Monday, November 30, 2009

Mixed fruit jam (natural)

Some days back I had some fruits left behind while making a salad. Hated to leave all those cuties loose their color and simply chill in the refrigerator. How about a JAM...just like my homeland's kissan mixed fruit jam. I am sure no other jam in the world can charm me like this old fashioned Indian kissan jam. I am obsessed with that jam, but still wanted to do it.

The ingredient to get a perfect glossy jam is the pectin (available in stores in powder form). The problem was , I couldn't get the preservatives and gel bases at that late hour. Some thing sparked me....why shouldn't I make my own pectin? Then I searched for the natural pectin sources and to my surprise it can be an apple or any citus fruit. I just crushed an apple along with 1/2 a can of pineapple and got my base.

So here is a jam without any artificial preservative or store bought pectin. This one will resemble that kissan mixed fruit jam, but still I love that store bought one also very much:) Anyways I got 2 bottles of jam and a lot of satisfaction too. Hope you all like it.

(Any combination of fruit 3 cups)
Raspberry - 1/2 cup
pomegranate - 1/2 cup
pear - 1 cup
seedless grapes - 10
apple - 1 (1 cup) ......(MUST)
(The natural pectin in the apple is used as a base to make the jam)
pineapple - 1/2 can (1 cup)
water - 1/2 cup
sugar - 3/4 cup

Bring water to boil along with raspberry , pomegranate or any small fruit of your choice. Mash gently with a ladle.
Coarsely grind the fruit chunks like apple , pear and pineapple together.
Mix all the fruits , sugar and cook till the jam gets a thick consistency.

It will thicken perfectly in about 20 minutes. So keep stirring occasionally in low flame.

Mixed fruit jam is ready.

Store in dry container and keep refrigerated.

Serving suggestions:

Wash the glass bottle (or any container) with hot water and dry completely before filling. I dried it overnight:)
Let the jam cool completely and stock them up.
Great to go with breads or yogurt, cake or ice cream topping.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tomato rice (home style)

It is the habit of Tamil people to make different colors of variety rice like elumichai / lime rice (yellow), puliyotharai / tamarind rice(brown), thakkali / tomato rice (red), kothamalli / cilantro rice (green), thengai saatham / coconut rice, curd rice (white) , milagu saatham/ pepper rice , ellotharai/ sesame rice (black) etc during their family get-together.
They are generally called kalantha saatham (mixed variety rice) or chithrannam in Tamil.

Tomato rice is the most favorite for many of us. Hope all are familiar with a tomato rice with fennel , cinnamon and a biryani like flavor in tomato rice. But this is a very humble variety with unbeatable tangy taste that would tempt us to eat more.
Moreover I have devoured this kind of tomato rice along with paruppu thogayal and masal vadai in vegetarian restaurants of Tirunelveli. But couldn't find it in Madras. So I guess it as a very native / homely method to make this simple thakkali saatham.

I am describing my mom's way here, as she (as well as me) had appreciated this version over the biryani flavored one always. In both way tomato blends well with rice and that's what we like...right:)


Uncooked rice - 1 1/4 cup (for 2 people)
Ripen Tomato (juicy variety) - 3
green chilly - 5
Shallot onion - 6
Turmeric powder - a pinch
red chilly powder - 1/4 tsp
salt - 1 tsp
Sesame oil - 3 tsp
mustard - 1/2 tsp
channa dhal - 1 tbsp
curry leaf - 1 sprig
cilantro (chopped) - 1 tbsp

Bring to boil 5 cups of water along with 1/4 tsp salt.
Wash and add the rice.
Cook till it becomes soft (but individual grains). Using a colander strain and discard all the water. Keep the cooked rice aside.

Heat oil in a wok.
Splutter the mustard seed, add channa dhal, curry leaf, cilantro and fry well.
Now add the chopped shallot and fry till it becomes soft.
Then add the finely chopped tomato , green chilly, turmeric powder, chilly powder, salt and cook covered till the tomato gets mushy.

Now open the lid and cook the tomato gravy till it becomes a thick gravy. Put off fire.

Then add the cooked rice and mix carefully without breaking the grains.

Tomato rice is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Serve along with paruppu thogayal, masal vadai , potato chips or any poriyal.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Chicken Kickers

Being a big fan of Domino's chicken kickers , I never believed if I could make a similar one. Then I formulated my very own version to match their taste and it was a pleasant success.
Anyways lazy me love to order that too:)

This is my favorite part of cooking. Just mix all the ingredients to marinate the chicken , put it in the oven and JUST RELAX......


