Sunday, April 16, 2017

PUMPKIN CAPCISUM PULI KUZHAMBU - Colorful and delightful combo

Staying away from home on business assignment and having a short break from my usual activities.  

Sometimes the best therapy that you could give for yourself is to take a break from your regular routine and explore the unexplored things in life.  When I stay away from home, I definitely miss family, that is for sure and there is no doubt in it but I enjoy this solace at times.  There is no rush and compulsion involved now; be it in cooking, getting up early for the regular chores, rushing back home to attend my duties or comfort people by giving a fake smile when going through some hard time.  Here I am all alone,  there is no one to check if I am okay, no one to check how my day was, and living a life with no holds barred.   When I get back home after the short break, I have always observed that I would be fully energetic.  I would be treated special by everyone; DH would make tea for me, Jr. H would keep his books/toys arranged properly in shelf, friends would eagerly be waiting to catch up on the missed fun, family get-togethers,  and a lot and lot more tiny things which I will start seeing newly and maybe these could be some reasons I like to be distant from my routine world at times. 

DH and Jr. H are very cooperative during my travels and they are managing the house perfectly.  I was bit concerned earlier on how Jr. H would manage on settlement in his new school as I would be away from home but to my surprise my little boy is settling very well.  He is gaining popularity among teachers and students by his ever smiling nature.  He is sending me the filled in worksheets and assignments and not to miss his appreciations from teachers.  Thank God, I am quite relieved about it now. 


Moving on to today's post, this is one of a long pending post from draft which caught my eye sight today because I miss eating spicy things here.  Even at Indian restaurants, the feel the hotness is not as like at my home.  I am just satisfying my taste buds by looking at the pictures.  Pumpkin and capsicum compliments each other in color and taste.   The mild sweetness rendered from yellow pumpkin and the crunchy texture from green bellpepper goes very well when cooked in tamarind sauce with flavored spiced powder made from ground Indian spices.


Ingredients:
Pumpkin - 200 g (cut in small tiny cubes)
Capsicum/ Bellpepper  - 1 (cut in small tiny cutes)
Tomato -1
Sambar Powder - 2 tablespoon (I prepare homemade powder but can also be brought from Indian store)
Salt  To taste
Tamarind water - 2 cups (Extracted from soaked tamarind pulp)
Oil - 2 tablespoon

To Temper:
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Fenugreek seeds - 1 tsp
Red chillis - 3 or 4
Curry leaves -few

Preparation:
1.  Soak tamarind pulp in warm water and extract the tamarind juice.  Can also be replaced by tamarind sauce.

2. In a heavy bottomed pan, heat oil and throw in the tempering items one by one followed by cubed capsicum and pumpkin dices.  Later add in tomato, salt, and sambar powder and mix well.

3.  Pour in the extracted tamarind pump, mix well, and let it boil until the raw smell goes and mixture gets thickens. When it boils, mix well with a ladle once in a while so that it wouldn't be burnt at the bottom. 


Can be mixed with rice with a teaspoon of gingelly oil and it would taste yummilicious.  

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Gobi Manchurian

Jr. H was down with illness whole last week and that made me down emotionally.  All was well until last Saturday evening where he was noticed with sudden spike in temperature.  At first, I thought this could be a normal fever and gave him an initial dose of paracetamol but that didn't worked out.  I continued to observe him whole night and gave him cold compresses when his fever went over 103.  On Sunday, he complained of severe throat pain along with fever.  Last Sunday, DH had invited his friend's family for lunch and could not avoid it, so I was juggling between taking care of son and attending guests and cooking for them.  As his regular pediatrician was not available, we took him to another pediatrician who was nearby and she started him on antibiotics on Monday.  All of a sudden, the home was all quiet and not filled with his nonsense laughter and nagging, Jr. H was calm and sitting in one place, not eating anything, and looked very dull.  More than him, I was feeling ill to see him as such.  From Friday, he is better but due to the effects of antibiotics, he had severe stomach upset and not eating anything at all and I was very worried about it.  So yesterday, I prepared his favorite dish to tantalize his taste buds and make him eat something.

