Sunday, June 18, 2017

MYSORE RASAM

While all the people at home are watching India-Pak Match, I am diving into blogging to enjoy my  "Me" time.   Already am down with Monday blues and sadly thinking about my handful of chores in my to-do list for the upcoming week.  The weekend was quite stressful as I accidentally fell yesterday while cleaning home and halfway through cooking.   Felt an excruciating pain at foot for the initial few minutes, later I managed the cooking and other house chores in slow motion but as the day progresses my entire ankle was hurting and swollen.  I was not able to walk and felt pain at every step.  DH applied all sorts of home treatment - applying oil, massaging, ointment, pain reliever spray and nothing worked out.  Finally, I was pushed to the stage of taking over-the-counter medication at night.  I slept uninterruptedly and when I woke up this morning, the pain had reduced.  I was able to walk though felt mild pain at every step.  Am getting better after the second dose of medication.


Due to the above incident, I kept the cooking on the lighter side yesterday and prepared only rasam.  For the benefit of my international friends who follows my blog, rasam is a thin soup made with tamarind and Indian spices.  It is eaten with rice and acts as a perfect appetizer.  There are many variations of rasam and I prepared Mysore Rasam yesterday.  It is a recipe from Karnataka Cuisine in which the Indian spices are roasted and ground with coconut.  The aromatic flavor fills the entire home when you prepare this rasam, stimulates your digestive system, and acts as a healthy traditional appetizer.  I do not remember exactly when I fell in love for this rasam, I would just drink it as a soup whenever I prepare this at home.


INGREDIENTS:
Tamarind water (extracted from tamarind pulp) - 2 cups
Cooked Toor dhal -  1/2 cup (small)
Tomatoes - 2
Salt - to taste
Turmeric powder - a pinch
Ghee - 1/2 tsp

To roast and grind:
Pepper - 1 tsp
Toor dhal - 1 tsp
Coriander seeds - 1 tsp
Red chilly - 1
Coconut - 1 tsp
Jeera/Cumin - 1 tsp

To Temper:
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Red chilly - 1 or 1/2
Curry leaves - few

Preparation:
1. Soak tamarind pulp in warm water for some 10 minutes and extract the juice from it.  Keep aside.
2.  Cook Toor dhal in pressure cooker adding water and mash it well.
3.  In 1/2 tsp of oil, roast the items given under section "To roast and grind" except coconut and jeera.  Add the coconut at last part of roasting and switch off the flame.  At the time of grinding, add the jeera/cumin seeds and grind it to a smooth paste adding little water.
4.  In a vessel, add tomatoes and mash it by either squeezing them using a wooden spatula /fingers, or use a blender.  Add the extracted tamarind water to it.  Add the required salt and turmeric powder to it and keep in flame.
5.  Boil for 10 minutes until the raw smell of the tamarind goes off.  Gently add the ground paste and mix well.  After a minute, add the cooked and mashed toor dhal and mix well.
6. When it starts to froth up, switch of the flame and temper it with mustard seeds, red chilly, and curry leaves in a teaspoon of ghee.  
The aromatic rasam can be mixed with steamed rice or can be taken as such as a soup. 

Below picture is taken at another instance for a special lunch..

Saturday, May 27, 2017

BEET GREENS-LENTIL MIXTURE WITH BROWNED ONIONS

Back home three weeks back after a tiring business trip.   Though I bounced back immediately into cooking, I was inching back on my another routines, hence could not sit for blogging. 

Being at home is the best feel one could have after a long, strenuous and demanding business trip.  I was returning back home on our anniversary day and DH was eagerly waiting for me at the airport to receive me.  We are entering into our 13th year of marital bliss.  I know nobody in this World would love me as much as him and tolerate my silly nonsense stuffs.  I could not find any best words to describe it.  It was surprising to see him with a bouquet of flowers .  DH never express himself much but his actions always speaks louder than his words.   I always look forward to the Airport pickups by DH and Jr. H.  I could feel the love and contentment in DH eyes.  Jr.H would run towards to me and always gives me a big hug and would melt my heart and calm my soul.

While it was only work and work when I was away home, I was eagerly looking forward to the planned personal vacation after my return.  We have planned for a vacation to Ooty, one of the most popular and gorgeous hill stations in South India.  We have been there couple of times before and this is our third trip there.  As we have seen all the sightseeing locations on our earlier trip, we planned this trip truly for leisure and have good amount of family time.  During our trip, the nature was at its best and we enjoyed the cold nights and chilled evenings.  Our long morning and evening walks rejuvenated us .   Jr. H was more excited than us and he became our photographer and clicked many pictures of this memorable trip :-).

While we were back to Chennai, I grabbed lot of native vegetables from the very famous hill station.  The freshly plucked carrots, beets, and radishes looked vibrant and colorful and seized my eyes.  The vegetables were seen with colorful leafy greens adorning their top.  We never get these vegetables with leaves here in the market.  I have heard a lot that these greens are very nutritious and wanted to try it out.  So I took care in bringing them back them.  I wrapped them in wet towel so that the leaves would not go wilt.  I was managing the kitchen for a whole week with the veggies I got from there.


I prepared the beet greens adding moong dhal and it turned out to be a hit at home instantly.  The exotic taste rendered from the beet greens were elevated with the addition of firmly cooked yellow moong dhal .  I tempered the dish with browned onions which additionally enhanced the flavor to the dish.