To marinate:
Boneless skinless chicken breast - 1 lb
Salt - to taste (1.5 tsp)
Egg - 1
Italian seasoning - 1 tsp
Garlic paste(fine) - 1 tbsp
vinegar - 3 tbsp
chilly powder - 1 tbsp
pepper powder - 1/2 tsp
All purpose flour - 1 tbsp
Olive oil / butter - 1 tbsp

Bread Crumbs - 1 cup
(I powdered 3 slices of toasted dry bread to make the crumbs)
Oil / butter - 1 tsp
(to coat the baking foil)


Clean and wash the chicken breast. Pat dry. Cut it into 1.5 inch cubes.
In a mixing bowl add salt , vinegar , Seasoning powder, pepper powder and chilly powder . Soak the chicken pieces and marinate for 4 - 6 hrs.

In another bowl mix olive oil , egg and all purpose flour.

Powder the bread pieces to get the crumbs. Place it on a wide plate.

Preheat the oven to 400 deg F.

Line a baking tray with an aluminum foil. Coat the aluminum foil with olive oil / butter .

Dip the chicken in egg , flour mixture and roll it over the bread crumbs and place on the foil. Just like that place all the pieces on the tray.

Bake for 20 minutes one side, flip and cook next 15-20 minutes on the other side (middle rack).

Hot Chicken kickers is ready!

Serving suggestion:

Enjoy it with pizza or as a meal itself with tomato sauce and a drink of your choice especially a coke:)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Vegetable Biryani (Tawa method)

Nearly an year before , I posted a recipe for layered vegetable biryani. After that many times I have made this simple version of vegetable biryani and publishing it now.
Here I should say, my mom had an extraordinary passion for cooking and our lunch boxes would tell it by the variety and flavor. Vegetable biryani would accompany us to school as a surprise lunch to triumph her hug whenever she wanted to convey a congrats or best wishes or a smile. Sweet memories again:)

Mom's method employs a pressure cooker. But I have never achieved a perfect one through pressure cooker...sometimes they get mushy too. So I prefer a tawa method, that is placing the briyani over a hot girdle and slow cooking it.

Cauli flower - 1/4 flower (chopped 1 cup) , green beans - 10 , carrot -1 , green peas - 1/2 cup .

Basmathi rice / Jeeraga samba raw rice - 3 cups
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Red onion - 2 (medium size)
green chillis - 5 (uncut).
Lemon - 1
ghee - 2 tbsp (to add at the end)

To temper:
Fennel - 1 tsp
bay leaves - 2
star aniseed - 1,
cinnamom stick - 2 inch
cardamom - 2
cloves - 4
ghee - 1 tbsp
Any cooking oil - 3 tbsp
cashew nuts -10
raisins- 10.
salt - to taste

Masala 1:
Tomato - 4

Masala 2:
cilantro- 10 stems
mint leaf -1 handful.
green chilly - 10
black pepper - 1 tbsp
cumin - 1/2 tsp

Masala 3:
Ginger - 2 inch
Garlic - 5 cloves

wash and clean the vegetables. peel the skin of carrot and cut into long thin slices.
Cut the green beans in to long pieces.
Pluck 5 -6 florets from the cauliflower.
Defreeze the green peas.

Wash the rice and soak it for 1/2 an hour.

Grind all the pastes separately.

Chop onion and keep aside.


Heat 2 tbsp oil + 1 tbsp ghee in a  broad vessel.
Add fennel ,star aniseed , cinnamon stick,cardamom ,cloves, bay leaf , cashew, raisin.

Then goes the chopped onion .

Fry it till golden brown and add the ginger garlic paste and stir well till the raw smell goes.

Now add the tomato paste and cook till the oil oozes out of it. Add all the powders given.

Then add the cilantro , mint paste and cook till the oil start oozing out. Now put the vegetables and add salt. Just stir well. Don't cook them now.

Now add the soaked rice and uncut green chillies. Squeeze some lime juice over.

Pour water to immerse the rice and let the water stand 1 inch above rice.

Mix well now and check for salt in this stage.Let it come to a boil.

Close with a tight lid and place this vessel over a hot dosa tawa (girdle / flat pan) . Reduce the flame to minimum.

After 20 minutes the biryani will be ready!

Serving suggestions:

Garnish with 2 tbsp ghee , chopped cilantro , mint leaves.
Serve vegetable biryani hot with onion raitha .
Serves 6 people.


Instead of tawa , we can pressure cook it for 1 whistle also. But if we want the grains to be non sticky then follow the tawa method.

