September 30, 2020

Mexican Bean Rice ( Vegan & No O n G)


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I can almost say I had "love at first bite" with Mexican food at Chipotle in the US almost 10 yrs back . It was a weekend and our friend took us to this famous Mexican chain and said you will like the food as it is very close to Indian Cuisine and is definitely spicy and flavorful.

As usual with a double mind I stepped into the restaurant along with hubby and that friend and felt like a lost kid in fair not knowing what to order . There were tacos, quesadillas, burritos, nachos, rice bowl etc etc not knowing what to order .  Hubby very happily settled in for his rice bowl, an ardent rice lover that he is and he suggested I should try the burrito as it is close to the Desi Frankie or Kathi rolls which I love a lot . So I got myself a burrito loaded with some cilantro rice , black beans , veggies , salsa , hot sauce, sour cream and took a bite with full reluctance as to how it would taste ...but I was blown away by the flavors and texture of every element that went into it and thus began my love affair with Mexican food and later on it used to be a regular visit to Chipotle and I enjoyed every single vegetarian option on their menu . Back in India , California Burrito outlets helped satisfy the Mexican cravings though I still miss Chipotle a lot .

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Ohh I got carried away as I began writing and got nostalgic.So, if you are wondering what has this love for Mexican food got to do with this post ? Then you guessed it right..this month for our Shhh secret cooking challenge in our FB group , Narmadha who blogs at Nam's Corner  suggested we dish out Mexican recipes and I was paired with the most talented person Mayuri ji, who is nothing short of an encyclopedia in the field of cooking & baking . If you visit her blog Mayuri's Jikoni you will definitely agree to what I have said . 

Narmadha's blog Nam's corner is another chest of recipes( veg and non veg)  and she has certain special recipes which are authentic and famous from various regions of Tamil Nadu.  The famous Veg Biryani prepared using Seeraga Samba variety of rice is one you must try and if you are a non veg lover , go through her blog for exotic Chettinaad Cuisine known for fiery nonveg preparations. 

Mayuri ji's Saffron Tapioca Pudding is a healthy sweet indulgence and this recipe is a must try for all health freaks as it is loaded with fresh fruits and honey with absolutely no Sugar involved.

Mayuri ji gave me Rajma/ kidney beans and Paprika as secret ingredients to dish out a recipe while I gave her sweet corn and tomatoes and as usual Mayuri ji has raised the bar by preparing the authentic and traditional Mexican Mollete

With the 2 secret ingredients, I dished out a delicious and lipsmacking Mexican Bean Rice with freshly ground Mexican spice powder . Let's head to the recipe to see how to prepare this flavorful rice . The recipe may look a little lengthy , but with proper pre preparation and planning we can actually put this together in less than 30 mins .

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Preparation Time - 8 to 10 hrs 

Cooking Time - 20 to 30mins

Serves - 3 to 4 

Complexity - Medium 

**can be vegan by skipping the use of cheese 

Ingredients 

Mexican spice mix

2 tbsp dhaniya /corriander seeds
1tbsp jeera/cumin
1 tbsp paprika flakes /kshmiri chilli/byadgi chillies 
2 tsp oregano flakes 

For the rice
2 cups cooked rice (grainy and fluffy)
1 big capsicum cut into long stripes 
1 cup of boiled sweet corn 
100gms Rajma/ kidney bean
3 to 4 tomatoes 
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 bayleaf/ tejpatta
2 cloves /lavang 
2 pods garlic finely chopped (optional)
1 medium onion cut length wise (optional) 
2 tbsp cooking oil
Salt as needed 
Pinch of sugar 
Lots of freshly chopped corriander 
Grated cheese as needed (optional/ skip for vegan)
1 tbsp lemon juice 


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Method 

  • Dry roast the dhaniya and cumin in a pan until crisp and set aside.  Let it cool for a few mins. In a blender add these roasted ingredients, paprika flakes , oregano and pinch of salt and grind to a fine powder . Store in an air tight bottle free from moisture . 
  • If using dry kashmiri chilli or byadgi chilli then roast it along with the cumin and corriander and then make the spice mix .



  • Soak the rajma for 8 to 10hrs and pressure cook along with bayleaf, salt and cloves until soft and well cooked.  
  • Puree the tomatoes in a blender .
  • Pressure cook the rice well in advance;atleast 4 to 5 hrs and store it in the fridge. This helps the cooked rice retain its texture and the mexican rice won't turn mushy or soft .


