Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Thengai mangai pattani Sundal

Thengai - coconut; managai - unripe mango; pattani - dry green peas ; sundal - stir fry.

Navaratri is a festival celebrated by Indians for 9 days continuously during the month of Purattasi. The festival starts today and  hearty wishes for those who are celebrating that.

Kolu (themed arrangement of dolls and statues to depict the Indian culture) and sundal (lentil stir fry) are inseparable during those days. Those who arrange the kolu has to invite friends and relatives. Different types of sundals are made, offered to God and shared with the guests. The 10 th day is called Vijaya Dasami, meaning the victory of Good.

Here is a different and interesting sundal. A spicy sundal is made using cooked dry peas and some masala. Freshly chopped cilantro, unripe mango, onion, tomato, coconut are added before serving. This is also called 'marina beach sundal'.

Dried peas (white / green pattani) - 1 cup
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
oil - 1 tsp
fennel - 1 tsp
curry leaf - 1 sprig
salt - to taste
lemon juice - 1 tbsp

To grind:
dry red chillies - 4
coconut - 2 large pieces
cumin - 1/2 tsp
coriander powder - 1 tbsp

To Garnish:(finely chopped)
Onion - 1
unripe mango - 1/2
tomato - 1
cucumber - 1/2
coconut - 1 large slice
cilantro - few

Soak the dried white peas overnight. Drain that water.
Add enough water to immerse the peas and 1 inch to stand above.
Keep it in pressure cooker with turmeric, put pressure valve and let a whistle come.
Reduce the flame and keep it for 5 minutes.
Switch off and open after the pressure releases.

Grind the items given very coarsely.

Heat oil in a kadai. Add the fennel and let it get red. Then add the curry leaves, cooked lentil, salt and let all the water evaporate.
Now add the coarsely ground masala and cook till it becomes grainy.

Sprinkle lemon juice and add all those items given for garnish.

Serving suggestion:
Serve as snack with tea.
Serves 6 people.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Paruppu Podi

A simple serving of paruppu podi over piping hot rice and ghee is my hubby's favorite meal. Paruppu podi or dhal powder is a must for anyone who wants to avoid those weekend's Extra large pizza deals:)

Steaming rice served with paruppu podi, ghee, appalam and vadagam.

Puffed channa dhal - 3/4 cup
channa dhal - 1/4 cup
Thoor dhal - 1/4 cup
black pepper - 1 tbsp
dry red chillies - 4
salt - to taste
cumin - 1 tbsp

Dry roast (except salt) everything separately until they loose moisture.
Grind to a fine powder. Let cool and store in air tight container.

Serving suggestion:
Gracefully serve a big spoon of piping hot rice in a serving plate / banana leaf and pour a generous spoon of molten ghee over it. Top it with few tsp of this paruppu podi , mix and enjoy.

Paruppu podi should be served over rice before serving the sambar rice.
Usually a little portion of rice is allocated for this paruppu podi + ghee before serving the sambar.

Pappad and pickles make good combo for the above rice.
This can be kept handy for lazy cooking days.
Paruppu podi is a good backup plan for bachelors and students who stay away from home.
Long distance pilgrimage people can keep it as travel food, if they can make some rice using electric cooker.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Mango pickle

Nowadays many of us are not including pickles in the daily menu. But there were days when we wanted to have some pickle everyday along with that paruppu kulambu and rice:) In such situation homemade pickles are better. My mom used to make these mango pickles during the mango season in smaller batches and it would always vanish in a day or two:) she would keep a small piece of some kind of pickle in our everyday lunch boxes, so that we consume the rice without any hesitation. Those were very little incidents but her care and thoughtfulness always amazes me.

Here is an instant mango pickle for those picky eaters:)

Unripe mango - 1 (1/2 kg)
red chilly powder - 4 tbsp
mustard seed - 1 tsp
fenugreek seed (methi/venthayam) - 1 tsp
turmeric - 1 tsp
salt - to taste
sesame oil - 1/4 cup
hing / asafoetida - 1/4 tsp

Select unripe mango with lesser sour taste (like pacharisi maangai or kilimookku - Tamil).
Finely chop the mango.
Heat oil in a kadai.
Add the mustard and fenugreek and wait till mustard finishes popping.
Slide in the chopped mango with enough salt and turmeric.
Add the hing powder too.
Stir continuously and wait till the mango gets cooked.
Then put the red chilly powder and let it cook in low heat till the oil oozes.
Instant mango pickle is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Serve as side dish with curd rice, sambar rice or paratha.