Click here to see my Layered vegetable biryani.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Mochai payaru curry

Every simple dish in the Indian houses would have a story behind it, just like the dad bringing pakoda for rasam rice on a rainy night or brother's surprise parotta or loving aunt's instant vadai for curd rice etc.

I have seen this delicious mochai payaru curry in the households of Kovilpatti , Sivakasi (small towns of TamilNadu, India) etc, where each and every member of family would be employed in a cottage Industry. In that area, we can see small food stalls selling this curry wrapped in banana leaf in the late evening, which can reduce a bit of the females' burden after a long day. May be they can make a quick meal with some rice and rasam to have with this super spicy curry.

Here is the recipe for that spicy mochai kai curry.

Other names:
Mochai payaru (Tamil), Val dal (Hindi),Hyacinth bean or field bean (English)

Dry Mochai payaru - 1 cup (or) Fresh ones - 1/2 kg
Shallot onion - 4
Shredded coconut - 2 tbsp
cumin seeds - 1 tsp
oil - 1 tsp
fennel seeds (sombu)- 1 tsp
Curry leaves - 1 sprig
coriander powder - 2 tsp
red chilli powder - 1 tsp
turmeric powder - a pinch
tomato - 1 (chopped)
salt - to taste


(If you are using the fresh beans then just start from the method.
otherwise go for pre soaking.)
Dry roast the mochai kottai to get dark spots on the outer layer and a nice aroma with some popping sound.
Then rinse it with water twice. Add water till it gets well immersed. Soak for an hour.
(We can soak it overnight also, if we don't want to roast it.)
Pressure cook for 3 whistles.
(we can cook it in stove top also, but it will take an hour).


Shell the val dhal , wash and clean the beans inside.
Bring to boil enough water and cook the beans to tender.

In a blender , grind the shallot, coconut and cumin seeds together to a coarse paste.

Heat 1 tsp oil in a pan. Add the fennel seeds and let it become red. Then goes the curry leaves.
Immediately add the cooked beans along with the remaining water.
Now add coriander powder, red chilli powder, turmeric powder and salt.
Slide in chopped tomatoes. Close the lid and cook for 5 minutes.

Then add the ground masala and keep stirring occasionally, till the koottu / curry becomes a thick gravy.

Mochai kottai koottu is ready.

Serving suggestions:

Serves 4 people .
Serve hot with chapathi, roti , curd rice, rasam rice or sambar rice.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Simple Dhal (Ketti paruppu)

This simple dhal is an excellent partner for rice or chapathi. The very less spice content in this dhal makes it a child friendly dish if paired with ghee and rice.
It is the habit of the Indians to serve this dhal as the starter curry in any full meals.

In my home we call it as ketti paruppu , which means the dhal in thicker consistency. I can remember my mom saving some dhal for me before making sambar, as it is my all time favorite to have with ghee and rice. Hope I have kindled many of your childhood memories:)

Simple dhal / ketti paruppu / lentil curry:

Toor dhal (thuvaram paruppu) - 1/2 cup
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
hing - a pinch
garlic - 2 pearls
Cumin - 1/2 tsp

To temper:
mustard seed - 1/2 tsp
dry red chilly - 3
curry leaf - 1 sprig
urad dhal - 1 tsp
Onion (chopped) - 2 tbsp
oil - 1 tsp

Wash and clean the dhal.
(Soak it for 1 hour to reduce cooking time, if done in stove top).
Pressure cook the dhal with 2 cups of water, turmeric, hing and garlic to 5 whistles.
(or after a whistle reduce flame and keep in low heat for 10 minutes).
Open the pressure cooker after the steam is gone.
Drain the excess clear water above dhal and reserve it to make rasam.
Add the cumin seeds and mash well using a laddle.

Heat oil in a wok.
Splutter the mustard seeds and add the urad dhal, curry leaf, onion, red chillies and fry till the onion turns red.
Pour the seasoning over the mashed dhal and add salt.
If desired , stir more to get a thicker form.

Ketti paruppu is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Serve with hot rice and a dollop of Indian ghee along with pappad.
Goes well with roti too.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Arachi vitta sambar

'Arachi vitta sambar' means a sambar made by adding fresh masala in liquid form prepared at home by a mortar.

