Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sundakkai Kuzhambu

I never had this before getting married. When my husband mentioned that he likes this sundaka kuzhambu, I put on a blank face then. Eventually I learned how to make this. Its divine tasting and goes very well with hot rice. Hope you all like it too. For us south Indian's this certainly is the first choice than KFC.

Sundakkai Varthal: 3/4 cup
Tamarind paste: 2 tbsp soaked in 2 cup of water (you can increase or decrease this according to taste)
Medium onion: 1 chopped
Garlic cloves: 3
Curry leaves: 1 string
Salt: 1 tsp or according to taste

For tempering:
Oil: 2 tbsp
Mustard seeds: 1 tsp
Urad dal: 1 tsp
Channa dal: 1 tsp
Fenugreek/methi seeds: 1/8 tsp
Asafitida: a pinch

For fine grind:
Chanaa dal: 1 tsp
Urad dal: 1 tsp
Channa dal: 1 tsp
Red chillies:  4
Black pepper: 7-8 (you can reduce this)
Grated coconut - 1 tbsp (optional)

  • Soak the Sundakkai varthal in water for 10 mins to soften them and also to red rid of dust.
  • Dry roast everything under "fine grind" section and make a powder. 
  • Heat oil in a pan and add one by one everything under "for tempering" and fry for a min. 
  • Now add the sundakkai varthal (without water) and fry for couple of mins.
  • Now add curry leaves followed by garlic and onions and fry until the onions are soft. 
  • Now add salt and the ground powder. Stir and add the tamarind water. 
  • Simmer the stove and let the kuzhambu thicken until the desired consistency is achieved. It takes about 30 mins. Serve hot with rice.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Soraka poriyal (Bottle Gourd)

Sorakaya is another one such veggie which can be used to make sambar, curry, fry or even pickle! Last time I made a curry out of it, I felt that I could do better with fry. So first time I tried with masoor dal. It came out good, no picture though. Then I tried with moong dal. Here is the recipe for Sorakaya with moong dal.

Sorakaya (Bottle Gourd): 1 small, roughly 1 cup
Moong Dal: 1/4 cup
Green Chilies: 1 or 2 according to required spice level
Coconut powder (fresh or dry) grated: 2 tbsp
Mustard seeds: 1 tsp
Curry leaves: 1 string
Hing: 1 pinch
Salt: 1 tsp or according to taste
Turmeric powder: 1/8 tsp
Oil: 1 tbsp

  • Peel the bottle gourd and chop into 1/2 inch pieces.
  • Dry roast the moong dal until a nice aroma comes out and dry grind this. The powder should be coarse. 
  • Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds followed by Asafitida (Hing) and curry leaves. When the leaves splutter, add the slip green chilies. 
  • Fry for a few seconds and add the chopped bottle gourd. 
  • Cook on medium flame stirring occasionally.
  • When its cooked, add the turmeric powder, salt and grated coconut and stir. 
Switch off the stove, add the dal powder and enjoy  as a side dish for rice or roti/naan bread :)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Spring Onions Fried Rice

When I was in Bangalore, there was this old man who used to bring a cart and used to roam, a vendor-on-wheels basically. The cart had a stove and 2 big pans and a variety of sauces; that's it. He used to claim that he makes the best Chinese Fried Rice in Bangalore. He named his cart, Main Land China. The first time I had seen it, I bust out laughing looking at its name. But since the food is freshly made, always hot and can get a full dinner for Rs.15, I used to be his regular customer. The below recipe is given by him.
Below measurements would serve 2 adults.
Cooked Rice: 2 cups
Egg: 1
Spring Onion: 1 bunch, washed and chopped
Milk: 1 tbsp
Garlic pods: 3 chopped (if the pod is small, increase this to 5)
Freshly ground pepper powder: 1-2 tbsp
Soy Sauce: 3-4 tbsp (you can increase or decrease this according to your taste)
Olive oil: 1 tbsp(you can use regular oil also if you don't have olive oil)
Butter/oil: 1/2 tsp

  • Take a small bowl and beat the egg and milk to together. In a wide bottomed pan heat a little butter (or oil) and pour in the mixture. Stir for a minute until the egg is almost cooked and remove from flame. Keep this separately in a plate.
  • Heat olive olive oil in the same pan and add the garlic followed by chopped spring onions. You can use the stems also. Saute this until it turns soft. 
  • Add the cooked rice to this mixture and mix well. 
  • To this, add the soy sauce and freshly grounded pepper and mix well. Now check for salt. Since Soy sauce has salt in it, you wouldn't need to add anything extra. If you like your food a little salty (like me), you can add salt accordingly now. 
  • To this fried rice, add the scrambled egg and mix well.
That's it! Simple Chinese spring onion fried rice is ready! I served this with chili mushroom. This would be the next recipe I would be posting (tomorrow or Monday).

