Sunday, December 7, 2008

Besan Chutney (Spicy Chickpea Gravy)

This is a thick gravy made from chickpea flour. This is also known as Senaga Pachadi (See Sailu's Recipe here), Besan Sambar or Bombay Chutney. I have also heard it referred to as 'poor people's chutney' as the economically disadvantaged people often will have all these simple ingredients, which are cheap and easy to obtain.

3 cups water
1 tbspn oil
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
1 cup besan (chickpea flour)
3 green chilies sliced lengthwise
5-8 curry leaves
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup small diced tomatoes
Pinch ING (Asafetida) -optional-
Pinch turmeric -optional-
Salt to taste

1. Place the oil in a sauce pan on high heat.
2. When oil is hot, add mustard seeds.
3. When mustard seeds pop, turn heat to medium, put in the diced onion, curry leaves and green chilies.
4. As the onions become translucent, add the tomatoes and 1 1/2 cups of the water.
5. While this mix is boiling, place the remaining 1 1/2 water, 1 cup besan, ing, and salt in a blender and blend nicely.
6. Add the blended mixture into the pan and begin to heat. Keep adding salt while it's heating. It will require a lot of salt, more than other dishes. Try to do this quickly because the mix will thicken quite quickly. It's good to turn the heat down a little as when it gets so hot, the mix will bubble up and spurt out of the pan. Be careful as if you add turmeric, the mix that spurts up may stain things.
7. Let this settle for some time before eating so all the tastes can mix together.

This is usually eaten as a dip with dosa or idli. We have also eaten this with mixed rice.

Another version of besan curry with peanut powder added! Pithale is the regional name of besan curry among Marathis of Maharasthra!
Pithale - Bhakri (Besan Curry and Rice Roti)

Related Posts/Links: Kanchipuram Idli

Benefits of Curry Leaves Benefits of Asafetida

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Thick and Savory Sambar (South Indian Vegetarian Stew)

This sambar is moderately thick, like a stew. It is good had with dosa or pongal (rice and moong dhal porridge). A thinner variety of this sambar could be made with less dhal, and had with vada (as in vada sambar). (Pongal Recipe Here) Photo below right of sambar (in small bowl) with pongal (rice dish) and vada (fried lentil donuts) taken by Krishna Kumar.

(listed as per methods)


2 tbspn vegetable or olive oil
¼ tsp mustard seeds
1 sprig Curry Leaves
¾ cup small diced tomatoes
5 red shallot onion
10 small pearl onion
1 onion cut into four pieces
1 cup water
1 cup masoor dhal
1 tbspn sambar powder (We use Tastebuds by Mohanlal/Eastern)
1 cup toor dhal
1 cup water
3 inch piece tamarind
1 cup vegetables of choice- one or more, diced or chunked
(I use two of the following- brinjal aka eggplant, potato, drumstick,
okra/bindi, carrots, Indian pumpkin)

To taste salt

Step 1:
Wash and cook the toor dhal in a separate pot. Keep cooking while continuing other steps. When the dhal is soft and cooked, take off flame, cool.

Step 2:
Soak tamarind in 1 cup warm water while doing other steps. After step 3 is completed, squeeze all juice out of tamarind, rid of the tamarind pulp, put tamarind water with toor dhal in a blender, and puree. This will be added to the sambar.

Step 3:
-Put the oil in the bottom of a deep pot, like a pressure cooker. Keep flame on high.
-As oil heats add mustard seeds (MS).
-When MS pops, turn flame down to half, add the diced tomatoes and curry leaves. Stir fry this in oil for a few minutes.
-Add ½ cup water and 1 tbspn sambar powder and one squeeze of ing and stir. Let simmer/boil for about 3-5 minutes.
-Wash masoor dhal, put the washed dhal along with 1 ½ cup water in the pot. (Masoor dhal photographed on hands by
-Let this stay in the pot until boils, then add the vegetables as desired.
-Let the vegetables and dhal cook on medium heat for 30-45 minutes until the masoor dhal begins to ‘melt’ into the mixture.
End step 3.

Step 4:
Add the pureed toor dhal/tamarind extract mixture. Stir. Let simmer on medium for 5 minutes or so. Taste for salt, add more as required.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Mysore Sambar

The specialty of this sambar is the fact that it will be made out of a fresh, homemade ground spice mix and not a store bought one!