  • In a pan heat 2 tbsp oil , first saute the garlic followed by the onions until the onions turn pink .Donot let the onions turn brown.
  • If not using onion & garlic skip the previous step and directly saute the chopped capsicum till it turns a little soft followed by the corn and rajma .
  • Add 2 tablespoon of the fresh spice mix and saute it well such that the spice mixture gets coated well .
  • Add in the tomato puree, required amount of salt  ,pinch of sugar and cook well till the raw flavor of the tomato is lost.
  • You may also use different colored bell peppers .


  • The puree on cooking with the vegetables and beans will begin to thicken and you can feel a nice aroma waft through. Now add a little red chili powder and mix well. Adjust salt if needed and at this stage you can even add some more spice mix if you need it spicier. 
  • Stir in the cooked rice with this puree and careful mix it without breaking the rice . 
  • The tomato bean curry/masala must get mixed with the rice properly. Close with a lid and cook for 2 to 3  mins on a low flame . 
  • Lastly ,add the lime juice and freshly chopped corriander and mix well .
  • Let the rice stand for 15 to 20 mins before serving so that all the flavors are absorbed well into the rice .
  • Add some grated cheese, chopped tomatoes, boiled corn over the rice before serving and serve it along with some crispy nachos if you like them.



Though we love Mexican cuisine a lot , I realised that there aren't many recipes on my blog and soon I need to add them on . Meanwhile you can try out my 2 other favorite recipes (click the images for recipes) from the Mexican cuisine and share your feedback with me :-) 




September 29, 2020

Cinnamon Tea | Dalchini Chai


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 My experiments with different spices for flavoring my evening tea continues and this time it is  Cinnamon/Dalchini which gets featured as the special spice. 

I always prefer to use fresh and whole spices for making my Masala tea rather than the pre packed store bought ones . I feel we can control the level of flavor we want to be infused into the tea when we use fresh spices . We can add or subtract the quantity of ingredients depending on our personal liking .

Initially I was a little hesitant as to how cinnamon would taste in our Indian chai , but I went ahead and tried brewing my tea with cinnamon and cardamom and surprisingly people at home loved the taste and asked me to make tea this way going forward .

The mild sweetness from the cinnamon added a nice woody flavor to the tea . The trick to get the perfect taste is to not over boil the cinnamon stick in water.Excess boiling will release strong flavor of the cinnamon which may not be liked by all .  As cinnamon is a bark of a tree it has a naturally sweet woody flavor.  A small stick about 1/2 inch of high quality cinnamon is enough to brew tea for 3 people. 


Indian tea , masala tea , cinnamon tea , tea latte, masala chai, adrak chai , fakkad chai , kadak chaha , चहा , चाय,दालचीनी चाय

Preparation Time - 2 mins

Cooking Time - 15 mins

Complexity - simple

Makes - 3 cups of tea 

Ingredients 

1.25 cups water
2 cups warm milk 
3 tsp good quality tea leaves 
1/2 inch stick cinnamon/dalchini/pattai
1/2 tsp cardamom/elaichi powder 
Sugar as per taste 


Method
 
  • Add the water to a sauce pan and let it begin to warm up.
  • As you see bubbles , add in the cinnamon stick and elaichi/cardamom powder along with sugar. 
  • Once, you get a wafting aroma of cinnamon, add in the tea leaves and let the tea brew. It should take about 4 to 5 min for the tea to get infused with all the flavors from the spices.
  • Add the warm milk and let it come to a rolling boil.
  • Strain and serve hot with your favorite snack or biscuits.

My other two most favorite tea variants which you may want to try .  Click the images below for recipe .

Adrak Elaichi Chai / Elaikkai Inji Tea


Saffron Cardamom Tea / Kesar Elaichi tea






September 28, 2020

Kesar Elaichi Sharbat | Saffron Cardamom Cooler


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 Saffron is the most expensive spice produced in the whole world and this is probably the only crop that needs to be harvested Manually and cannot be done by any modern machinery. 



The labour intensive process involved in the production and the delicate handling makes this the world's costliest spice . 1 pound (approx 490gms) can range anywhere between  500 USD to 5000 USD .

Saffron / Kesar is cultivated almost all over the globe but Spain , Kashmir and Iran are considered to produce the highest quality pure saffron .Iran produces almost 90% of the global production of Saffron and most of it is exported world wide . Afghanistan, Greece and Italy also are involved in the production of Saffron.

Some Interesting facts about Saffron

  • It takes roughly 40hrs to pick 1,50,000 saffron flowers known as Crocus 
  • 2,00,000 stigmas from 70,000 flowers will yield approx 450gms of saffron.
  • One saffron crocus flower produces just 3 stigmas.
  • The quality and strength of the saffron isn't the same world wide . The purest unadulterated saffron will have more stigmas and red strands and will release a natural yellow color with a mild soothing fragrance when immersed in milk / water. 

