Thursday, December 31, 2009

Thiruvadirai Kali and Thalagam

         I am thoroughly enjoying running this blog marathon.I have been feasting my eyes on varieties of dishes,some new, some evoking nostalgia and some that I want to make right now.Looking at the length of my new bookmarks I am one lucky gal.I loved visiting new blogs and learning about my fellow runners.It's been great folks.Please join me in a giving a huge applause and pat in the back to Nupur of One Hot Stove, for conducting, running, compiling and finishing her own(longer) countdown marathon. Happy New Year 2010 to all my readers and fellow bloggers!
       For my recipe # 1 of the 7 day recipe countdown marathon, I would like to present the exclusive dishes made on Thiruvadirai (which falls on Jan 1, 2010).This is the day the star Arudra(red flame), is visible in the southern hemisphere.Lord Nataraja manifests as light and shows himself to devotees(Arudra darisanam ).Great abhisekhams(sacred bath) are performed in temples especially the Chidambaram temple in Tamilnadu.The sweet dish Kali is made today as prasadam..One of his staunch devotees Sendanaar, usually ate the leftover of what he offered to the lord and  only after distributing to the other devotees.On Thiruvadirai day,he could only offer the simple kali preparation .When he  felt bad that, that is all he could offer,Lord Nataraja showered him with kali to show him how pleased he was with Sendanaar's devotion.Making,offering  to Lord and eating this kali prasadam is likened to attaining bliss showered from Lord Nataraja.

Blissful Kali ( serves 2-3)

Raw rice      1 cup
tuvar dal /moong dal      1/4 cup
jaggery (crushed)        1 1/2 cup
crushed cardamom(take out seeds from)  4
grated coconut  flakes  2 cups
cashews(broken) 5-6
clarified butter 1 tbsp

1.Dry roast the rice and tuvar dal/moong dal( I use tuvar)  in a heavy bottomed pan with lid, till it is slightly pink.
2.Let it cool a little and grind it in a mixer until is coarse to fine ground(slight texture is necessary).Keep aside.Roast some cashews in clarifies butter and keep aside.
3.Heat about 3 cups of water in the pan and let the jaggery dissolve in it.After it completely dissolves ,filter it in a fine sieve , to take out impurities in it.Put the filtered Jaggery water, back on heat.
4.When it starts boiling, put the ground rice little by little while stirring.Add coconut, cardamom and cashews.
5.When everything is mixed together.Pressure cook this mixture like you would cook rice.Else, keep stirring every 5 minutes until the rice is cooked in pan (takes about 20 minutes total).Some people like to cook the dal separately and add it.But I cut it short by grinding it with rice.

Kali is ready! Serve it with a savoury Thalagam.


Tuvar dal        1 1/2 cups
grated coconut  2 cups
tamraind paste 1 1/2 tsp
or tamarind lemon sized
asafoetida     1/2 tsp
oil           2 tbsps
coconut oil     4 tsps
turmeric powder       1 tsp
Sambar powder  3 tsps
red chillies       10
chana dal/kadala paruppu   2 tbsps
dhaniya/coriander seeds    1 1/2 tbsps
mustard seeds   2 tsps
Jaggery(crushed)     2 tsps
salt as needed

Veggies that can be used (Number of veggies are selected in odd numbers starting from 7 like 9,13,15 etc traditionally), are
red pumpkin(required),
green tomatoes,
sweet potato yam/chakkaravalli(required),
elephant yam,
karuna kizhangu,
green plaintains(required),
green chillies,
green peas,
curry leaves.
Don't use onion,drumsticks,radish or capsicum for an authentic taste.

1.Pressure cook the tuvar dal and peeled yams (except sweet potato) in the cooker.
2.cut the rest of the veggies into big cubes. Take a open mouthed saucepan ,put the veggies in enough water to just submerge, to boil with turmeric powder,sambar powder and a little salt.
3.Once the yams are done,add them to the pan with other veggies.
4.In another fry pan,heat a little oil,add chana dal,dhaniya,red chillies and asafoetida and fry till dal is red.
5.Grind after it cools into powder,then add the coconut and grind again with a little water into a paste.Add it to cooked tuvar dal,and pour in the saucepan with boiling veggies.
6.Add the tamarind paste,If the thalagam is thick add a little water to thin it into a soup consistency( it will thicken with time).Let it boil for another 10 minutes to blend the ingredients.
7.Switch off heat and add the jaggery.
8. Heat a little coconut oil, temper mustard seeds till they sputter, add curry leaves and coriander leaves to the thalagam.Stir well.

