December 07, 2022

Veg Pizza - Stove Top version


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 Pizza is the most loved quick bite that's enjoyed by all ..Be it kids or adults ,there is something in Pizza that makes it everyone's favorite. 

Kids find the long string of hot melted cheese  while they take a bite as an attraction while elders love the various toppings that are used on the Pizza to make it tasty and enjoyable .

As much as many consider pizza as a junk food or a overload of fat due to cheese,I would say we can make it really healthy by using the whole wheat or multi grain pizza base , loads of vegetables and very minimal cheese or no cheese at all . 

One of the best ways to get the kids eat as much as veggies as possible.  I keep trying various toppings and this time I used even some grated carrots and it was a very nice welcome change.  

Nowadays markets are flooded with a variety of ready made pizza base breads and I was super impressed with the thin crust multigrain base which I have used in the recipe. Though we can bake our own pizza bread at home, for sudden pizza cravings I pick up the pizza base from the nearby organic store. 

Cheese was used very minimally and a mix of cheddar and mozzarella from my favorite brand Amul . Amul is a very famous brand which is widely used in India and known for its superior quality of diary products ,ice creams and chocolates.

This flavor packed and tasty pizza was  prepared for the World Street Food Theme on our food group Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge.  I was partnered with the amazing blogger Preethi who was also the host for this month's theme. She gave me the secret ingredients Oregano and Tofu while I gave her Yeast and icing sugar with which she has made delicious Firi Firi



Preparation Time - 15 - 20 mins
Cooking Time - 5 to 10 mins
Complexity - easy 
Serves - 2 to 3

Ingredients 

2 multigrain pizza base bread 
1/2 cup finely chopped assorted bell peppers 
1/4 cup boiled sweet corn 
1 medium onion chopped 
100 gms tofu /paneer diced into cubes 
1 medium carrot finely grated
Chilli flakes 
Oregano flakes 
1/4 cup tomato sauce / pizza sauce
50 gms grated mozzarella cheese
50 gms grated cheddar cheese 

Method 

  • Take a pizza base , spread some sauce over and layer it with some cheese. 
  • Add the toppings one by one as you wish .
  • Sprinkle Chilli flakes and Oregano all over the toppings .
  • Spread some more cheese as you like.
  • Place the pizza base on a heated tava/griddle ,and roast on slow flame until the cheese on top melts .
  • Cut into wedges and serve hot .



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December 03, 2022

Zucchini Paratha


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 Winter is in the air ; the chill and pleasant weather calls for  nice soul satisfying hot meals from the pan to the plate . We at home,prefer piping hot parathas or rotis for dinner .

Parathas are filling and healthy as you can include almost as many veggies you wish either by kneading it along with the dough or even by stuffing it into the rolled bread .

Doodhi Parathas are a family favorite during winter, so this time when I had some fresh Zucchini in my fridge I thought of making some delicious parathas with them. I have used green zuchini ,but you can also use the yellow zuchini which are widely available in the market .

Zucchinis belong to the squash family and are used in a variety of recipes across cuisines . Unlike cucumber ,zucchini needs to be cooked before eating.  Zucchini may either be shredded, grated , sliced or even used as cubes depending on the recipe that it is being used in .

For the paratha,I have peeled the zucchini and then grated it finely and kneaded along with the wheat flour with various spices and flavorings. 

If you want to try some healthy,delicious and tasty parathas, please click on the recipe links below 



Preparation Time - 20 mins
Cooking Time - 2 mins per Paratha 
Complexity - medium 
Makes 10 to 12 parathas
 

Ingredients 

1.5 cups whole wheat flour 
2 cups grated zucchini
1 tsp red chilli  powder 
1/2 tsp haldi powder 
1 tsp jeera powder 
2 tbsp finely chopped corriander
Salt as needed
Oil to roast the paratha 

Method 


  • Squeeze out the excess water from grated zucchini and add it a mixing bowl along with the spices (red chilli powder , haldi powder , jeera powder and salt) . Mix it well with your fingers .
  • Add the wheat flour and the corriander and knead into a smooth and firm dough without cracks .Apply some oil over the dough and keep covered for 10 mins. 
  • Pinch out big lemon sized balls from the dough and roll them into a medium thick roti .
  • Heat a tawa or griddle and place the rolled out paratha on the tawa .
  • Flip it over when you see small bubbles and brown spots on the under side .
  • Apply some oil around the paratha and roast it until its well done.
  • Take it off the tawa and serve hot with some chilled curd or raita of your choice. 

