Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Corn and black bean salad

Corn and bean salad is another popular salad. This is a salad I often see in food network shows. There may be many variations but I customized it according to my taste and calorie need. Though the recipe is simple, I wanted to note down the way I prepare my own 'home made salad dressing'.  Here I have used the black bean. Black bean tastes similar to whole black gram (urad dhal). It can be substituted by red bean , rajma (kidney beans) or any bean of our choice.

cooked sweet corn kernels- 1 cup
cooked black bean - 1 cup
tomato - 2
red bell pepper - 1
cucumber -1
white onion - 1/2
cilantro - handful

Extra virgin olive oil - 1 tbsp
vinegar - 1 tsp
lemon juice - 1/2 fruit
salt - to taste
red chilly powder - 1/4 tsp
pepper powder - 1/2 tsp
sugar - 1 tbsp
garlic powder - 1/4 tsp
dried Italian seasoning herbs - 1 tsp

Soak 1/2  cup black bean in water overnight. Wash and  remove the water.
Add enough water to just immerse the soaked bean. Pressure cook for 3 whistles or cook in stove top till it is soft.
(or) Buy a can of cooked black bean. Wash well to remove excess salt.

Mix all the items given for dressing, shake well. Keep refrigerated until we need. we can keep this for 1 week (I have not tested more than that).
Cut the onion, cucumber, pepper, tomato into 1 inch size cubes.
Finely chop the cilantro.
Put them in a large bowl and add the cooked beans , corn.
Mix well. Add the required salad dressing , toss and serve.

Serving suggestion:
Makes a starter food or healthy snack.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Strawberry jam

Recently I started making our own jams / preserves, as DIY projects impresses me a lot. This recipe can yield a 3/4 of a jar of this jam. (If using 3 tbsp pectin and more sugar, we will get 2 jars of jam, but I made a small batch). Store bought pectin can be replaced by 1 apple. After tasting the chunks of  fruits in this jam, I realized the importance of making them at home:)  The Strawberry jam is a quick one and I enjoyed preparing this very much. Hope my readers love this version too!

Strawberry - 15 number
sugar - 1 1/2 cup
water - 1/4 cup
pectin - 1 tbsp (or) apple - 1

Remove the stem and leaves from the fruits. Wash well and slice them into small pieces. (If not using pectin, then peel, core, shred an apple and add it the sliced strawberry). Cook the strawberry and apple in 1/4 cup water. After 5 minutes, add the sugar and cook till a candy thermometer reads 220 F. (If apple is not added, then add the pectin and check the temperature). (or) Take cold water in a bowl, put a drop of jam and see if it stays without dissolving. That is the stage we need. Switch off. Let cool completely and store in fridge or do the canning. Stays good in fridge up to 2 months, if handled with care.
(Time taken - 20 minutes).

Serving suggestions:
Serve with bread toast, cake / ice cream topping.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Spicy Shrimp roast

I learned this recipe from my cousin Madhu, when she visited us recently. On that day I wanted to make something special for both of us after giving hubby his lunch box. After talking some family stories, we both rushed to the kitchen exactly at the lunch time and then I wanted some quick side dish for our chicken briyani:) Then I asked her for a simple and quick recipe for shrimp. She shared with me her mom's (my Susila athai's) eral varuval recipe and I absolutely love it. I could make that spicy shrimp fry within 20 minutes and we both had a delicious lunch with this fry and chicken briyani:)
Thanks Madhu, now I know 'how to make a quick delicious shrimp fry' !

Recipe source: I got this recipe from my cousin Madhumitha. This is her beautiful amma Susila athai's recipe. 

Era varuval / roasted prawn.

Large Raw shrimp - 15
oil - 2 tbsp
turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
red chilly powder - 1 tsp
coriander powder - 3 tbsp
curry masala powder - 1/2 tsp
salt - to taste

Peel and devein the shrimp.
Mix all the powders and salts mentioned above. Let it sit for 10 minutes.
Heat oil in a wok. Add the marinated shrimp. Stir well. Cook covered with a tbsp of water for 10 minutes.
Shrimp roast is ready!

Serve as side dish with any rice or chapati.
Sometimes I add lemon juice also while marinating.
Curry leaves and fennel seeds (sombu) can also be added while frying the shrimp.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Brinjal tomato pachadi

Brinjal with tomato is a classic combination. I always like tangy side dishes along with chapati. Here is another easy side dish that can satisfy our palate.

