Archive for August, 2010

Pesarattu – Spiced Mung Dal Dosa(Crêpes)


2010
08.25

IMG_7986

These specialty crêpes of the Andhra Cuisine can be made of either yellow mung dal or from whole green gram.If you use the former you get a golden yellow crêpe and if you use the latter you’ll have yourself a green crêpe. Both taste great. Personally I prefer using the yellow dal vs the green, purely for aesthetics. Hey, after all your eyes do most of the eating don’t they?

Unlike the traditional dosas these are relatively faster to make for the obvious fact that they don’t have to go through the long hours of fermentation. And since they are not sour, in my opinion you need to complement them with sour chutneys like the tomato, gongura or tamarind to excite you palates.

Ingredients

2 cups mung dal soaked in water for about 4 –5 hours, if you are using whole green gram, soak overnight 
1 tsp roasted cumin
1/2 tsp chopped ginger 
6 sprigs of cilantro 
1/2 cup raw rice soak along with dal
3 green chilies
1 big pinch of asafoetida
1 medium sized onion chopped
salt to taste

Directions

  • Grind all the ingredients to a smooth paste and set aside for 30 minutes.
  • Add more water if the batter is too thick. It should have the consistency of ordinary dosa batter. 
  • Heat a skillet at low flame and smear it with 1/2 a tsp of sesame oil or ghee (I use an onion cut horizontally into half, to smear oil on the skillet. This tends to give a nice aroma to the dosas).
  • Pour batter on to the center of the hot skillet, and gently spread towards the outside in concentric circular movement using the base of the ladle to form a circular thin crêpe.
  •  Increase the flame to high.
  • When you start noticing a golden brown color on the sides and the top surface has the lost the wet look, Turn the dosa over.
  • Allow to roast for half a minute or so on this side.
  • Fold and take of the flame.
  • Reduce the flame and repeat the process to make the next dosa
  • Serve hot with sambar or tomato chutney.
  • IMG_7975

    Pesarattu – Spiced Mung Dal Dosa(Crêpes)


    2010
    08.25

    IMG_7986

    These specialty crêpes of the Andhra Cuisine can be made of either yellow mung dal or from whole green gram.If you use the former you get a golden yellow crêpe and if you use the latter you’ll have yourself a green crêpe. Both taste great. Personally I prefer using the yellow dal vs the green, purely for aesthetics. Hey, after all your eyes do most of the eating don’t they?

    Unlike the traditional dosas these are relatively faster to make for the obvious fact that they don’t have to go through the long hours of fermentation. And since they are not sour, in my opinion you need to complement them with sour chutneys like the tomato, gongura or tamarind to excite you palates.

    Ingredients

    2 cups mung dal soaked in water for about 4 –5 hours, if you are using whole green gram, soak overnight 
    1 tsp roasted cumin
    1/2 tsp chopped ginger 
    6 sprigs of cilantro 
    1/2 cup raw rice soak along with dal
    3 green chilies
    1 big pinch of asafoetida
    1 medium sized onion chopped
    salt to taste

    Directions

  • Grind all the ingredients to a smooth paste and set aside for 30 minutes.
  • Add more water if the batter is too thick. It should have the consistency of ordinary dosa batter. 
  • Heat a skillet at low flame and smear it with 1/2 a tsp of sesame oil or ghee (I use an onion cut horizontally into half, to smear oil on the skillet. This tends to give a nice aroma to the dosas).
  • Pour batter on to the center of the hot skillet, and gently spread towards the outside in concentric circular movement using the base of the ladle to form a circular thin crêpe.
  •  Increase the flame to high.
  • When you start noticing a golden brown color on the sides and the top surface has the lost the wet look, Turn the dosa over.
  • Allow to roast for half a minute or so on this side.
  • Fold and take of the flame.
  • Reduce the flame and repeat the process to make the next dosa
  • Serve hot with sambar or tomato chutney.
  • IMG_7975

    Pottukadalai (Roasted gram) Chutney


    2010
    08.25

    The nice part about a chutney recipe is that no ingredient or their amounts are set in stone. You can mix match and omit. And each time you would have created a novelty. Just go with what your taste buds desire. If you like cilantro, throw in some of it. If you don’t do mint, omit it. If you think coconut is unhealthy, replace it with peanuts. If you want a raw bite, use roasted gram.  If you are into ginger-garlic, a dash of it will do the trick. If you want a tang there is curd, tamarind or lemon. If you are looking for a spicy tone,  green or red chilies should work. And most important of all, if you can’t hold back your imagination, let it flow!   