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October 17, 2022

Parangikkai Vathakuzhambu - Tambrahm Special (Vegan)


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Pumpkin is a versatile vegetable and is widely used in the Indian cuisine .Various names of pumpkin in different languages, Parangikkai /Thadiyangai (Tamil) , Mathan (Malayalam) , Kaddhu (Hindi) , Laal Bhopla (Marathi) , Sihi Kumbalkkai (kannada) ,Kumdo /Kumro (Bengali) and so on.

In India, pumpkins are available through the year unlike the western world wherein it is a Fall produce and available only during Autumn .

Having said that, in India we use pumpkin a lot across the length and breadth of various cuisines from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and Gujarat to Assam . 

Parangikkai Vethakuzhambu is a classic recipe from Tambrahm kitchen and makes for a yummy main course . Vathakuzhambu is a tamarind based gravy without the lentils and is paired with rice and a simple vegetable stir fry or keerai  masiyal.

"Vathakuzhambum Sutta appalam um" is an eternal favorite combination in most households and our home is not an exception either .Certain terminologies lose the charm when translated, but for the ease of my readers let me translate it .. the term means Vathakuzhambu and roasted papad is the best combination when  served hot .

Vethakuzhambu has a good shelf life and can stay well upto 4 or 5 days when refrigerated provided your family doesn't polish off this yumm gravy.  Vathakuzhambu certainly tickles and rejuvenates our taste buds and appetite especially after heavy festive indulgence or even post traveling. 

I have quite a few variants of Vethakuzhambu and tamarind based gravy which I am linking below for your easy reference 

Appalam Vethakuzhambu 

Kondakadalai (chick peas) Vethakuzhambu 

Karvepillai (curry leaves) kuzhambu 

Milagu (pepper) Kuzhambu 

Vendhiya (fenugreek) kuzhambu 

Verkadalai (peanuts) Vethakuzhambu 


Preparation Time 10 mins
Cooking Time - 30 mins
Complexity- simple
Serves - 2 to 3

Ingredients 

1.5 cups chopped pumpkin 
Small lemon sized tamarind soaked in hot water 
1.5 tbsp sambar powder 
1tsp thoor dhall
1/2 tsp mustard 
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp sesame oil /til oil
Salt as needed 
Few curry leaves 
Chopped corriander 
Pinch of asafoetida 

Method 


  • Extract the puree from the soaked tamarind, strain it.Add 1 cup water to it and set aside.
  • Heat oil in a thick bottomed kadai and splutter the mustard seeds followed by curry leaves, corriander, thoor dhall and asafoetida. 
  • Saute the chopped pumpkin cubes with sambar powder and add 1/2 cup water .let the pumpkin cook well .It should be well cooked, but firm at the same time 
  • Add the tamarind extract, required salt and let it boil well and the raw flavor of tamarind is lost .Continue to simmer the vathakuzhambu until it reduces and becomes slightly thick in consistency like tomato puree. The kuzhambu shouldn't be very runny. 
  • Turn off the stove and drizzle the sesame oil all over and a delicious Vethakuzhambu is ready to be enjoyed .

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October 08, 2022

Maav Vilakku / Edible Flour lamp - Purataasi Sanikizhamai


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 Maa Vilakku or Maav Vilakku is an edible flour lamp offered to the lord .

Maav in Tamil means flour and Vilakku is lamp . Maa vilakku is made from  jaggery and rice flour .A soft dough is prepared using jaggery and rice flour along with some edible camphor and cardamom powder . Ghee is poured into a small dent made in the center of the dough and a wick is lit . This lamp is decorated with Flowers and haldi kumkum .

