Sunday, March 30, 2014

Chena Mezhukkupuratti/Chena Roast/Senaikizhangu Roast

Chenai or Senai Kizhangu or Elephant yam is one of my favorite vegetables. It is a versatile vegetable and can be used in a variety of dishes from kuzhambu to kootu to roast. It has a unique taste and I just love it. This Mezhukuppuratti is a very simple one, with a quick tempering and very few add ons, but it tastes amazing when paired with rasam or even with Mor Kootan. The only trick to get the vegetable cooked right. If cooked too soft then the roast will turn out mushy.

What you’ll need
  1. Chena/Suran/Elephant Yam – 500gm
  2. Turmeric Powder – ¼ tsp
  3. Asafoetida – a generous pinch
  4. Salt to taste
  5. Chilly Powder – ½ tsp
  6. Curry Leaves – few
  7. Mustard Seeds – ½ tsp
  8. Oil – 2 tbps

  1. Remove the skin of the yam and cut into small or medium sized cubes.  I like them small.
  2. Wash well.
  3. Transfer the pieces into a vessel, toss with salt and turmeric powder.
  4. Pressure cook the pieces for one whistle. Don’t add any water in the pieces. Just add water in the cooker and place the container with the yam pieces. Close the lid and cook for one whistle. This will ensure that pieces are cooked yet not mushy. Else you can also parboil the yam pieces in a vessel with water. Take care that the pieces don’t turn too soft.
  5. Once cooked, remove from cooker, and transfer to a wide plate, let it cool for a while.
  6. Now heat a non stick kadai with oil, temper with mustard seeds. Then add asafoetida and curry leaves.
  7. Now add the cooled yam pieces and mix gently. Add chilly powder at this stage and mix. Check for salt and add if required.
  8. Let it get roasted well in the open kadai on a medium to low flame. Keep stirring once in a while without breaking the pieces. This may take anywhere between 8 to 10 minutes.
  9. Remove from heat.

Serve with rice and Sambar or a simple rasam.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Vengaya Sambar/Arachuvitta Vengaya Sambar

Vengaya Sambar and urulaizkizhangu curry are a classic combo. It is no doubt our family favorite too. This combination is usually a weekend special in our house. And I must say that this sambar will taste even better in the night. So whenever you make this sambar try to keep a tiffin like Idly or dosa so that you can enjoy the sambar with it in the evening. :) 
The shallots/chinna vengayam, have a flavor of their own. Together with the freshly ground spices, the Sambar tastes just heavenly.
I learnt a few tip from my mother, like sauteing the onions in a tsp of ghee. This improves the flavor of the sambar. One more thing i would like to share here is that my mother never adds asafoetida/hing/perungayam when adding onions in a dish. That's why you won't find Hing in my list of ingredients here. Now off to the recipe.

Serves – 3 to 4
What you’ll need
  1. Shallots/Chinna Vengayam – about 25 to 30
  2. Tuar Dal – 1/3 cup
  3. Tamarind – big gooseberry size ball
  4. Salt to taste
  5. Turmeric Powder – ¼ tsp
  6. Jaggery – 1 tsp (optional)
  7. Ghee/Clarified butter – 1 tsp

To roast and grind
  1. Coriander Seeds/Dhaniya – 1.5 tbsp
  2. Channa Dal/Kadala Paruppu – 1 tbsp
  3. Methi Seeds/Vendayam – ¼ tsp
  4. Dried Red Chillies – 3 to 4
  5. Coconut – 1/3 cup, scraped, fresh or frozen
  6. Oil – ½ tsp

For tempering
  1. Oil – 1 tsp
  2. Mustard Seeds – 1 tsp
  3. Curry leaves – few
  4. Coriander leaves – few sprigs for garnish