    I’ve got myself a lean mean wet grinding machine earlier this month and there has been plenty of idlis, dosas and adais happening at home. So don’t be taken aback by the sudden surge of chutney recipes on this blog. Trust me it doesn’t take long before I’m bored. You might have to put up with it for only a few days or maybe if your planets are not playing it right, the days might slightly stretch to a couple of weeks ;). In any case chutneys are fun and I’ll make certain it is worth your while. 

    IMG_7995 

    Ingredients

    For Grinding 
    3 fresh green chilies ( base it on your spice tolerance) 
    1 big clove of garlic
    5 –6  tbsp of chopped cilantro
    1 cup pottukadalai/ roasted chickpeas/ split dalia/ kadale pappu 
    salt to taste
    1 cup sour curd
    1/4 tsp tamarind paste

    For Seasoning
    2 dried red chili torn into 1 inch pieces
    2 tsp of cold pressed sesame oil
    1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
    1 sprig of curry leaves

    Directions

  • Blend all the ingredients for grinding into a slightly smooth paste.
  • Heat oil in a pan, add all the ingredients for seasoning.
  • When the mustard pops, turn off the flame and pour into the ground mixture.
  • Mix the seasoning well into the chutney and serve with idlis, dosas or other crêpes
  • As Dear As Salt


    2010
    08.24

    A reader recently commented on one of my posts saying, The recipe was bland and only after I added salt it tasted fine. I looked up the recipe and realized that though I’d mentioned Salt to taste in the ‘Ingredients’ section, I’d forgotten to state when salt was to be added in the “Directions”. Never would I have imagined that this oversight could pose such a problem. I soon figured that most of my recipes had this slip.  Though I did update that particular recipe, and though I promise to keep in mind the need to cite add salt in my future recipes, my nonchalance in such matters and the fact that my middle name spells LAZY makes it quite obvious that there is possibly no way I would even consider updating 100 and odd recipes as an option. So here’s a disclaimer I’d like to make for all my old and probably future recipes —

    All my recipes recipes call for salt – ‘to taste’. Unless and until I mention a  “pinch” (like in cakes and desserts)  or unless and until salt is missing even in the “Ingredients” section(like milkshakes and sometimes cocktails) you just have to assume that to bring life to your dish you DEFINITELY need to add salt to your taste.

    At what point you add the salt is totally your preference. Some like to season during the process of cooking and some prefer right at the end when the cooking is all done. Do whatever floats your boat.  Here’s what I follow, while cooking veggies that are tender like in stir-fries etc, I add salt right at the end just before switching off the flame. That for me ensures the the veggies remain tender but not over cooked. And while making stuff that take longer to cook, like meats etc, I season initially during the process of cooking and when it is all cooked I adjust the salt towards the end once again. And obviously while baking or making desserts I have no choice but to  add salt when I’m mixing up the ingredients.

    Of course since I’m mostly a self taught cook and not a trained chef, I suggest you take all my recommendations with a ‘grain of salt’ 😉

    Mathi Vattichathu – Sardines Poached To Dry –Kerala Style


    2010
    08.18

    IMG_7911 

    Acclaimed author of many cook books, Food and Wine editor of  Town&Country for over two decades, James Villas wrote in an article called Unsung Sardines – Ounce for ounce, sardines provide more calcium and phosphorus than milk, more protein than steak, more potassium than bananas, and more iron than cooked spinach.  Now, even if I hadn’t read that, I still would assume that these little silver slender beauties had to have high authority in terms of nutrition in order to find their way to my health freak sister Sony’s table every other day ;).  Frankly for me, the nutrition aspect is just an added bonus. I simply love them for their unparalleled flavor.

    Fresh sardines are found in plenty in Kerala and hence are cooked very often, usually poached or grilled. Fresh sardines however have been hard to find for me over here. But I do manage to get some good ones at Whole Foods or at my local Chinese market. All my recipes use fresh sardines and since I’ve never used the canned kind I cannot comment about how my recipes might turn out with them.This recipe can of course be tried with any other fish too. Sardines are only ‘my’ preference :).