Saffron Test

Despite lot of quality checks and processes in place, adulterated saffron is widely available in the markets and we need to be careful while buying them. 

  • Original Saffron when immersed in milk or water , will naturally turn the water or milk to light yellow . This can take anywhere between 15 mins to 1 hr.
  • Once immersed, if you rub the strands between your fingers , they shouldn't break or disintegrate .
  • If the water or milk immediately turns yellow or orange or red then the saffron is adulterated. 
  • If the water or milk remains colorless , then the strands aren't saffron at all.

Saffron Storage

  • Always store saffron in a cool dry place .
  • Preferably store it in a glass bottle .
  • Never keep the saffron in plastic cover even if it comes in that packing. 

Benefits of saffron

  • Mood enhancer and mild usage of saffron is known to reduce stress levels and cheer one up.
  • Saffron in warm milk is said to handle PMS and mood swing issues in women.
  • Saffron is an antioxidant. 
  • Saffron is an aphrodisiac. 

The  266th week of FMBH is a very rich and royal week with Saffron as the star ingredient suggested by Mayuri ji of Mayuri's Jikoni. Needless to say her blog is a treasure chest of lip smacking delicacies and her latest Gujurati Thali was nothing short of a Royal feast.

As most of you know I have a special soft corner for Kesar and cardamom and no sweet I make is devoid of these two royal and exotic spices.  Donot miss to check some exotic Saffron based desserts on my blog listed below. 

Kesar Pista Kulfi

Kesar Pista Shrikhand 

Kesar  Badam Milk 

Kesar Peda

Emirati Spl Saffron Tea




This time around , though I had many sweets in my mind which use saffron,  I wanted to prepare something where Saffron was the Hero ,to do justice to the title "Exotic Saffron" .

I had the chance to taste this refreshing Kesar Sharbat  with mild flavor of saffron and elaichi at a function few years back and when I prepared the Emirati Special Karak Chai using saffron , I was reminded of this cooler and as luck would have it I get to blog it this week.  A big thanks to Mayuri ji for suggesting this and claps to all my co bloggers for having voted for this choice .

It hardly takes 10 mins to prepare this sherbet and about an hour to cool . If you are hosting a party or get together with your family or friends , all you have to do is prepare this sharbat in advance and chill it for a few hours. You are all set to treat your guests to a Royal exotic welcome drink .

Preparation Time - 10mins

Cooking Time - 3 mins

Complexity - simple

Makes 2 glasses ( 200ml each)


Ingredients 

400 ml water (2 cups)
10 to 12 strands saffron 
1 tsp cardamom powder 
4 tsp sugar ( + / - as per your taste)

Method

  • Soak the saffron strands in warm water for 10 mins to release the flavor and color. 
  • Boil the water with sugar until sugar dissolves. No need for any string consistency. 
  • Add in the soaked saffron , cardamom powder and bring it to a rolling boil.  The saffron strands on further boiling will give out a bright orangish yellow color and a soothing aroma.
  • Bring it to room temperature and refrigerate it until serving. Serve chilled . Add in some ice cubes if you wish.

Tips 

  • If you feel the sugar has a lot of  dust, then add a few drops of lime juice to remove the scum. Filter the sugar syrup and then add the saffron strands to prepare the sharbat.
  • You can add a few drops of rose water if you like the taste.I kept it plain because the flavor of saffron is very soothing and refreshing 






September 22, 2020

Paruppu Podi | Dal Rice Powder - Vegan & Saatvik


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Paruppu Podi is a speciality spice powder from the Tamil home. A must have condiment which is very useful and packed with proteins to take care of your protein requirements for the day.

On the days when you are under the weather or in no mood to cook up a meal you can just prepare some hot steaming rice , add a few spoonfuls of this delicious paruppu podi over the rice with melted ghee and mix . Relish it with roasted papad and some delicious buttermilk. You can also make a simple vegetable stir fry as well to be served alongside. 




There are various ways in which the paruppu podi can be prepared depending on individual family recipe and taste. This preparation is generally a hand down recipe from the older generations to the younger generations.  

An heirloom recipe that this is, am sharing the recipe which was handed over from my paternal grand mom to my mom and from her to me .

Paruppu podi has always been a part of South Indian Thali meals at the restaurants and is the first serving with rice , ghee after which the sambar , dhall, rasam and other items are served. Today we relished this freshly ground paruppu podi with our lunch along with sambar, curry and rasam . Glimpse of our lunch platter for all of you to enjoy virtually.