  1. Peel the onions and keep ready.
  2. Pressure cook the dal until it turns soft and mushy. Whisk well and keep aside.
  3. Soak the tamarind in hot water for 10 minutes, squeeze and take out the extract. Add water and make the tamarind extract about 3 cups
  4. Heat a kadai with ½ tsp oil add the channa dal, dhaniya, methi and red chillies and roast by constant stirring, on medium flame till the dal turns golden. Take care not to burn the spices. Transfer to a plate and cool.
  5. In the meanwhile, in the same kadai, add a tsp of ghee, and fry the onions with a little bit of salt. Fry till the onions turn light brown.
  6. Cool and grind the above roasted ingredients along with the coconut and a couple of onio into a paste using about 1/3 cup of water.
  7. Take the tamarind extract in a vessel, add the sautéd onions, turmeric powder, salt to taste and jaggery and bring to a boil.
  8. Let it boil for 6 to 7 minutes on medium heat or till the raw smell of the tamarind disappears and the onions.
  9. Now add the mashed dal, mix well and again bring to boil.
  10. Finally add the coconut spice paste, mix well. Add another ½ cup of water to adjust the consistency of the sambar. Bring to boil and remove from heat.
  11. Heat a small frying pan with oil, temper with mustard seeds and curry leaves and pour over the sambar.

Garnish with coriander leaves.
Serve with plain rice and Potato fry or with your favourite tiffin item like Idly/dosa/vadai or pongal.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Saltine Crackers

This month the Baking Partners decided to bake some crackers.  Kids at home love the savory crackers rather than cookies. So I always end up picking up a packet or two of crackers almost every week for them to munch. I never imagined I would be baking crackers at home.

The whole process of making these crackers is quite simple and they were a huge hit at home. The first batch of crackers just disappeared, like that. I didn't have any left for the pictures So baked a second batch again. They are addictive. Thanks to Arthy for suggesting these delicious crackers.

Recipe adapted from here
What you'll need

  1. All Purpose Flour - 3/4 cup
  2. Instant Yeast - 1 1/4 tsp
  3. Baking Soda - 1/8 tsp
  4. Vinegar - 2 to 3 drops
  5. Salt - 1/8 tsp
  6. Sugar - 1/2 tsp
  7. Butter - 1 tbsp
  8. Olive Oil - 1 tbsp
  9. Water - 3 tbsp
  10. Seasoning of your choice to top the crackers - I used Salt and Dried Thyme


  1. Take butter, oil and 3 tbsp water in a microwave safe bowl and heat it at high for 30 secs. 
  2. Remove and mix well until butter is melted. Set aside to turn lukewarm.
  3. In a wide bowl, add the flour, yeast, soda, salt and sugar. Mix well with hands.
  4. Next add the vinegar and mix well.
  5. Now add the butter, oil and water mix.
  6. Mix the flour, to form a sticky dough.
  7. Grease another bowl, and transfer the dough into the bowl, cover with a cling wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  8. Next day, take the dough out of the refrigerator and bring to room temperature as about 15 to 20 minutes.
  9. Pre-heat the oven to 425F (200C) . Line the baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  10. Press the dough into a rectangle of 3x5 inch. This will make your rolling process easier.
  11. Roll into a sheet of 9x10 inch. Make sure to dust the work space liberally with flour to prevent sticking.
  12. Fold them through left half vertically. Repeat the same through right side, till this resembles an ‘envelope’.
  13. Turn it into to 90 degree and start rolling. This folding and rolling is done, in order to get an flaky cracker.
  14. Make sure to roll it into very thin sheet 10" x 18". Trim the sides to make it a perfect square.
  15. Sprinkle the dough with your choice of salt — I used salt some dried thyme — and gently press it in with the rolling pin.
  16. Using a rolling pizza wheel (easiest) or a baker's bench knife, cut the dough into 2" squares.
  17. Transfer the crackers to parchment-lined baking sheets; you can put them fairly close together, as they'll shrink as they bake, rather than spread. Prick each cracker three times with a fork.
  18. Bake the crackers for about 10 minutes, till they're a very light golden brown. Watch them carefully towards the end of the baking time; they can darken very quickly. Mine were done in 8 minutes.
  19. Turn off the oven, and open the door completely. Leave the crackers on the oven rack; they're going to cool down right in the cooling oven, in order to preserve their crispness. Keep your eye on them for the first couple of minutes; if for some reason your oven isn't cooling off quickly, and the crackers are continuing to brown, pull the rack out partway.
  20. When the crackers are completely cool, remove them from the oven, and wrap airtight, to preserve their crispness.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Pineapple Pulissery

Pulissery is a coconut and yogurt based dish with the addition of fruits like Mango, Ripe Plantains, or Pineapple. It usually forms a part of the Vishu or Onam Sadhyas/feast. It goes very well with plain rice and some vegetables on the side. It is a great accompaniment with Sevai/Idiyappam, idli, dosa or adai.

