fridge regularly, for quick-fix meal days. So, one wednesday I made rajma & we ate it up alsmost immediately. As we were very hungry, I didn't take a picture. Here's the recipe.

Rajma - 1 cup
Tomato - 2 medium
Onion - 1 large
Ginger paste - 1 tsp
Garlic paste - 1 tsp
Punjabi channa masala - 1 tsp
Garam Masala - 1 tsp
Cumin powder - 1 tsp
Coriander powder - 1 tsp
Coriander leaves to garnish
Salt to taste

Soak rajma overnight in about 3-4 cups of water
Drain and wash rajma
Pressure cook with a little salt for 3 whistles & keep aside
Chop onion & tomato
Heat oil in a skillet, saute ginger & garlic pastes for a minute
Add onion, saute till it starts browning
Sprinkle on all the spice powders, saute for 1-2 minutes
Add tomato, saute till it is cooked
Add cooked rajma
Adjust salt
Sprinkle a handful of water if required
Garnish with finely chopped coriander leaves
Serve with chhapathi or rice

We had the rajma with plain brown rice and also with yoghurt & rice (curd rice). It was delicious. If the rajma is already cooked, this dish can be cooked up in 10-15 minutes.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Aloo Gobi / Potato Cauliflower

This is among P's favourite dishes. Actually he likes most things made with saunf (fennel). While grocery shopping the other night, I saw fresh cauliflowers and decided to make this for him.

Potato - 2-3 medium
Onion - 1 medium
Cauliflower - 1 large
Green chili - 1
Turmeric - 1 pinch
Hing - 1 big pinch
Fennel - 1 tsp
Mustard - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - 1 stalk
Coriander - a little
Punjabi Channa Masala - 1 tsp (can use garam masala instead)
Salt to taste

Wash and cut potatoes into cubes. Put in a microwave-safe bowl, add enough water & salt. Cook for 3 mins & then another 2 mins. If potatoes are not soft to the touch yet, cook another 2-3 mins or as needed.
Wash and cut cauliflower into medium sized florets. Throw away the thick stems. Boil water in a saucepan, add the florets, salt and turmeric. Cook till the florets are done. 3-5 mins.
Chop onion, curry leaves & coriander, slit the green chili lengthwise
Heat oil in a skillet, splutter mustard and fennel, add curry leaves and green chili, saute for a minute
Add onion, saute till it starts browning, add punjabi channa masala (or garam masala) and saute till the raw-powder-smell is gone
Drain water from potato & cauliflower
Add cooked potato & cauliflower to the skillet.
Toss well, add salt if required.
Garnish with chopped coriander.
Serve with chhapathi or rice.

I usually add the required salt to the cauliflower and potato while cooking. This makes sure that the dish is evenly salty. This is a very easy to make dish and can be cooked in about 20 minutes.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Oats Upma

My sister told me that she had made upma with oats & it was really tasty. I have been thinking of making it myself, since I saw the recipe here. So the next day I went shopping and bought a box of Quaker Old Fashioned Oats. I followed Suganya's recipe for the basics & the rest I did what I usually do, tossed in ingredients that I thought would go with the dish.

Old-fashioned Oats - 1 cup
Water - 1.5 cups
Onion - 1 medium
Tomato - 1 large
Carrot - 1/2 cup
Green Peas - 1/2 cup
Peanuts - 1/4 cup
Green chili - 1 large
Mustard - 1 tsp
Cumin - 1 tsp
Channa dal - 1 tsp
Urad dal - 1 tsp
Hing - 1 big pinch
Garam Masala powder - 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Oil or Ghee

Dice onion, tomato & carrot, slit chili lengthwise
Heat oil in a skillet, splutter mustard & jeera, add channa & urad dals, saute till dals turn brown
Add hing & green chili, saute for a minute
Add onion, saute till it turns transparent, then add other vegetables & peanuts
Saute for a few minutes
Add garam masala and saute till the raw-powder-smell is gone
Pour water and bring to a boil
Add salt
Add oats and stir well.
Cook on low-flame for 10-15 minutes, or till the oats are cooked
Serve with yoghurt

I made this upma with ghee instead of oil, however that is because upma is not my most favourite food! Ghee does give it a nice flavor, but I am sure this upma tastes just as great made with oil.

