Monday, March 28, 2011

White pumpkin raitha

Raitha - Indian salad with yogurt as base.

I like white pumpkin (ash gourd) very much. Basically it has no significant taste and resembles a cucumber or bottle gourd. But will definitely enhance the taste of sambar or mor kulambu. Thadiyangai (Tamil) is the other name of white pumpkin. Nowadays we both are more towards vegetarian foods (lent days, as well as my personal wish. But I will continue preparing NV for my friends and family...) and I enjoy playing with different vegetables:)  I love to make different raithas along with sambar, rice and other side dishes during weekends and here is a raitha recipe using this white pumpkin.

Recipe source: I figured out how they made, while tasting it in a marriage.

A bowl of white pumpkin raitha. We can make cucumber raitha also like this.

A large slice of winter melon / white pumpkin (kalyana poosanikai).

White pumpkin - 1 small slice (150 gm)
Indian dahi /plain yogurt /curd (thick) - 1 cup
white / red onion - 1 (small)
oil - 1 tsp
mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
urad dhal - 1/2 tsp
curry leaves - 1 sprig
salt - to taste.
cilantro - few leaves.

To grind:
green chilli - 2
shredded coconut - 2 tbsp
cumin seeds - 1/4 tsp

Wash the ash gourd and remove the skin , seeds.
Cut it into small cubes (1/2 inch).
Heat oil in a wok and add urad dal,mustard splutter. As soon as the mustard seeds stop crackling, add the curry leaves and fry for a second. Immediately add the chopped white pumpkin. Stir well and cook covered (just add salt and cook without water - 3 minutes only). Let it cool completely.
Coarsely grind the items given to grind without water.
Add the ground paste, yogurt, freshly chopped onion and mix well.
Garnish with finely chopped cilantro leaves.
White pumpkin raitha is ready!

1.We can cook the white pumpkin separately in water, drain excess water and then temper it. But that will lead to loss of important minerals and vitamins. So I follow the above method, which is not common.
2.Use whole milk curd for this recipe to get a delicious raitha.
3.we can make this raitha without adding the ground masala also, but add finely chopped green chillies. (see picture below)
Raitha without adding the ground-masala.

Serving suggestions:
Serve as side dish with any rice or with chapathi.
Consume these kind of raithas during summer (any season is good) for a healthy life style.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Kaara pori (Spicy puffed rice)

Many a days I was wondering if I could get an 'oil-less spicy-snack recipe' till I came across this tasty snack in Tasty traditions .  Thanks to the blogging world and the author, now I can snack on this quick, guilt-free spicy snack along with a cup of coffee every evening:)

Serving this kara pori and a  banana with an evening coffee is very common in Tamilnadu villages.

Puffed rice (arisi pori) - 4 cup
groundnut - 1 cup
puffed channa dhal (pottu kadalai)- 1/2 cup
thin beaten rice (aval/poha) - 1/2 cup
oil - 1 tbsp
garlic - 2 cloves
turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
hing (perungayam) - few shakes
red chilly powder - 1 tbsp
curry leaf - 1 sprig
salt - to taste

Microwave the pori in a big bowl for 1 minute or till it turns crispy (another 30 seconds).
Heat oil in a wok. Fry the groundnut and take out.
In the same wok roast the puffed channa dhal, till it turns crispy.
Add the beaten rice (thin poha) and fry together till both gets crispy (not red).
In a blender crush together the chilly powder or dry red chillies, curry leaf, hing, garlic, salt. Let it be a coarse mixture.
Heat a tsp of oil in the wok and fry the crushes ingredients.
Then switch off flame and add the fried peanut, pottu kadalai, puffed rice, beaten rice, fried groundnut and mix well.
Mix very evenly, so that every piece gets coated with the spices.
Let them cool well (otherwise they will get soggy by their own steam) and store in airtight container.

Serving suggestions:
Serve as snack with coffee or tea in the evening.
It can be used to garnish over Indian salads, curries and raitha.

Fresh garlic can be replaced by garlic powder to avoid crushing.
Instead of microwaving the puffed rice, we can dry roast it for 5 minutes in low heat.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Pidi kozhukkattai (sweet dumplings)

Kozhukkattai (kolukkattai), is usually made during pooja days and Hindu festivals. It is the favorite food of Lord Ganesha and there are many beautiful Puranas associated with Him.
South Indians make these kolukkattai as a healthy snack because of no oil content. Hence it is liked by elders also.

