Tuesday, February 28, 2012

#20 : Mukkalapulusu ~ The mixed vegetable stew

If you are craving  Sambar ( the famous south Indian lentil stew ) and you don't have the time to make it , this recipe below makes an awesome substitute . It is easy , full of vegetables , needs very little oil and tastes great . I jotted this recipe from my mom-in-law last year and have made it several times . I am always amazed at how simple this is to make. Mix this up with piping hot rice and the first bite of it is sure to bring a contented smile on your face . 

Monday, February 27, 2012

#19 : Senagalu ~ The healthy Chickpea salad

Last week , I spent a good amount of time trying to plan healthy meals . We mostly ate soups and drank juices . Oh , there was this super easy spinach stir fry that turned up on the table very often . Life felt good , body and mind both energized and happy . Isn't that feeling really important ?  This snack of tempered chickpeas is usually made on festive occasions as prasadam ( offering to god ). It tastes great as a salad , snack or a side. Just squeeze a little lemon before eating and I promise you will enjoy it . Making this a few wonderful memories gushed in -  a little me running around in silk clothes with jasmine flowers in the hair , munching handfuls of this healthy snack :) Love !

Sunday, February 26, 2012

#18 : Nimakaya Pachadi ~ The Instant Lime Pickle

Some days you write like you speak . The flow of words and thoughts are all natural . Today is one such day . This " Lime Pickle " reminds me of summer , breeze , mangoes and carefree days. Childhood is such a beautiful part of ones life . I spent most of my young years with my grand parents . I was a brat but they treated me like a princess . I threw huge tantrums to eat food but stories , chocolates and love followed . They were younger then full of energy .... 
Pickles are a integral part of Andhra cuisine. We love hot-spicy food . The most famous of those pickles are the green mango and gongura . Though readily available in stores most take pride in making them from scratch . The flavors of home made pickles are unique. No denial . I have memories of waking up early in summers to assist my grandmother to prepare these .  A time consuming laborious task ! They involve multiple stages to drying in the sun and a array of vivid spices and oils. Although complicated , I would love to learn and document all those recipes some day. But , today is this easy instant Lime Pickle. Hot rice and a bit of ghee with this pickle = mouth watering :) Yet another recipe from my awesome mom-in-law.

  • 1 Tbs Red Chilli powder (heaped)
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric powder 
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 8 Key Limes (juiced,seeds discarded)

      For Tempering :
  • 1 Tbs Oil 
  • 1/2 tsp - Mustard seeds
  • 2 Dried Red Chillis
  • 1/8 tsp Asafoetida
  • 1/4 tsp Fenugreek powder
  1. To the lime juice add red chilli powder , turmeric , salt and mix without lumps . The consistency should be that of a thick paste. If too runny add more red chilli powder and salt as required
  2. For Tempering - Heat oil , add mustard seeds . Once they begin to splutter add the red chilies , asafoetida and fenugreek powder and fry for a minute. Add this tempering to the lime juice mixture. Mix well . The instant lime pickle is done . Isn't it easy ?
  3. Serve with hot rice and some ghee

Saturday, February 25, 2012

#17 : Tomato Pappu ~ Tomato Dhal

Another of the Oh ! so favorite comfort foods . Something that I end up making at least once a week if not more . Need I say anything else ?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

#16 : Senagapindi Pachadi ~ A chutney made of gram flour

I grew up eating this pachadi as an accompaniment with Idlis and Dosas . My grand dad loved it and so it was made very often . I have warm memories of dunking rava dosas with this pachadi before heading out to play . Having never seen it on the menu of the South Indian breakfast restaurants , I always thought of it as something made only by my grand mom . I dont know of how common this pachadi is with other south Indian households , but my mom-in-law also makes it . I was pleasantly surprised when she made it the last time she was visiting and it re-kindled some old memories .