The oats were nice & chewy and the peanuts & dals gave a nice crunch to the dish. Me, a person not known for her like of upma, loved this dish. Oats Upma will now be a regular in my kitchen!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sprouted Fenugreek (Methi) Rice

The spice for this month's Think Spice event is Fenugreek / Methi. I use this all the time in my cooking, but I couldn't think of a dish where this was the key ingredient. Now what, I wonder? Along comes P and says, "Hey, I wonder if those methi seeds will sprout!" Ah ha... inspiration! I soaked the methi for a day, and then kept them covered in the pantry for another day and there I had it - sprouted methi!!!

We both loved the taste of the sprouted methi - it wasn't bitter, was crunchy and slightly bitter-sweet. Lovely!! I wanted to make something that will only have the taste of these sprouts. Read on for the recipe.

Brown basmati rice - 1 cup
Water - 2 cups
Sprouted methi - 1/4 cup
Raw mango, chopped - 2 tbsps
Black eye beans - 2 tbsps (optional)
Green chili, slit lengthwise - 1
Coriander - 2 tbsps
Jeera / Cumin - 1/4 tsp
Mustard - 1/4 tsp
Hing - 1 pinch
Oil - 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste

Cook brown rice in a pressure cooker with the water
Soak blackeye beans for an hour, wash & drain water, microwave for 5 mins, keep aside
Heat oil in a skillet, add mustard & jeera - let them splutter
Add hing and green chili, saute till white spots appear on the chili
Add blackeye beans & raw mango, saute for 2-3 mins
Toss in the sprouted methi / fenugreek
Add salt, toss well
Add rice & coriander, mix well

I used a little more water than I shud have with the brown rice. It tasted quite alright though. Vary water to suit your rice. Blackeye beans just happened to be in the fridge, so I tossed them in for the texture, it is not necessary at all for the dish.

Sending this off to Kittie at Kittens in the Kitchen for the Think Spice Think Fenugreek event.
This will also be my third entry to the JFI: Whole Grains event, hosted by Suganya of Tasty Palettes.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Raagi Adai / Finger Millet Patty

I was looking for something to make with raagi when my mother gave me a recipe. She'd seen it on a tv cooking show. I took the main ingredients of this recipe & added a lot of other stuff to it to make it mine. With no further ado, here's the recipe. I was in a hurry when I made this dish, so I used store-bought ginger, garlic & tamarind (not tamaring concentrate) pastes.

Raagi flour - 1.5 cups
Blackeye Beans (Vella Kaaramani) - 1 large handful
Green chili, finely chopped - 1
Ginger - 1/4 tsp
Garlic - 1/4 tsp
Tamarind - 1 tsp
Jaggery - 2 tbsps
Hot water to make dough
Salt to taste

Soak blackeye beans for about 30 mins. Wash & drain water. Microwave (loosely covered) with a few spoons of water for 3-5 minutes. Drain water & keep aside. The beans should be partially cooked, not too soft or too hard.
Mix raagi flour, tamarind, ginger & garlic pastes, green chili, jaggery and salt in a mixing bowl.
Heat some water - not very hot, just bearable hot.
Add water as required to the raagi mixture and knead into a smooth dough.
Add cooked blackeye beans. Knead well.
Pat into discs and steam for 8 -10 minutes.

I used my idli plates to make these patties. The blackeye beans were a little hard and that gave a nice texture. Microwaves vary, so cook the beans for as long or as less as needed - they shouldn't be fully cooked, as they cook further while steaming.

There are at least 2 whole grains events going on right now in foodie blogosphere. Sending this dish off to both.

Suganya of Tasty Palettes is hosting JFI - Whole Grains. Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen is hosting WBB - Grains in my Breakfast, an event originally started by Nandita of Saffron Trail.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Dum Biryani

After 2 days of I-don't-feel-like-cooking, today I was eager to cook. I haven't made this dish after moving here - 6-8 months now. I got this recipe from a friend and augmented with further internet research. So, what I serve up here is a combination of my friends recipes and suggestions picked from the internet. As I don't remember the details of the sites, am sorry can't provide the links.