Monday, April 4, 2011

Happy Ugadi

Andariki ma Ugadi Subhakaankshalu!!!Wishing all my blog-buddies a very Happy Ugadi/Gudi Padwa! According to the Hindu Calender, the season Chaitra (spring) begins today marking the beginning of a new year. Hence we celebrate the festival welcoming the new year calling it with various names in various states in India.
With India winning the World Cup (in Cricket after 28 years) and the entire nation being euphoric, I cannot think of a better way to begin the new year. Here is how the festival went in my home. In the plate below are Puran Poli, Ugadi Pachadi, Keerai Vadai and puliyodharai. The recipes are given below.
For me the preparation for today began 3 days ago with cleaning one room at a time :). We (hubby and I) have new cloths to wear and even the weather seems to be getting much better day by day. When we were back home in India, our vaasal, (the front porch) used to be decorated with colorful rangolis/kolams. Mom, sis and I used to get up early and make special big rangolis in front of our home. Now, I make do with flower rangoli.

Ugadi, being the first festival in the Chaitra maasam (season), we make a few delicacies. I am going to write down recipes for a few things mom used to make. I cant believe time has gone by so fast and it is already my turn to make all these delicacies for my family in my home. Perhaps this is what is called cycle-of-life. A little rose bloom adorning our fire place mantle which i used for Puja.
Ugadi Pachadi: The star of the show is something called, Ugadi Pachadi (Ugadi chutney). This chutney contains raw mango, neem tree flowers, jaggery, coconut, red chili powder, tamarind and salt. The entire mixture put together signifies various states-of-mind in our life. The sourness of the raw mango, the sweetness of the jaggery, the hotness of the chili powder, the tangy-ness of the tamarind represent that life is full of unexpected surprises, be it happiness, sadness, tranquility or contentedness. We have to accept our life as is with its sweet/bitter intricacies. The chutney is also believed to relive any small illness.
Raw mango: 1 small (representing the excitement, tangyness)
Jaggery: 3 tbsp (representing the happiness)
Salt: 1/2 tsp (representing the life itself because its the basic thing)
Chili powder: 1/4 tsp (representing the anger in us)
Neem tree flowers: 1/2 tbsp (representing the tough times or sorrow; if neem flowers are not available, you can substitute this with methi seeds)
Coconut: Freshly chopped, 1 tbsp (optional)
Tamarind paste: 1/2 tbsp pulp (representing mischievous child in us)

Mix all the above ingredients with a little water. Just add about 3 tbsp. If you want you can add more later.

Yummy! The melody of flavors!

Keerai Vadai: Another common dish we make today is vadai. Now, as most of you know, we have 100's of ways to make tasty vadais. Today, I made keerai vadai (vada with leafy vegetables). I like to fool myself that the leafy veggies would make up for the deep-fried lentil patties. It came quite good actually.
You can practically use any leafy veggie to make this vadai. I used spinach. Below measurements gave me 20 mini vadai's.
Spinach: 1 cup, chopped.
Channa dal (gram dal): 1/2 cup
Green chili: 1 or 2 according to taste
Toor dal: 2 tbsp (optional)
Urad Dal: 2 tbsp
Ginger: 1 inch, chopped
Hing: 1 pinch
Oil: at least 1 cup to deep fry

Salt: according to taste

  • Mix all the dal's together and pour in water until they are completely immersed and at least 2 inches of water is floating above.
  • After 3 hours, strain the water away and keep the dal's dry for another hour. 
  • After this additional hour, take 3 tbsp of dal's in a separate bowl and keep aside.
  • Now, grind the remaining dal with hing and salt WITH OUT ADDING WATER. 
  • When the mixture is grind and is 80% soft, add the 3 tbsp of dal's you kept aside with green chilies and ginger. You dont have to grind this now.
  • Now add the chopped spinach to this dal mixture and mix well. 
  • Heat oil in a vessel. Make small rounds of the dal mixture and flatten them on your hand. It would help if you grease your hand with oil. 
  • Gently drop the vadai (lentil Pattie) into the hot oil. 
  • Roast until the vadai is golden brown and remove it from the oil. You can place these on a tissue paper to drain out excess oil. 
Serve hot...enjoy! Try out the other methods of making vadai also HERE.