This is the traditional sambar of India. No need to buy a sambar powder. So the taste won't vary by the brand of powder we purchase.
Mom used to have a hand mortar called 'ammi' to make the masala paste and for me those sambars have tasted heavenly. Here is my attempt to bring back that aroma:)

Homely sambar / arachi vitta sambar / sambar without sambar powder:


Toor dhal - 1/2 cup
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Tamarind - strawberry size
asafoetida - 2 pinches
Tomato - 1
carrot / radish /unripe mango/ beans / brinjal or any mixed vegetable- 1 cup

Roast and grind:
coriander seed - 2 tbsp
dry red chilly - 6
channa dhal - 1 tbsp
Toor dhal - 1 tsp
fenugreek - 1/4 tsp
Shredded coconut - 3 tbsp

To temper:
Mustard seed - 1 tsp
cumin - a few
shallot onion - 5 to 10
curry leaves - 1 sprig
oil / ghee - 1 tbsp

Soak the tamarind in 1 cup water for 20 minutes. Squeeze it and get the extract.

Wash and clean the Toor dal .Pressure cook it along with turmeric powder ,asafoetida and a cup of water for a whistle , reduce flame and cook for 10 minutes.
(If you do not have pressure cooker then boil 2 cups of water and add the dal, water,turmeric powder ,asafoetida and oil.Close it and cook till the dhal becomes soft.)
Then mash it coarsely. Keep aside.

Cook the vegetables in tamarind extract with salt.

Heat a tsp of oil and fry all the items given (except coconut) to roast and grind to a fine paste.
Add this paste to the cooked vegetables and let it boil.
Immediately add the mashed dhal and check for salt.

Heat oil / ghee in a wok and let the mustard splutter. Then add the shallot (skinned but whole), curry leaf ,cumin . Saute till the onion becomes golden brown.

Pour it over the kulambu and let it come to a boil.

Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve hot.

Serving suggestions:
Serve with rice or idly /dosa.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Brussel Sprout fry.

The Brussels sprout is a Cultivar group of wild cabbage cultivated for its small (typically 2.5–4 cm or 1–1.5 in diameter) leafy green buds, which resemble miniature cabbages. They contain good amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C, folic acid and dietary fibre. Moreover, they are believed to protect against colon cancer, due to their containing sinigrin.
(Source : Wikipedia)

The common method is to just saute it in olive oil, throw some salt and pepper to get a side dish for any soup or bread.
But I tried my own version to make a poriyal or fry out of it. Hope you all like it.

Brussel sprout fry:

Brussel sprout (choose small ones) - 1/2 lb
Red onion - 1/2
fennel seed (sombu)- 1 tsp
oil - 1 tbsp
red chilly powder - 1 tsp
salt - to taste


Wash and clean the brussel sprout in cold water.
Quarter them.

Chop the onion finely.

Heat oil in a wok. Add fennel seeds. When the fennel turns red, add the onion and saute for a minute.
Then add the chopped brussel sprout and stir well.

Sprinkle some water. Add a little salt and cook covered till the vegetable is done.(5 minutes is enough). Over cooking may release unfavorable smell for some.

Then add the red chilly powder and stir till all the moisture is gone.

Brussel sprout fry is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Serve as side dish with roti , chapathi , sambar rice or curd rice.
The above said quantity can be served for 2 people.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Rava Upma

I don't think many of us need a recipe to make uppuma which is the very basic tiffin item of Indians. But for me making it without lumps was a great challenge till I learned the technique from Packiam aunty in my dad's house. Ingredients: Rava (semolina) - 1 1/2 cup water - 2 1/4 cup {water = (number of cups of ravai x 2) - (3/4 cup)} salt - 1/4 tsp (1/8 tsp per cup of rava) onion - 1 (small) green chilly - 2 ginger - 1 inch curry leaf - 1 sprig channa dhal - 1 tbsp mustard - 1/2 tsp Shredded coconut - 2 tbsp (optional) sesame oil - 2 to 3 tsp. Method: Heat a wok. Dry roast the rava till it smells good / starts to become coarse like sand. Transfer it to a plate . Chop the onion, curry leaf, ginger, green chilly finely. Heat 2 tbsp oil in the same wok. Add mustard seed. let it splutter. Then add the channa dhal and fry all the chopped ingredients along with it. As the onion starts to become transparent, add the water + Salt and let it come to a boil. Then reduce flame and sprinkle the rava in equal spacing , just like shower. Don't stir. (Stirring will result in lumps) Immediately cover with a lid. Reduce flame to minimum. After 3 minutes in low flame , open the lid and start to stir using a spatula. we can see the uppuma get cooked well and starts leaving the edges. Put off fire. Add shredded coconut , if desired. Now we get a very dry uppuma without any lumps. Serving suggestions: Serve as breakfast or dinner along with coconut chutney or sugar. The above said quantity served two adults.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Sukku malli coffee

Sukku - dry ginger ; malli - dry coriander seed

With the onset of monsoon rain ,the chennai residents can see the local vendors selling this coffee in the streets after 9 Pm.