To increase the shelf-life add 2 tbsp of vinegar or juice of 1 lemon after the pickle cools and store in a dry jar. If handled with a clean dry spoon and care, this pickle can stay for a week in room temperature.
If refrigerated, this lasts longer even without vinegar or lemon.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Tandoori chicken drumstick

Almost a few Kms away from my dad's house , a couple started a restaurant solely for north Indian non-veg dishes in a place called Ponnakudi. That restaurant grew very fast and became a center of attraction for many tourists and passers by. Till now its unbeatable there, though not famous like a chain of restaurant. My elder brother used to buy this for us and I absolutely love this smoky flavored tandoori chicken which was rare at that time.
One day I expressed my wish to the owner to see that oven. It was a small restaurant at that time and the lady of the house gracefully took me to the kitchen and surprisingly it was extremely clean like our homely kitchen. Marinated chickens were kept in lidded vessels. Kitchen was spotlessly clean and workers were threading the whole chickens into the oven with much care. I was thrilled to see such an enormous oven and it was much interesting to see their clay oven baked naan and whole chickens. As my mom was not that much attracted to restaurant foods we rarely enjoyed that chicken whenever my brother comes home.

Earlier I posted another detailed post on an authentic tandoori chicken and that's how it is meant to be. Click to see that post on a regular tandoori chicken.

Then I customized that original recipe to my needs and started preparing drumstick tandoori or whole chicken tandooris. Hope you all like it.

Tandoori drumstick chicken served with lemon wedges.
Pat dry the chicken after washing it.

Chicken drumstick - 5

vinegar - 1/4 cup (or) lemon - 1
curd - 1/4 cup
olive oil / butter - 1 tsp per piece
salt - as per need (1/4 tsp per piece)
red chilly powder - 2 tbsp
garam masala powder - 1 tbsp
ginger garlic paste - 2 tbsp
all purpose flour - 3 tbsp
turmeric powder - 1 tbsp
black pepper powder - 1 tsp
cumin powder - 1 tsp
Red food color - a pinch (I won't suggest it)

Wash the chicken drumstick and pat dry using paper towel.
Make 3 to 4 slits per drumstick and keep aside.
Mix everything given for marination in a large mixing bowl.
Put the chicken pieces and mix well.
Cover and refrigerate 6 hours or keep marinated in room temperature for 3 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 deg F.
Line a cookie sheet or baking tray with aluminum foil.
Apply a tbsp oil over the foil.
Keep the marinated chicken pieces with some spacing.

Turn after 15 minutes.
Let it bake both side for 10 minutes.
Then turn the oven to broil mode and keep for 3 minutes both sides or till we get red color.

If needed add some red food color while marination.
BBq will also yield a similar quality tandoori.
If oven is not preferred, then shallow fry the pieces with very little oil and make it red by putting over hot dosa tawa.

Serving suggestion:
Sprinkle some chaat masala before serving.
Wrap a piece of aluminum foil at one end to make it holdable:)
Serve hot as side dish with biriyani, paratha etc.
Lemon wedges, onion slices or raitha are often served along with this tandoori.
It can be reheated by Microwave or using a dosa tawa.
The left over can be made into a gravy.

Friday, September 16, 2011

International festival and How to cook rice for pulav :)

Last week (Sep 10, 2011) we had an International festival in our Church after Mother Mary's Birthday (Sep 8). Groups were made according to their ancestry. The theme was to make some educational displays and explain them to the public, dance, auction, stage performances and most importantly a buffet dinner:) Many Indians put a lot of effort on making it successful.   I couldn't do much with hubby's schedule, so limited myself with  food preparation alone. As a food blogger I wanted to make some Indian dishes with some historic importance. So I chose for me 'Mogul influence on Indian cuisine' and prepared 'Chicken sheekh Kebab and Kashmiri Pulav' to suit everyone's palette. We were instructed to bring one tray of chicken dish in dry state and another big tray of rice. My friends had brought fried chicken, mint chicken, Rava kesari, Sheera,fried rice, capsicum rice, butter chicken etc. One Indian family had to bring the food warmer set-up.

I calculated the quantity of rice as if everyone (600 people and I have to cater some 80 plate) takes a tbsp of Indian rice and there was nearly 6 trays of rice. So I had to make for some 80 - 100 tbsp or little more than that, as a few can't take foreign food.
I took 8 cups of rice and made that pulav with equal amounts of nuts, dry fruits and fresh fruits.
I made kebabs out of 4 lb chicken and I got 48 pieces totally (which was cut into half  while serving). Making Sheekh kebab was not that difficult as I expected , as hubby dear helped me lifting those heavy baking trays which I find tiresome always.

But I was expecting a challenge in cooking rice. I wanted to make them super fluffy and grainy as that of the restaurant pilaf and was looking for good ways to cook fluffy rice. Then I found in a website 'how to cook perfect rice for pulav' and I am much thankful to that person. Though that is a simple post, I should thank the author enough, because that made my pulav adorable (I will publish the pictures soon). I used all the tips and added a few to make it fast.

I started cooking the rice by 7 Am and finished both the dishes by 1 pm.