Maav vilakku is primarily offered to Devi and Lord Balaji . Tamil Months of Thai(Jan - Feb)  ,Aadi (July - Aug) and Purataasi (Sept - Oct) are very auspicious for offering Maav Vilakku .

Maav Vilakku for Devi is offered during Thai and Aadi months as per Tamil almanac and for Lord Balaji Purataasi month is very auspicious. 

Significance of Purataasi Sanikizhamai 

  • Tamil Brahmins whose family deity is Lord Srinivasa or Lord Uppiliappan,unfailingly offer Maav Vilakku in the Tamil month of Purataasi which is Mid August - Mid September as per Greogorian Calender . 
  •  Saturdays are considered very auspicious for offering Maav Vilakku ,hence it is offered either on 1st or 3rd Saturday.  Maav Vilakku is not offered during Mahalaya Paksha(Pitru Paksha) even if it falls in the holy month of Purataasi. 
  • There is a belief / aidheegam that the Lord Of 7 hills visits the Earth / Bhoolokam in this holy month and hence by offering this Maav Vilakku we invite him to our abode to bless us abundantly with his benevolent grace . 
  • There is a another myth that during Purataasi month ,especially on Saturdays,Lord Shani loses his power and there is no way he can bring about any hurdle during the offering of Maav Vilakku,another reason why we offer Maav Vilakku on Saturday .

How to make the Maav Vilakku ?



How to do Puja and offer Maav Vilakku ?

  • Take a bath, clean the Pooja room, offer flowers to all deities, light the lamp as always. 
  • On Saturdays, we offer maav vilakku after 10.30 am since it is Rahu kaal from 9am to 10.30 am. 
  • Prepare the prasadams and also keep the maav vilakku maav ready so that soon after 10.30 you can light the lamp and offer. 
  • As for any puja ; betel leaves , betel nuts and banana along with coconut are to be offered .
  • Prasadam for Maav Vilakku is normally Sakkarai Pongal ,Vadai ,Sundal , Ellu Saadham .Depending on the time and your personal constraints you can chose what you would like to offer . But ensure there is one sweet as prasadam. Onion and Garlic is avoided in the cooking on this day .A saatvik meal is cooked.
  • Assemble all the family members, light the maav vilakku using Ghee ,chant Vishnusahsranama or any hymns in praise of Lord Vishnu / Balaji . 
  • Offer the prasadam you have made in a silver plate or banana leaf . Keep an eye on the lamp until it dies out ,this is called "Malai Yerardhu",meaning lord Balaji has blessed our home and is now proceeding to Vaikuntam.  Once the lamp is about to die down, offer camphor or dhoop and distribute the prasadam to all the family members and partake the lunch.

Today , 8/10/22  at my home for Purataasi Sanikizhamai, I prepared the following prasadam.

Rice + Ghee + Paruppu

Araichuvitta Sambar 

Kondakadalai Sundal

Ulundhu Vadai (Bonda) 

Sakkarai Pongal

Tomato Rasam

Curd

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October 03, 2022

Khimchi - Asian Cuisine


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 If you are a Chinese food lover, then Khimchi is not a new item.  I was introduced to khimchi when I first dined at Mainland China years ago. Mainland China is one of the most popular Asian Fine Dine restaurant in India that serves many authentic Asian dishes .

For the uninformed, Khimchi is a way of preserving veggies like a pickle and is served alongside the main course meal . Mostly when fresh veggies aren't available either due to weather or any other factor, then this Khimchi comes to the rescue. 

 I had Googled many recipes on how-to make Khimchi at home and had been wanting to try from a long time.  Finally I narrowed down on a recipe from a popular food channel and prepared using that recipe . I was quite happy with the outcome as it was just like the one I have tasted. I made it using cabbage but there are many variants where you can add carrots, daikons etc as well.

This month in our food bloggers' group Shhh cooking secretly Preethi Tandon suggested we explore jams,chutneys ,jellies or preserves from non Indian Cuisine and viola it was the best time to make and enjoy this yummy Khimchi which was a long over due to present itself on the blog.