P loves dum biryani, and he's asked me many a time to make it. But I always hesitated. Seemed too big a project for just 2 people. First time I made it was for a diwali pot-luck in Tokyo. I decided to do a trial run the weekend before, just to be sure - making for the first time and all that. Friends of ours - husband & wife - were the official tasters. Needless to say I was nervous. Had also made a salan that time.

So, our friends came home and the first thing that he said - "Wow, smells good! But this is too much food! This is enough for 7-8 people." He he he ... By the time the night was over, the biryani & salan were both wiped clean!!! And so was the mango kulfi that she had made. That was one of the most memorable meals :) Total nawabi dinner it was!!!

Alright, now for the recipe. Dum biryani is traditionally made in layers - rice, vegetable & garnish. So, it is as simple as that!! First off, it is not that difficult to make, you just need to be a little patient. Yes, the ingredients list seems endless, the recipe seems to go on forever, but hey, you'll realize it is worth the effort when you get your first taste. Maybe even before, when you get that first whiff of it cooking.

Rice Layer
Brown basmati rice - 2 cups
Water - 5 cups
Salt to taste (only for rice)
Star Anise - 5-6
Black Cardamom - 4-5
Mace - 4-5
Nutmeg - 1 whole crushed
Cinnamon - 1.5 - 2 sticks
Cloves - 3/4 tbsp
Black Pepper - 1 tbsp
Fennel - 1 tbsp
Shahi Jeera - 1/2 tbsp
Nigella - 1/4 tbsp
Ghee - 2 tbsps

Aroma Milk
Milk - 1/2 cup
Green Cardamom Powder - 1/2 tsp
Saffron - 1 big pinch
Rose essence - 1/2 tsp
Kewra essence - 1/2 tsp

Vegetable Layer
Potato - 1 large, diced
Carrot - 1 large, diced
Cauliflower - 1 cup
Peas - 1 cup
Onion - 1 large
Cottage Cheese - 12 -15 1/2 inch pieces fried to a golden brown (optional)
Ginger - 1-1.5 tbsp, minced
Garlic - 1-1.5 tbsp, minced
Green chili - 1 tbsp, minced
Yoghurt - 1 cup
Water - 1 cup
Chili powder - 1/2 tbsp
Cumin powder - 1/2 tbsp
Coriander powder - 1/2 tbsp
Turmeric Powder - 1/2 tsp
Kasuri Methi Powder - 2 tsps
Salt to taste (only for veggies)
Ghee - 2 tbsps

Onion - 1 large, sliced to 1inch pieces
Cashew - 2 tbsps
Raisins - 2 tbsps
Almond Slivers - 2 tbsps
Coriander - 3 tbsps, finely chopped
Mint - 3 tbsps, finely chopped
Ghee - 2 tbsps

Wash and soak rice for 15-20 mins.
Chop all required veggies and keep them separately
Drain water completely from the rice and spread out to dry on some paper towels

Rice Layer
Heat the water in a pan, add all the spices (for rice layer), cover & simmer. Let it steep for 20-25 minutes, then switch off stove, add salt & keep covered.
Heat ghee in a heavy-bottomed skillet.
Add rice and saute for a few minutes, till the rice changes colour. Take care not to fry the rice too much. We need soft, yet separate grains of rice for the biryani, if over fried, the rice gets too crisp, we don't want that.
Strain 4 cups of water into the rice (keep 1 cup water aside for later), cover & simmer.
Cook covered till almost all the water is absorbed. The rice should be a little crunchy now.

Vegetable Layer
Heat ghee in a heavy-bottomed skillet, add the onions and saute till it becomes transparent
Keep heat medium to avoid burning the veggies / spices. This layer needs to cook slowly.
Add ginger, garlic, chilies, jeera, dhanya & turmeric powders, saute 2-3 taking care not to burn the spices
Toss in potatoes, saute till they turn brown.
Throw in carrots, keep sauteing
Add peas, cauliflower, & cottage cheese
Pour in yoghurt & water
Sprinkle on chili powder & salt
Cover and cook for 2-3 mins
Toss well and remove from heat.
Keep aside. The veggie layer should be moist, but have no gravy.