10 methi seeds (Fenugreek seeds)Mysore Sambar Podi
2 tbspn coriander seeds (or 1 tbspn coriander powder)
10 curry leaves
15-20 dried red chilies
1 tspn cumin seeds
½ cup fresh coconut
5 tablespoons oil or more
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp mustard seeds
6-10 curry leaves
1/4 cup juice of imli (tamarind)
1/8 tsp Asafetida (ing)
salt to taste
1 tsp jaggery dissolved in warm water or 1 tsp sugar (optional)

Add any or all of the following vegetables (up to two cups):
1 cup chopped/diced brinjal (eggplant)
1 cup dudhi (Indian squash)
1 cup finely diced potatoes
1/2 cup finely sliced carrots
1 -1 1/2 cup tomatoes cut into about 1 inch chunks

1. Soak 1/5 block dry tamarind in warm water until step 4
2. Boil 1 cup dhal in 2 cups water until dal is soft, but not pasty
3. Dry fry cumin/methi separately, dry fry chili/coriander separately. Alternatively, if it is sunny, you can keep the spices on a plate out in the sun for 8-10 hours to sundry as the spices photographed in this article were.
Grind these seeds into a powder using a mortar or coffee grinder.
4. Put this spice mix in water and grind in blender with coconut for 15 minutes or until it's puddling-like.
5. Add boiled toor dhal into the blender and blend into a paste. Set this aside. (I believe mashing or grinding the dhal into a paste gives it the thick consistency typical of Udipi style cooking found in Karnataka state, India.)
6. Heat 2-3 tsp vegetable oil in a large pot (5-6 cups capacity). Add 1/4 tsp cumin seeds and 1/4 tsp mustard seeds (MS) in the oil, when MS pop, add cut vegetables add 1/4 tsp turmeric and curry leaves. Fry this mix for 10 min.
7. Strain tamarind water, place in pan with two cups of water along with the vegetables. Boil until vegetables are soft.
8. Add one tsp jaggery dissolved in warm water or 1 tsp sugar if desired.
9. Add blended dhal and spice mix and boil on medium for an hour or until tastes mesh.
10. Add salt as per taste.
11. Previous to serving, garnish with coriander.

Eat with rice, idli, dosai, pongal etc.
Makes 10-15 servings.

Note: Because the dhal is blended as a paste, this sambar will become thicker as it cools. If kept in the fridge over night, water may need to be added the next day to make it a stew consistency. To avoid this if you think you will need to store it, do not blend dhal and only cook dhal until it is done and not over boiled.

**Sambar is a type of South Indian vegetarian stew with lentils, a mix of spices (masala) and vegetables).

Updated July 22, 2008
Original posting date January 26, 2008

Amol has showcased the photo of the sambar masala seeds in his posts here and here.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Quinoa Upma

By: Jennifer KumarQuinoa Upma

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1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
2 tspn oil (vegetable or olive)
pinch mustard seeds
8-10 curry leaves
2-3 green chilies sliced in half lengthwise
1/8 cup finely diced onion
15-20 cashew pieces as per taste (optional)
1/8 cup each -corn kernels, peas, edamame
to taste salt

1. Heat oil in a wok.
2. Add mustard seeds.
3. When seeds pop add curry leaves, green chilies, onions and cashews. Stir until onions become translucent or cashews brown.
4. Add 1/2 cup water and add in veggies. I used frozen vegetables so I steamed them in this mixture until soft.
5. Add quinoa and 1 cup water. (Quinoa is cooked with twice the water as quinoa, but the extra water already added softened the veggies and cashews.)
6. Add salt to taste and keep stirring and cooking. Quinoa grains separate after cooking for some time, this means they have been cooked. Keep cooking and stirring until water has evaporated. Upma should be a dry stir fry mixture. Do not leave mixture alone, it should not burn and could easily burn if not watched and stirred continuously.

Serves 3-5.

Upma is the name of a variety of dishes with a similar consistency. Salt or uppa is the main ingredient. From our most educated guess upma comes from combining the (Tamil/Malayalam) words uppa (salt) and maavu (batter/mixture). There are different varieties of upma, and by the title of upma you know the main ingredient. In this case, it is quinoa. I have made the most famous upma with sooji (rava), in addition to vermicelli, bread and Buggani (Puffed Rice Upma). The other varieties are very similar except in how to prepare the main ingredient for the upma. I am sure there are other varieties, but I have yet to be introduced to them!

Notes on Quinoa: "Quinoa was of great nutritional importance in pre-Columbian Andean civilizations, being secondary only to the potato, and followed in third place by maize. In contemporary times this crop has come to be highly appreciated for its nutritional value, as its protein content is very high (12%–18%), making it a healthy choice for vegetarians and vegans." (source: Wikipedia)

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tags: quinoa, grains, upma, "upma varities", breakfast, "Indian breakfast", "south Indian breakfast"

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Picture Perfect Paneer

In a follow up to the initial post on Homemade Paneer, here is some evidence that it's still being done by me!!

Since I have learned the art of making paneer, it has kind of been like riding a bike. What I mean is that even if I go weeks or months without making it, I can do it again like I did it when I enthusiastically wrote the intial recipe blog.

More Paneer Photos.... (All Photos taken by blog author, Jennifer Kumar.)

**Paneer is a homemade cheese more popular in North India. This cheese can be fried in hot oil. The characteristic of this cheese is that it doesn't melt!

Use Panner to make Paneer Butter Masala or Paneer Makhani. This is the fried paneer smothered in thick, cream and butter spiced gravy.

