Thursday, February 25, 2010

Stuffed Vendakkai (Okra)

             It was off and on rainy/cloudy with a chance of fried food yesterday. When it rains outside, I crave for fried food. I didn't want the added calories and the conscience attack later. After a struggle in my mind whether to cook onion pakodas , bajjis and other sinful snacks. I came to a compromise, while hating my conscience that I would make a yummy roast vegetable with much less oil than deep fried. I didn't want an elobarate recipe too. I made up my mind on stuffed vendakkai  in a jiffy. My shortcut recipe was to use curry podi that I use for making roast veggies like potato, plaintains, colacasia (chepankizhangu) etc.

Curry podi / powder-

kadala paruppu / chana dal 1 cup
ulutham paruppu  / urad dal  3/4 cup
red chillies    1 cup
dhaniya /coriander seeds  1 1/2 cups
tamarind gumball sized
asafoetida  2 tsps
salt to taste
oil to roast

1.  Dry roast the dhaniya, kadala paruppu and ulutham paruppu.
2. heat a little oil and roast the red chillies.
3. Powder fine or coarse for texture all ingredients together in a mixer grinder. Add  only a little salt. When using the powder you can adjust the salt according to taste.
4. Let cool and store in an air-tight container in a dry place.

 This podi can be stored at room temperature for up to a month. Use it in almost all poriyals, kootu, roasts etc. It smells heavenly.

Stuffed Vendakkai


Vendakkai / okra   12
curry podi 2 tsps
sambar powder 1 tsp
turmeric powder 1/2 tsp
kadala maavu / besan flour  2 tbsps
salt to taste
Oil 3 tsps


1.Wash the vendakkai and dry it with a paper towel.
2. Cut the vendakkai lengthwise but not fully, just slit enough to hold some stuffing. Do not split it in half.
3. Mix all the powders mentioned in the ingredients .Using a spoon, stuff the dry mix in the vendakkai and set aside.
4. When every vendakkai is stuffed, heat oil in a wide mouthed saute pan.
5. When the oil is hot carefully place each vendakkai stuffing side down. Be very careful oil may splatter.
6. Let the stuffing side get seared (get a crisp golden brown coating). Sprinkle any leftover stuffing over and cover with a lid. Reduce the heat to sim to medium and let steam cook for about 2 mins.
7. Remove lid, with a spatula or spoon turn the vendaikkai over gently to cook the other side. Put the lid on let cook 3 mins.
8. Now, remove lid and gently stir, taste for salt and add salt if required. Let cook till no moisture is left and take off heat.

Serve with hot steamy rice or chapatis. Susvaad.

365 Days of decluttering
 I have arrived at the conclusion that I am a self defeating perfectionist, when it comes to clutter. I either have to clean out everything until it is spotless or I don't do it at all. No wonder I am a clutter magnet. My wish is to break the habit and to get to a place where I can do a just enough job of clearing out junk, instead of minutely managing every shred of paper or thing that I pick. Easier said than done, It is a hard lesson to learn for a person like me.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Inji Thokku

               While blog surfing I chanced upon Cooking with Seeds -Fenugreek Seeds by SE, brainchild of Priya's easy n tasty recipes. South Indians depend on Vendhayam / fenugreek seeds in their meals to cool down in a tropical climate. It is so hot in the southern states throughout the year, that vendhayam is an essential part of the cooking. Vendhayam is not to be taken lightly, it is a potent seed, a little goes a long way. It has many uses like cooling the body internally, helps in digestion, reducing blood sugar, used to increase lactation in new moms and many more. Using it without proper guidance is not advisable due to its potency. Indians have been using fenugreek in their cooking for hundreds of years.So, it is safe to follow Indian cooking guidelines and usage in small quantities in daily cooking.

        I chose to make Inji thokku or Ginger chutney using fenugreek seeds. It is simple to prepare and spicy. It is usually used as a pickle, accompaniment to curd rice, in summer times.

Inji thokku 

Fresh ginger finely chopped   2 cups
fenugreek seeds   1 1/2 tsps (exact)
green chilli   6
tamarind lemon size
or tamarind paste 1 tsp
red chilli   2
salt to taste
Gingelly oil (preferrably)      3 tbsps

1. Dry roast the fenugreek seeds and red chillies in a saute pan for 2 minutes, taking care not to burn the seeds.Let cool for a while, then make a fine powder using a spice grinder. Set aside.
2. Grind the ginger, green chillies and tamarind with salt(around 2 tsps or more)  in a mixer-grinder to a fine paste. Add as little water as possible. Adding it in small increments and pulsing the mixer will get the mixture into a smooth paste.
3. Heat the oil in a saute pan, add the ground paste and keep stirring.Let most of the water evaporate and the mixture leave the side of the pan.Keep stirring continuously (about 5 mins).Add the powder at this stage and mix thoroughly.Take off heat in 2 minutes.