              Thalagam is ready to serve with Kali.There are variations of this thalagam, through out the southern states,some with sessame seeds.I follow two versions,the second version will be provided later sometime.
              The taste doubles and triples with time as the veggies tend to add flavor.This dish is made is huge quantities than usual, the week following Thiruvadirai, it is reheated to make Ericha Kuzhambu( nothing but heated kuzhambu).The flavours get concentrated and tastes divine.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Vazhaipoo/Banana flower Kootu

              Every part or almost every part except may be the root of the banana plant is used in cooking or serving a meal.From what I have seen and known, coconut tree and banana plant are the complete package for their many uses.
             The stem of the banana plant is used to make poriyal,kootu and as we learned from one of the marathoners juice too.The leaf of the plant is used as a plate to serve food and as a steamer for idlis.The fruit is ofcourse the versatile banana which is used in many preparations either raw, ripe or inbetween.The flower of the banana plant is also used in preparation such as vazhaipoo vadai,usili and kootu.
              Vazhaipoo has the thuvarppu taste (astringent).Only way I can come near to describing it is after eating it the tongue still feels the raw texture.It is quite unique and tastes good.
              Today, my friend and neighbor is moving with her family to another state: (.My whole family is going to miss them.My friend had come over to help me prepare the banana flowers, even in the midst of her packing.Good friends are rare to come by, although they are still going to be friends after they move away, it is not like being right near you.I'll remember the chats and fun we had together. I would like to wish my other dear friend who is celebrating her birthday today, Happy Birthday Priya!: )
             I chose Vazhaipoo Kootu as Recipe #2  for the 7 day countdown recipe marathon to New Year 2010 by Nupur of One Hot Stove.This recipe is from my mom.

Recipe #2: Vazhaipoo Kootu

Vazhaipoo (remove the white inner flowers in between  the red petals
Also,remove from each inner flower,the one stiff stamen ) 1

sambar powder      1  tsp
cooked tuvar dal    1/4 cup
turmeric powder    1/2tsp
salt as needed
tamarind paste       1/2 tsp
jaggery (crushed)   1 tsp
red chillies              2
coconut flakes        3  tbsp
cumin/jeera            1/2  tsp

mustard seeds      1/2 tsp
urad dal                1 tsp
curry leaves          a few
oil                        1 tsp
asafoetida             1/4 tsp
roasted coconut flakes  1 tbsp

1.Take a bowl with a little tamarind water.Cut the white inner florets of the banana flower finely ,directly put it in the bowl to stop it from blackening.
2.When completed ,use a fine sieve to remove all the tamarind water.In a kadai, take just enough water to immerse the cut florets.Add turmeric powder,salt and bring it to boil. Then ,add sambar powder and let it simmer for 5 minutes with a lid on.
3.Grind 3 tbsp coconut flakes,cumin and red chillies with a little water to a smooth paste and add to the simmering florets.Add cooked tuvar dal now.Let it cook together simmer again for 2 minutes.
4.Heat a little oil.Add the tepering ingredients after the mustard sputters.When the coconut flakes are fried add tempering to the kootu.Add jaggery,stir and take off heat.Kootu is ready.
             Whenever I make this kootu, I like to use the red petals to serve thayir sadam or curd rice like my paati used to do.There is an unique fragrance to the curd rice eaten that way.Along with molaga mangai, it is a simple pleasure.Susvaad.    

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ennai Kathrikkai

          When I was a newly wed, I wanted to impress my husband by making this dish, which he loves.I made several failed attempts, poor guy ate my failures every time without complaint.  I could not figure out what was going wrong.I would make the stuffing and stuff properly etc, when frying they usually turned out burnt or tasting burnt.
           My savior was again Dakshin by Chandra Padmanabhan, this is my all time favorite recipe from her book.Except for some substitutions, I follow her recipe and the result is divine.
          This is my recipe # 3 for 7 day recipe countdown marathon conducted by Nupur.