Tomato - 3
brinjal (small) - 2
red onion - 1
green chilly - 4
shredded coconut - 1 tbsp
salt - to taste
mustard seed - 1/2 tsp
cumin - 1/2 tsp
oil - 2 tsp
curry leaf - few

Chop brinjal into small cubes and put in water. Chop tomatoes into small pieces and keep aside. Chop onion, green chillies, curry leaves and keep aside. Heat oil in a wok, add mustard seeds. After the mustard starts cracking, add chopped onion, chilly, curry leaves. Wait till onion turns soft, then add the chopped brinjal and stir for a few minutes. Then add the chopped tomato and cook covered with little water and salt. Cook till the vegetables are cooked completely and tending to get mushy. Add shredded coconut, cumin and switch off. Tomato brinjal koottu is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Serve as side dish with curd rice, sambar rice and chapati.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Pongal wishes,

Happy Pongal to all my readers, friends and family ,

Pongal Greetings, pongal graphics, pongal cards


Orkut Scraps Pongal
*** world4art.com - Orkut Pongal scraps, graphic and comments ! ***

May this Pongal festival brings peace, good health, cheer, prosperity and every thing we wish for.
Happy Pongal!


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Ulunthu vadai in paniyaram pan

Here is a ulunthu vadai I made in paniyaram pan (puff pancake pan). (Click to see my paniyaram pan).  It is not a complete diet vadai, but can be made with lesser oil than deep frying. When comparing the taste, I find this one pretty much similar to the ulunthu vadai.

Ingredients: (For 21 small vadai)
Urid dhal - 1 cup (200 gm)
Oil (corn oil / canola) - 6 tbsp
Shallot / red onion (chopped) - 1/2 cup
green chilly - 2 (finely chopped)
cumin - 1/4 tsp
whole black pepper - 1 tbsp + 1 tsp
curry leaf - 1 sprig
Ginger - 1 tsp (finely chopped)

Wash the urid dhal twice thoroughly. Soak the urid dhal in cold water for 2 hours. Grind it to a fine paste with very little water. The final consistency should be like  softened butter.
Add the required salt + 1 tsp black pepper and grind again for a while.
Pour the batter to a mixing bowl. Taste and adjust the salt now.
Mix the finely chopped onion, green chilly, curry leaf , whole pepper, cumin with the batter.
Heat the paniyaram pan with 1.5 tsp oil in every hole. Wait till it reaches the hottest point. Reduce the flame to lowest. Fill each hole with the vadai batter upto 3/4 th height.
Put a tight lid and wait to hear a dripping sound by steam.
Using a skewer, flip the vadai and cook for few seconds.
Take out, drain the oil in paper towels.
(From the second batch we may need very lesser oil in each hole). 
Ulunthu vadai without frying is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Serve with coconut chutney along with hot coffee or tea in the evening.
Also makes a good side dish with Idly, Venn pongal, sarkarai pongal etc.

Garlic pickle

Garlic pickle is one of my favorites. I learned this recipe from hubby's friend cum our family friend Mari Anna. He and his mom are experts in preparing commercial pickles, podi and snacks. Every time I prepare this, it comes out just like a store bought pickle (or more tastier than any pickle I make:) ) and we like it very much. Last month when I visited our neighborhood Indian grocery store, I saw this big heap of peeled garlic at a very less price (49 cents / lb). To my surprise they were the naattu poondu (Indian country garlic) , which is a small variety with more flavor and spicy too! As getting peeled garlic at this price is really a big luck for us, I grabbed a big scoop out of that and felt extremely happy, as if I have done something great:) Immediately after dinner I prepared this special poondu pickle and ginger garlic paste. Also I made some poondu kulambu the next day and enjoyed the deal of the week:)

Homemade Garlic pickle

Poondu urugai and ginger garlic paste.
garlic - 200 gms
oil - 1/4 cup
sesame oil - 2 tbsp
salt - 2 tsp (to taste)
tamarind - lime size
jaggery - 2 tbsp
red chilly powder - 2 tbsp
channa dal - 1 tbsp
mustard - 1/2 tsp
turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
hing (asafoetida) - 1/8 tsp
lemon - 1
To powder:
fenugreek - 1/2 tsp
mustard seed - 1 tsp

Choose the small variety of garlic instead of big pearls for this pickle. (naattu poondu / small garlic pearls are more flavorful and tastes good. So it is highly recommended for this pickle, even though peeling them takes more time). Peel the garlic and keep aside.
Grind coarsely half of the garlic.
Add 1/4 cup water to tamarind + jaggery and microwave or bring to a boil. Let cool. Extract juice , discard the residue and keep aside.
In a pan fry the mustard , fenugreek and grind to a fine powder. Keep aside.
Heat corn oil + sesame oil (or completely sesame oil) in the pan and add mustard seeds, channa dal, hing. After the mustard starts crackling, add the peeled garlic, ground garlic and cook in medium heat for 1 minute. Then add the tamarind+jaggery solution, salt, chilly powder, turmeric powder and cook in low heat till garlic is almost tender (5 minutes after boiling) and oil will start showing up. Then add the powdered masala, lemon juice mix well and switch off.
Let cool completely and store in glass bottles.
Garlic pickle is ready!

Serve as side dish with curd rice, chapati or with any rice.
Helps in digestion.
I sanitize the glass bottles by keeping them in hot water or by washing in dish washer (heated dry-ON setting). Also we can keep the bottles and lids in hot oven (after switching off), or keep in sunlight  to dry them.
Always keep the pickle in refrigerator (even though it stays good in room temperature for 3 months).