 This thokku must cool completely before you store it in air-tight container.It will store nicely in the fridge for weeks.But, who is going to leave it there for so long. In our household, this thokku is eaten in a few days.
Caution: Spicy -a little thokku goes a long way. Susvaad.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Pagarkkai Curry

                   My husband loves pagarkkai / bitter gourd a lot.Whenever he shops for veggies, I can count on him to pick Pagarkkai. I love pagarkkai too but not as much as him. I started to adapt it to my taste. I make this curry with it which has so many different tastes with minimum of spices. The best thing about the curry is the final dish comes out shiny and dark, looks delicious.          

Pagarkkai Curry

Pagarkkai / bittergourd    3
turmeric powder  1/2tsp
tamarind paste     1 tsp
red chilli powder  1/2 tsp
sambhar powder   1 tsp
powder jaggery / vellam   2 tsps
mustard seeds   1 tsp
urad dal / ulutham paruppu  2tsps
asafoetida  a pinch
oil 3tsp
salt to taste

1. Cut the pagarkkai lengthwise into half. Remove the pulp and seeds. Cut the rest into tiny cubes.
2. Smear the pagarkkai with tamarind paste and turmeric powder .Set aside.
3.In a saute pan, heat a little oil and add the mustard seeds.When the mustard seeds sputter, add urad dal and  let it turn red.
4.Add the cut pagarkkai, saute a little then add the rest of the spice powders except jaggery.
5.Let it cook with lid on and heat simmered down.
5.When cooked add salt and stir.Add the jaggery and saute for a few seconds. Jaggery will give a sheen to the curry and also complement the bitterness.
      This curry tastes sweet for a second,then bitter, sour ,spicy hot and savory too. Thats something to achieve in one curry. Serve with rice or chapati. Susvaad.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Mushroom Semiya Upma

                     'She has gone and done it', my grandma would have said. She could not have imagined her granddaughter adding mushrooms to a traditional food like upma. Imagine serving it to a madisaar maami and mama. 'Please stay and have tiffin with us, I made mushroom semiya upma'. It would be fun to see their expression. I am letting my imagination run wild, just like the mushrooms in my upma.
                 Featuring my fridge last Friday, few wild mushrooms ran amok with their accomplices the lone bell pepper and scallions. I needed to think of a last chance dish to get them out of the fridge aka prison. Early Saturday morning, I planned to grocery shop and I didn't want them to taint my fresh new comers. So, out they came and turned a new leaf- Mushroom semiya upma.

Mushroom semiya upma
 (serves 4 )

Mushrooms (any and all kinds) cleaned and diced  4
scallions diced     1/2 cup
bell pepper any color diced  1/2 cup
red chilli    1
green chilli     3 or 4
Semiya /Vermicilli broken  3 cups
ginger grated        2 tsps
curry leaves              a few
coriander a handful chopped
mustard seeds 1 tsp
urad dal / ulutham paruppu         1 tsp
chana dal  / kadala paruppu      1/2 tsp
asafoetida / hing    1/4 tsp
cashews broken in half  6
salt to taste
oil  3-4 tsps

1. Roast dry the vermicilli till is slightly red. Set aside.
2. In a saute pan, heat the oil and add mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds sputter, add urad dal, chana dal, red chilli and cashews.Let them turn red.
3.Now add the diced mushrooms,scallions and bell pepper. Saute till they cook half way, about 2 mins.
4.Add the green chillies, ginger, hing, salt and curry leaves.
5.Add 8 cups of water and bring to boil.
6.Add the semiya to the boiling water while stirring. Keep stirring till the water is absorbed by the semiya.
7.When there is no more water left, switch off heat and add coriander leaves

 Serve hot. Those who love mushrooms on their pizza will definitely love it on their upma. Susvaad.

365 Days of decluttering- Day 13
 I am doing so good on the decluttering project. Our computer chair has been chucked out as it was in tatters. I have donated a few of my novels to the library. I have handed down my son's outgrown coat to my friend's son. If It had been the old me, I would have procrastinated all this. I have so much stationery that needs sorting, I think I will try and do it today. I would like to get rid of the the pens that don't write. That really ticks me off and just because I am reluctant to toss anything, I hold on to these. Today I will though. I used the galvanized bucket from Target to arrange the homework supplies for my kids before. I have one more of those in blue. I am thinking I will keep my home office stuff. Still there is a lot to be done, I am not there yet.
This day by day stuff helps a lot though.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My First Award, yay!

