Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Spinach sambar

A simple sambar recipe that helps me to include greens in one form or other:)

Amaranth (thandu keerai - Tamil) or any kind of spinach can be used to make this healthy sambar. Taking greens is a must for all, that too more important for those with non-veg diet. Greens have the capacity to keep our intestines healthy and clean apart from their vitamin benefits. So a non veg day should be followed by a day full of fibrous diet and keerai is a must then. We can see the fish meals accompanied with spinach in many Indian houses, but not with chicken or lamb. So the next day would be a keerai day:) This is a common dish in some parts of Tamilnadu, India.

Amaranth (or) spinach leaves- 2 handful
tamarind - small gooseberry size
tomato - 1
sambar powder - 2 tsp
oil - 1 tsp
curry leaf - 1 sprig
cilantro - few
mustard - 1/2 tsp
fenugreek - 1/2 tsp
cumin - 1/2 tsp

To pressure cook:
thuvaram paruppu (thoor dhal/red gram)- 1/2 cup

water - 2 cup
turmeric - 1/2 tsp
asafoetida (hing) - a pinch
onion - 1/2
garlic - 4 cloves

Pressure cook the dhal with 2 cups of water, hing, turmeric powder, garlic, onion.
Soak the tamarind in 1/2 cup water and extract juice (thrice).
Finely chop the spinach and keep aside.
Heat a tsp oil in a wok and slide in mustard, fenugreek. After the mustard crackles, add the finely chopped tomato and cook till it gets mushy.
Then add the chopped spinach and stir for less than a minute.
Add the tamarind extract and let it come to a boil. Heat till the raw smell vanishes (5 minutes). Mash the cooked dhal with a tsp of cumin and add it to boiling tamarind. Put the sambar powder and bring it to a boil.
Add required salt, finely chopped cilantro and switch off.
Spinach sambar is ready!

Serving suggestion:
Makes 4 generous servings.
Serve over hot rice or as side dish with idly, dosa, venn pongal etc.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Vazhaikkai roast

This roasted plantain is one my favorite. For the first time I tasted it long back from my friend Usha's tiffin box. Then I learned that it was prepared by her sister . Just like most us, I too have the habit of formulating the recipe after tasting a good food. So I kept that taste in mind and prepared it for my mom. From then on it became a regular in our house and we call it as a best alternative for fish fry:)

unripe banana - 2
oil - 2 tbsp

To grind:
onion - 1/4
garlic - 2 cloves
fennel - 1 tsp
garam masal powder - 1/2 tsp
red chilly powder - 1 tbsp
turmeric - a big pinch
salt - to taste
besan flour or maida flour- 1 tsp

Cut and remove the head and tail of unripe raw banana. Peel a thin layer of skin from plantain (optional).
Bring to boil enough water to immerse the plantain.
Cook the bananas completely.
Check by piercing a sharp knife and see if it gets through without much effort.
Switch off. Let it cool. Cut it into 3/4 an inch thick rounds.

Grind the ingredients mentioned above to a fine paste.
Apply this paste all over the plantain pieces. Keep aside.
Heat a flat pan and apply a thin coating of oil (few drops).
Then place all the pieces flat.
Reduce flame. Sprinkle 1 tbsp oil over the pieces.
Let them cook for few minutes (2 minutes) and flip once. Again sprinkle a tbsp of oil all over. Cook till they get dark red color.

Take out and enjoy.