Delicious Living Magazine - How to Make Cheese in Less than One Hour

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Chiratta Puttu with Kadala

...Chiratta Puttu with Kadala is steamed rice powder with coconut and ghee steamed in a replica of a coconut shell (chirattu puttu) with a stew of spiced black chickpeas (kadala). This is also known as puttu kadala.

I have tried and tried many a time to make puttu (steamed rice powder with coconut gratings) and kadala over the years in our 'trusty' puttu kutty. (See what I am talking about here.)

In fact for the puttu it was a faulty puttu kutty- nothing could cover the gaps where steam was being released... But as for the kadala curry, it has to be a user error! I had not left it in the pressure cooker long enough and like with things that take too much time, I probably just missed it by a little time due to impatience.

So, now instead of that puttu kutty maker, I have a chirattu (I think that is what it is called). This is a small steel bowl with a loose fitting metal top that goes on top of the pressure cooker where the weight goes. This is meant to be a reusable replica of a coconut shell. Practically, this is able to be flown out of Kerala on a plane, unlike the coconut shell!

In my search for a photo of the puttu kutty, I found a post on making puttu in a 'homemade' steam contraption. This innovative approach by inji pennu makes puttu making fun and easy for anyone (especially in America) who has access to only local products and not Malayalee cooking utensils. See Inji Pennu's blog here.

This time, I vowed I'd be patient from the moment I began soaking the brown kadalas (chick peas) to the very end of steaming the puttu - and the result was very nice.

I have adapted this recipe from Annita's website and from recent cookery lessons on our trip to Kerala!

Kadala Curry

1 cup dried brown chickpeas (known as kadala)
1 cup coarsely chopped onions (I used red onion)
1 cup coarsely chopped tomatoes
2 green chilies sliced lengthwise but not fully chopped in half
1/2 tsp ginger paste (or alternatively you can use a few chunks of fresh ginger)
1/2 tsp garlic paste (or alternatively you can use a few cloves of crushed garlic)
pinch cumin seeds
1/2 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1/8 tsp turmeric
pinch ing (optional)
salt to taste
1/4 cup grated coconut
4 tbspn Olive or Vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
10 curry leaves
pinch mustard seeds

1. Soak the kadala beans overnight. This time I actually soaked them until few beans broke open and revealed their white inner core.
2. When kadala has soaked properly, take a pressure cooker and put it on high flame.
3. Add 3 tbspn oil oil. Temper the cumin in this oil a few minutes when it becomes hot.
4. Turn down the heat to medium and add the onions. They should 'sweat'. I did not fry till brown.
5. After about 5 minutes, add the tomatoes and green chilies and stir.
6. Add the ginger, garlic, turmeric, red chili and coriander powder and stir.
7. After the contents of the pan have been sufficiently covered with the spices, add the kadala beans. Add three times the water as the measured soaked beans*, ing and salt to taste. (I did not measure the salt, I poured it in, but it's better to add less salt and more can be added later.)
8. Turn up the heat to high, put the top on the pressure cooker along with the weight. Pressure cook for about 4-5 whistles. (I was told to do 4-5 whistles, but my whistler is broken I guess as it went off only twice in the span of an hour and a half, so it basically boiled a long time. So at this time I took off the lid and tasted it. You know it's done when the beans are medium soft. The beans should not be so soft they can be mashed. Slightly hard is best - it's at least what we like!)
9. When this part is done, take 1/2 tspn oil and heat it on a frying pan. Add the coconut gratings and brown them. Set them on a plate to cool.
10. In that same skillet after cleaning out the coconut pieces, heat 1/2 tspn oil and add mustard seeds. When they pop, add the curry leaves. Fry about a minute. Add to kadala pan. Take a ladle or two of the kadala water, put it in the skillet and pour it back into the kadala pan. This actually helps you to collect all the tempered oil taste of mustard seeds and curry leaves.
11. When coconut has cooled, put it in a blender along with two ladles of the kadala (take whatever the ladle has in it- kadala, water, onions, tomatoes, etc.) and blend it so that the coconut pieces become pureed in this. Add it back to the kadala pan.
12. Reheat this kadala to be eaten with the puttu.

2 cups roasted rice flour (you can buy this ready made at the Indian store, called puttu powder or puttu podi)
1/4-3/4 cup water
pinch salt
1 cup coconut gratings

1. Before making the batter, fill a pressure cooker 3/4 with water. Put on the top, but do not put the weight on. When steam starts to come out of the top, you can put the chirattu on it.
2. The trick to making good puttu is mixing the puttu flour with the water. Put all the puttu podi in a bowl.
3. Measure the water, mix the salt into it.
4. Mix all this with your hand. Little by little with your left hand pour few drops of water into your right hand. Mix it into the puttu podi. By 1/2 a cup of water the flour will start to get lumps in it. Sometimes depending on the brand of puttu podi, this may be enough water. With the brand I used I had to go to 3/4 cup water adding little by little and mixing with hand. The final product will be lumpy but not doughy. If you put the puttu mix in your hand and make a fist it will stick together but it will not be wet. It will be dry and it will crumble apart. This is what you want. It may be hard to get this done using a spoon. It's better to use your hands.
5. In your chirattu puttu (pictured above) put a layer of coconut gratings to cover the hole in the bottom that will let steam in. Then add the puttu podi you have prepared. Put the top on the chirattu puttu and put it on the pressure cooker where the weight was.
6. Once steam starts coming out of the top of the chirattu puttu, wait 6-8 minutes. Remove and it should be able to be tipped upside down onto a plate to give you a bowl like shape. It should not fall apart.