Recipe # 3 Ennai Kathrikkai


baby brinjal 12nos
 coconut grated                     1/2
I use coconut milk powder 4 tbsp instead
Tamarind paste                     1tsp

dhaniya/Coriander seeds      1tbsp
urad dal / ulutham paruppu   3/4 tbsp
chana dal / kadala paruppu   3/4 tsp
jeera/ cumin                          1tsp
asafoetida /hing                     1/2 tsp
red chillies                             8( mild use 5)
oil                                         1tsp
salt to taste

Oil                                          3tbsp
Mustard seeds                        1tsp
cumin seeds                            1tsp
urad dal                                  1tsp
chana dal                                1 tsp
red chilli ,halved                      1
curry leaves                              a few


1.Stuffing: Roast the coconut milk powder till  it's slightly pink.
2.Fry in a little oil all the ingredients for stuffing.
3.Grind the stuffing ingredients to fine powder.Add roasted coconut and tamarind paste in the end and grind     till it incorporates.Pulsing your grinder would get it mixed right without clumping.
4.Quarter the brinjal without splitting them or cutting through them.Each brinjal should be slit at the top with a + sign and should be able to hold stuffing.
5.Fill each quarted brinjal with about a spoon of stuffing and set aside.(Having another person to help will speed things up,as once slit brinjals tend to blacken .So, work fast if you are doing this alone).
6.In a kadai or open mouthed fry pan with lid.,heat 3 tbsp oil and add tempering ingredients..When mustard seeds sputter,add stuffed brinjal ,salt and a little water(just sprinkling water so as to steam cook brinjal is enough).
7.Sprinkle any leftover stuffing on the vegetable.Cover with lid ,simmer on low heat,till the brinjals are cooked tender.
8.Remove the lid and slightly stir the brinjal.Do not keep stirring as this will smash them.Let it fry a little bit to get the roast consistency.Switch off heat when there is no moisture left(waiting too long to take off heat will burn them at this stage,take it from my experience).

Serve hot with rice,rasam/sambar.Susvaad.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Azhugal Mangai pachadi

              My grandma, my mom always made meals in the proper combination to elevate the dish to nirvana.Some dishes made out of a set does not get them the accolade they deserve.When poritcha kuzhambu was made, then puli itta keerai or azhugal mangai pachadi and  sutta appalam was the complete meal.Poritcha kuzhambu is a medley of vegetables cooked with coconut gravy without any acidity.Azhugal manga pachadi is the sour(pulippu) part of the meal.

           Azhugal manga means mangoes that are beyond their prime,in other words rotten.Just when mango season starts, the baby mangoes are harvested to make vadu manga (pickle).Vadu manga is doused with chilli powder and soaked in brine.This pickle in made in huge vats and stored in a dark place for use  the whole year.
      It is but natural that some of the baby mangoes at the bottom of the vat gets squished by the weight of the vadus on top.The result is azhagal manga.They are not wasted, but much preferred and made into a delicious accompaniment to a delicious meal.My mom's recipe is going to 7 day recipe countdown marathon conducted by Nupur.

Recipe # 4 Azhugal Mangai Pachadi 

Azhugal mangai 4-5
grated coconut flakes 2 tbsp
green chilli   1
salt as needed
curd  2 cups

mustard seeds 1/2 tsp
asafoetida  a pinch
coriander  a few sprigs
or curry leaves 2-3

1.Select the Azhugal mangai and grind it with coconut,greenchilli  and about three ladlefuls of curd (If the mangai chosen is less spicy add green chilli else the green chilli is optional).
2.Add the ground paste to the rest of the curd .Add salt if needed( since we are using a brined pickle,you can adjust the seasoning accordingly).
3.After the mustard seeds sputter,add the tempering to the pachadi and add sprigs of corainder.

         This Pachadi will go well with Poritcha kuzhambu and hot steamy rice (I will post this recipe later).Susvaad.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Karuvepilai/curry leaves Kuzhambu

  I bought this cookbook Dakshin by Chandra Padmanabhan, after tasting this recipe made by my friend.She had tried most of the recipes, and said they taste like authentic home cooked mom's food. Well, I thought there were some adjustments,most of the recipes are spicy hot.My family likes mild-medium hot food.I always keep that in mind when I make anything from this cookbook.I keep it as a general guideline and adjust recipes according to my tastes.
       I chose Karuvepilai kuzhambu for Uraippu(pungent) taste.This is recipe # 5 for the 7 day recipe countdown marathon by Nupur of One hot stove.My version is spice adjusted in brackets and has method adjustments in italics, original recipe from Dakshin.