Ingredients: 
Beet Greens - 1 cup
Moong dhal - 1/4 cup
Garlic - 4 pods
Green chilly - 1
Salt - to taste

To Temper:
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Urad dhal - 1 tsp
Red chilly - 1
Onion - 1 (Sliced thin)

Preparation:
1.  Remove the greens from the stem, wash it thoroughly in running cold water, and chop roughly.

2. Cook the moong dhal in pressure cooker for 2 whistles with salt 
and little water.  I like the dish to be crunchy, hence I cooked the moong dhal firmly and not mushy
3. In a vessel, add the greens, little water, salt, garlic pods, and green chilly and allow it to cook in medium flame for 5-7 minutes.  Stir in between, the greens would cook faster.  Once they become tender and cooked, add in the cooked moong dhal (skinned split mung gram) and mix well. Allow it to cook for 2 more minutes.  Switch off the flame once the dhal blends nicely with the greens.

4.  Heat oil in a pan and throw in the tempering items one by one.  Once the mustard seeds sizzles, add the urad dhal, red chilly followed by sliced onions.   Saute well in low flame until the onions are browned.  Browning of onions would take little time, so need to be patient in it.  When it is browned well, add it to the dish and mix well.

Serve it as an accompaniment with steamed rice.

We had this as an accompaniment for small red radish sambar (will post the recipe next) and garlic rasam.  

Sunday, April 30, 2017

PARUPPU URUNDAI KUZHAMBU - LENTIL BALLS COOKED IN TAMARIND SAUCE

Another post from my draft.....

One more week to go to join with family and I already started counting the days here.  This weekend is a long weekend everywhere and I badly miss being at home.   On the weekdays, I was deep diving at work here which keeps me going without missing family.  Also surrounded by some understandable soft nature colleagues who patiently listens to my nonsense stuffs and makes my days lighter.   Weekends are hard to pass by and only my long walks with no real destination are helping me to pass time on the weekends. 

Ahhhh, as I think of work now, some immediate random thoughts are flashing up on my mind now.  I could foresee some changes at work environment and I am getting prepared for it.  I really like the role that I had play and get many learning exposures while interacting with cross functional teams co-located worldwide.  The team I work with feels like a family, everyone here truly respects each other and help each other at work.  During this journey, some of my team mates have turned into good friends.  The paths have changed for some of my wonderful colleagues and I am still in touch with them.  Well, the process changes are inevitable and we should adapt ourselves.  Let's see what's in store for me next...

At home, both DH and Jr. H are enjoying the long weekend.  Home is filled with guests from DH's end, so DH is on full swing mode of enjoyment, taking them for long drives, beaches, malls, film, restaurant.  In fact, I am bit relieved that both of them are enjoying without thinking about my absence, otherwise I would go to a very moody mode worrying about them. 


Not to take too much time about the happenings, let me move further to the recipe.  There are many variations to this dish and I follow the authentic method of my family with a mild twist.  This Paruppu Urundai Kuzhambu is prepared from ground dhal mixture with red chillies, asafeotida, and salt.  The lentil balls are made out of the ground mixture and cooked in tamarind sauce in slow to medium flame on stove top.  Just to add rich flavor to the dish, I roasted some Indian spices and ground it with coconut and added to the kuzhambu and it tasted out of the world.  


INGREDIENTS:
Tool Dhal:  1 cup
Bengal gram: 1/4 cup
Red chillies - 8-9
Salt - To taste
Asafoetida - a pinch
Tamarind water (Extracted from soaked tamarind pump) - 4 cups
Sambar Powder -1  tsp
Oil - 4 tsp

To roast and grind:
Asafoetida - small piece (powder could also be used as an alternate)
Red chillies - 5
Bengal gram - 1 tsp
Urad dhal - 1/2 tsp
Coriander seeds - 1 tsp
(Roast all the above items in little oil and grind with 2 tsp of coconut)

To Temper:
Oil - 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - few

PREPARATION:
Soak toor dhal+Bengal gram together for an hour.

Meanwhile soak tamarind in warm water for some 15 minutes and extract the tamarind juice from the pulp
Filter the water out from the dhal after an hour carefully and grind it along with red chilly, asafoetida, and salt.  Care must be taken to drain the water completely from the soaked mixture before grinding, otherwise the lentil balls would dissolve while adding to the kuzhambu.  If you feel  the mixture is very solid during grinding part, you can sprinkle little water then and there.  Kindly note the salt is to be added only for the mixture and salt for the gravy needs to be added separately later.  
In a heavy bottomed pan, add oil, throw in a tsp of mustard seeds and when it crackles, add the ground mixture carefully and mix well with a ladle.  After few mins, the mixture would come to a texture where you could sense the moisture from the mixture is left, switch off the stove, allow it to cool for sometime, and make into equal sized balls.
In the meantime, while the mixture is getting cooled, roast the items given in the section to roast and grind with little oil and grind it smoothly with 2 tsp of coconut and keep aside.

In a heavy bottomed vessel, pour in the tamarind juice, add a tsp of sambar powder and salt.  Switch on the stove and allow it to boil for 5-7 minutes until the raw smell goes off.  Lower the flame, gently add 2-3 the round shaped lentil balls one by one carefully.  When it floats on the top, slowly add the remaining balls one by one.  Do not stir immediately after adding the balls, allow it to cook.   After sometime, you would see the balls start floating at the top, which means it had cooked.  

When you see multiple lentil balls floating, add the ground mixture and stir well.  Let it boil for few more minutes.  Switch off the stove.

Temper the kuzhambu with mustard seeds and curry leaves. 

The gravy/kuzhambu can be mixed with steam rice and can be accompanied with a roasted curry.   

The lentil balls can also be taken as a side dish to the gravy.

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.