Quickly touching upon the recipe, Gobi is my all my time favorite vegetable from childhood and mom prepares as a curry mostly.  I learnt this recipe only after Jr. H started taking lunch to schools where he requested me to prepare this at home seeing his friends lunch boxes.



Gobi Manchurian is nothing but fried Cauliflower florets are tossed with sauces and pepper powder and goes well with fried rice or just as a starter.

Ingredients:
Cauliflower (cut in big florets) - 1 medium size
Spring onion
Capsicum - 1
Garlic pods - few
Soya sauce - 2 tsp
Red chilly/Paprica sauce - 3 tsp
Pepper powder - 2 tsp
Salt - to taste
Oil - As needed

For the batter
Corn flour - 1 cup
All purpose flour - 3/4 cup
a pinch of cooking soda
Salt - to taste

Preparing the Gobi florets:
Boil water with salt and put the florets in salt water for 10 minutes.  Drain the water and pat dry the florets.

Making the batter and frying the florets
1. Mix Corn flour, All purpose flour, a pinch of cooking soda, and salt. Add little water and prepare the batter.

2. Heat oil in heavy bottomed pan, dip the florets in batter, and deep fry in hot oil.  Keep aside.
Making the Manjurian with sauces:

In a pan, add oil, when it is hot add the white part of spring oil, finely chopped garlic pods, and later thin sliced capsicum.  Add salt and when translucent, add the pepper powder, soya sauce, chilly sauce, mix well.  Later add the fried florets and mix evenly.

Gobi Manchurian is ready to be served.  This can be taken as an appetizer or as a side dish for fried rice. We had with vegetable fried rice.

Friday, March 10, 2017

VEGETABLE BONDA - A LIP SMACKING SNACK FOR WEEKEND

As I lay on bed on the early morning hours of a weekend, I couldn't allow my mind to calm down due to multifarious reasons.   So I thought I could divert myself to blogging.

Last few weeks, DH and myself were fully on thoughts to move out Jr. H to a new school and were doing lot of background research on it.  Getting admission on schools isn't easy here and especially for the higher classes.  Finally after much effort, after repeated trips, we got an admission in an upcoming new school with good reviews and admitted him there.  Jr. H had two rounds of interaction before he was admitted.  Now a lot of follow up activities needs to be taken care such as school uniforms, transport, books etc.,  Jr. H is in mixed reaction now; he feels sad for leaving his old friends and at the same time he is quite excited to join the new environment.  I am kind of slightly concerned about the settling process in the new environment.  He need to unlearn and learn many new things to accommodate the new environment, get some good friends, get some recognition among teachers and many more things following to that.  Let's see how it goes.  As a first step at home, I make him feel  comfort from a parent end and provide him as much as support.


Jumping on quickly about today's post, Vegetable Bonda, this is a popular lip smacking tea time South Indian snack made with different variations - can be stuffed with just potatoes or with mixed vegetables.  Every mother is brilliant to sneak in veggies on kids favorite dish and I'm no different in it.  I made this mixed vegetable bonda on a casual evening on a weekend and in no time the bonda's were finished by DH and Jr. H.  

Ingredients:
Mixed vegetables (Beets, carrots, Beans, Green peas) - 2 cups
Boiled potato - 2
Onion - 2
Chilly powder - 1 tsp

Tempering items:
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Urad dhal - 1 tsp
Green chilly - 3
Curry leaves - few

For the batter:
Besan/ bengal gram flour - 1/2 cup
Rice flour - 1/4 cup
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Cooking soda (soda bi carb)- a pinch
Salt to taste

Preparation:
1. Pressure cook potatoes and mash it slightly.  Meanwhile cut the vegetables into tiny cubes, throw in some green peas, and pressure for 3 whistles with salt and little water and mash it as well.