Serving suggestions:
Makes a good side dish with curd rice or any 'dhal / sambar over rice'.
Makes an attractive party food.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Simple breakfast - Aval /poha

Here is a very simple and common breakfast using Aval (Tamil). Aval is called beaten rice or Indian rice flakes (English) or poha (Hindi). Even before the Kellogs finds its way to Tamilnadu, many women find their solace in this 'no-cook breakfast' and I am one among them :) All you need is a few tbsp of freshly shredded coconut, sugar and optionally a banana along with this poha.
Hope many won't need a recipe for this. But just recording it for people like me:)

Aval - mix and enjoy!

thick poha - 1 cup
sugar - 2 tbsp (for each plate)
freshly shredded coconut - 2 tbsp (for each plate)
banana - 1 (for each plate)

Wash and soak the poha (see note), till its soft. Drain the excess water and keep aside.
 Mix with sugar, banana, shredded coconut  and enjoy!
 We can serve the sugar, poha, coconut and banana separately for adults.
Mix everything and make small balls for children, so that they enjoy well.
The ripe banana should be placed along the side and the guest has to mash the banana, mix everything and devour.

We may need 1/2 cup poha for 1 person.
Thick or thin poha can be used for this recipe.
Thick poha will need 1 hour to soak, while the thin poha will soak in 5 minutes.
But the most healthy one is the red thick poha (sivappu samba aval).
Makes a very healthy breakfast.
Some times it can be served as a quick and mild dinner also.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Anchovy fish curry

Nethili meen kulambu (meaning - anchovy fish curry) is a heart healthy dish preferred by those who can't take fatty fishes like king fish. Anchovies are recommended for their property to reduce bad fat. In villages, they won't temper this kind of meen kulambu. I like the taste of small fishes like sardines (salai meen) ,anchovies (nethili) better than the larger varieties. Chinese people, who know the medicinal value of these fishes, buy the anchovies in dried form to prepare soup. Enjoy!

Nethili meen kulambu waiting in the dining table:)

Items required: (To make 4 cups of thick gravy)
Anchovy - 1 lb (or)1/2 kg
sesame oil - 2 tbsp
mustard seeds- 1 tsp
fenugreek seeds (methi)- 1/2 tsp
Tamarind - 1 small lemon size
Red chilly powder -1 tbsp
coriander powder- 3 tbsp
turmeric powder-1/2 tsp
tomato - 2
green chillies - 2
curry leaves- 2 sprigs.

To grind:
shredded coconut - 3/4 cup
shallot - 8
cumin seeds - 1 tsp

How to clean the anchovy fish?
First put all the fishes in a basin of water and rinse the anchovies to remove any sand or impurities.
Then remove or retain the head as per taste. (If you are frying them, then the head will taste great, for this curry we can remove them. But I prefer to keep the head on). Cut and remove the tail. Slit gently in the boneless stomach side and remove the (greenish) digestive tract.
Wash once again.
Apply little turmeric powder over the fish and keep aside.
Anchovies are ready for cooking now:)

Curry preparation:
Extract juice from tamarind and add chilli powder, coriander powder, pinch of turmeric powder, salt and mix well.Keep aside.

Heat the sesame oil in a thick bottom vessel. (Fish curry prepared in earthen vessel tastes good).Add mustard and fenugreek seeds. After the mustard seeds crackle add the curry leaves .

Then add the finely chopped tomato and saute till becomes mushy.
Add tamarind juice mixture and let it boil for 5 minutes.
Then add the finely ground coconut-onion paste.
Immediately after this starts boiling add the cleaned anchovies.
cover the vessel and simmer the heat.
Cook it in very little flame for 15 minutes.
DO NOT stir the curry after adding the fish, otherwise you may end up with broken pieces.
Then put off fire. If needed garnish with chopped green chillies and curry leaves.

Serve hot with rice, chapathi or Idly or dosai .
We may not need any side dish if we are adding more anchovies.
The left over meen kulambu will taste heavenly the next day along with idly for breakfast.

I have read somewhere that this idly and fish curry combination is the most favorite for Tamilnadu's former  Chief Minister (MGR), (late) Mr. M.G.Ramachandran :) Recently I started watching his movies and found them very stylish and lively. Never thought I would enjoy them like this:)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Pomegranate Ice cream

Valentine's day is for flowers and cakes and ice cream. I prepared Gulabjamun and Turkey biryani as a special treat for hubby. As I have posted the recipes for above earlier, I thought of giving out some healthy as well as a romantic post during this day. How about some sparkling ruby red pomegranates in your ice cream? Here is an ice cream made of pomegranate. Enjoy! Happy Valentine's day!