Eat with the kadala curry on the side.
Some like to break up the puttu cake and add sugar or jaggery on it. Jaggery can also be added into the puttu podi while steaming it. Add as per your own taste.

In case you don't have kadala curry but still want to eat the puttu, put it on your plate, crush it, add ghee (clarified butter, or melted butter), sugar or jaggery per taste and bananas (optional).

This is a typical breakfast in Kerala, India. The puttu eaten with sugar and banana can be called common man's food as it is easy to make and not many ingredients is needed to make it.

*Once the beans soak they get a little bigger. Put them in the measuring cup and see how much it is and add three times this amount of water. You can add twice the amount of water also for less watery gravy. I like to put more water to get this 'kadala water' that can be added to plain rice and is very tasty!

Nice video showing the use of coconut shell!

** Chirattu Puttu is a famous breakfast dish in Kerala (South west India). It is steamed rice powder with coconut and salt. Generally puttu is taken with kadala is a savory dish. However, if no kadala is available, one can eat the puttu with butter/ghee and sugar and banana if desired. This is like a Kerala 'corn flakes' without milk!

**Kadala is a stew made from "black chenna" or black chickpeas, also known as kadala. This dish is famous in Kerala. Generally these two items are taken together. However, Kadala can be eaten with rice.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Drumstick Leaves Curry

3 ½- 4 cups Drumstick leaves
2 tbspn oil (vegetable or coconut)
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 broken red chilli
½ tsp red chilli powder
pinch turmeric
½ cup 1/8 inch cubed diced potato
to taste salt

1. Pluck leaves from stems of drumstick tree. Do not use discoloured leaves. Leaves should be dark or light green. Discard yellow and other colored leaves. Tender leaves can also be used. Small stems permitted if can’t get all leaves plucked off. It’s easiest to pluck the leaves taking the stem and pinching in the opposite direction of the growth. (This part takes the longest. For people like me not used to doing this, it took almost two hours!) (Plucked leaves pictured to the right.)
2. Soak the leaves in water a few minutes. Leaves have a waxy coating and will not fully soak or get wet. (Soaking pictured below to right.)
3. Heat oil. Add mustard seeds.
4. When mustard seeds pop, add the chilli, turmeric, red chilli powder. Stir.
5. Immediately add the leaves. Leaves do not need to be drained. Just take out by the handfuls and add to the pan. Some water added to the pan is ok.
6. Immediately add the potatoes.
7. Stir. (When stirring do not keep all curry in the middle of the pan, spread it out to let air in it.). 8. Put the top on it and stir it every three minutes until water is all evaporated.
Once cover is taken off, keep cooking and stirring until the potatoes are soft.
9. Add salt to taste.

Guess I forgot to take photo of the final product!! Maybe next time...

Note: This can be considered a bitter dish, ayurvedically speaking. As told by the ayurvedic doctor, bitter dishes can help improve circulation and make you feel invigorated.

**Variation, I have yet to make. Instead of drumstick leaves, use fenugreek (methi) leaves in the same proportion. Spices to fry in oil are slightly different- mustard seeds first, then add red chilli powder, cumin powder, turmeric and salt to taste. It’s ok to add potatoes. When done add lemon juice and butter as condiments.

In other Indian Languages Drumstick is known as:
Drumstick Leaves (English)
TAMIL - Murunga elai
TELUGU - Munnakaya koora
KANNADA - Nuggekayi
MALAYALAM - Muringakaya ela
HINDI - Muranka bhaji
Taken from:

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Dhal Curry with a Kick!


1/2 cup toor dhal
1/2 cup mansoor dhal
1/4 cup diced red onions or shallots
3/4-1 cup diced orange bell pepper (capsicum) with seeds
1 tbspn dried fenugreek (kasoori/ qasuri methi) leaves
3 tsp Shan Dal Curry Spice Mix
pinch Asafetida
salt to taste

1. Rinse dhals in the same pan. Fill with twice as much water.
2. Boil on medium heat.
3. While this is going on, put the 1/2 cup diced onions or shallots in the pot and stir it.
4. Place the 1/4 cup diced orange bell pepper (and it's seeds) in a blender along with the Asafetida and dhal curry spice mix. Blend with 1/8 cup water or less (just enough to juice it). When it is pureed, add this to the dhal boiling on medium heat.
5. After 10 minutes taste for spice and add more dhal curry mix as per your liking. Add salt as per taste and the dried fenugreek leaves.
6. Boil until all dhals are soft and almost mashable.