  • 1 1/2 Cups Besan/Senagapindi/Chickpea flour
  • small lime size ball of Tamarind
  • 3 Cups water ( lukewarm )
  • Salt to taste

For Tempering :
  • 1 tsp Oil 
  • 1/2 tsp Mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp Urad Dhal
  • 1/4 tsp Cumin
  • 5-6 Green Chilli ( finely chopped )
  • 2 Dried Red Chillis
  • 5-6 Curry Leaves
  • 1/8 tsp Asafoetida
  • 1/8 tsp  Fenugreek powder
  1. Dry roast the Besan/Senagapindi/Chickpea flour for about 10 min on medium- low heat. Keep stirring continuously . Remove from flame when the flour is slightly colored 
  2. Soak the tamarind in 3 cups of lukewarm water for 10 mins . Extract the juice . Filter the water and juice together and set aside
  3. Wisk together the roasted flour and the tamarind juice extract without any lumps . Add water if needed to adjust the consistency . Add salt as required
  4. For tempering - Heat the oil , add the mustard seeds , let them splutter . To it add the urad dhal , cumin seeds , green chillies, red chillies, curry leaves and fry until the urad dhal is slightly brown. Remove from flame and add asafoetida and fenugreek powder. Add this tempering to the ground pachadi 
  5. Serve with Idli or Dosa 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

#15 : Carrot Halwa ~ Gajar ka halwa

"Carrot Halwa" is a classic Indian dessert . When served warm with a sprinkling of crushed pistachios this halwa ( sweet ) is truly divine . I somehow never found the motivation to learn to make it and so the recipe stayed bookmarked on my laptop for years . 
Last year I took up class in pottery and ceramics at a local arts school . Over the course of six months , I ended up with some glazed clay dessert bowls . I wanted to make something nice to serve in them and then the carrot halwa happened :-) Since then I have made it several times on happy occasions .

  • 4 Cups Grated Carrots
  • 3 Cups Milk
  • 3/4 Cup Sugar
  • 1.5 Tbs Khoya or Freshly made Paneer (grated)
  • 1 Tbs Ghee / Butter
  • 2 Cardamom pods ( crushed )
  • A few chopped Pistachios 
  1. Heat the ghee in a wide pan . Add grated carrots and fry for about 5 mins . To it add the milk and bring to a boil . Simmer and cook until the carrots are tender and milk is reduced to half . Keep stirring from time to time 
  2. Add the sugar , crushed cardamom pods and khoya and cook until all milk is absorbed and the carrots come together to a thick mixture 
  3. Serve warm with a sprinkling of chopped pistachios

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

#14 : Maramaralu ~ A puffed rice snack

When I was a kid , cable TV wasn't common . We only had one National channel. Movies were played on Saturday nights and Sunday evenings . Don't movies and snacks go together ? Spicy roasted peanuts were the hot favorite.Eating them my granddad always joked - peanuts are poor man's cahsews ! This snack of puffed rice was yet another sought after option. Quick , easy , healthy and yummy. Even today if you decide to take a late evening stroll by the parks or beaches in the southern India, you will find street side vendors putting together this snack  against dimly lit hurricane lamps. Sometimes I wonder when we can find  joy in simple things, why do we run after the bigger desires .
  • 4 cups Puffed Rice / Maramaralu
  • 1/4 cup Peanuts
  • 1/8 cup roasted Channa Dhal / Putnalu
  • 1/2 + 1/2 tsp Oil
  • 1/2  tsp Red Chilli powder 
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric 
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin Powder
  • Salt
  • 2-3 Green Chillies finely chopped
  • 3 tsp Onion finely chopped
  • 3 tsp Tomato finely chopped
  • 3 tsp Cilantro finely chopped 
  • 1/2 lime ( squeezed )
  1. Heat 1/2 tsp oil in a small pan and roast the peanuts on medium heat/ flame . To it add the channa dhal (Putnalu ) and roast for 2-3 min . Add red chilli powder, turmeric , salt,cumin powder and mix well . Turn off the heat and set aside 
  2. In another wide pan heat 1/2 tsp oil and roast the puffed rice for 5-7 min on a medium flame . This adds to the crunchiness of the puffed rice 
  3. In a large vessel add onions , tomatoes , green chillies ,lime juice and cilantro .To it add the roasted puffed rice and the spicy peanut-channa dhal mixture . Mix well , add salt if needed. Enjoy
  4. Oh , I like adding some grated green mango when available . It gives a nice tangy punch :)