Recipe #5  Karuvepilai Kuzhambu  
red chillies             5-6    (mild use 4)
peppercorn/milagu 1 tsp    (mild use 1/2tsp)
asafoetida              1 tsp
ulundu/ whole or split urad dal 2 tsp
raw rice                 1 1/2 tsps
tamarind paste       1 full tsp
or Lemon-sized tamarind
Curry leaves           30
salt to taste
jaggery  a tiny piece

sesame oil/nalla ennai   2 tbsp
 mustard seeds             1 tsp
fenugreek/menthayam  1/4 tsp
red chilli                      1, halved

1. Roast dry the red chillies, milagu, asafoetida, urad dal and rice.Add the curry leaves. Here is where I differ.The author asks to add the tamarind and grind  into a fine paste, using little water. I would grind the previous ingredients without the tamarind.
2.Dissolve the ground paste in 2 cups of water, add salt and set aside. I dissolve the tamarind paste in 2 cups water and bring it to boil.A fair amount of acidity is needed to counter the pungency of this kuzhambu.After the raw tamarind smell goes,which is about 5 minutes.Then add the ground paste , while stirring. Add salt. Simmer for 5 minutes until the kuzhambu thickens.
3. Heat 2 tbsps of oil and add the ingredients for tempering. When the mustard seeds sputter. Pour it in the kuzhambu. I add a tiny piece of jaggery at the very end. 
4.Serve hot with rice and roasted papad.

Mix a little of this kuzhambu with a greater quantity of rice as it is pungent.Adding ghee or some more nalla ennai to rice makes it more flavorful.
      When I serve this kuzhambu to my kids, I give them dal rice (paruppu sadam) with ghee and the kuzhambu to dip. Also, any shallow fried vegetable poriyal or kootu dishes will go good with this.Papads/appalam/chips/vadam are great accompaniments. Susvaad.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Pagarkai/Bittergourd Varuval

          As a child I hated Bittergourd or Pagarkkai. It is a nutrient rich vegetable. As a mom, I try my best to get my kids to eat it, in vain.Some preparations they outright refuse but when I make varuval or chips, they are willing to try at least a little. It is a developed taste and mostly preferred by grown ups.
          My recipe # 6 for Nupur's 7 day Countdown to new year recipe marathon . I chose something that is bitter in taste as it is one of the Arusuvai( six types of taste ) as called in Tamil .The Arusuvai are Kasappu(Bitter),thuvarppu(astringent), Uraippu(pungent) ,thittippu(sweet), uppu(salty) and pulippu(sour).Dishes made all over the world have different mixes of these taste groups.This recipe is from Aval Vikatan , a tamil monthly supplement featuring Chips variety.My mom sent me the magazine from India.

Pagarkkai Varuval / Bittergourd chips:

Bittergourd  2
Rice flour 1/4 cup
Besan flour/ kadal maavu 1 tsp
juice of one lemon
turmeric powder 1/4 tsp
chilli powder  1/2tsp
sugar a pinch
Oil to fry
Salt as needed


1. Cut the bittergourd into uniformly thin round slices.In a bowl combine all the other ingredients .
2. Make sure all the slices of the bittergourd is coated .Take care to mix gently as not to break the slices.
3.Let it marinate for 15 minutes.It should not be too wet just coated .If the bittergourd becomes watery add a little more flour and adjust seasoning accordingly.
4.Heat oil and deep fry slices and remove when crisp and golden.

 Varuval ready.You can enjoy this with any South Indian meal. We like to eat it like a snack too. Susvaad.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Badam cake

     Updated 1/3/10 (I would like to send this recipe to Desserts, Pastries and Ice creams - 'Food for 7 Stages of Life' event  conducted by Radhika, inspired by Sudeshna.)

       Happy holidays everyone! Today is the first day of 7  day blog marathon conducted by Nupur of One Hot Stove. Please visit her blog to see the runners list. I am posting my sweet recipe for the countdown  to New Year 2010 from Dec 25th to Dec 31st 2009.          

Recipe#7   Badam cake


blanched slivered almonds /badam
clarified butter


This sweet is made using ratio. If you use any particular measuring cup use that through out.

1. Soak the slivered blanched almonds in water for about an hour.Traditionally, whole almonds is used but using this readily available product reduces a lot of labor, to peel the skin of almonds and the soaking time.

2. Grind the almonds/badam  into a smooth thick  paste using as little water as possible.Grinding it little by little usually gives you this result.

3.Take a heavy bottomed wide-mouthed pan and measure and pour the paste in the pan.The ratio to use is 1 cup paste to 1 and a quarter cup sugar(I am giving this measurement for domino sugar or any American made sugar).Do not add water. Take a cookie sheet or shallow plate, butter it with ghee and keep aside.

4. Keep about 1 cup of ghee ready for the above ratio. Add about a ladleful at first and mix all the ingredients well.

5.Now place the pan on the stove inbetween  medium to high heat. With a flat wide spatula, keep on stirring and turning the paste. The sugar will melt and make the paste into a fluid but keep stirring.