Eat with roti, naan, chappati, rice or alone as soup.

** It is the pureed bell pepper (with it's seeds) that gives the kick!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Adai - Multi Lentil Pancake

Want a quick, protein filled crepe? Try a mixed dhal (lentil) pancake. It's made of a variety of soaked lentils, spices and salt. This tasty treat is good for any meal or as an afternoon snack with a side of coconut chutney or ketchup. (Photo by Sukanya - used with permission.)

This recipe is submitted to Dosa Mela.

1 cup idli rice
1/2 cup chenna dhal
1/4 cup toor dhal
1/4 cup urad dhal
1/4 cup finely diced onions
1/4 tsp ginger paste
2 green chilies
20 curry leaves
15 peppercorns
1/2 tsp. red chili powder
to taste salt
pinch ing

1. Place idli rice, 1/4 cup chenna dhal, toor dhal, and urad dhal in a bowl. Cover with water. In a separate bowl soak the remaining 1/4 cup chenna dhal. Soak both for about 2 hours.
2. Grind all idli rice, toor dhal, urad dhal, 1/4 cup chenna dhal, ginger paste, green chilies, 10 curry leaves, 7 peppercorns, chili powder, salt, pinch of ing into a paste. It need not be a creamy batter, it can be slightly coarse.
3. Place batter in a bowl, remaining 1/4 cup soaked chenna dhal (Do not grind it, but make sure it's soaked. This gives a cruchy texture.), peppercorns (crushed in a mortar), onions (finely chopped) and curry leaves (finely chopped) in a bowl and mix it. Batter will be of a chunky consistency. If you like green chilies, finely chop in as many as you can handle! Use Indian small green chilies for the best taste.
4. Using oil, fry on a pan on high heat. Both sides need to be a golden brown. It can take 8-11 minutes to finish one adai about 8-10 inches in diameter.
5. Enjoy with your favorite condiments.

** Some may consider this an 'easy dosa' because it the lentils need not be so finely ground or batter set for fermentation.

Check this site for more adai recipe variations and a nice photo of the end product!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Homemade Paneer

By: Jennifer Kumar

Yesterday, for the first time, I made homemade paneer, which is homemade cheese cubes.

For those who are wondering, "What is paneer, exactly?" I have an answer for you!
Paneer is tasty, fluffy cheese. It is similar to mozzarella but doesn't melt on pizza like mozzarella would. It is a cheese made in homes mostly in North India with milk and lemon juice. I prefer to substitute vinegar for lemon juice. I have never used lemon juice.

How is paneer eaten?
Once set, it will be fried. Some people like to eat plain, fried paneer. It is very tasty.
It can be added to many dishes, like palak paneer (spinach puree with cheese cubes), shahi paneer or paneer butter masala (onion cashew gravy with cheese cubes), matter paneer (peas and cheese cubes with gravy), paneer fried rice, and others I have yet to learn, also!

I used to purchase ready made paneer from the Indian store and thaw or fry. But, the taste was not really nice as I would like to have. So, I began to ask shop keepers and Indian friends how to make paneer. I was not given a recipe and proper method, but loosely advised that for each quart of milk, 1 1/2 teaspoons of vinegar is stirred into the milk upon boil. When I did this, few curdles came, but not enough.

So, I searched for a good youtube video which helped me. Basically, it seems this guy doesn't really measure vinegar and keeps pouring little at a time until all milk curdles and the curdles separate from the milk and the liquid left looks slightly greenish or yellowish.

It turns out by the time I got this consistency, about 3-4 teaspoons of vinegar were added. See the helpful video below. Look below the video for update recipe for homemade paneer with details and method!

April 18, 2009
Today I made paneer again. This is how I did it-

1/3 gallon milk (roughly)
2 tablespoons vinegar (or more)

Place milk in a pan and heat.
As it begins to boil, when the froth forms, turn off heat and put in a little vinegar.
What I usually do is take a spoon, stir milk and pour vinegar from the bottle in a thin stream until milk begins to curdle.
The curds will separate from milk, the whey or yellowish water will separate from curds.
Place cheese cloth or old, clean cotton sari or dhoti fabric in a strainer, strain the whey from curds.
Do not throw away the whey. What can be done with paneer water, or whey? Read below.
Press the curds in cheese cloth between two heavy objects and in such a way the moisture will drain from the curds, so that after an hour or so you will have a thick round piece of paneer.
Cut the paneer into cubes and fry in two- three tablespoons hot oil.

Paneer is now ready for your favorite dish or eat hot, fried cheese curds now! YUM!

Ever wonder what to eat palak paneer with? Eat with plain rice, roti, paratha or....rice pilaf. Make a rice pilaf with the left over paneer whey water.

Here's a recipe for Peas Pullao made with paneer water!!