Preparation Time - 5 mins
Roasting Time - 7 mins
Complexity - Simple 

Ingredients 
1 cup  (100 gms) thoor dhall / pigeon peas/ thuvaram paruppu 
1 tbsp chutney dhall / roasted gram / pottukadalai
4 to 5 dry red chillies (gunturu / spicy variety) 
1 tbsp pepper corns /milagu 
Few curry leaves 
1 tsp oil 
Pinch of asafoetida
Salt as needed 



Method 
  • Heat the oil in a deep wok / kadaai .
  • Roast the thoor dhall on a medium flame until it turn crisp and golden brown . Donot leave the dhall unattended, it will burn quickly.  You have to keep sautéing it to prevent over roasting.
  • When the thoor dhall is roasted, take it out on a plate to cool and to the same kadai add the pepper corns, curry leaves , dry red chillies and saute it till curry leaves become crisp . 
  • Lastly add the roasted gram / chutney dhall and saute it for a few seconds.  It just needs to get crisp as it is already pre roasted. 
  • Let all the ingredients cool for a few mins and then blend/grind all the ingredients with asafoetida and salt to a fine powder. 
  • Cool it by spreading on a wide plate and then bottle it up in a dry container.  

Check my video Playlist below for some exotic home made masala powders  . Click on the image . 

Donot forget to LIKE 👍  ,SHARE & SUBSCRIBE  to my channel 


( Sambar Powder , Rasam powder , curry leaf powder , Idli Dosa Molgapudi , Cumin Powder )






September 21, 2020

Chai Karak - Emirati spiced Tea


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 Kalyani of Sizzling Tastebuds made us take a virtual food tour of UAE / Middle East and explore their cuisine by suggesting #EmiratiEats as the theme for the 265th week of Foodie Monday Bloghop weekly activity.  

She was liberal enough and allowed us to stretch beyond the boundaries of UAE and even explore Middle Eastern cuisine if we weren't comfortable just with options from the countries of United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabi , AjmanDubaiFujairahRas Al KhaimahSharjah and Umm Al Quwain.)

Initially, I was a little doubtful if I would be able to pull through this challenge because of paucity of time to procure certain ingredients which were not available easily at the local stores and the online delivery dint have an immediate delivery slot. So, I continued reading and researching further on the various vegetarian recipes prepared in the Middle East / UAE to zero down on something which can be prepared with what is available at home.

While doing so , I found that there is quite a lot of similarity in the Indian Cuisine and the Middle Eastern cuisine especially in sweets and hot beverages. It was nice to read about the usage of various spices in their cuisine. 

The Arabs love their spices and no recipe is complete without the addition of the exotic spices. Rose water , cardamom and saffron occupy the top place in their recipes.Needless to say , I too love the flavors of cardamom and saffron which I widely used in Indian Desserts too.

I found 3 recipes which were very interesting of which I finalised Chai Karak / Karak Chai - I too love my tea with exotic flavors just like the Emiratis so this really caught my attention.  

The other two recipes Khabeesa and Laban / Leben were equally intriguing to try which I am sure to do soon.  

  • Khabeesa is a close cousin of the Indian Sheera / sooji / aate ka halwa but made using date sugar and flavored with rose water.  Some recipes use wheat flour as main ingredient while some call for sooji/semolina/ Farina .

  • Laban or Leben is plain buttermilk which is obtained after churning the yogurt to extract butter from it .

Chai Karak 

Sources from the internet quote that Tea /coffee culture has been a part of the Emirati Hospitality since time in memorial and every guest is treated with a cup of coffee or tea along with some dates . The Arabian Coffee is served as Black Coffee while the Tea is generally brewed with milk and some spices.  

Karak/kadak in hindi means "Strong".

Karak Chai means the tea prepared has a stronger brew . The tea concoction is simmered along with the spices until all the flavors are infused into the decoction.

The traditional Emiratis or older generation love their tea spcied with cardamom and saffron and sweetened using sugar . Other spices like cinnamon, ginger etc are added depending upon personal preferences. 

 I could sense the emotional connect between the Desi Cutting Chai and the Emirati Karak Chaai.

Just as we Indians love to sip on our tea at the " Chaai Tapris/ Tea kadai "  the Nationals of UAE also have a special love for tea and the tea shacks are open 24 hrs along the highways where people throng to catch a cuppa of nice hot tea flavored with spices as they drive along. 

Some recipes call for the using of Evaporated milk in the preparation of Karak Chai but it tastes equally good with regular milk too . If you follow Vegan diet , you may substitute with Almond or Soy Milk. 