    Ingredients

    1 lb sardines cleaned and slit a couple of times on the sides
    2 tsp red chili powder (base it on tolerable  spice levels)
    1 tsp paprika (mainly for the red color) 
    1/4 tsp fenugreek seed powder
    5- 6 shallots finely sliced  
    1.5 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
    2 kudampulli (camboge fruit rinds)
    1/2 tsp turmeric powder
    2 sprigs of curry leaves
    1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
    2 –3 tbsp coconut oil /any vegetable refined oil
    salt to taste

    Directions

  • Soak kudampulli in a cup of hot salt water and set aside.
  • Heat oil in a pan and add black mustard seeds, when they pop add in the curry leaves and powdered fenugreek seeds
  • Add sliced shallot and sauté till golden brown.
  • Add  ginger -garlic paste and sauté till oil separates.
  • Mix together chili powder, paprika and turmeric powder in a little warm water to make a smooth paste, add to the pan and sauté for a few minutes.
  • Add soaked kudampulli along with the water and allow it to boil for a few minutes.
  • Add the fish pieces.
  • Add salt, close the lid and let it boil again.
  • Once the water boils, reduce the flame and let it simmer for about 15– 20 minutes until all/most of the water evaporates and the gravy thickens.
  • Season again with 2 finely sliced shallots fried deep in 1 tsp of coconut oil, mustard and curry leaves if desired.
  • Serve with Rice or Kappa
  • Mathi Vattichathu – Sardines Poached To Dry –Kerala Style


    2010
    08.18

    IMG_7911 

    Acclaimed author of many cook books, Food and Wine editor of  Town&Country for over two decades, James Villas wrote in an article called Unsung Sardines – Ounce for ounce, sardines provide more calcium and phosphorus than milk, more protein than steak, more potassium than bananas, and more iron than cooked spinach.  Now, even if I hadn’t read that, I still would assume that these little silver slender beauties had to have high authority in terms of nutrition in order to find their way to my health freak sister Sony’s table every other day ;).  Frankly for me, the nutrition aspect is just an added bonus. I simply love them for their unparalleled flavor.

    Fresh sardines are found in plenty in Kerala and hence are cooked very often, usually poached or grilled. Fresh sardines however have been hard to find for me over here. But I do manage to get some good ones at Whole Foods or at my local Chinese market. All my recipes use fresh sardines and since I’ve never used the canned kind I cannot comment about how my recipes might turn out with them.This recipe can of course be tried with any other fish too. Sardines are only ‘my’ preference :).

    Ingredients

    1 lb sardines cleaned and slit a couple of times on the sides
    2 tsp red chili powder (base it on tolerable  spice levels)
    1 tsp paprika (mainly for the red color) 
    1/4 tsp fenugreek seed powder
    5- 6 shallots finely sliced  
    1.5 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
    2 kudampulli (camboge fruit rinds)
    1/2 tsp turmeric powder
    2 sprigs of curry leaves
    1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
    2 –3 tbsp coconut oil /any vegetable refined oil
    salt to taste

    Directions

  • Soak kudampulli in a cup of hot salt water and set aside.
  • Heat oil in a pan and add black mustard seeds, when they pop add in the curry leaves and powdered fenugreek seeds
  • Add sliced shallot and sauté till golden brown.
  • Add  ginger -garlic paste and sauté till oil separates.
  • Mix together chili powder, paprika and turmeric powder in a little warm water to make a smooth paste, add to the pan and sauté for a few minutes.
  • Add soaked kudampulli along with the water and allow it to boil for a few minutes.
  • Add the fish pieces.
  • Add salt, close the lid and let it boil again.
  • Once the water boils, reduce the flame and let it simmer for about 15– 20 minutes until all/most of the water evaporates and the gravy thickens.
  • Season again with 2 finely sliced shallots fried deep in 1 tsp of coconut oil, mustard and curry leaves if desired.
  • Serve with Rice or Kappa
  • Mathanga Erissery / Pumpkin Dal


    2010
    08.18

    IMG_7788

    South Indians very rarely make plain Dal. We usually add a vegetable or two in them and call each of them with different names even though they might have the same kind of lentils and involve the same process. If you think – that is one big bag of stupid, it really isn’t. Each different kind of vegetable gives a different flavor and identity to the Dal that you can’t help but christen it with a new name :).

    The Mathanga Erissery, a sure dish of an Onam Sadhay is made of yellow pumpkin or squash and Red Chori or Azuki Bean. Traditionally the consistency of it is usually very thick almost like mashed potatoes. But I  make it into a gravy and relish it with rice, papadams and lemon pickles.

