Saturday, November 28, 2009

Pidi Kozhakattai and puli mulagai

             I fondly remember my grandma and my mom making these kozhakattai's in the kitchen for tiffin ( afternoon meal that Southindians enjoy).I remember the days coming home from school or college and varieties of tiffin were waiting for us(my brother and my sis).We did not like upma back then and used to complain loudly if it was on the menu of the day.The same upma made into Pidi kozhakatti was mouth-watering.It is a time consuming task to make this for a large family that ours was but it was made with love by our paati and amma.
         Our family is a stickler in food combinations, only certain things go together.We don't adjust about condiments or side dishes, it is a matter of our neela naaku (long tongue phrase used for being choosy while being gourmet).If pidi kozhakattai is made then puli molagai and vellam go together and nothing else will be accepted.
        For a family of four Pidi Kozhakattai is made easily, but out of habit I make more to share with friends and neighbours.

Pidi Kozhakattai ( recipe for 4)

Raw rice two cups
Tuvar dal 3tbsps
Mustard seeds 1/2 tsp
Urad dal 1 tsp
Grated coconut 3-4 tbsps
Bengal gram dal 1/2 tsp
Red chillies small round 4-5
Green chillies chopped fine 3
Asafoetida a generous pinch
Curry leaves 6-7
salt to taste

1. Grind the rice and tuvar dal in the mixer to make fine rava or coarse grind.
2.Bring to boil a little above 1 cup water in a deep saute pan. Add coconut flakes and salt.Just enough salt to taste little less salty than sea water.
3.In a separate pan, heat about 1 tbsp oil and sputter mustards seeds add the rest of the ingredients . saute and add when tempered to the boiling water.
4.While stirring add the rava slowly until combined well.Keep stirring while on heat for another 2 minutes ,set aside the upma.
5.When cool enough to handle but not cold ,take palm full of upma and make a fist shaped ball of upma, pressing into palm mould( this is what is called pidi).Finish shaping all the upma into kozhakattai.
6.In a steamer usually a pressure cooker/idli cooker ,Steam the pidi kozhakattai's for 10 minutes of steady steam.
7. Serve them warm as they tend to harden when cold. Usually 4-5 per person with puli mulagai.
Here is an excellent recipe of Puli mulagai from Tasty Palettes. She has the exact recipe that I remember from paati.
I couldn't have written it better.
Don't forget the vellam (jaggery) to complete the plate.I know it is missing from the picture but I forgot in the my eagerness to get a picture.By the time I remembered, it was time to eat and we did eat with vellam.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Dal kale and a craft project

          Kale is a nutrient rich super vegetable. Kale is king of the veggie world. I have been substituting  Kale for palak in recipes like palak paneer, keerai masiyal, poritcha keerai etc.Yesterday I made dal palak with kale instead of spinach.My dal palak is rustic and organic.This is almost an everyday food for many Indian households.

 Dal Kale
Moong dal- 3 tbsps
Kale one bunch(large leafed)
Jeera -1/2tsp
Green chilli  chopped fine-3 (more if you like spicy)
Ginger 1" finely diced
Garlic 1 pod finely chopped(optional)
Onion medium finely chopped
Two medium tomatoes diced
Juice of half lemon
Asafoetida a pinch
Turmeric powder1/2tsp
Salt to taste
Oil as needed to saute

1. Remove the thick veins and stalk of kale (if you got the packed salad variety then skip this step). Finely chop the kale and cook along with moong dal with a turmeric and just enough water to soak the dal (in a pressure cooker).
2. In a saute pan, heat a little oil and sputter jeera ,then add the green chilli, ginger, asafoetida, garlic and finally onion. Once the onion is cooked transparent add the tomatoes and let it cook till the raw tomato smell is gone.
3. Add the cooked dal and kale in the pan adding salt as needed. Switch off flame after just a minute.
4. Add the juice of half a lime  and mix well.For those who don't like too much texture can use a hand blender to mash the subzi a little.I like it as it is.
Dal kale is ready to serve with either rice or chapati.
Rustic but whole some. Susvaad.

     In other news, I have been working on my first crochet / felting project and today I finally got it done. Not perfect but a great first time project, if I say so myself.I found this kit at the craft store. It is called One stick,Two stick Sushi Wallet. It comes with a gift tag and extra yarn to make key-chains .