Pidi kozhukkattai

raw Rice / rice flour - 1 cup
(raw rice means pacharisi/ unboiled rice. we can use basmati also)
crushed jaggery (vellam) - 3/4 Cup
shredded coconut - 1/2 cup
sesame - 2 tbsp
dry ginger powder - 1 tsp
cardamom powder - 1/2 tsp
moong dhal (pasi paruppu) - 1 tbsp

If using rice flour: dry roast it till it turns mild red and flavorful.
If using rice: then wash, soak for 1 hour. Remove water, pat dry in kitchen towel, dry in air for 30 minutes and powder it finely.
Then dry roast the obtained flour to mild red and flavorful finish. Keep aside.
Dry roast the sesame till it starts popping. Cover the pan and switch off when it starts to pop , to avoid wastage. The sesame will get roasted in  that stage.
Dry roast the moong dhal to mild red color and aromatic stage. keep aside.
Using a tsp of oil , fry the coconut to get a nice flavor and mild red color. (Using cut coconut pieces is authentic here). Keep aside.

Dissolve jaggery in 1 cup water by heating. Strain and remove any impurities.
Mix this jaggery solution with the roasted rice powder, ginger powder, roasted sesame, moong dhal, coconut, cardamom powder and mix well. If needed add some hot boiling water.

Let it cool, shape them with palms to an oblong shape, with some visible finger impressions.

Steam cook these dumplings in Idly cooker for 10 minutes. (After the steam comes in high pressure, reduce to medium heat and let it stay for 10 minutes).

Sweet pidi kozhukkattai is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Serve as snack.
Makes 15 dumplings, depending on size.
The same base mix can be folded inside palm leaves,tied,  steam cooked and served as panai olai kolukkattai during Karthigai festival.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Garlic bread (short cut)

 Here the local 'Garden farm market' sells these rolls in a much lesser price (say, 4 big rolls for a dollar - '2010 ). Moreover one cannot pass by that aisle ignoring those fresh rolls. So whenever we go to that shop I will stock up some rolls in various shapes and flavors. While trying to utilize the left over rolls, I found an interesting garlic bread recipe all over the web.  Though Baguette (French bread) is highly recommended for this recipe, this too works fine for me. Try and enjoy!

Bread rolls / French bread - 1/2 foot long
unsalted butter - 2 tbsp (or more)
powdered dry garlic - 1 tsp
Italian seasoning (dried) - 1 tsp
salt - to taste

We can use fresh garlic also. But microwave / cook the garlic before mashing to avoid a strong odor. Nowadays I prefer garlic powder for this recipe.  If needed mix some olive oil to butter to get a healthier version.

Cut the bread diagonally and make thick long slices.
(If using fresh garlic, microwave the fresh garlic cloves with a tsp of water and mash well).
Soften the butter and mix the garlic powder, Italian herbs, salt and mix well.
Coat both sides of the bread slice with this mixture.
Preheat oven to 350 deg C.
Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil.
Spray some oil.
Place the bread slices and bake till the crust turns golden / mildly crispy in outside (8-10 minutes approximately).
Garlic bread is ready!

Serving suggestion:
Serve warm as snack or sides with pizza, pasta.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Amaranth stem sambar (keerai thandu sambar).

If you are a person insisting on a 'no waste kitchen', then here is a recipe. Amaranth is a tasty green included in most of the Asian cuisines. In my home town, the keerai (greens) vendor, generally  the local farmer's wife, would bring many kinds of fresh greens early morning in a big basket. If we want to buy amaranth, then she would give it like a whole plant only, as they harvest that greens like that. Also we can get very young and tender amaranths by the name 'MuLai keerai' (முளை கீரை ) in cute little bunches . MuLai keerai can be used completely without rejecting the stems, but the stem of the normal amaranth are thicker. While buying the bigger amaranth plants, mom would make a stir fry using the leaves one day and save the stems for the sambar or any curry the next day. The stems can be refrigerated for a week and used in many dishes. I like the way we utilize everything from that beautiful amaranth plant.

