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.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

BITTERGOURD PORIYAL

As we ate lot of sweets during Deepavali, DH put a rule at home to include bittergourd daily at home for a week.   Usually, I make poricha kuzhambu with bitter gourd that includes frying urad dhal, asafoetida, coriander seeds and grind along with coconut as addition of coconut subtle the bitter taste but this time I tried poriyal adding onion and tomatoes.  I must say the mild tangy taste from tomatoes reduced the bitter taste and added a special flavor to the poriyal.

INGREDIENTS:
Bitter gourd - 250g
Onion - 2-3 (sliced thin)
Tomatoes - 2 (sliced thin)
Garlic flakes - few 
Salt - to taste
Red Chilly Powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric Powder - 1 tsp
Oil - 3-4 tsp

To Temper:
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Urad dhal - 1 tsp
Green chillies - 2

PREPARATION:
1. Slice onions and tomatoes and cut the bittergourd in thin long 2" pieces.  Refer picture any doubts.

2. Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan and throw in the tempering agents one by one. Put in onions and once the onions have browned well, add tomatoes and garlic flakes and little salt which is required only for onions and tomatoes.
3. Once the tomatoes have turned mushy , add the bitter gourd, turmeric powder, and salt required for bittergourd.  Mix well and cook it closing the pan with a lid.  Once the bittergourd had cooked well, add red chilly powder, keep in flame for few minutes and transfer to vessel.
4.  Serve as side dish for sambar/kara kuzhambu.  

We had as a side dish for drumstick-black channa puli kuzhambu with additional side dish of baby potato-cauliflower fry.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Mor Kuzhambu - SPICY BUTTER MILK KUZHAMBU

Mor kuzhambu is a traditional dish among South Indians which is made with buttermilk and is made during festivals and special occasions. This kuzhambu can be made with many vegetables such as ladies finger, ash gourd, pumpkin, drumstick etc and can be made in several variations.  I am posting the recipe which I learnt from my mother.  This can be mixed with hot steamed rice with a teaspoon of ghee and it would taste wonderful.  
I prepared this last week and coincidentally one of our common friend visited us for lunch with her husband.  She liked it with very much. 

Ingredients:
Thick Butter milk - 2 cups
Ash gourd  - 1 cup
Soaked toor dhal and bengal gram - 2 tsps each
Coconut:  1 small cup
Green chilly - 8
Jeera - 1 tsp
Fenugreek seeds - 1/2 tsp
Dhaniya/coriander seeds - 1 tsp
Urad dhal - 1 tsp
Hing/Asafoetida - 1 small piece
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste
Oil - 1 tsp

To Temper
Mustard seeds - a tsp
Red chilly - 1
Curry leaves - few

Preparation:
1. Soak a teaspoon of toor dhal and bengal gram in water for half an hour.
2.  Boil ash gourd with little water adding turmeric powder and salt.
3.  In a pan, with little oil, roast asafoetida, fenugreek seeds, urad dhal, and coriander seeds.  While all had fried well, lastly add the green chilly and switch off the flame.  Grind this along with coconut, jeera, and soaked toor dhal.
4.  Take 2 cups of curd and beat it without any lumps adding little water and keep this butter milk aside.  When the ash gourd had cooked well, add the ground paste and mix well.  Let it boil for 2 minutes.  Then add the buttermilk and mix well.  Switch off the flame in a minute when you see start seeing froth on the top of the vessel.
5.  Temper the gravy with mustard seeds, curry leaves, and red chilly.
6.  Serve this kuzhambu with hot steamed rice.  We had it with yam fry and drumstick leaves curry.