Preparation Time - 5 mins
Brewing Time  - 15 to 20 min
Serves - 2 
Complexity - Easy 

Ingredients 
2.5 tsp good quality tea leaves 
1.25 cups water 
1 cup milk 
2 tbsp condensed milk (optional) 
2 tsp sugar ( + or - as per your taste)
3 to 4 green cardamom coarsely powdered 
7 to 8 strands saffron / kesar

Method
  • Take the water in a sauce pan and add in the tea leaves and bring it to a simmering boil .
  • Once it begins to boil, add in the cardamom powder and saffron strands and continue simmering on low flame .
  • When you feel the aroma of saffron , cardamom and tea waft through, add in the sugar . 
  • By this time , the tea decoction would have brewed in well .  Remember to keep the flame low at all time else the tea leaves on excess boiling will bring in a bitter taste and we don't want that.
  • Lastly , add in the warm milk and condensed milk , stir well and bring to a boil.
  • Strain this tea and serve while hot . You can add on a few strands of saffron while serving for added flavor and taste.
Tips
  1. Condensed milk already has sugar , so adjust sugar keeping that in mind. 
  2. Coarsely ground cardamom powder gives a nice flavor to the tea rather than finely ground cardamom powder.
  3. The slow simmering is the technique to get the Karak Chai right , so donot lose patience and increase the flame to brew the tea. 1.25 cups of water must reduce to 1 cup by way of simmering. 
Some lipsmacking Middle Eastern/ Emirati recipes from my fellow bloggers 

Minty Lentil & Walnut Pilaf  ;a delicacy from Oman by Kalyani 

Lavaash / Lavaas by Archana ; a flat bread variety from Middle East 

Mint Almond Hummus by Sujata  is a delectable hummus with a flavor of mint.

Shorbat Adas by Mayuri ji is a lentil based shorba/ soup popularly made during Ramadan for breaking the Fast / Roza.

Spicy Carrot Hummus by Swaty is absolutely colorful and spiced up using Sriracha sauce. 

Baba Ghanoush by Poonam is a lipsmacking dip made using roasted Brinjals and flavored with tahini sauce. 




Linking this Karak Chai to week #265 - EmiratiEats of FMBH







September 14, 2020

South Indian Lunch - Thali #3


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 Festival time or special occasions at home call for a delicious spread keeping in mind every  family member's liking and prepared with love and utmost affection. 

Today's thali is very close to my heart with all of my mom's favorite which she would always relish and as a tribute to her I prepared this small thali on her birthday.

I wanted to make this my 300th post as a gratitude post to my mom who has been a friend , philosopher and guide as long as she was there and continues to be my guiding angel every minute. Coincidentally, that very day we bloggers at FMBH were discussing about the 264th week's monday theme and we finalized on Thali theme which was proposed by Sasmita of First timer cook . 

 Hence, my 300th post was a delicious Choco Orange Cake and this delectable thali got scheduled for 264th week - "Time for Thali" . If you love chocolate flavor like me , you should check out Sas' piped chocolate cookies which are a melt in mouth treat for all chocolate lovers



It took me a total of 2.5 hours to prepare this thali from scratch . I started preparing around 9.30am. I have detailed how I went about with the pre preparations to make cooking stress free. 

The items on thali starting with the small cups on plate 

  1. Thovve / Dhall /Paruppu 
  2. Podi Pota Sambar
  3. Aviyal
  4. Tomato rasam
  5. Vellarikai kosambri / Cucumber salad
  6. Nendran chips / Kerala Banana chips
  7. Plain Rice with ghee 
  8. Semia Payasam /vermicelli pudding/ sevayyan kheer
  9. Curd / Dahi / Yogurt 

Recipe for thovve and podi pota sambar is detailed below while recipes for all other items are linked and you can click on individual item names to get the detailed recipe.

 Pre Preparations 

  • Chopping of vegetables for the Avial, salad/kosambri  and Sambar . 
  • Grating the coconut for preparing the masala for Avial and salad . I prefer to grate fresh coconut for aviyal , incase you are using frozen grated coconut, thaw the required quantity atleast 30min prior to cooking. 
  • Pressure cooking the thuvar dhall with haldi for sambar and thovve.
  • Blanching the tomatoes for rasam
  • Soaking tamarind in hot water to prepare the tamarind extract for sambar and rasam. 
  • Nendran chips I had prepared the previous evening .
  • Boil fresh milk for kheer /payasam
  • Curd was set the previous night 


Thovve / Paruppu 

Paruppu or thovve is served soon after hot rice and ghee are served on the plate or banana leaf . People usually mix hot rice with this paruppu and start enjoying their feast . Dhall is followed by Sambar and other items which are served one by one.