Garnish Layer
Heat ghee in a heavy-bottomed skillet
Fry onions, cashews, raisins & slivered almonds separately.
Keep aside separately

Now all the layers are ready and the biryani can be put together. The first and last layers are always rice.

Take an oven-safe dish.
Put a layer of rice at the bottom
Add a ladleful of spice water in a circle
Add a ladleful of aroma milk in a circle
Spoon in a layer of veggies
Sprinkle some chopped coriander and mint leaves over the veggies
Throw some fried onions over the leaves
Top off with a layer of cashews, raisins & slivered almonds
Finish with a layer of rice
Repeat steps as needed.
Add spice water & aroma milk only for the top & bottom layers of rice.
Keep aside some nuts, onions and coriander & mint leaves to garnish top of biryani

Pre-heat oven to 410 degrees F
Seal the assembled biryani with foil, cover & place in oven
Bake for 15 -20 minutes
Reduce oven temp to 280 degrees F
Bake for 15-20 minutes

Do the baking an hour or so before serving the dish. Kept in the oven too long, the rice gets too crisp - not nice! They say the true test for biryani is, when put on a plate, each grain of rice should be separate without any lumps.

Cooking time for rice varies and so does the required water. Vary both to suit your rice, remember to make 1 cup extra spice water than required to cook the rice. Spices can also be varied, though I don't recommend it. This is the first time I made biryani with brown basmati, usually make it with white basmati. I recommend the brown, it has a lot more texture & flavor.

I am sending this veg biryani to Zaiqa who is hosting RCI:Authentic Hyderabadi Cuisine.

Also to Suganya of Tasty Palettes who is hosting this month's JFI:Whole Grains.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


A long long time ago, I used to eat a different kind of salad everyday. Not so long ago, just about 2 years back. Time is very relative, isn't it? This one is for my sister. She was asking me if I knew how to make this, so G this one is for you.

I've had kosambari at various occasions. And every time I had the dish, I'd want to make it, but I never did. After all, this does seem like the indian version of the salad. This dish requires no cooking, and apart from the soaking, takes only about 5-10 minutes to make.

Kosambari can be made with any lentil. Sometimes it is garnished with mustard & curry leaves too. I prefer this fresh version. Makes a colourful picture, doesn't it?

Yellow Moong dal - 1 cup
Cucumber - 1 medium
Tomato - 1 large
Carrot - 1 medium
Onion - 3-4 tbsps
Coriander - 4-5 sprigs
Lemon juice - 1/2 large
Chili powder - 1 tsp or to taste
Salt - to taste

Soak moong dal for about an hour
Chop cucumber, onion, tomato & carrot into small pieces
Finely chop the coriander
Squeeze juice from lemon into a small dish, stir in the salt & chili powder
Wash moong & drain water completely, and microwave for 1-2 minutes
Add chopped veggies, coriander & lemon juice
Toss well & serve

Finely chopped fresh green chilies can be used. As I don't like biting into a chili in my salad, used chili powder. After an hour of soaking, the moong was still rather hard, so I put it in the microwave for a minute or so to soften it a little. It was still crunchy. Don't do this unless required.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Bread Upma

The trend continues - I still don't feel like cooking. And right now, I don't feel very talkative either, so will cut right to the chase, so to speak. The first time I had this dish, was when gran mom was visiting, and she made it. I remember our dogs sitting around the table & begging for pieces, while I cut up the bread - cute dogs they are too! Hmmm, those were the carefree days of youth - no responsibilities, no family to care for, someone else to take care of the basic necessities - like cooking. Nostalgia - okie this is going nowhere, didn't I say I wasn't feeling very talkative? Gosh! I wish I am back home.... Alright, that's enough, get on with it now! Well, it was all that reminiscing that made me prompted me to make bread upma - so just sharing my thoughts with you all.