    Ingredients
    3 cups diced yellow pumpkin
    1/2  cup Red Chori/ Azuki Beans, soaked in water over night
    1/2 cup grated coconut
    7-8 finely sliced shallots
    1/2 tsp roasted cumin powder
    1/2 tsp of chopped garlic
    1/2 tsp ground fresh pepper
    1/4 tsp chili powder-1/4tsp
    1/4tsp turmeric powder
    1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
    2 green chilies
    2 dried red chilies
    salt to taste
    1 tbsp coconut oil
    1 tbsp ghee
    1 sprig of curry leaves

    Directions

  • Grind coconut, 1/3 of the shallots, green chilies, cumin and 2 curry leaves to a coarse paste and keep aside.
  • Pressure cook dal, pumpkin, turmeric powder, pepper and chili powder in 1cup of water.
  • Heat coconut oil in a pan and add 1/2 of the mustard seeds.
  • When they pop add the dried red chilies, half of the remaining shallot, garlic and sauté until shallots are translucent.
  • Add the cooked dal and pumpkins to this and mix in the ground coconut mixture.
  • Add water to get the desired consistency and add salt to taste.
  • Mix well and bring to boil.
  • Heat ghee in a seasoning pan, add the remaining mustard and when they pop, add in the remaining shallots and curry leaves.
  • Fry the shallots until they are deep brown.
  • Turn off the flame and pour the seasoning over the dal.
  • Stir in the seasoning and turn off the flame.
  • Serve with rice, pickles and papadam.
  • Sprout Masala


    2010
    08.15

    IMG_7703

    Since eating healthy has become exponentially the coolest thing to do these days I have been trying real hard to work up the hip in the family. Although it has been a struggle to give up our ongoing love affair with the fat-sugar-fried or anything that spells YUMMM for that matter, certain healthy foods I must admit, have helped in easing the transition. And sprouts for us is among the top contenders. The nutritional value of sprouts apparently are double sometimes quadruple times their dried forms and the best way to eat them would be raw like in salads or sandwiches. But, though we are all for the healthy, and aye aye the  nutrients, we are not yet so bohemian in our being as yet. So, for now we are eating these elixirs of life in their cooked form probably killing thousands of nutrients in the process. I know I know, many of you are already tsking your tongues out! But hey, we are hoping to slowly work ourselves to where all of you already are. Please be patient with our baby steps. And for those of you who are in the transition process like us here’s a really nice recipe for a side dish that pairs amazingly well with rice or Indian breads.

    IMG_7719

    Many I know are nervous about making sprouts at home. But folks, if I have to say it is no big deal, trust me, it definitely IS NOT a big deal. You could easily pocket what I mean by easy because I‘m the kind who thinks it is too much work to burn 50 calories in an hour ;). (If you don’t believe me ask Roy). Here’s how I sprout my legumes – I soak any kind of washed whole lentils or beans overnight in water. The next morning. I drain out the water and wrap up the swollen lentils in a linen cloth and place it in a colander. I run water all over the wrap to make sure it is wet through out and let the excess water drain out of the colander. I then place the colander with the wrap in a warm and dark place – In my kitchen it is the shelf adjacent to the stove.  Every 7 – 8 hours, I run water on the wrap and let the excess water drain out like before and again I let it rest its dark place. In 2 – 3 days I have the most vibrant looking sprouts that I keep falling in love with over and over again!

    Just like most other veggies there are no hard and fast rules while making sprouts.  I use them to make dals as well as sides. When I cook them as sides, I usually add some chopped nuts like cashews or almonds. I love that in between crunch they add.

    Ingredients

    2 cups green gram sprouts (takes about 1/4 cup of dried whole legumes to make around 2 cups)
    1 medium sized onion chopped very fine
    2 tomatoes chopped into small chunks
    1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
    1/2 tsp coriander powder
    1/2 tsp roasted cumin powder
    1/2 tsp cinnamon and clove spice mix
    1/2 tsp turmeric powder
    1/2 tsp chili powder
    2 green chilies chopped fine
    3 tbsp toasted chopped and crushed cashew nuts
    2 tbsp of refined oil
    1 tbsp lemon zest
    1 tbsp chopped cilantro for garnish