Pomegranate fruit split open. Always buy pomegranates that weigh heavy.

The pomegranate juice is extracted now.

Pomegranate ice cream before freezing.

Pomegranate ice cream.

pomegranate - 2 (big)
sugar - 2 tbsp
condensed milk (sweetened 14 oz can) - 1 1/4 can
whipped topping (8 oz pack) - 2
rose essence - 3 drops

Wash the pomegranate. Slit it and open. Carefully gather the plump seeds in a bowl. Keep a handful of them aside for garnishing. Apply 2 tbsp sugar and squeeze the juice out of it by hand. Don't use mixer or blender, as it will grind the hard seeds also. Remove the seeds. If necessary apply a tsp of sugar to the left over seeds and extract as much juice as possible.
We may need a cup of pomegranate juice.

In a mixing bowl add the condensed milk, rose essence, 3/4 of the juice and fold in the whipped topping. Transfer to a lidded container suitable for freezing.
Add the left over pomegranate juice little by little to give a swirl effect. Keep frozen for nearly 4 hours.
Garnish with some un-squeezed pomegranate before serving.

Pomegranate ice cream is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Makes nearly 15 big scoops.
This ice cream will be very fluffy and easy to handle.

1 large scoop will be less than 100 K cal.
We can use bottled pomegranate juice also, but I will recommend the freshly squeezed ones only to get the fluffy ice cream.
The hard seeds that we get (after extracting the juice) can be dried and used in cooking.
The hard skin of the pomegranate can be dried and powdered for medicinal purposes.
I formulated this pomegranate ice cream recipe after some iterations.
In USA the season for pomegranates is during October November and December.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Bottlegourd koottu

This is the recipe for a koottu (side dish) I make with bottlegourd. Any watery vegetable like white pumpkin, ridge gourd can also be used.

suraikkai koottu

Bottlegourd (suraikkai) - 300 gms
channa dhal - 1/2 cup

To grind:
shredded coconut - 1/2 cup
green chillies - 3
cumin - 1 tsp

To temper:
Mustard seed - 1/2 tsp
sesame oil - 1 tsp
curry leaf - 1 sprig
onion - 2 tbsp

Wash the channa dhal and cook it with some water.
Peel the skin of the bottle gourd. Chop it into small cubes. Donot discard the seeds. Tender seeds tastes good.
Grind the items given and keep aside.
After the dhal is almost cooked add the chopped bottle gourd and cook covered. As soon as it is cooked add salt and the ground masala.
Heat oil in another wok and let the mustard splutter. Then add the curry leaf, finely chopped onion and let them wilt. Pour this over the cooked curry.
Check for salt and switch off.
Bottle gourd koottu is ready!

Serving suggesetion:
Makes more than 4 or 5 servings.
Serve as side dish with any rice or roti.

*Normally a small bottle gourd will weigh more than 1/2 kg. But we may get a lot of koottu by this recipe. So cut 3/4 th of the bottlegourd and make the koottu and use the other portion to make pachadi or sambar.
*Fresh Bottle gourd salad or semi cooked one (pachadi) has the property to reduce body fat. I am not sure of this fact, but they believe so in Tamilnadu villages.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sweet potato ladoo

Sweet potato is otherwise called sweet yam in some places. The Tamil meaning or translation is Seeni kilangu or sarkarai valli kizhangu.
The Indian sweet yams are more sweeter,flavorful, fibrous and starchy. We can distinguish them by their irregular shape and mild pink skin. They come as white or yellow yam depending on the inner color. We can use all kinds of sweet yam in this recipe.