other names: Chinese spinach stem sambar/ red spinach stem dhal/ Keerai thandu sambar

Amaranth (thandu keerai / thandankeerai - Tamil). Amaranth is a kind of greens like spinach, but with more medicinal value. Some tribes claim that it increases the life span , if consumed regularly. Click to read more from Wikipedia.
keerai thandu sambar

Amaranth stem (chopped) - 1 cup
tamarind - small gooseberry size
tomato - 1
sambar powder - 2 tsp
oil / ghee - 1 tsp
curry leaf - 1 sprig
shallot - 2
cilantro - few
mustard - 1/2 tsp
fenugreek / methi seed - 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

Wash and soak the dhal for 30 minutes. Discard the water.
Pressure cook the dhal with 2 cups of water, hing, turmeric powder, garlic, onion for 3 whistles. Switch off and wait for the pressure to reduce. Take out and mash the dhal with 1/2 tsp cumin.

Soak the tamarind in 1/2 cup water and extract juice (thrice).

Peel the skin of Amaranth stem, if any. Chop the stem into 1 inch pieces and keep aside. Heat a tsp oil in a wok and slide in mustard, fenugreek. After the mustard crackles, put the curry leaves and chopped shallot. Then goes  the finely chopped tomato and cook till it gets mushy.
Add the chopped amaranth stem and stir for 10 seconds.
Then add the tamarind extract and let it come to a boil. Heat till the raw smell vanishes (5 minutes). Add the mashed dhal to boiling tamarind. Put the sambar powder and bring it to a boil again.
Add required salt, finely chopped cilantro and switch off.
Amaranth stem sambar is ready!

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

Friday, March 4, 2011

Potato spicy curry (Urulai kilangu kara curry)

It is an extremely spicy hot curry popular among Indians. Potato curry won't need much of an intro to any Indian. Every mom would have a recipe of their own for this simple dish. It is a Tamil tradition to make this curry along with sambar rice for vegetarian guests. Also the urulai kilangu kara curry is a must during festive days and weddings. Almost an year back, I read an interview with a Tirunelveli chef in a Tamil magazine about his proficiency in this curry. Though I too do the same way, I like the way the chef explained it.  Hope you all enjoy it.

Potato spicy curry / Urulai kizhangu kaara curry.

Potato -  4 (big)
(Red potato in USA tastes more like Indian potatoes)
tomato - 2 (optional)
Red Onion - 1 (100 gm)
Fennel Seeds - 1/2 tbsp
ginger Garlic paste - 1 tsp
Red Chilly Powder - 1 tbsp
Turmeric Powder - 1/4 tsp
Garam Masala Powder - 1 tsp
Coriander powder - 1 tbsp
Salt - to taste
Oil - 1 tbsp
cinnamon - 1 inch
curry leaf - 1 sprig
Coriander Leaves to garnish - as required

Wash the potatoes and put them in enough water. Bring to boil and cook covered till the potatoes are soft.
Peel and chop the potatoes into big chunks. Mash a few pieces. Keep aside.

Heat oil in a wok. Add fennel seeds, cinnamon. As the fennel turns red , add the chopped onion, curry leaf and fry till it becomes golden.
Then add the ginger garlic paste and stir for 5 seconds.
Then add the chopped tomatoes and saute till oil starts showing up.

Add required salt, chilly powder, coriander powder, Turmeric powder, Garam masala powder with handful of water and cook for 1 minute.

Then add the cubed potatoes and mix well till the masala gets absorbed by the potato and the curry becomes semi-dry. Sprinkle more chilli powder if needed, as this curry should be very hot and spicy.

Garnish with chopped cilantro leaves.

Spicy Potato curry is ready!

Serving Suggestions:
Serves 4 people.
Serve as side dish for chapathi, Sambar rice, rasam rice,coconut rice, curd rice etc.