Sour dough bread (store bought) - 12 -15 slices
Onion - 1 large
Curry leaves - 2 large stalks
Mustard - 1 tsp
Jeera - 1 tsp
Red chili - 1-3
Channa dal - 1-2 tbsp
Tomato Ketchup - 1 tbsp
Water - 1 tbsp
Salt to taste
Oil - 1 tsp

Chop onion & curry leaves
Cut bread slices into bite sized pieces
Heat oil in a wide / large skillet, splutter mustard, add jeera, red chillies, chana dal & curry leaves, saute for a minute
Add onion and saute till it starts browning
Mix tomato ketchup, water & salt, add to onions, saute another 20-30 secs
Put in the bread, stir well to spread the garnish across the bread
Keep stirring till the bread pieces become a nice golden brown.
Serve it up!

I started making this in a large deep skillet & then it was difficult to toss the bread, so transferred to a wok. Take care not to use too much water, else the bread gets soggy / soft. The sourdough gives a very nice flavour to this bread.

Banana Coffee Smoothie / Shake

Today was one of those days - I just didn't feel like cooking!! Yes, yes... that's right - I, like every other person who enjoys cooking, occasionally bump into these days, when the kitchen seems abhorrent!!! Today was one of those days!! Having just returned from San Fran, there weren't any left-overs in the fridge either... Hmm... so had to make something quick & filling. Saw the bananas and plain soy milk - ah ha.... a shake / smoothie!!! I added a little something to spike the taste!!!

Banana - 2
Plain Soy Milk - 1.5 cups
Jaggery 2-3 tbsps
Kahlua - 2 tbsps

Break the banana into big chunks in a blender, add the soy milk & jaggery
Blend till the banana grinds completely.
Add the kahlua, pulse 1-2 times to create some froth.
Pour & enjoy!

Don't have kahlua - use 1-2 tsps of instant coffee powder - depending on how strong it is. I didn't add any ice to the drink as the soy milk was cold. Add a few cubes if your blender can crush ice.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Tomato Soup

I make this soup often. Both P & I love it. It is also very easy to make and quite healthy too. So, a super-duper dish, in my opinion.

Tomatoes - 4-6 large
Onion - 1/2 large
Carrot - 1 large
Beetroot - 1/2
Celery - 2-3 stalks
Garlic - 2-3 cloves
Ginger - 1 inch
Pepper - 15-20
Cinnamon - 1 inch
Cloves - 8-10
Curry leaves - leaves from 1 big stalk
Jeera - 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste

Chop vegetables, celery, ginger & garlic into medium pieces
Toss in the spices & curry leaves
Pressure cook for 4-5 whistles
Grind, sieve, add salt, boil & serve

That's really it. I usually put the spices in a small colander and then pressure cook. This makes it easy to remove the spices. Once spices are removed, this soup doesn't need to be sieved.

This soup is off to Simple Indian Food hosting the WYF - Soup / Starter / Salad event.

Methi Dal

Having claimed that this blog is about fragrances across the world, you must be wondering why there are only indian dishes here - and that too the day-to-day easy peasy everyone knows the recipe dishes. Well, the thing is till just about before I created this blog, I was cooking a variety of international cuisines. Now I am out of that phase & totally into indian cooking. Oh... yes, I'll go back and make / bake something outside of indian sometime - I just don't know when that shall be!

In keeping with what I've been doing, made this methi dal today. Thought I could submit it for the Think Spice - Think Fenugreek event over at Kitties's, however, I can't use fresh methi leaves for the event! But I do like the flavor of the fresh leaves & particularly this dal.

Fresh Methi leaves - 2 bunches
Moong Dal - 1.5 cups
Amchur - 1 big piece (optional)
Kokum - 2 pieces (optional)
Turmeric - 1 big pinch
Garlic - 3 - 4 cloves
Ginger - 2 inches
Green chili - 1 large
Ghee / oil - 1-2 tsp
Curry leaves - 1 large stalk
Hing - 1 big pinch
Mustard - 1 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Lemon juice - 1 tbsp (optional)

Wash moong dal & pressure cook for 3-4 whistles along with amchur, kokum & turmeric
Pluck out only the leaves from the methi stalks, wash & keep aside
Mince ginger & garlic, slit green chili lengthwise
Heat ghee / oil in a skillet
Splutter mustard and jeera
Throw in the curry leaves, saute 20 -30 secs
Add ginger, garlic, green chili & hing, saute till garlic turns brown
Toss in the methi leaves, saute another minute
Mash together moong dal, kokum & amchur, add 1 cup water
Pour mashed dal into the skillet
Add salt to taste
Simmer and bring to a boil & it is done!