In my hometown we drink it all through the day with or without caffeine and never say no to it.Any one who has gulped it will always remember the sharp taste and the health benefits. We make it with 'panai vellam' / karuppatti / palm jaggery , which makes the coffee more flavorful. Anyway we can use white sugar too.

Sukku coffee powder:

coriander seed - 100 gm
dry ginger - 100 gm
(I use powdered dry ginger)
black pepper - 20

Dry roast and grind them together. This is called sukku coffee powder.

For daytime or evening:

Heat 2 cups of water along with 2 tsp sukku coffee powder, 1 tsp coffee powder, sugar (3 tsp). Switch off after it starts boiling. Leave till it settles.
Filter the clear liquid leaving the sediments.

If desired add 2 tbsp milk per cup.

For bedtime:

Heat 2 cups of water along with 2 tsp sukku coffee powder, sugar (3 tsp). Switch off after it starts boiling. Leave till it settles.
Filter the clear liquid leaving the sediments.

If desired add 2 tbsp milk per cup.

Makes 2 cups of coffee. Serve as hot beverage.
It is believed to relieve the body aches and stomach troubles.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Kadalai kulambu

Kadalai kulambu generally means a curry made with channa. This is also a typical sounth Indian curry made with tamarind and hot spices.
The interesting fact is people call this lentil as 'Vegetarians' chicken' because of the high protein content.

Other names: chickpea, Cicer arietinum, garbanzo bean, Indian pea, ceci bean, bengal gram, Kabuli chana, konda kadalai, kadale kaalu, sanaga pappu, shimbra, Kadala

Black channa - 1 cup.
(We can use white channa also, but the black / red one has more flavor and fiber.)
Tamarind- 1 gooseberry size
chilli powder - 1tsp
coriander powder - 2 tsp
turmeric powder - 1/8 tsp
salt - to taste
feugreek (methi seed)-1/4 tsp
mustard seeds- 1/2 tsp
curry leaves - 1 sprig
sesame oil - 1 tbsp

To grind:

cumin seeds - 1 tsp
shredded coconut - 2 tbsp
onion (chopped)- 1 cup


Soak the channa overnight and pressure cook to get a whistle.
After the whistle , simmer the stove and switch off the stove after 10 minutes.
(20 minutes for white channa).

Extract the juice from tamarind. Keep aside.
Add the chilli powder, coriander powder, salt and turmeric powder to the tamarind extract.

In a pan add the oil , put mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds.
After the mustard gets cracked , add curry leaves.

Then add the tamarind extract mixture.
Let it boil for 10 minutes.
Now add the cooked channa along with the remaining water , if any.

Grind the coconut , cumin seeds and onion into a fine paste.
Put this paste into the boiling tamarind extract.
Check for salt and put off fire immediately after the raw smell vanishes.

Serving suggestions:
Serves for 4 to 5 people.
Serve with cooked rice, appalam and aviyal.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Pudalangai Varuval

Pudalangai is the Tamil translation for Long gourd / snake gourd. Varuval means fry.

Snake gourd is an exotic Asian vegetable.
Other Names are Snake Gourd, potlakaaya (in Telugu), pathola (in Sinhalese), pudalankaai (in Tamil), dhunduli(in Assamese), paduvalakaayi (in Kannada) and padavalanga (in Malayalam).

Normally frying requires lot of oil, but not for this varuval. So here is a fry that goes fine with any dhal / sambar rice.

Fresh tender pudalangai:

Fried pudalangai:

Tender pudalangai - 1/2 kg
Red onion - 1
fennel seed (sombu)- 1 tsp
oil - 1 tbsp
red chilly powder - 1 tsp
garam masal powder - 1/2 tsp (optional)
salt - to taste


Gently rub the pudalangai with a knife and remove the very fine outer skin.
Wash and clean it.
Now halve it and remove all the seeds and stuffs inside.
Chop it into small pieces.

Chop the onion finely.

Heat oil in a wok. Add fennel seeds. When the fennel turns red, add the onion and saute for a minute.
Then add the chopped pudalangai and stir well.

Sprinkle some water. Add a little salt and cook covered till the vegetable is done.

Then add the red chilly powder, garam masal powder and stir till all the moisture is gone.

Pudalangai varuval is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Serve as side dish with roti , chapathi , sambar rice or curd rice.
The above said quantity can be served for 4 people.

Perfect Traditional Adai Dosai

Perfect traditional Adai dosai. To grind: Idly rice / any rice - 1cup Raw rice (Basmati) - 1 cup Thoor dhal - 1/4 cup Channa dhal - 1/2 cup ...