Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Idly Milagai Podi/Molaga Podi

I love milagaipodi or molagapodi as we call it. Even if you give me three different varieties of chutneys, and Sambar, I will still want a spoon of this powder and a generous drizzle of nalla ennai. I remember my mom packing idlis for school in my lunch box. My friends would be waiting to have the podi smeared idlis. The podi smeared idlis were a regular feature during our train journeys along with lemon rice or puliyodarai.

I love the podi my amma and grandma make. I don't remember making this podi by myself till the time I was in India, as I would always get a stock of the powder from my mom or grandmom or MIL. It is only after coming here that I started preparing this myself.

There are many variations to this podi. Infact, each family may have their own measurements and small variations. The recipe I am posting today is my grandmother's which my mother has been following ever since her marriage and now I too follow the same. So do try our family version.

What you'll need
  1. Urad Dal (whole, without skin)/Muzhu Ulutham Paruppu – 1 cup
  2. White Sesame Seeds/Ellu – 1 big handful
  3. Dried Red Chillies – 20 to 25 (adjust according to the your tolerance), I used the small round ones
  4. Asafoetida – a big piece
  5. Salt to taste
  6. Oil – 2 tsp

  1. Heat a heavy bottomed Kadai, add the sesame seeds and roast on medium flame with constant stirring until the seeds start spluttering or turn light brown. Transfer to a plate and keep aside.
  2. Now add a tsp of oil and add the piece of asafoetida, fry till it puffs up well. Take it out and keep aside.
  3. Now add the Urad dal and fry till golden brown. Fry on medium flame stirring continuously. If you fry on high flame the dal will turn brown soon, but won’t be fried properly.
  4. Transfer to a different plate.
  5. Finally add the remaining one tsp oil and fry the red chillies till they turn bright red.
  6. Transfer to the same plate as Urad dal.
  7. Once everything cools, transfer the asafoetida, red chillies and urad dal to the mixie jar and grind to a coarse powder.
  8. Finally add the sesame seeds and grind again to the desired texture.
  9. Add salt and give a pulse so that it is mixed well.
  10. Transfer to clean bottle and enjoy with idly/dosa

  1. You can dry roast the ingredients without using oil too. But my mother always adds a little oil, so the podi gets a good color.
  2. You can use ¼ cup of Channa dal/Kadala paruppu instead of using urad dal fully.
  3. You could substitute white sesame with black also.
  4. You could use urad dal with skin too, but the color of the powder will be dark.
  5. Adding sesame seeds gives a lovely flavour.
  6. Add enough asafoetida as that also gives the required aroma to the powder.
  7. Roasting all ingredients on medium flame with continuous stirring is important. Else the dals will brown on the outside without being fried properly.
  8. Always use a dry spoon.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Ulli Theeyal - Shallots cooked in tamarind sauce with roasted coconut

Theeyal is a popular dish from the state of Kerala. The word Theeyal means burnt. The dish has a very dark color, which is obtained from the dark roasted coconut and spices. The aroma of roasted coconut, curry leaves, shallots and spices will fills the house. The most common vegetables used to prepare Theeyal are shallots, brinjal, bitter gourd etc. The most popular is surely this Ulli/Shallots Theeyal. 

The color of your theeyal depends on the color of your roasted coconut, so roast them until dark brown taking care not to burn it. It pairs well with plain rice, thoran and pappadam. It also makes a great accompaniment to Dosa/Appams.

Serves 2 to 3
What you'll need
  1. Shallots/Chinna Vengayam – 20 Nos.
  2. Tamarind – a gooseberry sized ball
  3. Turmeric Powder – ¼ tsp
  4. Salt to taste
  5. Coconut oil – 1 tsp

To Roast and Grind
  1. Scraped Coconut – ¾ cup, tightly packed
  2. Coriander Seeds – 1.5 tbsp
  3. Fenugreek Seeds – ½ tsp
  4. Dried Red Chillies – 3 or 4
  5. Curry Leaves – few
  6. Coconut oil – 2 tsp

For tempering
  1. Coconut oil – 1 tsp
  2. Mustard Seeds – 1 tsp
  3. Dried Red Chillies – 2

  1. Soak the tamarind in 1 cup of hot water for 10 minutes.
  2. Squeeze and extract the pulp. Keep aside.
  3. Peel and wash the onions and cut into smaller pieces depending on the size.
  4. Heat a non stick kadai with 2 tsp of oil, add the coconut and roast on medium flame till brown.
  5. Add the coriander seeds and fenugreek seeds and a couple of sliced onions and roast till the coconut turns dark brown. Also add a few curry leaves.
  6. Cool and grind the roasted coconut with about ½ cup of water, to a smooth paste.
  7. In the same kadai, add a tsp of oil and fry the remaining onions until translucent.
  8. Now add the tamarind extract and a cup of water.
  9. Add turmeric powder and salt and let this boil for 5 minutes.
  10. Now add the ground paste and boil for another 4 to 5 minutes.
  11. Remove from flame.
  12. Temper with mustards seeds, red chillies and curry leaves.