Photos of mouthwatering paneer before and after frying

Delicious Living Magazine - How to Make Cheese in Less than One Hour

Friday, February 15, 2008

Aloo Palak (Potatoes with Spinach)


1 1/2 cups cubed, cooked potatoes (cubes about 1/4 inch)
4-5 oz packaged spinach
1/2 cup coarsely chopped onions (red taste better)
1/8 tsp ginger paste
1/4 tsp garlic paste (or per taste)
2-3 tbspn oil (olive or vegetable)
pinch ajwain seeds
pinch cumin seeds
2 tbspn Chicken fry Masala (spice mix doesn't contain meat)
1/2 tsp garam masala
to taste salt


1. Boil potatoes as you like. Peel and cut into rough 1/4 inch cubes. Set aside.
2. Place onions, ginger and garlic paste in a blender, puree.
3. Boil water, steam spinach until wilted. Drain, puree, and set aside.
4. In a large pan or wok, heat 2 tbspn oil. Add ajwain and cumin seeds.
5. When seeds sizzle or begin to emanate a nice aroma, add the onion puree.
6. Fry the onion puree until the onion smell comes. Add the potatoes.
7. Add the Chicken fry masala and garam masala.
8. Stir fry and until the potatoes turn color from chicken fry masala (a nice red) and also brown from stir frying.
9. Add the pureed spinach. Stir, taste for and add salt per your taste.
10. Turn heat to low and continue heating until the spinach begins to absorb some of the spice taste.

Eat with roti, chappati, or rice. 4-6 servings.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Chole Aloo (Chickpeas with Potatoes)

I created this dish with the desire to do something with one cup of leftover chole masala. The secret to this recipe is that the leftover chole should be a gravy based chole and not one with visable pieces of onion and tomatoes.

1 cup leftover chole masala
2 tbspn olive oil
2 cups diced potatoes
2 tsp chenna masala spice mix
1 cup water
salt to taste
pinch asafeteda


1. Boil the potato with skin on it. After it is boiled, slightly cooled and peeled (I like to slightly cool the potato after it's boiled and peel with fingers, peel comes off easily and no potato peeler needs to be washed!), dice into 1/3 inch cubes.
2. Heat a large wok like pan and keep the olive oil in it. When it heats, add the diced potato. Turn the heat down to one-quarter heat.
3. Lightly fry for a few minutes, add the left over chole mix well.
4. Add the water, chole masala spice mix and asafeteda. Mix well and cover.
5. Stir every few minutes. The mixture will become like a gravy or thick stew. This is good. It should not burn to the bottom of the pan if you keep mixing it and making sure the heat is low.
6. After about 25 minutes, the spices should all combine well, evening out between the chole and potatoes.
7. Taste for and add salt as you like.
8. Eat with rotis, chapati or rice as per your liking.

4-5 servings.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Sambar Powder


1 tbs urad dhal
2 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
10 methi (fenugreek) seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
3 dried red chilies, broken
10 curry leaves
8 peppercorns


1. Take all these and fry together until you get an aroma.
Light brown fry is good, don't blacken the seeds.
2. Transfer from pan to cold plate. Allow seeds to fully cool.
3. Grind by hand or in a coffee grinder.**
4. The entirety of this powder can be used to make sambar
for about 15 people.

**I have purchased a coffee grinder that I use only to grind spices.

Do not use the same grinder to grind coffee.

Sambaram - Spiced Buttermilk

This is an amazingly refreshing drink for a hot, sultry day or to cool down a hot-head!


1 cup curd (my favorite pictured below)or 2 cups buttermilk
1 cup water (if using curd)
1-2 curry leaves finely chopped
5 thin slices of a green chili
1 tsp crushed fresh ginger
taste salt

Photo above right courtesy of "Indian Food Rocks" blog post IFR New Finds and Weekend Burgers.

One step drink mix! Place all ingredients in a shaker cup. Shake until frothy. May like to let it set for 30 minutes or so before drinking for all flavors to combine. Filter before enjoying.

Notes: If using buttermilk it is already watery, hence twice the amount of curd is appropriate. If using curd, add an equal amount of water.

Photo left by Krishna Kumar: Me enjoying Milma brand Sambaram. More of our favorite Kerala photos here.

Related Posts: Sambaram – Spiced Buttermilk Cools the Soul (A tribute to my favorite cooling beverage!)

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Technorati Connections

Visit my Technorati Profile to see my other blogs! Thanks.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Mango Thokku


2 cups grated raw green mangoes
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
pinch Asafetida
2 tsp salt or to taste
2 tsp red chili powder
1 tbspn dried methi leaves (Fenugreek)

1. Heat oil on high.
2. When oil has heated add mustard seeds.
3. When seeds pop, add mangoes, Asafetida, salt and chili powder. Fry for 5 minutes.
4. Add methi leaves. Fry another 5 minutes. Final product is pasty.



2 cups urad dhal
1 cup diced onion
2 green chilies finely chopped
1 tsp pepper powder
10 curry leaves - chopped
10 small cubes of ginger (about 1/8 inch cubes)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt (or more as per your taste)
Rice Flour
Vegetable oil for frying


1. Soak urad dhal in 2 times the water for 4-5 hours.
2. Grind the dhal in sparse water after soaking into a fine, silky paste.
3. Put other ingredients into batter except the rice flour and stir

4. Add rice flour until it becomes a thick paste.
5. Form into donut like formations and fry in hot vegetable oil.
6. Taste first one for salt and adjust accordingly.