If you are not using the kokum & amchur, add the lemon juice to the dal just before you serve and mix well. Make sure the dal is not very hot before you add the lemon juice - else it leaves a bitter flavor. While mashing the kokum, remove seeds if any. Once you combine the dal with the methi, if it is too thick, add water to get your preferred consistency.

This dish is off to the Herb Mania - Fenugreek event hosted by Red Chillies.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Steamed Plantain

Nendhrampazham or plantains as they are called here, is a kerala speciality. This fruit is used to make chips, bajjis and also eaten steamed. I am sure that there are many many dishes made out of this fruit, these are the few I can recall just now. The nendrampazham is very tasty to eat as is too. Steamed nendhrampazham is something I've enjoyed from when I was very young.

I have bought this fruit at times from indian grocery stores, and was delighted to find it in the local grocery. Though it is from Mexico, it tastes quite similar to the kerala fruits.

Plantains - 2-3
Jaggery - 3-4 tbsps

Cut each plantain into 3-4 pieces
Place in a wide heavy bottomed skillet
Sprinkle jaggery over the plantains
Add just enough water to cover the fruits
Cover and steam for about 15-20 minutes or till done.
Serve hot with papadums

Add a dash of cardamom to the fruits while steaming for additional flavor. The jaggery can be varied to suit individual tastes.

C-O-T Subzi

Wondering what that name is? Just capsicum (bell peppers), onion & tomato subzi. My mother makes this and I love having it with chhapathi or with curd (yoghurt) rice. Every once in a while, I make this for myself. It is very easy to make and cooks real quick too. So, all you office-goers can make this in a jiffy!!!

Green Capsicum (Bell Pepper) - 1 large
Onion - 1/2 large
Tomato - 2 large
Ginger - 1/4 inch or 1/2 tsp paste
Garlic - 2 cloves or 1/2 tsp paste
Green chilies - 1-2
Jeera (Cumin) powder - 1/2 tsp
Dhanya (Coriander) powder - 1/2 tsp
Oil - 1 tsp
Salt to taste

Chop capsicum, onion & tomato. Mince ginger & garlic, if using fresh. Slit green chilies lengthwise
Heat oil in a skillet and saute ginger, garlic and green chillies till garlic starts browning
Add onions and saute till they become transparent
Toss in capsicum, saute till it is half cooked
Add tomatoes, saute and cook till they become soft
Sprinkle jeera & dhanya powders and salt, saute another minute.
Remove from stove.

This dish is very easy to make. It is a mixture of flavors - a little sweet & a little spicy & a little crunchy too. Serve with chhapathi, plain rice or curd (yoghurt) rice.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Dal Tadka

Dal tadka is something very easy to make, and very delicious too. This is something that P enjoys and I make often. Posting this recipe for some 'bachelor' friends.

Toor Dal - 1.5 cup
Tomato - 3
Onion - 1
Ginger - 1 inch
Garlic - 2-3 cloves
Green Chilies - 1-2
Curry Leaves - 1 big stalk
Coriander - 2 sprigs
Kashmiri red chillies - 1-2 (optional)
Saunf - 1 tsp
Mustard - 1/2 tsp
Pepper - 6-8
Cloves - 3-4
Kokam - 1 piece (optional) / lemon juice - 1 tsp
Ghee - 2 tsp
Salt to taste

Wash toor dal (with just enough water to cover the dal) & pressure cook (3-4 whistles) with kokam (if using).
Mince ginger & garlic. Slit green chillies length-wise. Chop onion & tomato.
Heat ghee in a skillet, add mustard, saunf - let it splutter.
Add pepper, cloves & kashmiri red chilies. Saute for a minute.
Throw in the curry leaves & saute for another minute.
Add ginger, garlic & green chilies. Saute another minute.
Toss in onions, sauteing till it starts turning brown.
Add tomatoes. Saute till almost cooked.
Pour in cooked dal and salt to taste. If too thick add a little water.
Simmer and let stand for 1-2 minutes.
Break corainder sprigs into pieces and add to the dhal.
Add lemon juice to the dal jsut before serving. (only if not using kokam).

