Saturday, October 27, 2012

Capsicum Ramen noodles

Fresh Capsicums show up in every local market during the summer and mild weather conditions here. I admire them for their gorgeous colors and shapes....the common green chillies, jalapenos, sweet red capsicum, perfectly shaped yellow, rare orange, economical green peppers, locally grown multi colored peppers, long hot varieties and many many varieties. Whenever we go to a farmer's market I will definitely buy one or two peppers. Though literally I don't know much recipes for these capsicums, I will buy as if I am seduced by these colors:) Then only I will think for ways to using them whenever I open the fridge. In this recipe I prepared a noodle dish with a single sachet of Ramen noodles and increased the meal quantity by adding lots of capsicum, so that it serves two.  Here is the flavorful spicy noodles version using Ramen noodles and capsicum.

Ingredients:
Ramen noodles - 1 pack
(Oriental flavor vegetarian noodles - 85 gm sachet - 400 k cal)
green Capsicum / bell pepper - 1/2
red capsicum - 1/2
onion - 1
fresh green peas - 1/2 cup
ginger - 1 inch
flavoring sachet in the noodles - 1 (or) 1/2
tomato puree - 2 tbsp
oil - 2 tsp

garnish:
spring onion - few tbsp
tomato ketchup - 1 tbsp
hot sauce - 1 tsp
chilly flakes - 1/2 tsp

Method:
Cook noodles with 2 cups water. Rinse in cold water and drain. Keep aside.
Saute the finely chopped ginger. Add chopped onion and saute till it wilts.

Then add the sliced capsicum and saute for a few seconds.
Add the tomato puree and cook for 1 minute.  Then  add the cooked noodles, tomato sauce / ketchup, hot sauce, flavoring mix given in noodles packet. Switch off.
Garnish with finely chopped spring onion and chilly flakes.

Capsicum noodles is ready!

Serving suggestion:
Serve hot as main course with any protein rich side dish.
Makes a good lunch pack too.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Kathirikkai kadalai paruppu koottu

Brinjal curry with channa dal masala, eggplant Bengal gram curry.

This curry made with mashed bengal gram (channa dal) and brinjal is quite common in Southern Tamilnadu weddings. This koottu can be prepared more like a dal or like a thick curry (as I have shown in photo) and both ways it tastes good.

Ingredients :
Brinjal - 200 gm
channa dal (kadalai paruppu) - 1/2 cup
tamarind - small amla size
coconut oil - 1 tsp
mustard - 1/2 tsp
hing - a pinch
curry leaf - 1 sprig
turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp

To fry and grind:
coconut oil - 1 tsp
channa dal - 2 tbsp
coconut - 3 tbsp
cumin - 1 tsp
dry red chilly - 4
coriander seeds - 2 tbsp

Method:
Fry the items given one by one and let cool.
Grind to a  fine paste. Keep aside.

Take channa dal, chopped brinjal with turmeric powder, 2 cups water and cook completely (using pressure cooker or stove top).
Add the tamarind extract, salt,  masala paste prepared and bring to a boil. Cook till raw smell goes.

Heat 1 tsp coconut oil in a wok. Add mustard and after it crackles add curry leaves, hing and pour over the dhal. (Some times I add onion also while tempering, which is not common for this recipe). Switch off.

Brinjal dal curry is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Serve as side dish with rice or chapati.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Cauliflower pakoda

I think Cauliflower is one of the most favorites in every household. Some years back (at least for people in my home town)getting some English vegetable like cauliflower was rare. Also those kind of veggies were more expensive because of transportation. I have never come across a Tamil word for Cauliflower (there will be a Tamil equivalent for most of the words in English), so I guess it is definitely a vegetable of modern days:) Thanks to the globalization in everything we get what we desire. While growing up, Cauliflower being an apple to our eyes, mom would make only chosen dishes with it. She would make very crispy fries with cauliflowers or put a tiny flower in vegetable briyani...that's it, we all would love whatever she made:). But nowadays I make many dishes with it and it became my regular in this part of globe we live and I love it:) Here is a pakoda / bajji with cauliflower and we had it did with sambar and rice :) 
Cauliflower pakora / bajji.