2.  Heat a pan, add oil, and throw in the tempering items one by one.  When the mustard seeds sizzles, throw in urad dhal and curry leaves, and later add the mashed boiled veggies and potato.   Add red chilly powder, required salt (if necessary) and saute for few minutes and switch off the flame.  After it cools down, make a even sized round balls and keep it ready (see picture below). 

3.  Finally the preparation of the batter by mixing besan, rice flour, red chilly powder with a pinch of cooking soda.  Add water and make a slightly thick batter. Heat oil in pan, dip the vegetables balls in the batter and make sure it is well coated on all sides, and gently drop the balls in hot oil and fry the bondas until they turn golden brown. Repeat the same with remaining vegetable balls. 
 


Yummulicious vegetable bondas are ready to be 
served to your loved ones.


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

CHINNA VENGAYAM-MURUNGAIKAI-POONDU KUZHAMBU

A spicy dish made with a combination of small onion-drumstick-garlic cooked in tamarind sauce flavored with freshly ground Indian spices.  A special masala powder is made with frying necessary spices and that adds a distinctive flavor to the dish.  

INGREDIENTS:
Small onion -  1 cup
Peeled garlic pods -1 cup
Drumstick (cut in 1" piece) - 1 cup
Brinjal (cut in big slices) - 1
Tomato - 2
Tamarind (soaked in warm water)
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp

For the powder:
Asafoetida - small piece
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Urad dhal - 2 tsp
Fenugreek seeds  - 1 tsp
Peppercorns -very few
Red chillies - 10-12
Jeera - 1 tsp

To Temper:
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - few

Preparation:
1. Peel and small onions and garlic and cut the keep the other vegetables ready.
2. Soak tamarind in water and squeeze out the water from the pulp.
3. Fry the items given in To grind section (Except jeera) with little oil, add jeera before grinding and make the masala powder.  
4.  In a heavy bottomed pan, add oil and throw in mustard seeds and when it sizzles, add in the curry leaves.  Later add small onion and garlic and saute well.  Once the onions have become slightly brown, add in tomatoes, drumstick, and brinjal one by one and mix well.  Add the freshly ground masala powder, salt, and mix well. Finally add the tamarind pulp and let it boil until vegetables are cooked and gravy get thickens.  When it boils, you would get a nice aromatic flavor at home.
Mix well with rice and enjoy a satisfactory meal.

The gravy thickens with time and tastes better after a settling time.


Sunday, January 22, 2017

TOMATO BIRYANI WITH SEERAGA SAMBA RICE

Apologize for not posting for a long time, but there is a reason out there.  Being a working woman, I hardly find any time on weekdays and weekends are the only hope to pursue my hobbies or take up my passion but weekends are getting busier and busier at home.  Last three weekends, I was tightly engaged at home with lots of guests and house chores.  As I was out of home on business trip the whole December, I had to catch up with lot of missed events.   With many and multiple things running through, I had no time left to sit for blogging. 

Moving on to today's post, this is a tomato rice prepared in biryani version.  I had seen many fellow bloggers post on seeraga samba rice but never been curious to try it out.  DH went for a team lunch at a famous restaurant here and was all praising about the biryani prepared with Seeraga Samba Rice.  After DH's repeated praises, I was very inquisitive to try it out at home and that is how I got introduced to this rice. 

When I went to super market, I got a packet of a superior brand and found it equally expensive as basmati rice.  The grains are short and seen approximately a third the size of a grain of basmati rice.  The first thing that attracted me when I opened the packet was the fragrance.  I just loved the aromatic smell of the rice.  The flavor is very distinct and the taste lasted even after finishing the meal.  I also found it to be little starchy and not fluffy in texture when it is cooked.