    Directions

  • Heat oil in a pan, add cumin and sauté for a minute.
  • Add in the chopped onions, sauté till golden brown
  • Add ginger-garlic paste and sauté for a minute
  • Add salt, chilies, turmeric, coriander, spice mix, powdered cashew nuts and tomato puree and sauté till the oil comes clear.
  • Add the sprouts, sauté for a few minutes and reduce the flame.
  • Gather all the sprouts together to the center of the pan and close the pan with a tight lid and let it cook.
  • Check in occasionally, stir and repeat the previous step until the sprouts are cooked to your liking.
  • Take off the flame. Garnish with cilantro and lemon zest.
  • Serve hot with Indian Breads or rice.
  • Mushrooms And Potatoes in Coconut Milk Gravy


    2010
    08.13

    IMG_7791

    This simple dish goes amazingly well with Indian breads. I’ve used Portobello mushrooms here. But, you can use any kind you like. The mushrooms and the potatoes so readily absorb the sweetness of the coconut milk that every bite of it leaves you wanting more. Though you can make this dish with just mushrooms I’ve added potatoes too, only because I wanted more volume and they being the most versatile of the veggies I knew would remain subtle and not over shadow the mushrooms in this dish.

    Ingredients

    1 lb Portobello mushrooms chopped into chunks
    3 red potatoes
    1 large onion finely chopped
    1tbsp ginger-garlic paste
    3 –4 green chilies chopped
    2 tomatoes chopped into chunks
    1 sprig of curry leaves
    1/2 tsp cinnamon-clove spice mix
    1/4 tsp turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
    1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
    1 cup canned coconut milk
    1/2 tsp roasted cumin powder
    2-3 shallots finely sliced
    1/2 tsp red chili powder
    1 tsp of lemon zest
    1 tsp black mustard seeds
    1 tsp coriander powder
    1 tbsp chopped cilantro

     Directions

  • Cook potatoes in a pressure cooker or boiling water.  Chop into big chunks and keep aside.
  • Heat oil in a wok.
  • Add cumin and sauté for a few seconds.
  • Add onions and sauté until golden brown.
  • Add green chilies and ginger-garlic paste until you get rid of the raw smell.
  • Add tomatoes, turmeric, black pepper, chili, coriander and cinnamon-clove spice mix and sauté until the oil separates.
  • Add the mushrooms and sauté until they are cooked.
  • Add the potatoes, salt  and mix it into the dish.
  • Reduce the flame, pour in the coconut milk and let it simmer for 5-10 minutes
  • Heat a tsp oil in another pan.
  • Add mustard seeds and when they pop, throw in the curry leaves and the shallots and sauté until the shallots are fried.
  • Pour the mustard seasoning over the curry.
  • Garnish with lemon zest and cilantro.
  • Serve hot with hot Indian breads.
  • Choy Sum and Eggs Stir-Fry – Motta Cheera Thoran


    2010
    08.13

     IMG_7770

    This thoran with greens and eggs can be made with any kind of leaves like spinach, kale, amaranth etc. I’ve used Choy Sum here. The slight hint of mustard in these leaves I find complement the eggs very well. The dish calls for coarsely ground coconut with garlic right at the very end. I however usually skip the coconut cause I don’t like to overpower the greens with too many ingredients. For me it is either the eggs or the coconut. Very rarely both. But, if you are the types that can’t do without coconut, add 1/2 a cup of coarsely ground coconut with 2 cloves of garlic in the below recipe right at the very end and sauté 5 – 6 minutes before switching off the flame.

    IMG_7775

    Ingredients

    1 lb choy sum chopped fine
    3 eggs
    1 medium sized onion chopped fine
    1 tsp black mustard seeds
    1/2 tsp powdered roasted cumin
    1 tbsp oil
    1 sprig of curry leaves
    3 –4 green chilies finely chopped
    1/4 tsp turmeric powder
    salt to taste

    Directions

  • Heat oil in a wide pan
  • Add mustard seeds and when they pop add curry leaves and green chilies and sauté for 30 secs.
  • Add onions and sauté, till onions turn translucent and pale brown.
  • Add choy sum, turmeric powder and salt.
  • Sauté till the choy sum is cooked (unlike spinach and amaranth, choy sum cooks fairly quick).
  • Once the greens are cooked move it to the sides of the pan to form a well.
  • Add the eggs to the center of the pan and scramble it well.
  • When the eggs are done mix it into the greens and switch off the flame.
  • Serve hot with rice and dal.