My mom used to simply boil these yams during their peak availability and it is a guilt free snack too. But can we just satisfy ourselves with that natural yam? So one day she made some sweet balls out of it and the whole family started demanding her for this instead of the plain cooked yam:) But I like the boiled yam better than this ladoo, while as usual hubby dear started liking this one and now I have to make a few ladoos for him:)

Sweet potato ladoo along with some boiled ones.

Sweet potato / Indian sweet yam - 1/2 lb
Freshly shredded coconut - 1/2 cup
sugar - 3 tbsp

Scrub and wash the yam to remove the sand.
Pressure cook or boil them in water.
If pressure cooking, halve the yam and cook them in 2 cups of water. After getting a whistle , reduce the flame and cook it in medium flame for 5 minutes. Then release the pressure and take it out.
Check by piercing a knife. It should pass freely.
Let it cool and remove the outer skin.
Mash the yam with hand and mix with coconut and sugar.
Shape into tennis ball size laddu (balls) and serve as snack.

Seeni kilangu ladoo is ready!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Kheema kuruma for poori

Weekend breakfasts are always a special in many houses. Hubby dear likes to start his weekends very early in the morning with his Netflix movies and will expect something nice to eat:) Here is a visual treat of the poori and kothu curry kuzhambu I prepared:)

Mutton kheema curry with poori.

Lamb kheema - 150 gm
tomato - 2 (50 gm)
Potato - 3 (200 gm)
Red onion- 1 (5o gm)
curry leaves- 1 sprig
cilantro- 1 handful
mint leaves - 1 handful
cooking oil- 2 tbsp
chilli powder - 1 tbsp
coriander powder - 2 tbsp
sakthi garam masal powder - 1 tsp
green chilli- 2
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Ginger garlic paste - 1 tsp
cinnamon- 1 inch
fennel seeds - 1 tsp
Bay leaf (brinji) - 2
coconut milk - 1/2 cup

Wash the meat and keep aside.
Take a thick bottom vessel with tight lid.
Heat the oil and add fennel, cinnamon. After they start getting red, add the chopped onion and saute till it get golden brown. Then put the ginger garlic paste and cook till the raw smell vanishes.
Then add the finely chopped tomato, curry leaf, cilantro, mint, green chillies and saute till oil oozes out.
Peel the potato and cut it into small cubes. Put the potato and meat in that wok and saute well.
Add 2 cups of water , turmeric, garam masala and all powders.Cover tightly and cook for 15 minutes. Check if the meat and potato are cooked well. Then add salt and coconut milk. Bring to a boil and switch off.
The curry should be between thick and thin consistency, so that it pairs well with poori.
Kheema kurma is ready!

Serving suggestions:
This will be enough for 4 people.
Serve as side dish with puri / poori, chapathi , idly , dosa , parotta etc.

*The calorie need of men and women are different. Men need more calories than women.So calculate and serve accordingly.
*Lamb meat is very good for health during winter.
*As poori itself being a heavy breakfast, we may not need much fatty side dish. We may need as little as 150 gm of kheema and it will be difficult to buy that quantity, So while preparing any other kheema dishes, reserve some in freezer for this kuruma.
*Vegetarians can add scrambled paneer instead of meat in this kuruma.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Mutton koftha (kola urundai)

Kola urundai (Tamil)  can be equated to 'deep fried meat balls'. Mutton kola urundai is more famous in Tamilnadu than the chicken counterpart. Nowadays we are conveniently getting kheema from the shops but some decades ago, they used  to grind the lamb meat at home in ammi (grinding stone). That will yield a very soft kofta with crispy crust. After getting adapted to that taste, mom used to grind the already minced meat in the mixie to get a very spongy kola urundai. We can use the minced meat directly also. But I have explained my mom's method , as my younger brother is eagerly looking for this recipe:)