INGREDIENTS:
Seeraga Samba Rice - 1.5 cups
Tomato - 1/2 kg
Onion (sliced) - 2
Green peas (Optional)  - 1 cup
Coconut milk (Extracted from fresh grated coconut) - 3 cups
Mint leaves - 1 cup (tightly packed)
Chilly powder - 1 tsp
Oil - 2 tsp
Salt - To taste

To grind:
Small onion - 8-10  (peeled)
Green chilies - 3-4
Ginger - 1" piece
Garlic pods - few

To temper:
Cinnamon - 1 stick
Bay leaf - 1
Cloves - few

Preparation:
1. Wash and soak the rice for  10 minutes.  Drain out the water completely later.
2. Extract the milk from coconut.  You can use store brought coconut milk too.  I always prefer home based.
3. Slice the onions and keep it ready.
4. Grind the items given in to grind section.
5. Wash and grind the tomatoes.
6. Heat oil in pressure cooker, throw in the tempering items, and when it sizzles, add the sliced onions and later mint leaves.   Later add the ground masala and mix well.
7.  Add the ground tomatoes, green peas, salt, chilly powder and keep in flame until the mixture gets thicken and the raw smell goes off.  Lastly, add the rice and 3 cups of coconut milk.  I read in the rice packet that for one cup of rice, it is okay to add 1.5 cups of water.  As there is some juicy extract from tomatoes, I reduced the water quantity slightly.  Replacing coconut milk in place of water gave a rice taste to the dish but it is also okay to add half coconut milk and half water.  Pressure cook for one whistle and switch off the flame.  Mix well with a fork gently once the pressure releases.
8.  As told earlier, the rice is little starchy in nature but the taste was more addictive and ended up eating more finally :-)

Sunday, December 18, 2016

VEGETABLE BIRYANI - WITH STEP BY STEP PICTURES

One of a long pending post from my draft.  Staying away from home on a business assignment and feeling bored and lonely on a breezy evening, hence thought to dive into this blogging to clear out some posts and to pen down some random thoughts.

Last two weeks I am out of country and many unfortunate things are happenings around my small world .  First one was the sudden demise of a great leader of my state, my Chief Minister.  I have never been politically inclined but have always been an admirer of her as an individual person for her boldness.   The society where I belong to does not much encourage woman to be a leader and to be on forefront on any position but she is one in million kind of a woman who picked up every stone thrown towards her and built an empire.  It is a loss to nation and it is a loss to women's society. 

Before I could digest her demise, we had another threat in the form of cyclone.  As a vivid follower of a famous TN weatherman blog, I advised, requested, and instructed my family not to move out of home.  As told by him, it had devastated the entire city.  When I saw the clippings on social media, I am almost at the verge of cry because the whole nature is spoilt.  During this period, I had gone through lot of mental stress as I could not reach out family members due to out of network.  There was no power at home and mobile network was not working anywhere.  It was one of a very difficult day in life.  It is a sad feeling to realize that when I return back to my city, I would not be seeing the same old Chennai and I would be missing many part of it. 

I have read many times somewhere on social media that in the blink of an eye everything changes, so please love the people who belong to you.  Yeah, that is true,  this is a take away truth from the above two happenings.


Moving on to the post, when I chit chat with my son the other day on Whatsapp, I asked him what he needs from here, he replied about his favorite toys and adding to that he replied as soon as I come back home, he requested me to prepare my specialty dish, Vegetable Biryani.   I am proud to say that every family member and friends of mine have always loved the version of my biryani.   The mild aroma of the spices blends to the mixed vegetables and the unique flavor from basmati rice gives a rich and addictive taste to the recipe.   