#13 : Palakura Pappu ~ Spinach and Lentils

"Palakura Pappu" is a simple lentil recipe that is mildly spiced . It is high in fiber , iron and protein . Being vegetarian , I grew up eating lentils everyday . Warm rice and dhal is a favorite comfort food . Quick and easy, Palakura pappu finds it way on the table very often . 

  • 3 cups Spinach chopped
  • 1/2 Cup Tur Dhal 
  • 2.5 Cups Water
  • 4-5 Small Green Chillies
  • Lime sized Tamarind
  • Salt
      For Tempering :
  • 1 tsp Oil 
  • 1/2 tsp - Mustard seeds
  • 2 Dried Red Chillis
  • tsp Red Chilli powder
  • 1/8 tsp - Asafoetida
  • 5-6 Curry Leaves 
  1. Wash the tur dhal 
  2. To it add the spinach , green chillies, water and pressure cook for 3-4 whistles. Set aside 
  3. Once the steam escapes the the cooker , remove the lid add tamarind and bring the dhal mixture to a boil . Add in the salt as required
  4. For Tempering - Heat oil , add mustard seeds . Once they begin to splutter add the red chilies ,curry leaves, asafoetida and red chilli powder and fry for a minute . Add the tempering to the boiling dhal mixture 
  5. Serve with hot rice . Also tastes great as a soup 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

#12 : Idli

"Idli" - a regular everyday South Indian breakfast at home in India , is an exotic gourmet food for us in US of A . As simple as it is to make these , it has taken me years to learn . When you could microwave some frozen store-bought Idlis , why make it from scratch ? Idlis are steamed ( no oil/fat ) and are high in protein. When you want to indulge in some guilt-free Indian breakfast , Idli tops the list. Let me confess , I have an obsession with banana leaves. Anything served on it is out of the world for me and idli surely is :-) 
I put together a breakfast of these with Allam Pachadi ( ginger chutney ) and hot frothy filter coffee for Kalyan this Valentines day . Thanks to my Sister in law for guiding me through the whole process :-)

  • 2 heaped cups Urad Dhal
  • 4 cups Idli Rava / Rice Rava
  • Salt
  • A pinch baking soda

  1. Wash and soak urad dhal in just enough water for 6-7 hours
  2. Soak the Idli Rava also at the same time separately
  3. Grind the urad dhal in about 3 cups water . The best way is to use a wet grinder and grind it for about an hour until the batter is light and silky smooth . The longer you grind the softer the idlis . Remove and set aside 
  4. Drain off the water from the soaked rava and add the rava to the ground urad dhal batter . Mix rigorously . Cover and let it ferment for 8-12 hours . If living in India the batter can be left at room temperature . In cooler climates the batter should be stored in a warm place  to aid fermentation . I leave in it in the oven with the light on
  5. After fermentation the batter will double in volume . Add in the salt as needed .This batter can be stored for about a week in the refrigerator 
  6.  For making Idlis - Scoop out the needed quantity of batter and add a pinch of baking soda . Mix well . The consistency should be medium . Adjust/add water if necessary. Drop spoon fulls of batter into the Idli plates and steam cook for 10 mins 
  7. Serve hot with the choice of your chutney 

Monday, February 13, 2012

#11 : Vegetable Upma

For a lot of people, Upma is a easy to put together breakfast . To me , Upma is a whole different word . I 'adore' it . When I make it , I put a lot of effort into it . I chop up vegetables , boil potato , fry cashews , pound ginger and ....
My husband jokes that I am the only person he knows who could go to a South Indian restaurant and order Upma . Need I say more !