Ingredients 
1 cup pressure cooked thoor dhall /thuvaram paruppu 
1 tsp cooking oil
1 tsp mustard seeds 
Few fresh curry leaves + chopped corriander 
2 tsp grated coconut
Salt as needeed
Pinch of asafoetida 

Method 
  • Mash the boiled dhall with a whisk or beater till it is creamy . Add required quantity of salt.
  • Heat oil in a small pan and temper with mustard seeds , curry leaves and asafoetida. 
  • Pour this tempering over the dhall and lastly add the fresh coconut and corriander leaves . Mix well.
  • Serve with hot rice and a dollop of ghee.

Podi Pota Sambar 

In Tamil ,podi means  masala /spice powder , pota means " put " so loosely Podi pota sambar means a Sambar prepared  with spice powder and there is no use of coconut masala paste .Just freshly ground sambar powder is used in the preparation of this sambar. Podi pota sambar tastes very delicious and is easy to prepare . A perfect accompaniment for even idlis, dosas and vadas too .
I have used beans and carrot as vegetables for this sambar,but we can use any vegetable like ashgourd, red pumpkin, lady's finger etc. 



Ingredients 
8 to 10 French beans 
1 medium carrot 
1.5 cups tamarind extract 
3 tbsp freshly ground sambar powder 
2 cups boiled and mashed thoor dhall 
1 cup water 
2 tsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds 
1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds /methi
Salt as needed 
1 tsp jaggery powder
Fresh corriander 

Method 
  • Cut the French beans into 1 inch long pieces . Peel the carrot and cut into 1 inch long pieces
  • Boil the carrot and french beans in water with a little salt .
  • Once the vegetables are 3/4th done add the tamarind extract , haldi and 1 tbsp sambar poeder.Boil until the raw flavor of tamarind  is lost .
  • Once the raw flavor is lost , add the boiled thoor dhall, jaggery and remaining sambar powder , mix well and bring it to a rolling boil . Adjust salt if needed and also check for the consistency of sambar. If too thick, add some water and bring it to the right consistency. You can add some more sambar powder if you want it more spicy . 
  • Prepare tempering of mustard seeds and methi seeds in oil and pour it over the sambar and garnish with fresh corriander .
  • Add a dollop of ghee when you pour the tempering, this gives a nice flavor to the sambar.

Other South Indian thali variants on my blog 


Thali # 1
 

(Vethakuzhambu, rasam, potato stir fry,Alphonso mangoes , buttermilk)



Thali #2
 

(Capsicum rice , Aviyal, Baby Potato roast, Curd rice) 





September 12, 2020

Poosanikaai Morekuzhambu | Ash gourd in yogurt gravy


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 Morkuzhambu /Mor kulambu / Mor kolambu is a flavorful curry made out of yogurt /dahi and freshly ground coconut masala.  This South indian delicacy  is very rich in calcium and vitamin C . We use fresh coconut in this recipe and just 1 tsp of oil which is used as part of tempering.  Technically this can be called as an oil free recipe.  If you may like even non fat yogurt or very low fat yogurt can be used to prepare mor kolambu.

No South Indian feast is complete without serving Morekuzhambu.  In Tamil Nadu we say Morekuzhambu while in kerala it is called as Mor curry / pulissery / kaalan , Andhra it is known as Majjiga Pulusu and Majjige Huli in Karnataka. This curry is served with hot rice and often paired with potato roast .

Morkuzhambu /Mor kulambu / Mor kolambu is a flavorful curry made out of yogurt /dahi and freshly ground coconut masala.  This South indian delicacy  is very rich in calcium and vitamin C . Poosnikaai morekuzhambu , poosani mor kuzhambu , elavan mor kootu , elavan mor kootaan , mor kolambu, more kozhambu, how to make tamil nadu style majjige huli , majjiga pulusu

Even if the names are different the method of preparation is more or less the same  except for a few minor changes in terms of the ingredients used to grind . Traditionally native vegetables like Ash gourd/poosnikai /elavan / kumbalkai , ladies finger /vendakkai , Arbi/seppankizhangu /taro root , Mangalore cucumber go into the Morkuzhambu . Now a days people like to experiment with flavors and use capsicum, tomatoes , potatoes also in the mor kolambu but I prefer to stick to the traditional vegetables as it retains the authenticity and flavor of the curry when paired with a spicy curry .  You may try my version of vendakkai (bhindi) morkuzhambu which I have already have on my blog.