** Forming into donut formations is challenging. I am yet to perfect this.
One tip I have from a pro in making this is to cool the batter slightly in
fridge. Take batter out to make 5-6 at a time. When batter is slightly
cool it is easier to form into the donut like shape. If you have tips on this
add below in comments.

Indian Steel Tumbler

Idli Cooking Gadget Photo

Kanchipuram Idli


1 cup Idli Rice
1 cup Urad Dhal
10 methi (Fenugreek) seeds.
2-3 tsp salt
10 peppercorns
1 tsp Cumin seeds
10 pieces of cubed ginger (1/4 inch)
Pinch of Asafetida
15 Cashewnuts- chopped or crushed
2 tspns Ghee
1/2 cup Sesame Oil

1. Soak both rice and urad dhal with a pinch of
methi seeds for 3 hours.

2. Grind rice with sparse water into a silky paste.
3. Add required salt and let it fermentation about
8-10 hours.
(If you live in hot climate, you can set
it in the sun. If you live in cold
climate, you have
two choices.

First choice: Heat oven, turn off and cool. Keep the
oven light on and keep
batter in 6-8 hours to ferment.
Second choice: Place the batter near or close as
possible to a heating vent
Fermenting will allow batter to rise and also smell
slightly sour.)

4. After fermenting, add sesame oil, peppercorns,
ginger pieces, and ing
(Asafetida) into the batter
and stir well.

5. Heat 1 tsp ghee. Add cashewnuts and cumin
seeds until the cashewnuts lightly
brown. Add to
mixture, mix well.

6. Take a pressure cooker, without the weight.
There are two choices on how to
in tumbers.

First choice: Place a metal cooking rack on the
bottom of the cooker and take 3-4
Indian steel
tumblers. Tumblers can sit on the rack.

Second choice: If you have a dhokla rack, keep only
the bottom most rack in the
gadget, place the
tumblers on this.

8. Coat tumblers with sesame oil, fill tumber 3/4
full with idli batter. Set
tumblers on your rack.
Close pressure cooker without using weight.

9. Once the steam starts coming from the cooker,
time steaming for 20 minutes.

10. When done, you can take the idlis out easier by
pouring cold water on the
bottom of the tumblers.
A blunt object may help get them out as well.

11. Keep repeating steps 6, 7, and 8 until batter is over
or required amount is
12. Serve with chutney, sambar or dhal powders.

1. After making the first batch note how heavy the idlis
appear. If they seem
heavy or thick, add some water to
the batter and test another few tumblers.
Idlis should be
somewhat light and airy when steamed.

2. Leftover batter can be kept for several days after it is

**This is Kanchipuram style due to being steamed in. You
can also
steam in regular idli pans too.

I will post photos of these gadges in separate posts. (I
tried in this post and
it did not work properly.)
Indian Steel Tumbler
Photo: Idli Cooking Gadget Photo
This recipe is adapted from the recipe posted on

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Lemon Rasam


6 Green Chillies
4 small pieces of about 1/8 inch cubes- ginger
Asafoetida (Ing) pinch
1/8 cup juice from fresh lemon
12 curry leaves
1/8 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp urad dhal
3/4 tsp cumin seeds
I tsp ghee
Salt to taste


1. Chop ginger and slit green chillies.
2. Boil them in water for 30 minutes with salt and 3 cups of water. Add more water if water evaporates. Boiling for 30 minutes really brings out the ginger and green chilies taste. Water should have a nice aroma from these ingredients, and may slightly yellow from ginger. Then you know it's ready for the seasonings.
3. Add asafotida and lemon juice when you turn off the heat.
4. While #2 is getting ready, heat ghee in another pan, when ghee is hot, add cumin seeds, urad dhal and curry leaves. Add this to the water pan when it has completed it's boil.

Another version of Lemon Rasam.
Tasty Tidbits: Rasam (Cultural Facts about this tasty broth!)

Karela (Bitter Gourd) Curry


2-3 Karelas (Bitter Gourd)
2-3 tablespoons oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp urad dhal pieces
salt to taste
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp corriander powder
pinch haldi (turmeric)
2-3 broken dried red chillies
4-5 curry leaves


1. Slice Karela into thin slices (the outer covering does not need to be removed), layer on a plate, salt each layer of karela with about 1/2 tsp salt. Let sit 15-20 minutes or longer.

2. Heat Oil with mustard seeds and dhal. When mustard seeds pop add Karela slices, lower heat to low to medium. Karela treated with salt have water and high heat will burn them quickly, though burning does not mean they are done.

3. Add all spices. Fry for 15-20 minutes stirring occassionaly.

Eat small amounts with curd rice (yogurt rice). It will be very bitter still after cooking and yogurt makes a good combination to release the bitterness yet taste the karela.