           I was pleasantly surprised when I learnt that I have been given two awards by Meena of Dakshin. Thank you Meena, it is a huge honor for me.

Rules for accepting these awards:
 1. Thank the person who presented you with this award.
2. Pass it on to one or many blogger friends.
I would like to pass this award to some of my blogger friends Sheetal, Priya and Chitchat

Monday, February 15, 2010

Ash gourd-Capsicum Sabzi with Coriander Rotis

I know how to prepare ash gourd (white pumpkin) in a few different ways, all South Indian. Never had a North Indian sabzi, maybe not that popular a veggie there. I have seen bottle gourd prepared in different dishes.I decided to make a sabzi. I searched for recipes that I would be interested in but didn't find any. I did not know what I was going to make when I started, just was going with the basics.

I thought if the new sabzi is a flop, I at least needed something substantial to serve for lunch. So, I made coriander rotis and a carrot salad. Verdict in our house was 2 out of four. The kids did not like the sabzi. The rotis were a hit though. I wasn't surprised. I added a little more spice that usual to offset the blandness of ash gourd.This is the price I paid. I loved the sabzi though.

Ash gourd-Capsicum Sabzi

Ash gourd finely diced   2 cups
capsicum(yellow,green)diced 1 cup
onion large diced    1
tomato diced     3
green chillies finely chopped  3
garam masala  1/2 tsp
coriander-cumin powder 1/2 tsp
cumin 1/4 tsp
salt to taste
oil  2-3 tsps
coriander leaves a few sprigs

1.In a wide mouthed saute pan, heat oil and add jeera.When it sputters add onion and fry till translucent.
2.Add the green chillies and capsicum and fry till it cooks a little, then add the tomatoes and stir fry till the raw smell of tomatoes is gone.
3.Add the diced ash gourd, and a little water, stir, cover and let cook for 5 minutes on a medium flame.
4.When the ashgourd is cooked it turns translucent. Add the spices and salt. Let them cook together without the lid.When most of the water evaporates then switch off heat.
5.Add coriander leaves and serve hot with rotis.

The capsicum and onion lend a sweet taste to an otherwise spicy sabzi.

Coriander Rotis

Coriander leaves roughly chopped  2 cups
Whole wheat flour    3 cups
green chillies   3
ginger grated   2 tbsps
coriander-cumin powder  1tsp
hing 1/4  tsp
salt  1/2 tsp or to taste
oil  3 tsps

1.In a Mixer grinder, finely grind the coriander leaves, green chillies and ginger with a little water to a fine paste.
2.To the wheat flour add coriander-cumin powder, hing, salt and mix. Add the ground paste. Mix again thoroughly, add water slowly and knead to a firm dough. Let rest covered for a few minutes.
3.Take a lemon sized ball of the dough. Roll the dough into round shaped rotis.
4.On a heated griddle or a tawa roast the rotis till they are cooked on both sides.
5.Smear a little oil on the hot rotis and serve.

I served these with the sabzi and a simple carrot salad. It is just fresh grated carrots with a squeeze of lemon and salt. Susvaad.       

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Let it snow ! Let it snow !

     The heavens opened up and said, "Let there be snow".We have been mauled over by snow here today.Let the pictures speak.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Rava Idli

            I realized late in life that I was a foodie.I found out my love for cooking and enjoying food is special and not everyone is so passionate about it as I am.Most often, I have to cook certain dishes a certain way or make all the side dishes that go together.I would look forward to a meal like some people look forward to a vacation.I am motivated when my husband says he can't wait to come home and eat what I had cooked for the day.My biggest triumph is my eldest son, I converted him from a picky eater to a kid who guesses what I made by the smells wafting from the kitchen.For a change, he says 'Amma, I can't wait to taste this'.
           During the snow storm, I was busy in the kitchen cooking up three different meals a day to keep occupied and also to enjoy being together at home with my family.Weekends are usually memorable because of the food and fun.I decided to make Rava Idlis for breakfast, something very easy to make but different from the regular breakfast of cereal and milk.After a little bit of snow shoveling, we all had hot steamy Idlis with coconut chutney and gunpowder.