Ingredients:
Cauliflower - 1 (300 gm)
turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Besan flour (kadalai mavu) - 3/4 cup

rice flour - 2 tbsp
corn starch - 1 tsp  (optional)
salt - to taste
red chilly powder - 1 tsp
hing (asafoetida)- 1/8 tsp
red food color - a pinch (optional but I didn't use)
garam masala - 1 tsp (optional)
oil - to deep fry (200 ml)

Method: 
Wash the cauliflower and break it into medium size florets.
Bring few cups of water to boil with 1 tsp salt and turmeric powder.
Put the cauliflower pieces in boiling water and boil for only one minute.
Switch off, drain water completely. Keep aside.

In a separate bowl mix besan flour, rice flour, corn starch, salt, hing, red chilly powder  with 1/4 cup water to a thick batter. The batter should be thick and should not be runny (otherwise the bajjis will absorb more oil). If there is more water , then add some more rice flour.  Heat oil in a wok. As it gets smoky hot, reduce flame and keep in medium flame. Dip the semi-cooked cauliflower pieces in the batter and put in hot oil.
Flip and fry both sides. Drain oil and take out.

Cauliflower pakoda / bajji is ready!

Serving suggestions: 
Serve hot as snack along with hot coffee or tea during rainy / winter season.
Tomato ketchup / sauce is a nice side dish for this fry.
I usually make them for some weekend lunch along with sambar rice or curd rice.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Kambu puttu

Kambu - pearl millet, bajra ; puttu - steam cooked food.

 Kambu is a native cereal of India. It can be grown in any soil with minimal care and believed to be one of the few existing ancient crops. No wonder it was one of the major crops before green revolution, but long forgotten because of some changes in culture.
Preparing porridge (kool / koozh) using kambu is a common breakfast in South Indian villages. I prepare many dishes with kambu like kambu dosai, kolukkattai, urundai etc. Kambu has a very nice flavor when roasted. Recently I prepared puttu with kambu and it tasted many folds yummier.  Here is  a virtual treat to your eyes...Enjoy!

Kambu puttu
Ingredients:  (for 2 people)
whole pearl millet  (bajra/Kambu) - 3/4 cup
shredded coconut - 3 tbsp
salt - pinch

Method:
Sort the millet and remove any stones or sticks (nowadays they are stone-free).
Dry roast the kambu till it turns mild red and starts smelling nice At this stage it will start popping.
Now switch off and pour enough water. Wash the millet very well (thrice).
Keep it soaked for 10 to 30  minutes.

In the meantime prepare the puttu kuzhal or steaming vessel. Bring the water in bottom vessel to a boil. Click to see my rice kuzha puttu recipe for detailed instructions with photo.

Grind the kambu with pinch of salt, shredded coconut in a mixie to a 'medium coarse to fine' powder. Don't add water while powdering the kambu. Just pulse in intervals and it will be easily done.
Put it in puttu kuzhal and steam cook for 10 minutes after steam comes through the top holes.
We can make puttu in idly plates also. If need to prepare in a big batch,  tie the prepared kambu flour in a thin cloth and steam cook over an idly stand. We can feel the nice flavor filling the whole kitchen when it is completely cooked.

Puttu gets easily cooked than making a kambu choru (cooking like rice).

kambu puttu is ready!

Serving suggestions:
serve with powdered jaggery or white sugar or brown sugar and more shredded coconut.
It can also be served with green gram sundal.
Kadalai curry also makes a good accompaniment.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Brinjal buttermilk curry

Kathirikkai more kulambu, Eggplant curry with buttermilk, South Indian more curry.

'More' is the Tamil word for Buttermilk . 'Kulambu' means 'stew' poured over rice.So 'More kulambu' means a stew prepared with Buttermilk. This kulambu is a must if you prepare a traditional TamilNadu style lunch. More-kulambu should be served over steamed rice , after serving sambar and vathak kulambu.

I used our homegrown eggplant which was nearly 350 gms. As it was very big for a more kulambu, I halved it and used one half to make more kulambu one day and used the other half to prepare sambar the next day.

More kulambu.....our favorite curry with our favorite vegetable.
Another beautiful aubergine / eggplant from our garden.

I used the largest brinjal to make serwa .

The largest aubergine brinjal from our garden


Brinjal serwa I made using our largest brinjal. It tasted absolutely delicious.
Ingredients:
curd (Indian Yogurt plain) - 1 cup
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Brinjal - 150 gm
Ginger - 2 inch
green chilli - 2
Bengal gram / channa dhal - 1 tbsp
rice - 1 tsp
salt - to taste
coconut oil - 1 tbsp
mustard - 1/2 tsp
Dry red chilli - 2
curry leaves - 1 sprig
water - 2 cups

Method:

Soak channa dhal and rice for 30 minutes.