Serves – 3 to 4
What you’ll need
  1. Pineapple – 1.5 cup, chopped into bite sized pieces
  2. Green Chillies – 3 or 4
  3. Coconut, scraped – ¾ cup, tightly packed, fresh or frozen
  4. Sour Curd – 1.5 cup
  5. Turmeric Powder – ¼ tsp
  6. Black Pepper Powder – ½ tsp
  7. Jaggery - 1 tsp (optional)
  8. Salt to taste

For tempering
  1. Coconut Oil – 2 tsp
  2. Mustard Seeds – ½ tsp
  3. Fenugreek Seeds – ¼ tsp
  4. Dried Red Chilly – 1 or 2
  5. Curry Leaves – few

  1. In a heavy bottomed vessel, add the chopped pineapple pieces with about 1.5 cups of water.
  2. Add the turmeric powder, pepper powder, jaggery and salt.
  3. Bring this to boil and cook for about 6 to 8 minutes or till the pineapple pieces are soft.
  4. In the meanwhile grind the coconut and green chillies into a smooth paste. Use a little of the curd to grind instead of water.
  5. Once the pineapple pieces are cooked, add the ground coconut paste and bring to a boil.
  6. Now add the remaining whisked curds, mix well and remove from heat when the mixture starts foaming on the sides. Do not boil after adding the curds.
  7. Heat a small frying pan with oil. Add mustard seeds and let it crackle, then add the fenugreek seeds and red chillies. Take care not to burn the fenugreek seeds. Remove from heat and add the curry leaves. Pour this over the Pulissery.

Serve warm with steamed white rice and mezhukupuratti.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Masal Vadai/Masala Vada/Parippu Vada

Masala Vadai or Paruppu Vadai is a very popular tea time snack. These are usually prepared from ground Channa dal with chillies and other spices. The best parippu vadas I ever ate were in Cochin, at a small shop in our college campus. 

Makes – about 12 Vadas
  1. Channa Dal/Kadalai Paruppu – 1 cup
  2. Dried Red Chillies – 2
  3. Onion – 1, Medium, finely chopped
  4. Green Chilly – 2, finely chopped
  5. Ginger – 1 inch piece, grated
  6. Fennel Seeds – 1 tsp
  7. Curry Leaves – few, chopped
  8. Coriander Leaves – about 10 to 12 stems, finely chopped
  9. Salt to taste
  10. Oil to deep fry

  1. Wash and soak the dal, along with the red chillies for 2 ½ hours. Drain all the water and transfer the dals into a colander/strainer and let it sit for about 10 minutes so that all the water is drained.
  2. Transfer the drained dal and red chillies to a mixie/blender jar. Keep a handful of dal aside.
  3. Also add the fennel seeds and grind the dal into a coarse paste without adding any water. Need not grind to a smooth paste.
  4. Now, mix the the whole dals that was kept aside, also add the chopped onion, green chillies, grated ginger, curry leaves, coriander leaves and salt. Mix well.
  5. Heat oil for deep frying.
  6. Keep a bowl of water nearby, wet both hands, make small balls out of the ground dal, flatten each ball into discs.
  7. Deep fry the vadais in oil until golden brown. Always fry the vadais on medium heat. Drain on paper tissues.

Serve hot with tea/coffee.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Andalusian Stuffed Tomatoes

This month the International Food Challenge is hosted by Shey of Just not the Cakes and we are exploring the cuisine of Andalusia. Andalusia is the largest region in Spain, stretching from the cities of Cordoba and Seville all the way to the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. Andalusia is quite popular for its delicious foods. The most popular of these is the Gazpacho which is a cold soup.

Shey gave us four recipes to choose from and I decided to make this simple dish with tomatoes. You could serve this as an appetizer or as a side. It gets ready in no time and tasted yummy. The herbs add a lovely flavour to the dish. But remember to choose tomatoes that are not too sour.