  • 1/2 cup Semolina / Sooji / Rava
  • 1 tsp Mustard seeds
  • 4-5 Cashews
  • 2-3 Curry leaves
  • 1 small Onion (thinly sliced)
  • 3 tsp of Green Peas
  • 1/2 small Carrot (diced)
  • 3 Green Beans (diced)
  • 1/2 small Potato ( cut into small cubes and boiled )
  • 1 inch piece of Ginger (pounded)
  • 2 Green chillies (Slit)
  • 1 Tbs oil
  • 1 tsp Ghee (optional)
  • 1.5 cups water
  • Salt to taste
  1. Dry roast the Semolina / Sooji / Rava for 7-8 mins on medium heat and set aside
  2. In another wide pan , heat oil and fry cashews until golden . To it add the mustard seeds, curry leaves, green chilles and fry for a minute 
  3. Add onions and fry until slightly brown . Add the vegetables ( carrot , peas ,beans and boiled potato ) 
  4. Add in the water , salt and bring to a rolling boil 
  5. Turn back the heat / flame down to medium , add ghee and salt as required 
  6. Start adding the roasted semolina to the vegetable-water mixture in small batches and keep stirring rigorously 
  7. Cover and cook for 10 mins on low heat 
  8. Serve with a dash of freshly squeezed lime 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

#10 : Buttermilk ~ Spiced Indian Version

Buttermilk  is the most popular home made thirst quencher in India . It is a naturally soothing , healthy and is very easy to make . Ayurveda describes it as a drink fit for the Gods . When served in earthen clay cups the joy of drinking it surely doubles :-) While there are numerous ways to spice this drink up , it is most often made by adding a ground mixture of ginger and green chillies .

  • 1/4 cup Curd /Yogurt 
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 small green chilli
  • 1/2 inch piece of Ginger
  • 1 tsp Cilantro (chopped)
  1. Transfer all the above ingredients to blender and blend for 2-3 min
  2. Refrigerate for 2 hours
  3. Server cold , in earthen cups if you can

Thursday, February 9, 2012

#9 : Saggubiyyam Payasam ~ Indian Tapioca pudding

"Saggubiyyam Payasam", what can say ? I have such wonderful memories of this Indian Pudding. As a kid I spent my summer vacations with my dads parents in Vijayawada and my grandmother used to make this dessert very often . I still remember the little me trying to  assist my grand mom , pounding up the cardamom and frying the cashews and the raisins. Oh,good old days.

I jotted the below recipe from my mom in law when she was visiting us last year . I can never say no to a warm cup of Saggubiyyam Payasam .

  • 1/4 cup small Tapioca
  • 2 cups water
  • 1.5 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup or more Sugar
  • 7 Cardamom pods
  • 10-12 Cashews
  • 10-12 Raisins
  • 1 Tbs Ghee
  1. In a heavy bottomed sauce pan bring the tapioca and water to a boil 
  2. Turn down the heat to medium and simmer for 30mins until the tapioca doubles in size and becomes translucent . ( Tapioca is a heavy starch and has a tendency to stick to the bottom, so keep stirring from time to time adding more water if needed )
  3. Once the tapioca is cooked add in the milk and simmer for 10mins (remember to be watchful )
  4. Add the sugar 
  5. Remove the skin from the cardamom pods and pound to a fine powder . Add this to the payasam mixture
  6. Heat the Ghee in a small skillet and fry the cashews and raisins until golden brown and add to the payasam . Remove from heat and set aside
  7. Serve warm :-)

#8 : Mamidikaya Pappu ~ Mango Dhal

"Mamidikaya", Mango is considered as the king of all fruits . This dhal is made by combining raw green mango and tur dhal ( split skinned pigeon lentils ) . It is very simple to make and tastes completely out of the world . I can vouch that this is a personal favorite to many Telugus and is a core part of the Andhra cuisine . I have fond summer memories of enjoying this dhal with piping hot rice . Even today as I make it , my heart skips an eager beat . Love .