Rava Idli makes 16 idlis


Rava / Sooji / Semolina  2 cups
sour curd                        1 cup
(if the curd is not sour then add generous pinch of cooking soda to the batter )
mustard seeds                 1 tsp
urad dal                         3/4 tsp
chana dal/ kadala paruppu 1/2 tsp
cashews broken in half  16 at least
coriander leaves chopped a handful
green chillies(chopped)                   4
ginger finely chopped or grated 1 tbsp
ghee                          1 tbsp
oil                              2 tsps
salt to taste
adding grated veggies optional

1.Heat ghee in a saute pan, roast cashews, set aside and roast the rava till golden in color.Set aside.
2.Heat oil for tempering, add mustard seeds.After the mustard sputters, add the dals.Let the dals become golden brown.Add the green chillies and ginger
3.Switch off heat.Add the rava,curd and the tempered ingredients,salt and coriander leaves.
4.Only add enough water to bring the consistency to semi solid or that of thick but flowing pancake batter.
5.Let it rest for 10 minutes, as the rava absorbs the liquid and you may need to adjust the consistency with water.
6.Lightly smear the idli plates with oil,place one roasted cashew and pour the batter.One ladleful to just fill the well of the plate.
7.Steam in a idli cooker or pressure cooker without weights for 10 minutes of steady steam.
8.Take the idlies after they are steam subsides with a sharp edged spoon.The idlies should come out smoothly.
              Serve these idlis steamy hot with chutney of your choice or with spicy gunpowder(the edible one of course made with roasted,powdered dals,sesame seeds,red chillies and salt) or  this peanut-flax powder.I make my gunpowder at home with flaxseed instead of sesame seeds and the taste is the same,but it is heart healthy.Just store the powder in an airtight dark container in a dry place as it oxidizes easily. Susvaad.
               Day 3 Decluttered freezer.Used the frozen veggie patties to make lunch and threw out popsicles (left over,expired) and such.Also, tackled over the fridge clutter and outside the fridge clutter (too many magnets).Done.      

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Kothamalli/Coriander leaves Thokku

         I get excited when I shop for vegetables.I squealed with joy when the sign said '3 for 99cents' in front of cilantro.I immediately thought thogayal  or thokku.The coriander leaves looked so green,fresh and smelled heavenly.
         Usually, I make a thogayal with roasted dal,red chillies ,mustard seeds,tamarind and salt.I wanted something a little different so I decided to look for Kothamalli thokku recipes and got the one I was looking for in Home Cook's Recipe's blog by Lavi.I can have thokku any way,on a sandwich or chapati as a spread or mixed with rice.
        I followed her recipe, with a 5 red chillies for medium spicy.It tastes delicious.Thanks Lavi.I sauteed my thokku just enough to get it into a ball.It isn't dry completely,I doubt that I will keep it for a few days.It will be eaten by tomorrow.We are having a snow storm here today in the East coast.We are home bound,cozy but we are always hungry.Lunch today is thokku with hot rice,potato-capsicum-onion poriyal and beet root poriyal/kari.,Susvaad!

        I have joined in for the 365 days of decluttering challenge started by Suzanne Sergis.I hope this challenge helps me and my family declutter and leaves room for better things in life.God knows life is busy enough when you have kids, I could do without clutter.Day One-I have decided to go through my closet and throw out/set aside for donation unused clothes today.      

Monday, February 1, 2010

Jeeraga-Milagu Rasam

        As I mentioned in my previous post, I am posting a recipe mentioned in the song 'Bhojanam seiya vaarungal'.
       Whenever anyone in my family has a cold, I make this rasam.When mixed with hot rice and had with a sutta appalam, it is indeed a comfort food.The ingredients are minimal, simple and serve a purpose.Cumin or Jeeragam as well as black pepper or milagu are both warming spices.Cumin helps in digestion and black pepper aids in enhance respiratory function and also acts like a cough reducer in small quantities.Ghee or clarified butter aids in digestion, bringing these useful spices to the cells faster.
      I have severe cold from yesterday  and have been either sipping piping hot rasam or having it with hot rice.It is definitely soothing my soul and healing my cold.

Vaikku miga rasikum (Rasam which wakes up your taste buds)
Jeeraga-Milagu Rasam

Jeera/cumin  1 tsp
milagu      1/2 tsp
red chilli    2
tuvar daal   1 tsp
tamarind paste 1 tsp
or extract from lemon size tamarind
curry leaves    a few
ghee 2 tsp
mustard seeds 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste

1.In a saucepan, mix tamarind paste/extract with 3 cups of water.Bring to boil,let simmer until the raw smell of tamarind disappears.
2.Add tuvar dal,cumin,black pepper and one red chilli to a dry spice grinder and make a fine powder.
3.Mix the powder in a little water to make a paste and dissolve in the tamarind water.Add salt.
4.Let simmer,until the mixture starts to rise.Switch off heat.
5.In a saute or tempering pan,heat the ghee and add mustard seeds.After the mustard seeds sputter,add one halved red chilli and curry leaves.Pour it in the rasam.

      This rasam has more medicinal value than nutritive value.It has less ingredients but tastes very good with hot rice and sutta appalam(papad roasted over a open flame).Susvaad.