My partner for this month is the enthusiastic blogger Seema who gave me the versatile ingredients soy sauce and sugar while I gave her  Cumin and lemon as the secret ingredients. with Seema has made a lipsmacking Quince Chutney.. If only I could lay my hands on that chutney now,I would be in the 7th heaven relishing it :-) 


Preparation Time - 3 to 4 hrs
Cooking Time - Nil
Complexity - simple

Ingredients 

3 cups finely chopped Cabbage
1/4 cup Dark soy sauce 
1/4 cup Vinegar 
2tbsp Chili flakes
Salt as needed 
1 tbsp Sugar 
2 tsp Little garlic powder 
1 tbsp Finely  grated ginger
Sesame oil while serving 

Method


  • In a wide mixing bowl , take the cabbage and mix it with salt and some chilli flakes . Let this rest for 3 to 4 hrs 
  • After 3 to 4 hrs the cabbage will appear wilted and soggy.Squeeze out  as much juice you can from the cabbage and transfer it to another bowl.
  • In this bowl,now add in all the ingredients except the oil and mix it well.
  • Store it in sterilized glass jar,cover it properly and let it ferment for 24hrs .this step is very important to get the perfect taste and texture. 
  • Refrigerate after 24hrs and always use a dry spoon while scooping out from the jar.
  • Drizzle some sesame  oil over the khimchi just before you serve.

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September 27, 2022

Poosanikaai Puli Kootu - Kalyana Kootu


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 Puli Kootu or Pulippu Kootu is an authentic Tamil brahmin recipe and is made quite frequently in most homes .It is a must have on the wedding feast menu and hence also known as Kalyana Kootu . 

Puli kootu is very tasty as it has a balance of all flavors and the tanginess from the tamarind extract gives it an altogether different flavor profile.

Pulippu kootu fits perfectly for those following a Vegan Diet and also being a No onion No garlic recipe  it is Saatvik and Jain Friendly as well.

Pulippu kootu can be made with brinjals,  ash gourd /white pumpkin or chayote/chou chou . In traditional tambrahm weddings puli kootu is made from ash gourd/poosanikaai and has either boiled chick peas or groundnuts added to the kootu .

In my recipe today ,I am going to use boiled peanuts but I also make it using boiled chickpeas many a times and both of them taste really delicious. 

Puli kootu with hot rice and some coconut based vegetable stir fry is an amazing combination for lunch.  In my home most often the left over puli kootu is paired with chapati for night and it pairs well .




Preparation Time - 15 mins
Cooking Time - 30 mins
Complexity- simple 
Serves - 2 to 3

Ingredients 

2 cups chopped ash gourd /poosanikaai 
1/4 cup thoor dal /pigeon peas/thuvaram paruppu
1/4 cup peanuts 
Small lemon sized tamarind ball
Few curry leaves 
Pinch of turmeric
Salt as needed 
2 tsp oil 
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
Pinch of asafoetida 

To roast and grind
1 tbsp channa dal 
1 tbsp dhaniya/corriander seeds
2 tbsp coconut grated 
3 to 4 dry red chillies 

Method


  • In a pan heat 1/4 tsp oil and roast the channa dhall until crisp and golden brown followed by the dhaniya and red chillies.Allow it to cool and the  grind into a fine paste with coconut and set aside. 
  • Soak the tamarind in hot water for 10  mins and then extract the pulp . Strain the impurities and keep ready .
  • Boil the chopped ash gourd in sufficient water until it is cooked well..it has to be firm but well cooked .
  • Pressure cook the thoor dhall and peanuts in 2 separate containers in the same cooker .Mash the thoor dhall well and set aside.  This saves a lot of time and effort as well.
  • In a thick bottomed vessel,add the boiled ashgoured ,peanuts and the tamarind extract with 1/4 cup water and boil it until the raw smell of the tamarind is lost. 
  • Next add the coconut paste , cooked thoor dhall and another 1/2 cup water and bring to a rolling boil.Adjust salt at this stage . Donot boil too much as the dhall will begin to start sticking to the bottom of the pan and it may get burnt..we don't want a burnt kootu .
  • Prepare a tempering of mustard seeds, curry leaves and asafoetida and pour it on the pulippu kootu.

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