In the mean time prepare the brinjal.
Wash the brinjal and cut it into long thick slices.
Heat oil in a wok and add the brinjal pieces.
Fry well in low heat. Cook till it is almost done with a mild red color.
Take out and keep aside.

Grind ginger , green chillies , rice and channa dhal to a fine paste.
Heat 2 cups of water in a cooking pan and add the ground paste along with turmeric and salt.
Cook for few minutes till raw smell goes.
Now add the fried brinjal and bring it to a boil.
Before switching off add the curd. Mix well.


Now heat 1 tsp oil in a pan (that we used to fry brinjal).
Crackle the mustard seeds and add chopped dry red chillies with curry leaves.Add this tempering to the prepared curry.
Garnish with chopped cilantro.
Brinjal more kulambu is ready.

Serving Suggestions:

Serves 4 people.
Serve over steamed rice.
Potato fry is a good side dish for More Kulambu.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Spinach Enchilada

Enchilada is a popular Mexican dish. Enchiladas are made by rolling corn tortillas around some filling like beans or veggies and covered with chile + tomato puree and baked with cheese. Click to read more about it. I have a very nice neighbor (Shukla aunty) and we exchange our best dishes always. Last month she brought us a plate of flavorful enchiladas she prepared using spinach. She made it from scratch and taught me that recipe. Here is that yummiest enchilada with 'home made enchilada sauce'. We used my homegrown basil leaves in this recipe. This may be a unique recipe with little Indian touch and sweetness, but this is the best for us. Hope you all enjoy!
Basil plants are growing (right)




Ingredients:
tortilla - 6
shredded mozzarella cheese - 3/4  cup

Spinach filling:
Spinach - 1 small bunch
onion - 1/2
garlic - 3 clove
bell pepper - 1/2
cumin powder - 1/2 tsp
red chilly powder - 1/2 tsp
oil  - 1 tsp

Filling:
Heat oil in a wok.
Add chopped garlic and onion. Fry for a minute.
Put the chopped bell pepper. Saute till it wilts.
Then add chopped spinach and saute for 1 minute.
Add required salt, red chilly powder, cumin powder.
keep aside.

Enchilada sauce:
butter / oil - 1 tbsp
garlic - 2 cloves
green onion (spring onion) - 1 small bunch
dried Italian seasoning - 1 tsp
Tomato puree - 1/2 cup
tomato sauce - 2 tbsp
hot sauce - 1 tbsp
red chilly powder - 1/2 tsp
All purpose flour - 1 tbsp
water - 1/4 cup
basil leaf - 1 sprig
cumin powder - 1/2 tsp

Method:
Heat oil and saute the chopped spring onion + garlic for a moment.
Add AP flour and saute for a few seconds.
Pour in the tomato puree and add salt, red chilly powder, cumin powder, dried Italian herb seasoning and bring it to a boil. Reduce heat and cook till raw smell of tomato vanishes.
Then add finely chopped basil, hot sauce, tomato ketchup / sauce (for sweetness),  1/4 cup water and bring it to a boil. Switch off.
If needed add some shredded cheese now (anyways we will be adding cheese later).


arranging the enchiladas: 
Preheat the oven to 350 deg F. Pour  few tbsp of enchilada sauce in a baking dish.
Toast the tortillas both sides in a tawa or microwave. place them in a wide plate.
Divide the spinach filling into 6 and scoop 1 part to each tortilla.
Fold them as shown in photo and keep them in the baking dish with seam side down (touching the sauce in bottom).
Now pour enough sauce to cover the tortillas.
Sprinkle enough cheese to cover the top.

Bake 15 minutes or till cheese turns bubbly and mild red.

Spinach enchilada is ready!

Serving suggestion:
Serve as main course meal.