The buffet was from 5.30 Pm to 11 Pm (Anyways finally they wanted some one to stand along with the food to serve/ guide/ explain...and I happily enjoyed my role there for 2 hours answering their questions and analyzing the American views on Indian foods).They preferred the non spicy foods and many wanted to try newer dishes. They were looking for some authentic Indian foods. I was amazed at their knowledge on Indian cuisine and I noted down the name of the dishes. I will try to make a few dishes as per their suggestion next year. Then the ladies were more interested in knowing about our Indian salwar kameez and jewels :)
Hubby and myself thoroughly enjoyed the day and tasted many dishes from SriLanka, Philippines, Kenya, England, France USA.

Here is the step by step instruction for cooking the perfect rice and few tips on party planning:

1. Calculate 1/2 cup or 100 gm of uncooked rice for each person for a homely party while 2 tbsp of cooked rice will be enough for pot luck (as there will be more food from your friends too).

2. Select a long grain basmati rice for pulav/pilaf/pulao. Short grain Jeeraga samba for Tamilnadu biriyanis. Raw rice / pacharisi / sona masoori for all the variety rice like tamarind rice, lemon rice etc. Ponni puzhungal arisi or sona masoori pacharisi for sambar rice.

3.Plan ahead and write down the procedure with steps to avoid last minute confusions. Measure the required rice and keep closed the day before.

4.Start cooking as early as possible. Desserts can be made days ahead and refrigerated. But rice and non-veg SHOULD be cooked on the same day.

5. Wash the rice in cold water till it runs clear or 3 times.

6. Soak it in large quantity of cold water for 30 minutes to 1 hour. More time than that or hot water soaking will break the rice.

7. Bring 6 cups of water to boil for 2 cups of rice. Add 1/2 tsp salt,juice from 1/4 lemon, 1 tsp butter / oil.If making a colorful pulav, add the turmeric powder for yellow color and other organic food colors at this stage.
Now add the soaked rice (without any water) and cook till it is 80% done. The rice should be long and stiff but if you bite it it should not be raw. 2 cups of rice will be done in 4-5 minutes after boiling.
**If preparing the hyderabadi vegetable biriyani or hyderabadi chicken biriyani, follow everything above...but cook the rice 50% (check for a little raw taste after cooking) and it will be perfectly done with layering**.

8.We should have a rice drainer or a big size colander (vadi katti). Place the colander over a vessel and immediately pour the cooked rice over it. After the water is almost drained (less than a minute). Discard the water or save it for cattle:)

9. Now bring the colander under running water or pour some cold water above the cooked rice and wash away the sticky carbohydrate. Anyways it is not how I cook for everyday, but since its a party , we have to present the rice in an ornamental way.

10.Keep the rice aside and wait till all the water drains. (The original post says to keep for hours. But I kept for 10 minutes).

11.Spread the rice in a large plate or very large mixing bowl. Let it cool. Don't mix or add anything in warm condition. In big scale production, I have seen the chefs keeping the rice over a new and clean white dhothi (veshti).

12.Once it is cool, add the required mixing or do the layering to get your pulav or biriyani.

*Always write down the name of the dish and ingredients list and stick near the tray for a large gathering like this, as it will help many to taste other national cuisine without hesitation.

Hope I have mentioned all the tricks I used to make the pulav as I got many requests on this fluffy rice finish and of-course for the recipe too :)

Wishing you all a very happy weekend and enjoy making restaurant quality pulavs at home:)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Vegetable Uthappam

Uthappam / oothappam - a thick spongy version of dosa often made with left over dosa batter and a lot of flavorful toppings to make it irresistible:)

Have you ever got inspired to prepare a dish by a comedy video? Well, I did :)  Hubby and myself started liking this uthappam more than we do normally, only after watching this video. Here the famous Tamil comedy actor Mr.Vadivelu explains a waiter how his uthappam should be made:)
Click to watch that if you can understand Tamil. Otherwise read the next para:)

The video:After ordering the uthappam, Vadivelu explains the waiter on how to clean the dosa tawa (with the clean side of an oiling broom, yeah you are right..its a broom but not used for sweeping the floor ), then on the size of the dosa (not too big....not too small....but with a medium dia.), next on the vegetables to go over dosa (onion, carrot etc), then comes a surprisingly 16 tsp ghee over that dosa (we can never do that to our waistline...hi...hi), and to shower-spread some idly-podi all over that and to bring that dosa folded with a golden-red hue. But to his dismay, after hearing the whole mouthwatering recipe, the waiter will shout 'UTHAPPAM for this table' to the chef, as if he has not heard anything. One cannot stop laughter on seeing the customer vadivelu's disappointed face now:)

But how can I, the obliging housewife (hey! just for fun...hi...hi),ignore my regular customer's (hubby's) wish to get a same dosa like Vadivelu's? So I made it for him with just 1 tbsp ghee and not that 16 tbsp...let it be a secret:)