If you are not using tomato here, then sprinkle a few drops of lemon juice after switching off.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Karuppatti aappam

Karuppatti - palm jaggery / panai vellam. Palm jaggery is a kind of sweetener used in South India. In my native place, palm jaggery extraction is a well known cottage industry. It is used in preparing many Indian medicines especially the Tamil medicines and healthy food. When mixed with tamarind extract and dry ginger, it is believed to treat UTI and kidney stones. It is also believed to be a healthy and less calorific sugar for everyone. From the root to the top, the whole tree can be used for one purpose or another. Some of the useful things we get from palm tree are, palm root (panan kilangu), thavun (germinating seed), panan kuruthu (tender edible leaves), fuel from leaves and trunk, strong wood for construction, neera / pathaneer (palmira juice), palm leaf fan and some crafts, nongu/nungu (unripe palm fruit), a very sweet palm fruit and of course the palm jaggery also. The best part is this tree won't need much irrigation or attention, so it can be cultivated in hot arid conditions also. As the whole tree serves the humans in many ways, they call it as karpaga virutcham (a mythical tree that can give whatever we wish for). The coffee made with this karipotti, will taste great even without milk. Because of lesser awareness and negligence the palmyra trees are fast vanishing from our farms. Moreover the Tamilnadu government's policies on palm products,  export,  license etc made this farming extremely difficult, which ultimately resulted in high price tags on this otherwise cheaper palm jaggery.

Last month I got a pack of Gur, (a Bangladeshi palm sugar made from date palm) from an Indian grocery stores. It resembles the South Indian palm jaggery, but the one I am talking about tastes more like a caramel syrup. Apart from eating it raw as snack, I prepared some palm jaggery aappam and started drenching in those memories:)

Here are some links on palm trees.
news , uses,

Karuppatti appam served with coconut milk.
Palm jaggery is prepared by pouring hot (pathaneer) palm syrup in coconut shells.

Gur, I got in Indian stores.

Appam making pan.

Vellai appam batter and karupatti appam batter.
Appam batter after fermentation.

I have already posted the recipe for a traditional karuppatti aappam when I started blogging. But I didn't have any images then. Click here to see the recipe.

Here is an alternative / short cut method to prepare aappam using left over dosa batter.

Sour dosa batter - 1 cup
rice flour - 1 cup
shredded coconut - 1/2 cup
yeast - 1 tsp
(optional if you don't have it. But yeast makes the aappam tasty)
salt - 1/2 tsp,
baking soda - 1/4 tsp.
Palm jaggery / Karupatti (in tamil)- 1/2 (150 gms)

Grind the coconut and add it to the dosa batter, rice flour, yeast, salt and add very little water to make a thick batter. Keep it closed and place in a warm place for 6-8 hours or Let it ferment overnight.
( I make this batter at night by 9 pm and leave it inside the oven (warm but turned off). The next day morning when I take it out my kitchen will be filled with a nice aroma).

There will be bubbles on the surface and the batter would have risen and become more watery.
Now take 1/2 - 1 cup of water and add the palm jaggery . Heat it until the jaggery gets dissolved.Allow it to cool. Then take the top layer jaggery solution leaving behind the sandy bottom.
Add this mixture to the aappam batter. Add the baking soda, mix well  and now we are ready to make aappam.

We may need a special aappam pan for this. But can also be done with a curved bottom non stick pan, with lid.
Heat the aappam pan and wipe a drop of coconut oil all over the pan by using a clean cloth.
Check the thickness of aappam batter now. It should be have a thin consistency than that of dosa batter.If not so add some water.
Pour a big ladle over the pan and shake the pan in a circular motion so that the flour spreads and expands along the edges, so that the aappam is thick at the center and very thin along the sides. (The cooked batter forms a layer of 'lace' around the thicker center portion). Cover tightly, reduce flame and let it cook in it's own steam. (I wait to hear a mild "dropping/ cracking" sound of water) .Now we can be sure that the aapam is cooked.Open the lid.Then by using a dosa spatula gently take out the aapam.

Aappam is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Extract some coconut milk. First place the hot aappam on the dinner plate and drizzle a few tsp of white sugar over it. Then pour a ladle of coconut milk over it.
Enjoy the karuppatti aappam soaked in coconut milk.

Makes nearly 15 number of aapam.
We can store the rest of the aapam batter in fridge and use it later if you dont need this much number of aapams.
If you don't have palm jaggery , then skip that step and prepare white aappam without any sweetener, which can be served with any spicy kuruma.

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