September 29, 2019

Thiruvaadhirai Kootu | 7 kari Kootu - Vegan

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Thiruvadhirai Kootu or 7 kari (vegetables) kootu is made on the Auspicious day called "Arudra Darshanam" in the holy month of "Margazhi" or "Dhanur" as per Tamil Calendar .
This  recipe was on my mind for a very long time to blog but somehow wouldn't come together. This month we are traveling through recipes from the state of Tamil Nadu in  our FB group called Shhhhh Cooking Secretly Challenge and I was given the secret ingredients by Renu who blogs on "Cook With Renu".
Thanks to you Renu , that I could finally put this recipe together which was otherwise pending for a long time .

Significance of Arudra Darshanam

This auspicious day will fall anytime between Dec 15 to Jan 15 on the day coinciding with the star/Nakshatram "Thiruvadhirai" or "Arudra" and Full moon day (Pournami) .
Astronomical speaking , this happens to be one of the Longest nights .
Mythologically speaking , it is believed that Lord Shiva is in his Cosmic Dance form on this day and blesses all his devotees in the form of Nataraja - his cosmic avatar .
The holy temple of Chidambaram in Tamil Nadu celebrates this festival with all pomp and glory . Devotees flock in large numbers to have the Darshan of Lord Nataraja on this day.
A special prasadam called Thiruvadhirai Kali and Kootu are prepared and offered to the Lord .
Kali is a sweet made using broken rice, jaggery and cardamom while kootu is a savory made using 7 vegetables basically tubers and a few native vegetables like yam(chenai/suran), raw banana, potato, Arbi(Seppan) , Ash gourd(poosanikkai) , Red Pumpkin(Parangikkai) , Field beans  or Peas , Sweet potatoes , Brinjal .

Today we shall see the recipe for the Kootu while I shall blog the recipe for Kali sometime soon .
This kootu is also known as Thalagam in many households especially those from the Thirunelveli Region of TN .
Each house will have their own signature recipe with minor variations as passed down to them from their ancestors or elders over generations.

Preparation Time : 30 mins
Cooking Time : 30 to 40 mins
Serves : 4-5
Complexity: Medium

1 medium raw banana
1 medium sized potato
150 gms yam/ Suran
100 gms ash gourd (white pumpkin/elavan/poosnikaai)
100 gms red pumpkin (Parangikkai/ Matthan)
Handful of boiled field beans(mochai)
Handful of fresh or frozen peas (I used peas today)
1 medium sized carrot
1 cup tamarind extract
1/2 cup thoor dal pressure cooked (50gms approx)
2 tsp powdered jaggery

To roast and Grind
1 tablespoon thoor dhall
1/2 tablespoon udad dhall
2 tablespoon dhaniya seeds
1 tsp methi seeds
2 tsp raw rice
5-6 dry red chillies
1 cup fresh grated coconut

To temper
2 tsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
Few curry leaves

Roast all the ingredients except Coconut under the Roast & Grind till they turn brown and crisp. Let it cool for a few mins and then add the coconut and grind to a fine paste. Keep aside .

Chop all the vegetables like how we do for sambar and then boil them until 1/2 done in 1 cup water with a little salt and turmeric.  Once the veggies are 1/2 cooked ,add the tamarind extract and cook until the raw flavor of tamarind is lost.
To this add the ground coconut paste , boiled dhal , mix well and add some water . The consistency should be slightly thick . Allow it to come to a rolling boil . Stir occasionally to avoid sticking to the bottom and cook on medium flame.

Add some jaggery and adjust salt if needed.
Lastly temper with mustard ,curry leaves and asafoetida and pour it over the kootu.
Serve hot with rice or the traditional Kali .

The kootu will tend to thicken over time due to the presence of coconut mixture and dhall . If you find it too thick while eating, add a little warm water to dilute.


  • Generally 7 types of vegetables are used , but you can do with fewer also , but try to use atleast 5 . 
  • The addition of pressure cooked thoor dhall is optional . You can skip it too.
  • THALAGAM recipe made in Thirunelveli side doesnt use mashed thoor dhall while the rest of the steps are same .

September 27, 2019

Omapudi - South Indian Sev

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Omapudi is a very tasty fried snack made in most south Indian homes during Diwali either to be included in the South Indian mixture/chivda or to be eaten as is .
It can be made very quickly and easily in no time . The frying time is also less  as chickpea flour / besan gets fried very easily in hot oil.
This recipe is close to my heart as it reminds me of my paati (grandma) who used to make amazing Omapudi ..till date the taste and feel lingers on my tastebuds . Presenting her recipe with you all

Preparation Time - 30 mins
Frying Time - 10-15 mins
Complexity- difficult


3 tsp ajwain /omam/thyme seeds
2 cups of chick pea flour/besan/kadalamaav
1/2 cup rice flour
Salt as needed
1 tsp red chilli powder
Asafoetida a pinch
2 tablespoon butter
Oil to deep fry

Cooking Apparatus

Sev/Murukku  press and sev plate .