Minced lamb meat - 250 gms
(kothu kari / mutton kheema)
ginger - 1 inch
garlic - 4 pods (optional)
onion - 1
turmeric - 1/4 tsp
garam masala powder - 1 tsp (optional)
fennel - 1 tbsp
cinnamon - 1 inch
red chilly powder - 1 tbsp
green chilly - 2
curry leaf - 1 sprig
cilantro - a handful
mint leaf - few

Puffed channa dhal - 1 cup
(pottu kadalai / pori kadalai)
oil - to deep fry

Place a fresh cloth over colander. Wash the meat and drain water in a colander till there is no water. A fresh cloth over colander can remove all the water without wastage. But some people say they can use the meat directly, which is also correct if you can get clean meat.

Grind the puffed channa dhal to a fine powder, when the mixer is dry.
Grind the minced meat in a mixie along with ginger, garlic, fennel and salt to a very fine stage without any water.
Chop the onion, green chilly, cilantro, mint, curry leaf to a very fine stage.

Mix the ground meat and chopped items with red chilly powder, turmeric powder, garam masal powder. Add the powdered dhal little by little to get a soft dough like consistency.

Take a small lemon size ball and shape neatly. Deep fry in hot oil.
Take out and serve hot.

Serving suggestions:
Serve as snack or side dish with rice.
In my home town, they make 'yelumbu kulambu' (a thin curry with lamb ribs) and  rice along with this kofta during festive days.
Yields 20 kofthas (approximately).

Some suggest to use the minced meat directly without grinding to a fine stage, that is also correct. But I have given my mom's method here.
We can make chicken koftha also like this.
Vegetarians can use the drumstick (murungakkai) 's inner flesh instead of meat, which will be equally tasty.
Chicken kheema can be used directly without washing and grinding. But lamb meat needs more care.
Fry a ball and check for salt and adjust the taste.

An award:
When I was about to publish this post, I received a beautiful award from Ambreen of 'Simply Sweet 'n' Savory'. Thank you dear. I am honored.

Her post is on Koftay salan and it is much perfectly prepared and cooked in the curry itself. I have never tried like this, as I simply drop the fried meat balls in the gravy. It has come out nicely for her. I thought it would be apt to mention her's here. Hope you all like her method too.

I am sharing this award with all those who visit this post. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Brinjal whole fry

This is a very simple recipe I tried after preparing the stuffed masala egg. I thought of replacing the eggs with eggplant and the result was awesome. We can serve it along with ghee rice, as the masala we get at the end will be very tasty to go with anything. Try this and enjoy.

Stuffed brinjal fry.

Brinjal (small)- 6
oil - 1/4 cup
(sesame oil or EVOO)
onion - 2
ginger garlic paste - 1 tbsp
salt - little

Stuffing / Filling:
Garam masala - 1 tsp
(I used sakthi biryani masala powder)
chilly powder - 1 tbsp
coriander powder - 3 tsp
salt - to taste
turmeric powder - a pinch
lemon juice - 1 tbsp (optional)

Slit the brinjal longitudinally without completely splitting.
Mix the filling with a tbsp of water and stuff inside the brinjal.
Keep the remaining masala aside.

Heat oil in a thick bottom wok.
Place the brinjals and let them fry for a minute. Turn and do the same for a minute.
In the mean time, chop the onions into thin long pieces and add to the frying brinjals.
Add ginger garlic paste, little salt and left over masalas to that. Close tightly and cook well in low heat. Stir gently once in a while.

Nearly after 15 minutes, we can see the oil separating from the brinjal masala.
Switch off.

Stuffed brinjal fry is ready.

Serving suggestions:
Serve as side dish with chapthi, roti or any paratha.
Makes a great combo with ghee rice or coconut milk rice.
Also tastes good with curd rice.

Vazhaikkai Poriyal (Plantain stir fry)

This vazhaikai poriyal was a staple in our house as we had some (lot) of banana trees in our backyard. I have seen amma running there to pic...