Sunday, March 25, 2012

#26 : Dosakaya Pappu ~ Lentils and Indian Cucumber

Over the past few months, Kalyan and I have developed a lot of interest in Ayurveda and are trying hard to incorporate healthier options into everyday meals. This Ugadi  (Telugu New year), I made an array of simple food from the ayurvedic cookbook Sukham ayu. Our meal included a ginger-lemon rasam, okra stir fry,  green mango rice, almond date payasam and this dhal-Dosakaya Pappu. I will probably share the other recipes in a new blog I plan to write to document our interest in ayurveda but today it is this hearty lentil curry. "Dosakaya" is a variety of  cucumber grown in India. It is light and naturally cooling. This dish is a staple in the Telugu households and I have numerous memories of eating this warm and comforting dhal from my grandmothers kitchen.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

#25 : AAvadalu ~ South Indian Dahi Vada

Kalyan texted " I am coming home " and I replied " come soon , I have a surprise for you ". This was the day before his birthday . I made these yogurt dipped vadas to jump start the birthday celebrations . This was my first time making them and I was very excited. 

Let me tell you a story.I have a "thing" against anything yogurt . I grew up with my grand mom who didn't eat yogurt and I somehow developed the same aversion to it . For us South Indians , curd / yogurt is finale to every meal . Most proudly claim that a meal is never complete without eating yogurt-rice at the end . It is considered heavenly , a perfect nullifier to the spicy food we eat . I remember my parents trying very hard to make me like yogurt . They agreed on a pact that for each bite of yogurt I could get a small cube of chocolate. As much as I liked the offer, It didn't help a bit. After I met Kalyan , he tried talking me into it , but didn't work again. So, it remained a tacit understanding . Kalyan became the chef in charge for yogurt based dishes. As  time passed , I became a litter more tolerant to it . While I still cannot 'like' it, I can cook with it. 

You can now understand how a simple yogurt based dish can bring a moment of surprise and happiness to us . I am also rejoicing the fact that I am half way through this challenge . It was not easy and took a lot more effort than I had expected. Thank you to everyone who took time to read and follow me through. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

#24 : Medhu Vada ~ Savory Indain doughnuts

"Vadas" are savory Indian doughnuts. They are usually dipped with spicy chutnety / pachadi and are eaten hot and crispy. It takes a lot of practice to learn to make them right. I have been attempting to learn these for years and have failed multiple times.  I first attempted them when I was new to cooking and the out come was disastrous . The next few times were after I got married to Kalyan . As a new bride, I tried various fun cooking experiments and the Vadas were a part of it and I failed yet again. Finally , last year I succeeded in understanding the right logistics to make a perfect batter that will help aid with the vadas's shape and taste . I stood in the kitchen , took diligent notes from my mom in law and attempted them as she supervised . The most difficult part was learning how to transfer the shaped vadas from the plastic sheet / banana leaf into hot oil for frying . My mom-in-law took a special interest in teaching me a few tricks without which my desire to learn to make these Indian doughnuts would have remained a dream . Vadas also called "garelu" in telugu are a popular street food in rural southern India. You will see stalls set up on the road frying these in big Kadais. ( Indian woks )

Two chutneys that go very well with vadas are :

Thursday, March 8, 2012

#23 : Red Allam Pachadi ~ Ginger Chutney

If you are a South Indian , I am sure you have memories of savoring tiffins ( the South Indian term for breakfast ) with Ginger Pickle . The one we usually use at home is a store bought pickle that has a long shelf life . This below recipe of allam pachadi is an instant version of the same pickle . It is easy to make and has a beautiful balance of  spice and sweetness. I especially like this chutney as an accompaniment to upma , but it tastes wonderful with idli , dosa or vada as well. Goodness of ginger is not unknown. It has been used it ayurvedic and chinese medicines for years. It helps to aid digestion and benefits blood circulation. My grand dad and father-in-law drink shots of ginger juice concentrate every week . They both vouch for its goodness. It is one of my favorite spices to cook with . I have been monitoring my grocery shopping list and have found that we use at least 1/2 lb of ginger each week .

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

#22 : Gutti Vankaya ~ Stuffed Eggplant

Its time to talk about a culinary delicacy . This recipe of stuffed eggplant/brinjal is a cherished part of Andhra Cuisine . While different regions across the world have a variety of stuffing for eggplants , this recipe below is a personal version . I picked up tidbits of making it from my sister in law on extended conversations over the phone where she went through nifty details and step by step instructions. When I know that this curry is on the menu for the day , I'd skip my breakfast to leave out extra appetite. One can never get enough of it. It is nutty and crispy with delicate flavors of the eggplant . Really , there is no better way to relish it than eating it mixed with hot rice and a small dollop of ghee . Oh , did I forget to mention that the whole house smells of a wonderful aroma when the eggplants are almost done cooking?  

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

#21: Chama Fry ~ Taro Root Fry

I come from a family of doctors . Oil was very sparsely used and deep fried food was reserved for festive days . My grandmom always made a conscious effort to feed us healthy . Spinach or other greens were an everyday fare. I don't remember a single day without eating a lentil based dish . So, as you can guess this Taro root fry was only made on special occasions. Once fried in oil , the taro root pieces form a crisp crust on either side . What yumminess !