Vatthal Kozhumbu

1. Imli (tamarind)
2. Tablespoon oil
3. Pinch Mustard seeds
4. Pinch chenna (or toor) dhal
5. 2-4 red dried crushed chilies
6. 2-4 green chilies cut lengthwise
7. Pinch ING (Asafetida)
8. 4-6 curry leaves (or more as per your taste)
9. Pinch vendhyam (Fenugreek seeds)
10. 4 cups water
11. 2 tsp sambar powder
12. Pinch turmeric
13. Salt to taste
14. 20-30 sundakkai vathals (or as per your taste)
15. 1 to 4 tsp rice flour


Step 1:
If you have block Imli (ingredient #1) soak a golf ball size of this in warm water (1 cup) until soft. This can be done while doing other steps.

Step 2.
For ingredients 2-9. Heat oil and add mustard seeds (ingredients 2 and 3), when they pop, add ingredients 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9. Fry till they are browned. Put to the side.

Step 3:
Strain and squeeze the water out of the soaked imli pieces out and put he 'imli water' in a sauce pan. Heat it adding 3 more cups water (adding four for #10) sambar powder (#11), turmeric (#12) and salt (#13). Also add all the fried spices at this time (from step 2.) Heat till a rolling boil for 5-10 minutes. More salt may also be added at the end as per your taste.

Step 4:
Dry fry the vatthals till a smell comes. Add the vatthals to the liquid and continue boiling.

Step 5:
This will be liquidy, whereas kozhumbu should be thick. To thicken we add rice flour (#15). Leaving the heat on, while boiling, add one teaspoon, and stir, wait a few minutes, stir it. Keep adding one more teaspoon of the rice flour and stirring until it is slightly thick. Four teaspoons should be enough.

**Kozhumbus com in different varieties. Kozhumbu is a thicker sambar. The closest translation for Kozumbu in English is gravy.

Keep this sitting for some time before eating. It is really good if you eat it later in the day or the next day, the flavor will be very nice.

Eat in small quantities with plain rice or curd (yogurt) rice.

There are also various kinds of vatthals. It may be possible to substitute another variety of vatthal in this recipe for another.

This recipe was originally posted in my yahoo group.
Photo in post taken by Jennifer Kumar.

Other Vatthal Kozhumbu Recipes
Vatral Kuzhambu - Sriranjini

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Aloo (Potato Curry)

This dish, eaten for breakfast, is eaten with poori- a deep fried puffy bread.

3 tbspn oil
pinch mustard seeds
1/4 cup diced onions
10 curry leaves
3-4 green chilies cut in half (add as many as per taste)
1 cup water
2 tbspn chenna dhal
2 cups cubed potatoes about 1/2 inch cubes, doesn't have to be uniform
1/4 tsp turmeric powder (haldi)
salt per taste
3 chunks ginger (about 1/8 inch chunks)

1. Heat oil in pan with mustard seeds.
2. When seeds pop add the diced onions on medium heat. Add curry leaves and green chilies. Sweat onions, do not brown or burn.
3. Add 2 cups water and chenna dhal with potatoes.
4. Add turmeric, salt, and ginger pieces. Boil until potatoes are fully cooked and can be mashed.
When it is done, potatoes will become mushy and pasty. It can be considered like a thick gravy. Not all potatoes should be mashed. You will be able to see potato chunks.

Variation 1:
Do not add mustard seeds, curry leaves or onions, instead temper 1/2 cup finely diced tomatoes in step 2. All other steps remain the same. This version can be eaten with pooris.
Variation 2:
Do not add mustard seeds, curry leaves or turmeric. Instead of boiling in water, boil in 1/2 water 1/2 milk. (This variety is more or less the Kerala potato stew.) This version is known to be eaten with appams or iddiappams.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Vegan Rye Bread Muffins

I had quite a time finding this recipe. Most rye breads you buy in the store have wheat flour in the ingredients list above rye flour, so it is more wheat bread than rye! Are you shocked as I was? Plus, it's hard to find the bread (rye or otherwise) without high fructose corn syrup and unhealthy oils, so I wanted to make our own.

The other shocker for me in finding such this recipe was finding a rye recipe without yeast, eggs or milk. This recipe tastes wonderful with fresh organic butter spread on with fruit or fruit spread.

I am reprinting this recipe from

Rye Muffins

We serve these at dinner time in place of bread, biscuits or dinner rolls. Milk, wheat & egg free.

1 1/4 c. rye flour

1/2 c. rice flour (use the kind from the Asian market--its cheaper & less gritty)

4 tsp. baking powder

3/4 tsp. salt

1/4 c. sugar

1 c. water

1/4 c.oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. If desired, line muffin tins with paper liners. In a large bowl, mix rye flour, rice flour, baking powder, and salt together. Mix water, oil & sugar separately and add to the dry mixture. Blend well. Fill muffin tins about 3/4 full and bake for about 25 minutes, or until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Makes 12 muffins.