What you’ll need
  1. Tomatoes – 3 Big
  2. Bread Crumbs – 1/3 cup
  3. Onion – 1, small
  4. Parsley – 1.5 tbsp (I used Dried Parsely)
  5. Thyme – 1 tsp
  6. Grated Cheese – 3 to 4 tbsp
  7. Black Pepper Powder – ½ tsp (adjust as required)
  8. Salt to taste
  9. Butter – 1 tbsp

  1. Preheat the oven to 300F
  2. Cut the tomatoes into half and scoop out the seeds. Reserve the seeds and juice in a separate bowl.
  3. Mix the bread crumbs, parsely, thyme and pepper along with the reserved tomato juice and seeds.
  4. Heat a non stick kadai with butter, sauté the onions till they turn soft.
  5. Add the bread crumbs mixture to the sautéed onions and mix.
  6. Turn off the heat and add about 2 tbsp of cheese and mix.
  7. Spoon this filling in to the tomatoes. Divide the remaining cheese equally and top the stuffed tomatoes with it.
  8. Bake for 15 minutes.

Serve warm.

  1. Use ripe tomatoes that are not too sour. Else the tanginess will dominate.
  2. If the scooped out portion of the tomato is very firm, chop it into smaller pieces, so that it mixes easily with the bread crumbs.
  3. Adjust the herbs, pepper and cheese according to your taste. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Zucchini Kootu (with Chickpeas)

Kootu is a quintessential in most households. Kootu is usually made with veggies like Elavan (ashgourd), Sorakkai, Chow Chow etc. It is a blend of vegetables and lentils usually with some coconut. It is a mild dish and hence is well liked by kids and adults.

After coming to Amsterdam, finding the Indian Vegetables for kootu has become difficult. That’s when I found this vegetable Zucchini. I have not used Zucchini back in India. But it is a great vegetable, very much like vellarikkai.

So if you live in a country where you cannot source Indian vegetables easily and you do find zucchini then you must try this simple and delicious kootu.

Serves - 3 to 4
What you'll need
  1. Zucchini – 2, chopped into medium sized pieces
  2. Chickpeas/Kabuli Channa/Konda Kadalai – ½ cup
  3. Turmeric Powder – ¼ tsp
  4. Salt to taste
  5. Curry Leaves – few
  6. Coconut – ½ cup
  7. Cumin Seeds – 1 tsp
  8. Urad Dal/Ulutham Paruppu – 1 tsp
  9. Dry Red Chillies/Vattal Milagu – 1
  10. Whole Black Pepper/Milagu – ½ tsp

For tempering
  1. Coconut oil – 2 tsp
  2. Mustard Seeds – ½ tsp
  3. Dry red chilly – 1

  1. Soak the chickpeas/konda kadalai in water overnight.
  2. Next day, drain water, rinse and pressure cook the chickpeas/konda kadalai.
  3. Wash and chop the zucchini into medium sized pieces.
  4. Heat a heavy bottomed vessel; add the chopped zucchini, salt and turmeric powder.
  5. Also add about ¾ cup of water, close the vessel and cook on medium flame for 5 to 6 minutes.
  6. Don’t keep mixing the pieces, else they will get mashed. Zucchini cooks very fast.
  7. In the meantime, heat a small frying pan with very little oil, and roast the urad dal, red chillies and black pepper until the dals turn golden.
  8. Cool and grind this along with coconut and cumin seeds into a coarse paste using very little water. Don’t add too much water, just use few spoons.
  9. Once the zucchini is cooked, add the boiled chickpeas and let it boil in open pan for 3 to 4 minutes.
  10. Finally add the ground paste and mix carefully trying not to break the pieces. Simmer for 3 to 4 minutes and remove from heat.
  11. Heat a small frying pan with coconut oil, and temper with mustard seeds, red chillies and curry leaves. Pour this tempering over the kootu.

Serve kootu with rice and Sambar/Vathakuzhambu or with just some rasam.

  1. Zucchini pieces cook very fast and leave lot of water, so don’t add too much water while cooking the pieces and while grinding. If water content increases, then boil in open pan for a while.
  2. Cut Zucchini into medium sized pieces and not very small else they will get mashed easily.
  3. Also, don’t stir or mix it too much, try to toss it so the pieces remain intact.

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