INGREDIENTS:
Mixed Vegetables (Beans, Carrot, Cauliflower, Potato) – 1 large bowl
Mint and coriander leaves – 1 cup
Onion – 1 big size
Tomato – 2 medium size
Soya chunks/Meal maker – half cup
Chilly powder – 1 teaspoon
Basmati Rice – 1 cup
Water – 1.5 cups
Oil - 4 tsp

To grind:
Ginger - 1/2 inch piece
Garlic pods - 5
Green chillies – 2

Tempering items:
Ghee – 2-3 tablespoons  or as desired
Bay leaf - 1
Cardamom – 1
Cinnamon – 1 inch
Cloves – 3-4
Oil – 4 teaspoons

Preparation:
1.  Wash and soak basmati rice for 10 minutes.
2.  Boil water in a vessel with little salt for 5 minutes and soak the soya chunks in it.  Squeeze the water from soya chunks and fry it in little oil.

3.  Wash and cut the vegetables of your choice and keep it ready.  Soak the cauliflower in boiled salt water.  The salt in the water would help kill the insects and it would leave from the flower.  Remove the cauliflower florets carefully later.  Wash the mint and coriander leaves and keep it separately.  The coriander leaves needs to be chopped roughly.
4. Grind the items given in "To grind" section to smooth paste.
5.  Heat oil/ghee in pressure cooker and add bay leaf, cinnamon stick, clove and cardamom.  Add onions , tomatoes, coriander leaves and saute for few minutes.  When the tomatoes turn mushy, add the mixed vegetables and required salt and mix well and allow to cook for 3-4 minutes.  Later, add the chilly powder and mix well.   Add 1.5 cups of water and let it come to boiling stage, add the fried soya chunks, cauliflower, and soaked basmati rice filtering the water. Cover and pressure cook for 1 whistle. Open the cooker , fluff the rice and serve.  
Delicious vegetable rice is ready to be served.

We had our yummlious biryani with onion raita.  

Monday, November 21, 2016

RIBBON PAKODA

Ribbon pakoda is one of spicy and crispy snack made from rice and bengal gram flour.  This popular snack is very easy to prepare and can be made in just half an hour.  I usually prepare this snack on weekends at times and store in large container and give this to Jr.H as school snack.  This is one of my signature dish and has never failed me on taste and crispiness.  Many of my colleagues had given me accolades after tasting this and would ask for recipe. 

The main secret of crispiness lies with dough; it had to be prepared in smaller quantities.  I mix all the ingredients and take a little portion and prepare the dough.  Also care must be given to prepare the dough at right proportion.  If the dough is dry the pakodas would be hard and if it is too moisten the stripes would not be continuous and would be breaking in bits.  The recipe that am going to share is a foolproof method and would never disappoint you.
Ingredients:
Rice flour - 2 cups
Bengal gram flour - 1 cup
Butter - 1 tsp
Red chilly powder - 1 to 1.5 tsp
Salt - to taste
Garlic paste - 1-2 tsp
Oil - for frying

Preparation:
1.  Sieve the rice and bengal gram flour separately to get rid of any tiny grains.  (I usually grind raw rice in bulk quantity in the rice flour mill as I am living in India but you can also use store brought rice flour for this).
2.  Grind the peeled garlic pods with 1/4 cup of water in a mixer and keep aside.
3.  Add in all the ingredients (rice flour, bengal gram flour, butter, chilly powder, salt) without water.  Filter the garlic mixture so that only the essence gets filtered in leaving out the pulp.  Mix well without any lumps.

4.  Take small quantity of mixture and knead well adding water.  
5.  Fill the nada pakoda press with prepared dough with ribbon pakoda disc into it. Once the dough is over, prepare the next batch of dough as above while the pakoda is frying in oil.

6. Heat oil and when the oil is hot, press the dough in hot oil in circular way to form a singular layer.  Don't layer too much, one layer gives out crispy and even cooking. When the bubble ceases, flip the pakoda and cook again until the sizzing of the oil ceases. 
7. Drain it in paper towel and store it in air tight container.

The pakodas become more crispier after it had cooled down completely.

Enjoy the pakoda as evening snack with a cup of tea - a perfect partner for each other on a breezy evening.