This dal tastes best with fresh ginger / garlic / green chilies. Moong dal can be used instead of toor. If you don't have saunf, use jeera instead. Don't feel like mincing ginger / garlic? - use the ready-made paste.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Kozhakattai / Modak / Rice Dumplings

Ganesh Chathurthi & kozhakattais are synonymous for me... I just love both the sweet & savory versions. There's a lot of information out there about this festival, so I am just going to post the recipes for making these delicious dumplings. Shall post the pictures after the festival.

Last year, for this festival, I was in Tokyo, Japan and we had a wonderful time with our friends at home. We organized a Ganesh Chathurthi / Farewell (to us) pot-luck (appetizers only!! - more about that in another post) party. I didn't have a wet grinder, nor did I have fresh coconut. The party was the next day and I was struggling to make the vella kozhakattais!!! Imagine my horror, when the first batch went into the cooker as modaks and came out as idlis!!! Made emergency calls to my mother and realized I was going about it all wrong (read how at the end of the post)!!! Once, that was taken care of making the rest (about 50) was a breeze!!! Needless to say, the modaks were the talk of the party - because they were delicious & of course, because of all my mis-adventures!!!

Rice - 3 cups
Oil - 2 tbsp
Salt - a pinch

Sweet Filling
Grated coconut - 1.5 cups
Jaggery - 3/4 cup
Water - 1/4 cup
Cardamon - a big pinch

Savory Filling
Urad Dal - 1/2 cup
Ginger - 1 inch
Green chili - 2
Curry leaves - 2 stalks
Salt to taste
Garnish - hing & mustard

Sweet Filling
Heat water in a pan, add the jaggery. When all the jaggery is dissolved, remove from stove, strain into another clean vessel.
Add cardamon and heat jaggery syrup for a minute.
Add grated coconut and keep stirring. Remove while it is moist.
Make equal-sized balls and keep covered.

Savory Filling
Soak urad dal for 1 hour.
Drain water completely and grind along with ginger, green chili & curry leaves to a thick and chunky consistency.
Garnish with hing and mustard
Make balls / discs and steam (in idli plates) for 5 mins.
Knead all the steamed balls / discs together.
Press into ovals about 1-2 inches long and 1-2 cm thick, keep covered.

Rice Dough
Soak rice overnight.
Grind to a smooth batter (thinner than dosa batter). Add about 1.5 - 2 cups water.
Add salt.
Heat oil in a heavy skillet, pour the batter in and start stirring. Keep stirring till the batter changes color & forms a ball.
Separate into 2 halves and keep covered.

Making Vella Kozhakattai
Take a dish with some water and add a tsp of oil to it.
Apply oil on your palms, take one half of the rice dough and knead well.
Make equal-sized balls - about the size of a small lemon.
Take a ball of dough and place in one palm, with the other (hand's) thumb make a hole in the center. Use your fingers to make a shape like a muffin cup.
Put one sweet filling ball into this cup, and seal. Close the rice dough cup towards the center, remove any excess dough. Form a small tail - kudumi.
Put in a greased (or non-stick) idly plate.
Steam for 5-8 mins.

Making Savory Kozhakattai
Take a dish with some water and add a tsp of oil to it.
Apply oil on your palms, take one half of the rice dough and knead well.
Make equal-sized balls - about the size of a small lemon.
Place a ball of dough in one palm, and with the fingers of the other hand make an oval shape.
Put a savory filling oval into this, and seal - sidewards, to form a half-circle.
Remove any exces dough.
Put in greased (or non-stick) idly plate.
Steam for 5-8 mins.

Kozhakattais are done if they look shiny. The dish with oil / water combination is essential to making these delicious dumplings. Wet your palms / fingers occasionally to make sure that the dough doesn't get sticky. Make sure that the rice dough and sweet & savory fillings are always kept covered, else they'll dry up.

There will be some rice dough extra. Don't worry, no need to waste it!!! Here's what you can do with it. Garnish the left-over rice dough with mustard, crushed red chillies and finely chopped curry leaves. Make small balls and steam for 5-6 mins. You have an instant snack!!!