The subtle flavor of yogurt curry when paired with a spicy stir fried vegetable like potato roast, arbi (seppankizhangu) roast or paruppu usili enhances the taste and is indeed a treat to our palate.

Preparation Time - 10 mins
Cooking Time - 30 mins
Serves - 3 to 4
Complexity - easy 

Morkuzhambu /Mor kulambu / Mor kolambu is a flavorful curry made out of yogurt /dahi and freshly ground coconut masala.  This South indian delicacy  is very rich in calcium and vitamin C . Poosnikaai morekuzhambu , poosani mor kuzhambu , elavan mor kootu , elavan mor kootaan , mor kolambu, more kozhambu, how to make tamil nadu style majjige huli , majjiga pulusu



Ingredients 

250 gms ashgourd/elavan /pumpkin/poosnikai
250ml thick yogurt 
100 ml water 
2 tsp oil
1 tsp mustard 
1/2 tsp methi /fenugreek seeds
2 to 3 dry red chillies 
fresh curry leaves 
pinch of turmeric 
Pinch of asafoetida 
salt

To grind
 6 to 7 tbsp  fresh grated coconut 
1/2 tsp jeera/cumin 
3 to 4 green chillies 
1 tsp channa dhall /bengal gram
2 tsp dhaniya /corriander seeds
Small piece ginger 

Method 

Soak all the ingredients under the "to grind" section in water for 10 to 15 mins and grind into a fine paste .

Peel the skin of the pumpkin and cut into 1 inch cubes . In a thick vessel , add the chopped pumpkin cubes , pinch of salt and some water and  cook until the pumpkin is 3/4th cooked. They shouldn't over cook and turn soggy . The crunch in the pumpkin must be maintained. 


Whisk the yogurt until is creamy and smooth. 

Add in the ground spice paste to the whisked yogurt along with salt and turmeric powder and mix well with water mentioned . Donot add too much water , else the mor kuzhambu will be runny and will split on boiling.  Check the video below to know the right consistency. 

Add this yogurt mixture to the boiled pumpkin pieces and continue to cook on medium flame until the mixture starts frothing up . 



Remember to turn it off at this stage..continuing to cook further will end up in splitting the yogurt..we donot want that to happen. 

Prepare a tempering of mustard seeds , methi  Curry leaves and dry chillies in hot oil and pour it over the mor kuzhambu.  The consistency of the mor kuzhambu is demonstrated in the below video.



Most important tip : do not close the mor kuzhambu with a lid until it has cooled down  completely.  The reason is,if we close when it is still hot , the water droplets formed due to steam tend to spoil the taste and texture of the mor kuzhambu. 



September 09, 2020

Lip smacking chutneys - Saatvik & Vegan


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 Chutneys are a quint essential part of the breakfast menu . No breakfast is complete without the accompaniment of a delicious chutney.  

There are so many variants in making chutney and no two chutney will taste the same . Each recipe is unique in its own way .

Each morning we need to think of what chutney to prepare for the breakfast and it indeed gets on the nerves sometimes to rack our brains to prepare and present something which is tasty and different at the same time.

So to help you all with this issue , I am making this post with a collection of some delicious chutneys which you can prepare in rotation for 7 days a week :-) 

Do try these and give me your feedback on how your family liked these .. 

Check the recipe links given below the image




Individual recipe links 

Yam / Suran Chutney ( sennai kizhangu thogayal ) -  Video recipe

September 07, 2020

Herbal drink | Kadha | Kashayam


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 In Tamil there is a saying "Unnave Marundhu aagum" meaning "Food can be the best medicine " and I totally agree to it . Each ingredient in our pantry has its own medicinal effect .

Our Masala dabba or Anjarai Petti is a mini medicine box in itself . Our elders used each of these ingredients so meticulously and more so they used them according to seasons and climatic conditions so that the family remained healthy and disease free.

To quote some ; fenugreek , buttermilk /curd , lemon, jaggery based dishes were made more frequently during summer months to keep the body cool and hydrated while recipes using ginger, pepper , curry leaves , ajwain were made during winter and monsoons which is when seasonal sickness like flu , cold cough etc would creep in. 

Some ingredients like jeera , asafoetida,turmeric,ghee ,dhaniya/corriander seeds which have general health benefits were used as a part of day to day cooking .

Apart from these,herbal concoctions known as kaadha,kashaya, kashayam used to be consumed incase people fell sick with minor ailments like cold ,cough,loose motions,stomach disorders ,mild fever etc . These were known as Nanima k nuske or Paati Vaidhiyam and were very effective if consumed correctly. 