  • First soak the ajwain seeds in hot water for 15-20 mins and then grind it in a blender and strain the extract to get only the ajwain water .There should be no particles as it will block the holes in the sev plate. Strain it multiple times if you feel the presence of any fine particles.
  • In a wide mixing bowl, add the flours, salt, asafoetida, red chilli powder and mix it well 
  • Now add the butter and rub it well into the flour to form a crumbly mixture .
  • Use the ajwain water to knead the dough by adding water slowly . In case you feel the dough needs more water , you can use regular water to complete kneading.
  • The dough has to be soft and pliable . Too hard a dough will make it difficult to press from the sev maker mould. 
  • Heat oil in a kadai and same time grease the sev press and plate well with oil.
  • Take a small portion of the dough and put into the mould and carefully press it over the hot oil .
  • Flip it over after 2 mins and fry for just 1 more min. Take it off the oil as soon as the hissing sound of the oil stops. Drain it on an absorbent paper or in a colander . 
  • Prepare sev from all the dough and lastly fry some curry leaves and add it to the sev.
  • Crush the sev/omapudi with your hands and store in an airtight container. 
  • If you want you can sprinkle some more red chilli powder on the sev/omapudi and mix it well .
  • Enjoy with a cup of hot tea or coffee!! 

September 12, 2019

Vellarikaai Kootu (South Indian Cucumber Dhall) - Vegan

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Yet another signature recipe of my Paati (grandmother) . This Cucumber kootu for me is synonymous to my paati's kitchen and her cooking .The aroma of cucumber mixed with moong dhall still lingers around my nose and the taste active on my taste buds even after so many years. I was so much in love with this Kootu that I would fondly call it as "Paati Kootu" .
A very very simple recipe but has so  many flavors and goes well with Hot steamed rice or even as a side dish to sambar rice or rasam rice .

Preparation Time : 5 mins
Cooking Time : 20 mins
Serves : 3-4
Complexity: Medium

2 medium sized cucumbers
1.5 cups moong dhall (split yellow peas)
Handful of channa dhall (gram dhall)
1 tsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1tsp channa dhall + udad dhall
Pinch of turmeric
Salt as needed
3 tablespoon fresh grated coconut
3-4 dry red chillies (adjust as required)
Few curry leaves
1 tsp jeera


  • Grind the coconut,jeera, dry red chillies and curry leaves with water into a fine paste .
  • Peel and chop the cucumber into 1 inch pieces .
  • Wash and pressure cook the moong dhall, channa dhall along with haldi and the chopped cucumber pieces until soft and mushy. 
  • (The flavor of mashed cucumber with the dhall is what enhances the taste of the kootu )
  • Once the pressure releases, open the cooker and mash the dhall well. 
  • Add the ground paste , salt and a little water and give it a quick boil . Dont let it boil too much else it will stick to the bottom of the pan and get charred .
  • Transfer to another serving bowl and pour a tempering made using mustard  ,udad +channa dhall along with asafoetida over the kootu .
  • Serve hot and enjoy your meal.
  • The consistency of the kootu will be slightly thick and not diluted as sambar .
  • If you feel it is very thick, you can adjust the consistency by adding a little warm water .

If you would like to try some authentic kootu recipes on my blog 

Chou Chou Kootu 
(Chayote based Lentil gravy)

Avarekaalu / Mochhai Kootu 
(Field Beans based lentil gravy)

September 11, 2019

Coconut Dryfruit Payasam (Kheer) - Vegan

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If you have a sudden craving for some warm dessert but donot have much patience to stand and cook one for yourself, this kheer/payasam is sure to come to your rescue and will also satisfy your cravings.
This paysam is made using Jaggery ,hence you dont have to bother about the side effects of consuming white sugar.  No usage of ghee , milk or milkmaid,so your waistline won't increase :-) .
All you need is some fresh or frozen coconut and handful of almonds and cashews and you are ready to go .

Preparation Time : 15 mins
Cooking Time : 8-10mins
Serves : 3-4
Complexity  : Simple

1/2 shell coconut grated or 2 cups grated coconut
8-10 badam /almonds
8-10 cashews
2-3 cardamom pods
1.5 cups grated jaggery (add more depending on the sweetness of jaggery)

** refer notes section on how to use canned coconut milk instead of fresh coconut 

  • Soak the grated coconut, badam, cashews and cardamom in 1/2 cup warm water for 15 mins.
  • Grind into a very fine paste and add water if needed. The paste shouldn't be too runny .
  • Melt the jaggery in 1/2 cup water and filter it if you see any impurities floating . 
  • Add another 1/2 cup water to the jaggery and then bring it to a rolling boil . No need for any string consistency. 
  • Reduce the flame to the lowest, add the ground coconut paste to this jaggery syrup and stir it quickly such that it doesn't stick to the bottom .
  • Continue cooking on low flame with occasional stirring and switch it off once you see the entire mixture appear frothy .
  • Donot over boil as there is a tendency for the coconut milk to split and the texture will become too grainy .
  • Let it cool down and you can serve it warm or chilled. 
  1. If you dont have fresh coconut you can use canned coconut milk . 
  2. In that case add the coconut milk while adding the cardamom powder.  Don't boil too mucb after adding coconut milk , it will tend to curdle