For those looking to make modaks, but cannot soak & grind rice or do not get fresh grated coconut. Here's another way to make this -

Takes 2 cups rice powder & a pinch of salt, make thin dosa consistency batter, put on stove, add a little oil. Keep stirring till the batter changes color, thickens & forms a ball. After this follow recipe above to make the modak. (I poured boiling hot water into the rice powder and mixed it well to form a ball. Do this and you'll get idlis instead of modaks!!!)

If you are using coconut powder, frozen or dehydrated coconut, then soak coconut in hot water for 2-3 minutes, drain well and then follow recipe above to make the sweet filling. This removes the oil from the coconut, hence you get a fresher taste.

The modaks are participating in Krishna Jayanthi -Ganesh Chathurthi event hosted by Purva.

Beetroot Stem Subzi / Keerai Upperi

I got this beautiful bunch of beetroots, with the leafy stems. I know, I know, it is generally sold here (USA) that way. I saw it after a long time and was so very excited!!! Beetroot is one of my favourite vegetables. I have always enjoyed cooking and eating greens. So, I used my mother's recipe for Raddish Stem Upperi to make this. This upperi adds a lot of color to the plate!!

Beetroot Stems - a big bunch ( I used the stems from about 6 beetroots)
Onion - 1 large
Ginger paste - 1 tsp
Garlic paste 1 tsp
Channa dal (Kadala paruppu) - 2 tbsps
Urad dal - 1/2 tsp
Jeera - 1/2 tsp
Mustard - 1/2 tsp
Hing - a big pinch
Red chilies - 1 -2
Oil for garnish
Salt to taste

Chop onions and beetroot stems. Wash the stems well in cold water & put in a colander.
Heat a little oil in a skillet. Splutter the mustard & jeera. Add the hing & red chilies.
Add channa & urad dals. Saute till urad dal starts turning brown.
Put in the ginger & garlic pastes. Saute till the fresh garlic smell is gone.
Toss in the onions. Saute till onion is transparent.
Add salt to taste.
Add beetroot stems, cook covered for 1 minute.
Toss for 1-2 minutes, till water dries up.
Serve with rice or chhapathi.

Remember not to add any water while cooking. There'll be some water on the leaves after washing, the stems will cook in this. Today, I served this dish with sambar, pavakkai (bitter gourd) upperi, rice & papads. This upperi can be prepared with any greens.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Vengaya Adai

Adai - one of our favourite dishes. We made it for dinner last nite. As it does not need much soaking, this is a quick dish to make. It is also protein rich - as it contains a lot of dals.

I don't know if ginger, chilies & curry leaves are used in the traditional recipe. This is how I make it.
Rice - 1.5 cups
Toor Dal - 1 cup
Urad Dal - 3/4 cup
Moong Dal - 3/4 cup
Masoor Dal - 3/4 cup
Pepper - 10-15
Red Chilies -2-3
Jeera - 1 tsp
Hing - 1/4 tsp
Ginger 2 inches
Curry Leaves - 2-3 big stalks
Onion - 1 big
Salt to taste
Oil to cook

Soak rice in warm water for 1 hr.
Mix all the dals & soak in warm water for 1 hr.
Soak pepper, jeera & red chili together in a little warm water (just enough to cover) for 1 hr.
Mince ginger & curry leaves.
Chop onion - not too fine.
Put ginger, curry leaves, soaked pepper, jeera, red chili (along with the water) into a mixer, add some rice & dal and grind till it is coarse.
Grind the rest of the dal & rice to a coarse batter. Add salt as needed.
Add the chopped onion & hing to the batter. Mix well.
Heat a griddle (tava), put a ladleful of the batter in the middle & spread in a circle. Put a few drops of oil on the sides. Cook for 1 minute.
Turn and cook other side for 1 minute.
Serve with jaggery, sugar & ghee or molagai podi.

The adai is quite thick, so takes a while to cook, make sure that the griddle / tava doesn't get too hot. It is important to put the pepper / red chili / ginger / curry leaves mix at the bottom of the mixer. This will make sure that they grind well. If not, there'll be whole peppers in the adai & that takes away the taste.

Sending this along to Latha at Masala Magic for WBB-Combi-Breakfast event.