Serve hot with plain rice, thoran and pappadam. It makes a great accompaniment to Dosas/Appams as well.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Eggless Linzer Cookies

As part of the Baking Partners, this month we were asked to bake some cookies. We had two choices the Linzer Cookies and Crunchy Seed Cookies. The Linzer cookies have been on my mind for quite some time. So I decided to go with these. The cookies were melt in the mouth, with a burst of flavours from Cinnamon, orange zest. I made just a couple of changes, that too because of the lack of ingredients. I replaced the Almond essence with Vanilla, and skipped the lemon zest because I didn’t have fresh lemons at hand. Instead I increased the quantity of orange zest. That’s about it. So here is the recipe:

Adapted from here
Makes about 40 2 inch cookies

What you’ll need
  1. All Purpose Flour/Maida – 1 cup + 2 tbsp
  2. Ground Almonds – ½ cup
  3. Sugar – ¼ cup
  4. Salt – 1/8 tsp
  5. Ground Cloves – 1/8 tsp
  6. Ground Cinnamon – 1 ¼ tsp
  7. Unsalted Butter – 8 tbsp, Softened at room temperature
  8. Orange Zest – 2 tsp
  9. Vanilla Essence – ½ tsp
  10. Strawberry Jam or any other fruit preserve as required
  11. Powdered Sugar – 1 tsp + extra for dusting


  1. Blanch almond and make powder with 1 teaspoon of powdered sugar.
  2. In a bowl combine the flour, ground nuts, granulated sugar, salt, cinnamon, cloves , Vanilla extract and the orange zest.
  3. Then add the butter mix well until mixture looks damp and crumbly. Continue mixing until all the dough comes together.
  4. Remove the dough, press it into a ball, and knead it a few times to be sure all of the dry ingredients are blended into the dough.
  5. Form the dough into 1 flat patty. Wrap and refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours and preferably overnight or up to 3 days. The dough may be frozen for up to 3 months.
  6. When you are ready to bake. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.

To Roll and Cut Cookies:
  1. Remove dough from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature until supple enough to roll but still quite firm. It will continue to soften as you work.
  2. Roll the dough to a thickness of 1/8 inch between sheets of wax paper or between heavy plastic sheets cut from a plastic bag.
  3. Turn the dough over once or twice while you are rolling it out to check for deep wrinkles; if necessary, peel off and smooth the paper or plastic over the dough before continuing to roll it.
  4. When the dough is thin enough, peel off the top sheet of paper or plastic and keep it in front of you. Invert the dough onto that sheet and peel off the second sheet.
  5. Cut as many large shapes as possible. Dip the edges of the cookie cutters in flour as necessary to prevent sticking. Cut a smaller shape from the centre of half of the large shapes. 
  6. Use the point of a paring knife to lift and remove scraps as you transfer the cookies to the lined or ungreased pans.
  7. Place large cookies at least 1 1/2 inches apart on the cookie sheets. If the dough gets too soft at any time-while rolling, cutting, removing scraps between cookies, or transferring cookies-slide a cookie sheet underneath the paper or plastic and refrigerate the dough for a few minutes, until firm.
  8. Repeat with the second piece of dough. Gently press all of the dough scraps together (don't overwork them with too much kneading) and reroll.
  9. Bake for 15 to 25 minutes , or until the cookies are just beginning to color at the edges.
  10. Rotate the pans from top to bottom and from front to back halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking. (The small shapes may be baked for 8 to 10 minutes on a separate cookie sheet to make miniature cookies, or the dough may be combined with other dough scraps to be rerolled and cut.)
  11. Let the cookies firm up on the pan for 1 to 2 minutes. For lined pans, set the pans or just the liners on racks to cool; for unlined pans, use a metal spatula to transfer the cookies to racks. Cool the cookies completely before stacking or storing. May be kept in an airtight container for a month or more.

  1. To assemble, shortly before serving, spread each solid cookie with a thin layer of preserves. Sift powdered sugar over the cookies with cutouts. Place a sugared cutout cookie on top of each preserve-covered cookie. Leftover cookies can be stored in an airtight container, but the moisture from the preserves will soften them

Monday, February 10, 2014

Arachuvitta Vatha Kuzhambu (Using Manathakkali Vatthal)

Vatha Kuzhambu is one of my favourites. This is a tangy sauce like preparation, that goes well with rice. It is usually made using dried vegetables or Vathal like Manathakkali, Chundakkai, Kothavarangai etc. But it tastes equally good when made with veggies like shallots, drumstick or even pumkin. My personal favourite is thisChinna Vengaya Vatha Kuzhambu.
As promised in my post, here is my mother's way of making vatha kuzhambu. The freshly ground spices lend an amazing aroma and flavour to it.
I have used Manathakkali vathal in today’s recipe, but feel free to substitute with any other vathal or vegetables like onions, drumstick etc.