Yester year generations or our ancestors tried to treat and heal the body naturally instead of providing external medical supplements.  Ancient scriptures have enough evidence to prove how Indians were pioneers in the field of medical study like Ayurveda , Siddha etc .


I have already blogged two different types of kaadha/ kashayam; one using fresh ingredients and another one using a herbal spice powder which can be prepared and stored. Click on the images below for the detailed recipes of Kashayam and Herbal tea .
 .

Thanks to Aruna of Vasu's veg kitchen who suggested we all share some Herbal Home remedies or Paati Vaidhiyam as part of this week's Foodie Monday Bloghop event theme . She has a very simple but effective Ginger and Lemon green tea to boost immunity and aide weight loss.

As this is a season of monsoon, there is every likelihood that we may get drenched and come down with some mild viral fever or body aches, in that case try to have this warm herbal concoction 2 to 3 times a day to get relief . 

Today we shall see another very simple concoction using just 3 ingredients which are easily available on our kitchen shelves.  Detailed recipe below

Dry ginger powder (sonth/chukku) - very good analgesic and antioxidant .

Turmeric powder /Haldi - antiseptic, anti inflammatory, anti viral as well as anti bacterial 

Pepper powder  - Aids digestion, respiratory relief, fights cold and also enhances the effect of other herbs.

**pls do seek medical advice if you experience any other symptoms.  These are just home remedies to get better along with medication

Preparation Time - 2 mins
Boiling Time - 3 mins
Complexity - simple 


Ingredients 

1/2 tsp dry ginger powder
2 pinches turmeric powder
1 pinch pepper powder 
1 glass water (200ml)

 Method 

  • Add all the above ingredients to water and boil it well for 2 to 3 mins.
  • Strain this decoction and drink it warm atleast  2 to 3 times a day to get relief. Prepare it fresh as far as possible instead of reheating. 
  • You may add some honey , jaggery or palm candy (panam kalakandu) if you find the concoction pungent . 
  • Donot use sugar to sweeten this drink.

Linking it to week # 263 Herbal & Health of FMBH 


September 06, 2020

Boondi Raita - Satvik recipe


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 Raita is an accompaniment made using whisked yogurt /dahi with some added spices like cumin powder, red chilli powder , salt  and finely chopped or grated vegetables like onions, cucumbers, tomato, radish, carrot or boondi as in this recipe today .

What is Boondi ?

Boondis are tiny deep fried balls made using chick peas flour/ besan/ kadalai maav .

Can we make Boondi at home ? 

Yes . Boondi can be made at home easily but it needs a little practice to get perfect small balls . If you would like to make boondis at home, check the boondi recipe on my blog here .

Where can I get boondi to make this raita ?

Boondis are available in most shops which sell Indian snacks. You can use the plain boondi or the khara boondi (spicy variety) to prepare the raita .

With what can I serve boondi raita ?

Boondi raita is a perfect accompaniment for any type of pulao, biryanis and spicy stuffed parathas. 

What are the other types of raita ?

Raita Varieties on my blog which you can try



Preparation Time - 5 mins
Cooking Time - Nil 
Complexity - easy 

Ingredients 

200gms thick yogurt /dahi 
50gms (2 fist fulls) boondi - plain or khara boondi 
1/2 tsp red chilli powder (skip if using khara boondi) 
1/2 tsp jeera/cumin powder 
1/2 tsp kala namak (black salt) /chat masala 
1/2 tsp sugar
Pinch of salt 
Finely chopped fresh corriander 

Method

  • Whisk the yogurt well until it is creamy .The yogurt should not be sour.So pls ensure you are using fresh and chilled yogurt .
  • Soak the boondi in warm water to remove the stale smell of oil if using store bought boondi.  For home made boondi you can skip this step .
  • Add the salt, sugar , cumin powder , red chilli  powder and black salt to the yogurt and mix it well.
  • Squeeze out the water from the boondis and add it to the yogurt mixture. 
  • If using home made boondis, add the crisp boondis directly to the yogurt and mix it . 
  • The boondi will absorb the yogurt and swell up by absorbing all the flavors.  Keep it chilled until serving.  
  • Garnish with some fresh corriander and a few crisp and crunchy boondis just before serving. 

Notes

  1. I have used home made khara boondis and hence did not add red chilli powder. 
  2. Boondis already have salt in them, so adjust the quantity of salt accordingly else it will be too salty.
  3. You can use either home made yogurt or store bought but it should not be sour or old . Use fresh dahi always.