Friday, November 20, 2009

Can't believe there will be no Oprah Winfrey show !

   I am deeply saddened that my favorite talk show is ending.  I've been watching this show for 15 years now.
I don't know how I am going to fill that spot in my heart that this show and Oprah herself has made.
    She has been my inspiration to live my best life.Thank you Oprah! Love you!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Please just eat before you act.

           Have you ever watched a movie or a soap, where the actors are in a restaurant or at home, sitting in front of delicious food  and they are not eating? They are too busy talking /acting /doing whatever, it just drives me NUTS.
            I want to watch them eat that food at the least, expressing their feelings about the food would be a bonus. I watched a movie yesterday 'TORTILLA SOUP' .Oooh! The father in the movie is a chef and makes this yummy delicious spread and before anyone can eat it, there is drama around the table. Everyone leaves the table and the food is almost untouched, now that is a shame. In the future if the directors are going to tease us like that, us food lovers should protest and thats that.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

My son's lunchbox

                     I wanted to post for Show me your lunchbox event by Divya of Dil Se. It is so busy in the morning while packing lunches for my kids and my husband. I haven't had time to stop and take a picture. I do comment to my family everyday though about missing this event.Today my son asked me to take a picture although he was getting late for the school bus.The picture is not that great taken in a hurry BUT here I am posting as I wished.This is my youngest son's lunch.
       I made a Last chance vegetable sandwich (All veggies found in the fridge that needs to be cooked like now or never) with vlasic bread and butter pickles, pizza blend shredded cheese and  Maggi Tomato sauce. Veggies include all finely diced red and green pepper, boiled potato, tomato and zucchini (I know but it had to go) on whole wheat bread. Also included fresh blueberries and a strawberry as per my son's request .Verdict:  Everyone got a small taste in the morning and liked it.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Microwave Usili

        I use Tupperware Microwave Idli Cooker(MIC) for steaming veggies like broccoli, beans, carrots etc.It is quicker and doesn't lose its taste. I don't make idlis in it as the idlis tend to be a little harder than when steamed in a pressure cooker. Though,the MIC in my opinion makes great usili and gets  the job done faster not compromising on taste. The recipe for usili is as below.

  Toor dal /tuvaram paruppu 3 tbsp
  split bengal gram dal/Kadala paruppu 1/2 cup
  red chilli 4-5(more or less according to mild or spicy)
  asafoetida a big pinch
  turmeric powder 3/4 tsp
  salt 1tsp or to taste.
Note: Toor dal makes the usili more fragrant but the texture is given by bengal gram dal. Using all toor dal or all bengal gram dal or in 1: 1 ratio produces slightly varied textures and taste but  is not recommended.
 mustard seeds 1 tsp
 urad dal   1 tsp
 oil 2-3 tsps

1.Soak the dals together with red chillies for an hour.
2.Drain the dals and grind together with the rest of the ingredients into a smooth semi solid paste, using as little water as possible. It is important that the dals are soft when beginning to grind ,thus takes less water.
3.Divide this paste in the idli plates in the microwave idli cooker. Leave a tbsp of water at the bottom of the MIC for steaming. Put the lid on and steam for 5 minutes.
4.The usili is perfectly steamed into the shape of idlis. Let them cool down for 5 minutes.
5.Grind them in the mixer, by pulsing the mixer a few times. This makes it into fine but uniform pieces like coarse bread crumbs.

6.Usili is almost ready. Heat a little oil in a pan, add mustard seeds and urad dal. After the mustard seeds sputter and urad dal is red, add the usili and stir fry till it changes to a deeper color indicating that it is roasted.
(I like this method because it gives the authentic taste as though you have used oodles of oil to roast it .This gives the same taste with much less oil.)

Now Usili is usually combined with a vegetable to make different types.
Some combinations are banana flower(vazhaipoo
usili), beans, cabbage, cluster beans etc
I make broccoli usili too as that is the only way my kids eat broccoli.
Cut the vegetable of your choice into fine and small pieces and steam cook with salt(optional curry powder-because the usili is already spicy).
Once cooked add it to the usili and mix well. Here is a picture of beans usili.

Serve with rice and any of these
vatral kuzhambu,
milagu kuzhambu,
karuveppali kuzhambu,
jeeraga rasam,
milagu rasam,
thogayal or
mor kuzhambu.