Serves - 2 to 3

What you’ll need
  1. Tamarind – gooseberry sized ball
  2. Turmeric Powder – ¼ tsp
  3. Asafoetida/Perumgayam – a generous pinch
  4. Jaggery – 1 tsp
  5. For tempering
  6. Mustard Seeds – ½ tsp
  7. Manathakkali Vatthal – ¼ cup
  8. Gingely Oil/Nalla Ennai – 2 tbsp
  9. Curry Leaves – few

To Roast and Grind
  1. Channa Dal/Kadalai Paruppu – 2 tbsp
  2. Coriander Seeds/Dhaniya – 2 tbsp
  3. Fenugreek Seeds/ Vendayam – ½ tsp
  4. Cumin Seeds – ½ tsp
  5. Whole Black Pepper – ¼ tsp (adjust according to taste)
  6. Dried Red Chilly – 2 or 3 (adjust according to taste)

  1. Soak the tamarind in 1 cup of hot water for 10 minutes. Squeeze and take out the extract and make it about 2.5 cups by adding more water.
  2. Heat a small frying pan, with ½ tsp of oil, and fry all the ingredients mentioned under “to roast and grind”.
  3. Cool, and transfer to a small mixie jar. Powder it first and then add little water and grind to a smooth paste.
  4. Heat a Kadai with 2 tbsp oil, temper with mustard seeds and curry leaves. Then add the Manathakkali vatthal. Fry for couple of minutes or till the vathhal is fried well.
  5. Next add the tamarind extract, turmeric powder and asafoetida. Bring this to boil.
  6. When it starts boiling, add the ground paste and mix well. Add the jaggery and let this boil on medium flame for 10 to 12 minutes, or till the kuzhambu reaches a slightly thick consistency.
  7. Remove from heat and rest it for atleast 10 minutes before serving.
Serve with rice and Paruppu Thogayal or Kootu.

  1. Since my manathakkali vatthal was very salty, I did not add salt to the kuzhambu, so check and add the salt, else the kuzhambu will become salty.
  2. If you don’t have vathal, you can substitute with any vegetable, like onions, or Drumstick. Add the vegetable after the tempering of mustard seeds and sauté for few minutes before adding the tamarind extract. Also don’t forget to add salt.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Chow Chow Kadalai Paruppu Kootu/Chayote Lentil Stew

Last week, I had posted a question on my Facebook Page as to what recipes readers would like to seed here on Palakkad Chamyal. I got a good number of responses for it. It gave me an idea of is expected. I will try my level best to post the requested recipes as soon as possible. 
This Chow Chow kootu was one of the recipes suggested. So I decided to start off with it. This kootu is really simple and the whole thing can come together in 30 minutes time from the chopping to the final tempering. It is a mild dish, where the chow chow or Chayote is cooked with lentils and then simmered in a coconut paste. It goes well as an accompaniment with rice and Sambar/Rasam. You could serve alongside rotis too.

What you’ll need
  1. Chow Chow – 2, big, about 3.5 to 4 Cup when cut into small cubes
  2. Kadalai Paruppu/Channa Dal – ½ cup
  3. Turmeric Powder – ¼ tsp
  4. Salt to taste

To Grind
  1. Scraped Fresh Coconut – ½ cup
  2. Green Chilly – 1
  3. Cumin Seeds/Jeera – 1 tsp

For Tempering
  1. Coconut Oil – 1 tsp
  2. Mustard Seeds – ½ tsp
  3. Split Urad Dal – 1 tsp
  4. Curry Leaves – few

  1. Wash, peel and chop the chow chow/Bangalore kathrikkai/Chayote into small cubes.
  2. In a small pressure cooker, add the kadala paruppu at the bottom add water to the level that it just covers the kadala paruppu.
  3. Add the chow chow pieces over the paruppu and also add turmeric powder.
  4. Close the cooker and cook for 2 to 3 whistles.
  5. In the meanwhile, grind the ingredients mentioned under “to grind” into a paste by adding little water. Do not add too much water while grinding.
  6. Once the cooker cools down, open and keep on heat again.
  7. Add salt to taste and let it come to a boil, then add the ground coconut mixture and give a mix taking care not to break the pieces.
  8. Let this just start boiling. Remove from heat.
  9. Heat a small frying pan with coconut oil, add mustard seeds, once they start crackling add the urad dal and fry till the dal turns golden. Remove from heat and add the curry leaves.
  10. Pour this tempering over the kootu and mix well.

Serve warm with plain rice, and Sambar/Rasam/Vatha Kuzhambu

  1. You can cook the chow chow and dal on the stove top in a vessel too, but I prefer to pressure cook as it reduces time. Take care not to add too much water while pressure cooking.
  2. If you feel that there is lot of water, just boil, the pieces without lid, for 5 mins on high heat, or you could add ½ tsp of raw rice while grinding the coconut mixture.
  3. My mother usually adds a little bit of jaggery to all the kootu. It is optional, I have not added.

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