  • 1 Green Mango - Skin peeled and chopped ( Leave the seed out )
  • 3/4 Cup Tur Dhal 
  • 3 Cups Water
  • 4-5 Small Green Chillies
  • Salt
      For Tempering :
  • 1 tsp Oil 
  • 1/2 tsp - Mustard seeds
  • 2 Dried Red Chillis
  • tsp Red Chilli powder
  • 1/8 tsp - Asafoetida
  • 5-6 Curry Leaves 
  1. Wash the tur dhal 
  2. To it add the mango pieces , green chillies, water and pressure cook for 3-4 whistles. Set aside 
  3. Once the steam escapes the the cooker , remove the lid and bring the dhal mixture to a boil . Add in the salt as required 
  4. For Tempering - Heat oil , add mustard seeds . Once they begin to splutter add the red chilies ,curry leaves, asafoetida and red chilli powder and fry for a minute . Add the tempering to the boiling dhal mixture 
  5. Serve with hot rice . Also tastes great as a soup 

Monday, February 6, 2012

#7 : Palli Pachadi ~ Peanut Chutney

"Palli Pachadi " is a mixture if ground peanuts and green chilles topped with a crunchy tempering of mustard seeds and urad dhal . While this chutney can be eaten with all South Indian breakfasts , nothing beats dipping warm spongy iddlis with Palli Pachadi .  When I moved away from home , this was the first chutney recipe I picked up . 

  • 1/2 cup heaped Peanuts ( blanched , unsalted )
  • 6-7 small Green chilies
  • 1 tsp Tamarind juice
  • Salt
      For Tempering :
  • 1 tsp Oil 
  • 1/2 tsp - Mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp - Urad Dhal
  • 1 Dried Red Chillis
  • 1/8 tsp - Asafoetida
  • 2 Curry Leaves
  1. Dry roast the peanuts on a medium flame for 5-7 min
  2. Grind the roasted peanuts , green chillies , tamrind juice and salt into a fine pastes adding water as required 
  3. For tempering - Heat the oil , add the mustard seeds and urad dhal . Once the dhal begins to brown add the red chill , curry leaves and asafoetida and fry for a minute. Add this to the ground pachadi 
  4. Serve hot with Idlli , Dosa , Upma or Vada 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

#6 : The South Indian Filter Coffee

No day in the in the South Indian household begins without brewing  filter coffee. While I prefer drinking Chai ( tea ) over coffee , I sometimes give in to its aroma . A perfectly made coffee reminds me of the taste of " coffee bite " -toffees from childhood . Wired of how we associate food to some happy days in our life . I am new to the art of making coffee. I picked up the traditional steel filter to brew coffee only a year back . I was just married then and my husband loved coffee :) I went through all possible resources on internet to learn to make it right. Now , I have developed my own way around it .

I have a medium-large filter , It can make 7-8 tumblers of strong coffee

  • 5 heaped Tbs of  coarsely ground coffee powder ( I use " Bru Ground and Roast " )
  • Water
  • Milk 
  • Sugar
  1. The traditional steel filter has 2 compartments , a long steel insert and a lid  . Remove the lid and the insert  . Add the coffee powder and replace the long insert back 
  2. Bring 2  cups of water to a rolling boil . Add the boiling water to the upper compartment until full . Put back the lid and set aside for 3-4 hours. The decoction will percolate to the lower compartment
  3. To make coffee : Heat milk in a sauce pan . Bring to boil . Turn down the stove heat and add decoction to your liking . ( I like mine strong ) 
  4. Add sugar ( I add 1/2 Tbs of sugar per tumbler of coffee )
  5. Pour the coffee into a steel tumbler . Enjoy !
  • Do not over heat the coffee after adding the decoction 
  • Using  organic milk enhances the taste
  • Pour the coffee into the tumbler from a height to create a foam