Puliyodharai: The next one on menu today is Puliyodharai (Tamarind Rice). You can find the recipe HERE in my blog. Ever been to Tirumala, Perumaal Kovil (It is referred to as Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam) in Andhra Pradesh? The best tasting Puliyodharai comes from that temple. As the devotees chant, "Govindaa Gooovindaaa", the gurukkul gives us handful of yummy and unique tasting Puliyodharai. Though the one I made isn't as great as that is, its much closer than I had ever made.This will suffice for 3 cups of un-cooked rice :)
Puran Poli: Who would like warm, sweet and soft Puran Poli today? I cannot stop at one. Though this takes some time, practice and patience, the end result is awesome. Puran poli is referred to as Bhakshalu in Telugu, Holige in Kannada. Polis are made with flour stuffed with lentils and jaggery mixture, rolled out and pan fried in clarified butter. Below measurements gave me 8 medium sized polis.
Even as I say the word Poli my mouth is watering. My mom used to make it sooo good that I can almost taste what she made all those years ago. She used to make it thin, sweet and so devilishly delicious. As is the norm, we used to send/get polis from neighbors and friends as well but my mom's were the best! Probably every child feels this way about his/her mom's cooking.
Here is my attempt. Start this 2 hours before you make the poli.

Ingredients for filling (Called Purnam in Telugu):
Channa Dal: 1 cup
Jaggery: 1 cup, powdered (you can increase this 1.5 cups also)
Cardamom powder: 1 tsp

Ingredients for the bread:
All Purpose Flour (maida): 1 cup
Water: 1/2 cup
Ghee (clarified butter): 6 tbsp

  • Knead the dough with water and 2 tbsp of ghee until it is soft. Cover this with a moist cloth and set aside for 2 hours.
  • Mean while, pressure cook the channa dal with 3 cups of water. You dont have to over cook it. 1 whistle or 20 mins in medium flame would give you just cooked dal. 
  • Spread this dal on a tissue paper/plate so that all the moisture is absorbed, maybe for 1 hour.
  • WITH OUT ADDING WATER, grind the cooked and cooled channa dal with jaggery. Its a bit difficult to blend it fine, but its doable. Please do not add water because we want the consistency to be thick. To this mixture add the cardamom powder. If by any chance the mixture becomes watery, cook on low flame for 7-10 mins and the mixture would thicken. 
  • Now, take the dough and add the remaining ghee and beat the dough very well. yeah baby! beat it! When you stretch the dough, it should stretch with out breaking like chapati dough
  • Spread a foil or a banana leaf and grease it with ghee.
  •  Take some dough (small lime size) and roll out like you roll out the roti/chapati.
  • Now, take another lime size of dal & jaggery mixture and place it in the middle of the rolled out bread.
  • Now, cover the dal mixture with the bread from all sides and seal with your fingers.
  • Gently pat down the ball with your fingers, trying not to let the dal mixture flow out. If it does, do not worry. Make this as thin as a chapati. 
  • Heat a tava/pan/griddle and add some ghee. Slowly lift the foil containing the poli and invert it on the griddle. 
  • Turn the poli around once in a while until it turns golden brown. Dont shy away from applying generous amount of ghee. 
  • When the poli is completely cooked (you will start smelling it) and is in golden color, remove from the pan and transfer to a plate. 

I hope ALL of you have a fantastic new year ahead!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Pavakka Kuzhambu (Kakarakaya/Karela/bitter guard)

You only have 1 Pavakka and you have to make do with that. Who do you? Ha ha! we will make Pavakka kuzhambu :)
Like any other zuzhambu's this is very tasty and requires very less oil. Apparently eating bitter guard is really good for diabetic people.

Pavakka: 1, chopped in to round slices
Onion: 1 medium, chopped
Tomato: 1 medium, chopped
Curry eaves: 1 tring
Garlic Cloves: 4 big or 8 small
Jaggery: 1 tsp (Optional)
Oil: 1 tbsp

Sambar powder: 1 tsp
Coriander powder: 1 tsp
Turmeric powder: 1/8 tsp
Salt: 1 tsp
Tamarind paste: 1 1/2 tsp

Mustard seeds: 1 tsp
Fenugreek seeds: 1/8 tsp
Fennel seeds 1 tsp

  • Heat oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds. When they dance, add the fenugreek and fennel seeds followed by curry leaves. Now add the garlic.
  • Now add the onions and tomatoes. Roast for a minute and add the bitter guard pieces. 
  • Fry until bitter guard is close to being completely cooked.
  • While the bitter guard is being fried, take 3 cups of water and mix everything under "Masala".
  • Once the bitter guard is close to completing, pour in the masala water and stir.
  • Simmer down the flame and let the curry boil until it reduces to 1/3 or until the desired consistency. You can now add the jaggery.
Switch off the stove and enjoy the kuzhambu with hot rice :)

Tip: Usually kuzhambu's give a great taste when cooked in simmer for a long time.