Tips:
The left over enchilada sauce (while preparing) can be refrigerated for 3 weeks and used as sauce for pasta or pizza.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Eggplant fry and kitchen garden

Gardening is one of my favorite hobby from childhood. After coming to US, I couldn't understand this weather for a few years and planted only mint, herbs and some flowering plants. Bringing the plants indoor for cold weather and maintaining them is equally interesting but needs more space and knowledge. Then I wanted to grow some seasonal plants (annuals) as if it is a typical kitchen garden. This summer (by June) we bought 3 eggplant seedlings and one tomato plant from the local grocery shop. The apartment has allowed the residents to have some garden space. We planted them in our garden space in downstairs and the plants started growing very fast. I watered them regularly and fed them with home made fertilizer. My neighbors are already much enthusiastic gardeners and hence I started enjoying gardening again with them all. Within 6 weeks we could harvest huge eggplants (18 till now and still coming up) and I made many dishes with that. Also I shared the brinjals with my neighbors and got back some green chillies, long hot pepper (bajji milagai), tomato, spring onion. Our eggplant tastes very good, just like butter (am I boasting now:)). Totally we all enjoyed that buttery creamy delicious home grown brinjals:)
Here is the simple varuval (fry) I made using the second brinjal .... the first one....i picked before it got big, as I didn't realize how big it will grow: )

Eggplant varuval / fry.
Eggplant started showing up and growing.

Eggplants in cluster.

fully grown eggplant shrub.

see the small seeds inside...buttery eggplant.

I weighed each and every brinjal and noted down for fun. The biggest one weighed 584 gm :)

Ingredients: 
Eggplant (big brinjal) - 1 (300 gm)
oil - 2 tbsp
fennel seed (sombu) - 1 tsp
onion - 1
garlic - 5 cloves
curry leaf - 1 sprig
red chilly powder - 1.5 tsp
garam masala powder - 1 tsp
turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
salt - to taste

Method:
Cut the eggplant into small cubes. Heat oil in a wok and add the fennel. After it gets mild red, add the chopped onion and fry till it gets golden brown. Add the crushed garlic, curry leaf and fry for 10 seconds. Then add the chopped eggplant and stir well. Cook covered with a tbsp of water and low heat till it is well done. Add the chilly powder, garam masala, turmeric, salt and cook covered in low heat for a few minutes.
Switch off before it gets mushy.
Eggplant varuval is ready!

 Serving suggestions:
Serve as side dish with chapati or any rice.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Groundnut chickpea sundal

Chickpea - channa, konda kadalai ; groundnut - peanut, nilakadalai, verkadalai.

Having sundal (salad with lentils) for snack is a great way to stay fit. I always try to keep a batch of sundal in my fridge for that tea time cravings:) Though the easiest way is to buy a canned lentil, I prefer the home cooked ones better. Dried nuts are lesser expensive, healthy and delicious. Pressure cooker makes perfectly cooked chickpeas very easily. We can do stove top cooking too, but it will take nearly 2 hours. Sometimes I cook the chickpeas in a big batch and freeze in small portion / containers, so that I can add some protein in any dish I want.


A healthy snack for tea time.

Ingredients:
dry White or red chick peas - 1 cup (1 coffee mug)
dry groundnut (peanut) - 1/2 cup
coconut oil - 1 tsp
shredded coconut - 2 tbsp
dry red chillies - 3
curry leaf - 2 sprig
mustard seed - 1 tsp
asafoetida (hing) - a pinch
salt - to taste
water (to cook) - to immerse and 1 cup standing over.

 Method: 
Wash the groundnut, chickpeas thoroughly and Soak them for 12 hours or over night. They will double in size after soaking. Fast Soaking can be done in hot water for 5 - 6 hours along with some baking soda (but I won't suggest that). Remove the soaked water which is frothy (must). Wash again and add some more water. They should be totally covered with water and add some water to stand 1 inch above. Pressure cook the peas to one whistle, then reduce the flame and cook in low flame for 15 minutes. Release pressure and take out. Add salt, drain the water. Heat oil in a wok. Splutter the mustard seeds. Reduce flame and add the red chillies, curry leaves, hing and wait till the chillies turn dark red. Add the cooked letils and stir fry till it looses all the water. Check the salt. Add  grated coconut. Switch off immediately.

Serving suggestion:
Serve as snack with tea / coffee.
Sometimes I make some chundal with variety rice like puli saatham, lemon rice or puli kulambu rice as side dish.
Channa is a very healthy protein rich snack with nearly 100 calories per cup after cooking.

Note: 
It would be better to make channa sundal and peanut sundal separately and mix them for the peanut lovers, as some can't take peanuts.
Red channa has more fiber than the white one.
Red chickpeas takes only 6 hours to soak (more the better) and it is easy to sprout too.