If you watch this video, the next thing you may want will be this vegetable uthappam. So I have narrated this vegetable uthappam recipe for my friends with everything in that ingredient list except the ghee part:)


Vegetable uthappam tastes great with a sambar and coconut chutney combo:)

Dosa / idly batter - 2 cup
(thosai mavu)
besan flour - 2 tbsp (optional)
baking soda - 2 pinch
ghee - 2 tbsp
sesame oil - 2 tbsp
onion - a handful for 1 dosa
green chilly - 1/2 for 1 dosa
carrot - 1
idly podi - 2 tbsp
curry leaf , cilantro - a handful

Take required quantity of sour idly batter. Add baking soda, besan flour and mix the batter briskly for few times. Let it sit for 10 minutes.
Heat a dosa tawa. Drizzle 2 drops of sesame oil over the pan.
Using a clean cloth or wooden spatula rub the oil uniformly over the tawa.
Take a ladle of batter and pour it gently over the tawa and spread it to a thick but small dosa (6 inch dia. approximately). Reduce the flame to medium heat.
Spread the finely chopped onion, carrot, chilly, curry leaf, cilantro over the uthappam. Pour some sesame oil + ghee around and over the dosa.
Strew a tsp idly milagai podi over the uthappam.
(Place a dome shaped lid to cover it. The uthappam should be cooked in that steam to get a spongy texture inside. This step is optional, but I prefer this)
After few seconds flip the uthappam and let it cook the other side for less than 30 seconds. Take out the dosa Again increase the flame, apply oil and repeat the above process to make as many uthappam as we need.

Serving suggestions:
Serve hot with Coconut chutney and sambar.
Other best combinations are Arachi vitta sambar, groundnut chutney.
Once we start making the uthappam, we have to serve it immediately to get that true taste.

We can add any left over poriyal like beans poriyal, cauliflower fry, cabbage fry etc also as topping.
Add a tbsp of besan flour to every cup of dosa batter to get a golden red uthappam.
Sour dosa batter can only give a delicious uthappam. If its not so, then add some desi yogurt/ buttermilk and leave for a few hours or start preparing immediately.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Friday, September 2, 2011

Unripe Tomato koottu

This is a simple koottu / curry / subzi,  common in parts of Tamilnadu. We can see a small kitchen garden in almost every home and tangy tomatoes grow abundant and succulent throughout the year in India. One need not wait to get all their tomatoes ripe, just pluck a few big green tomatoes...enjoy that fresh flavor arising from the leaves and stem, (if you have not before)....even our palm will smell like tomato for a few hours.....isn't it completely relaxing:)

Getting some unripe green tomato is extremely difficult here. Last summer I got a few (see the picture below). The curry should be more on the tangy side. So if you doubt the taste, then try adding one ripe tomato to it. We can make this curry with ripe tomatoes too, but it will be like a thakkali kulambu:) . This can be prepared with tomatillos (sodukku thakkali)also. Tomatillo can be bought in any local grocery store at any season and they are the best fit to make this koottu, next to our native thakkali kaai:)

Source: I got this recipe from my Rukmani aunty while she was preparing this years ago:)

Half ripe tomatoes, I got from store.  If possible get them all in green like the only one above:)

Thakkali kaai koottu / Green tomato curry.

Unripe green tomato - 1/2 kg
Toor dhal (red gram)- 1/4 cup
channa dhal - 1/4 cup
garlic - 2 pearls
turmeric - 1/2 tsp
asafoetida / hing - a pinch
Onion - 1
curry leaf - 2 sprig
mustard - 1 tsp
urad dhal (black gram)- 1 tsp
coconut oil - 1 tbsp

To fry and grind:
Channa dhal (bengal gram / kadalai paruppu)- 1 tbsp
dry red chilly - 4
cumin - 1 tsp
shredded coconut - 1/2 cup
oil - 1 tsp

Pressure cook the dhals together with garlic, turmeric, little water, hing. Mash them together coarsely. keep aside.
Heat a tsp of oil in a wok and fry the channa dhal to red color, keep aside. Put the red chillies and take out immediately after it gets crispy. Then fry the coconut to get a nice smell. grind them all together to a coarse paste.

Now chop the tomatoes and onion into small pieces.
Heat oil in a wok and let the mustard splutter. Then goes the split urad dhal along with onion and curry leaves. Fry them for a minute and don't let them get red. Immediately add the tomatoes. Add 1/4 cup water, salt and cook covered for 5 minutes (not mushy). Then add the ground masala, cooked dhal and bring it to a boil. Switch off.

Thakkali kai koottu is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Serve as side dish with chapati, roti.
The best match is with plain rice and some appalam.

It is more common to prepare this koottu without garlic and onion.
Total time taken less than 30 minutes.

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