6.Add a ladle full of ghee at  5 minute intervals. It is important that fluid doesn't stick to the pan, so keep on stirring the contents. At one stage after about 15-30 minutes depending on how much paste you have frothy bubbles start to come up to the surface and burst out make a hole and disappear again.All the ghee set aside must have been used by now.

7. When the mixture comes away from the side of the pan. Pour it in the buttered cookie sheet or plate.

8. Let it set so that it is solid instead of molten.Then using a knife or pizza cutter make a grid and cut square pieces. I made a lot to distribute to family and friends.

 They are just delectable,soft,sweet and crumbly in texture in your mouth. Susvaad.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A hot cuppa

          Greatly encouraged by the result of my previous crochet project, I took up another one.
I have been seeing the teacup amigurumi cropping up everywhere in the blog world .I decided to try my hand at it.I proudly present my cup of coffee ( I don't drink tea.).This pattern is called Amigurumi Tea Cup Pincushion.

       My kids got their creative juices flowing and worked hard on their playdough and made masterpieces.
Here are some of them.My son is very particular that I post them on my blog.Hee he
After sitting patiently for hours one chick tries to fly the coop.LOL.Absolutely love the golden egg(s) laying hen and the two very pink piggies.I think that is just so cute.

Kozhakattai (sweet)

   On occasion, I make kozhakattai as an offering to Pilayaar.It is often called Pilayaar kozhakattai, as it is known as his favorite food.

Ganesh Tribal painting (patachitra) by the Munda tribe
sold by Trifed's Tribes India

        Kozhakattai consists of two layers, the outer layer is like a dumpling made of rice flour.The inner layer is the sweet filling.I make the outer covering of  kozhakattai with readymade rice flour.Tradionally it is made by any one of two methods soaking rice in water for an hour and grinding it into a semisolid smooth paste.Else,drying the soaked rice in shade and grinding it in a mixer grinder into flour. The inner sweet filling is made with coconut and jaggery.The inner filling is made first and is called the puranam.

Jaggery (crushed) 3/4 cup
fresh grated coconut 2cups
cardamom  5 or 6 powdered

1.In a heavy bottomed pan take about 1/4 cup of water, heat and dissolve the jaggery.Filter the jaggery in a fine sieve to remove impurities in the jaggery.
2.Again put it back on the stove and bring the jaggery water to boil.Mix in the coconut  and stir constantly for 10 minutes.The mixture may look crumbly but you can use the back of a spoon to test whether it is sticky(like candy) as that is the desirable consistency.
3.Add the cardamom powder.Stir well and take off heat.Keep aside.
4.When it has slightly cooled down but not entirely.Make tiny  balls of the puranam.You can use the help of  a handful of rice flour to help you shape the balls.I know mine are not perfectly round but it's okay.

The outer covering
Rice flour 2 cups,
water 2 1/2 cups,
salt few pinches,
sesame oil (nalla ennai) 4 tsp,
milk 1 tsp

1.In a heavy bottom pan,Mix all the ingredients into a smooth paste.
2.On medium flame ,stir the paste constantly .The paste thickens very quickly and may stick to the bottom of the pan if it is not stirred consistently.This needs TLC.
3.In about 10 minutes, the flour should be done.The flour should be cooked and should not feel sticky.
4.Take off heat and keep aside.
5.Keep it covered with a wet towel or wet paper towel.Otherwise it will get dry very quickly.

To assemble the  Kozhakattai:
1.Take few tbsps of nalla ennai in a bowl.Take the outer covering flour and knead it smooth without any lumps.Cover  unused flour in wet cloth at all times.Take a small ball size.With a little nalla ennai on your hands start shaping the ball into a cup.
2.First make an indentation with your thumb in the center and then whilst turning the ball in your hands thin the sides of the indentation evenly.Keep the thumb at the inside wall and the rest of the fingers outside .Work slowly pressing without breaking the sides.If it does, it's alright you can patch it.As you go along you will gain expertise with practice.
3.You have reached your desired shape if the cup can hold  one ball of puranam and you can close the outer covering around the puranam filling.

4.It is desirable also to have a thin outer covering without cracks in it .Now,close the covering to make a tiny peak and pinch off any excess flour at the top.
5.Finish making all the kozhakattai.Usually, if it is an offering(neivedyam) to Pilayaar, it is made in odd numbers 11 or 21 in number or more.
6.Once all the kozhakattais are done.It is steamed in idli plates in a pressure cooker or steamer of your choice in steady steam for 7-10 minutes.The reason I am giving a range is because the flour is already cooked most of the way.Differences in doneness may occur from person to person.
7.Once steamed, remove after it cools down and ( /after offering to Pilayaar) serve.Susvaad.