Check out the various other Vegan kheer varieties in my blog

Aval (Poha) Kheer

Gass Gasse (Poppy Seeds) Payasam

Thengai Paal Payasam (Aadi Paal) - Video recipe

Akki Kadlebele Payasa (rice & channa dhall kheer)

September 10, 2019

Vendakkai Thalarkaramudhu | தளர் கறியமுது ரெசிபி(ladies finger in tamarind sauce) - Vegan

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KariAmudhu is a typical Tamil brahmin jargon used by the Iyengars . Amudhu means Nectar and Kari /Curry means the vegetable . So literally translated KariAmudhu or CurryAmundhu means Vegetable's Nectar .

Vendakkai means Ladies Finger .Today's recipe is neither a stir fry nor a sambar like gravy . It is a semi thick gravy having burst of flavors from the chillies ,tamarind pulp and sambar powder with an exquisite aroma of spices sauteed in Gingelly oil / Nallaennai/Til Oil .

A regular follower of my blog/YouTube channel had requested me this recipe multiple times.  As I was not aware of this recipe, I learnt from my aunt ;Kumudha Athai and here it is for all of you to try .
Instead of ladies finger you can also use finely chopped tender Brinjal too.

Preparation Time : 15 mins
Cooking Time : 30-40 mins
Serves : 3-4
Complexity: Medium

250 gms tender ladies finger /vendakai
2 tsp thoor dhall /thovaram paruppu
1 tsp channa dhall /kadalai paruppu
3/4 tsp methi seeds/vendhayam
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
Few curry leaves
2 -3 green chillies slit
2-3 dry red chillies
1 tsp sambar powder
Asafoetida generous pinch
Pinch of turmeric
Salt as needed
Lemon sized Tamarind
1 tablespoon gingelly oil /till oil


  • Wash and pat dry the ladies finger and chop into small round pieces . 
  • Soak the tamarind in warm water and extract the pulp . Filter it if needed.
  • Heat the till oil in a thick bottomed pan and splutter the mustard seeds, followed by methi , thoor dhall, channa dhall, red and green chillies and saute until the dhalls turn golden brown.  Add the curry leaves and asafoetida. 
  • Add the chopped ladies finger and saute it well until the slimness is lost . Do it on medium flame.
  • Pour the tamarind extract with turmeric, salt and sambar powder and mix it well.
  • Add about 1/2 cup water and keep boiling it till the raw flavor of the tamarind is lost .
  • Once the raw flavor is lost , the gravy will appear semi solid and you can feel a nice aroma wafting through the kitchen. Turn off the stove and transfer to a serving bowl. 
  • Serve hot with steamed rice or pongal or even upma .

Note: incase you feel the gravy is watery, make a paste out of 1tsp rice flour and add it to the boiling gravy .

September 07, 2019

Masala Idli

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Idlis as such  need no special introduction.  All of us know and are aware that these soft and spongy steamed cakes are a South Indian's favorite breakfast item .
Though there are umpteen variations of this humble idli like Rava Idli , Kanjeevaram idli etc the traditional ones are the most loved with piping hot sambar and coconut chutney .
The name Masala Idli intrigued me to check on the dish when I saw it at a restaurant's menu as I was wondering, how would some spice and masala loaded taste like ? One bite of the idli dunked in sambar , I was floored and wanted to desperately try it at home. 
It was nothing fancy at all, just a mild tempering of mustard , asafoetida and subtle flavors of ginger ,chilli and pepper gave it a very different taste . I am sure all of you would like to try it at home soon.

Preparation Time : 20 mins
Cooking Time : 15 mins  for 15 idlis
Complexity: Simple

Well fermented Idli Batter as needed
(Method to grind idli batter given in Notes section below)

To temper 
2 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp channa dhall + udad dhall
Few broken cashews
2 tsp finely chopped ginger
2-3 green chillies finely chopped
Handful of chopped corriander
Handful of chopped curry leaves
Pinch of asafoetida
Oil to temper.

Bring the batter to room temperature and adjust the consistency if it is too thick.

Heat oil in a pan and fry the cashews until golden brown.Keep aside

Preparing a tempering of mustard seeds , channa + udad dhall . Fry the green chillies and curry leaves along with the asafoetida and pour it over the idli batter .

Add the chopped coriander, ginger, fried cashews to the batter and mix it well.  Adjust salt if needed .

Heat the idli pot or steamer with water and keep ready .

Grease the idli moulds, pour the batter into the idli plate and steam the idli for 12-15 mins .

Let it cool down a bit and then demould the idlis to be served hot with chutney and sambar .


To grind idli  batter in a mixie follow the recipe link below.

Refer to the video recipe on how to grind idli  batter in a wet grinder .

Other variations of Idli on my  blog

Idli Fry

Kancheepuram Idli 

Rava Idli 

Pachai Arisi (Raw rice) Idli