Ginger garlic paste:
Ginger - 50 gms
garlic - 100 gms
vinegar - 1 tbsp
oil - 1 tsp
salt - 1/2 tsp
Peel the ginger, garlic. Rinse every thing. wipe clean and grind everything together. Store in airtight glass bottle in fridge. Handle with dry spoon every time. Use it in Indian curries.
Stays good for a month.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Parupppu urundai kuruma kulambu

Paruppu / dal - lentil ; urundai - ball; kuruma / kulambu - gravy.

If you are looking for a special kulambu in Tamilnadu meals next to sambar, then this is it. Balls of dal simmered and cooked in flavorful kuruma kulambu is one of my favorites. Paruppu urundai kulambu with tamarind base like puLi kuzhambu is my family special. But this paruppu urundai kuruma kulambu is one popular recipe that comes in mind for many. I make it along with ghee rice or pulav on special occasions. I make these balls in many ways. Steaming or deep frying and adding the urundai to kulambu is my mom's method. For this kuruma, I cook the urundai directly in kulambu  and I am describing my method here. Try this and enjoy!

Also click to see my Paruppu urundai puli kulambu, with tamarind masala and vadai more kulambu / paruppu urundai more kulambu with curd / buttermilk.
Paruppu urundai before cooking.

Bring the kuruma kulambu to rolling boil before adding the dal balls.

Paruppu urundai added to the kuruma curry.

Paruppu urundai got cooked in kuruma.

Paruppu urundai kulambu.

For urundai / ball: 
Channa dhal/ Bengal gram lentil (kadalai paruppu)- 1 1/4cup
salt - 1 tsp
green chilies - 2 (finely chopped)
fresh ginger(finely chopped) - 1 inch
onion (finely chopped) - 1/2 cup
curry leaves- 1 sprig
coriander leaves (chopped)- 2 tbsp
cinnamon - 1 inch
fennel seeds (peruncheeragam/ sombu)- 1/2 tbsp
dry red chillies - 2
oil - 1 tbsp
Soak both the dhal for 1 hour in water.
Grind the dhal to a medium-coarse mixture with red chillies, salt, cinnamon, fennel seeds and almost no water.
Saute the chopped onions,green chillies, chopped ginger,chopped cilantro, and curry leaves in oil.  Mix with the dal mixture .
Divide into equal portions (12) and make small balls of lime size. Keep aside.

Red onion - 2 (medium size)
tomato - 2
green chillies - 4
coriander leaves - a handful.
mint leaves - few
curry leaves - few
coconut milk - 1/2 cup
shredded coconut - 2 tbsp
cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
red chilli powder - 1 tsp
turmeric powder - a pinch
curry masala powder - 1 tsp
salt - to taste
ghee / oil - 2 tbsp
cardamom - 2
cloves - 2
Fennel seeds - 1/2 tsp
bay leaf - 1
ginger garlic paste - 1 tbsp
Grind ginger and garlic together.
Grind shredded coconut ,cardamom, cloves, cumin seeds, green chillies and 1 onion together. keep aside.
Heat ghee in a pan. Add fennel seeds and bay leaf.
Add the finely chopped onion and wait till it turns golden brown. Then add curry leaves, cilantro and mint leaves. The put the ginger garlic paste and saute well.
Add the finely chopped tomato and wait till it cooks well.
Add 2 cups of water, chilli powder,salt, turmeric powder , curry masala powder and stir well.
Add the coconut masala and let it boil it gives a nice flavor.
Close the lid and cook till raw smell goes.
Now add coconut milk mix well.  Any leftover water  we got while preparing paruppu urundai can be added in this stage. Bring it to rolling boil.
Then add the lentil balls (paruppu urundai) and cook in high flame for a minute. Reduce flame and cook covered. Stir after 5 minutes and check if the urundai is cooked. Switch off. Paruppu urundai kulambu is ready!  

Serving suggestions:
serve hot with any rice, parathas or roti or naan .

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Easy chocolate cake

Chocolate cake is one of my favorites. Whenever I crave for that, I would buy a ready-made cake mix pack or hubby may buy me a piece of this moist delicious chocolate cake from our nearby bakery. Also, Whenever I have to make a cake he will suddenly say that he WANTS a carrot cake, so I will be making carrot cakes often. On the other day I wanted to make some chocolate cake from scratch to share with our friends. I got the basic idea for my chocolate cake from this recipe. Thanks to the author I could figure out 'how to make a chocolate cake from scratch / without cake mix?' On that day I had Nestle drinking chocolate sachets only, but the recipe says to add cocoa powder. So I used what I had and the finish was excellent.
Very moist delicious chocolate cake

I love the way the cake came out spongy.

Plain vanilla cakes are Xav's favorite and I  made that too.

slight soaking made the chocolate cake incredibly moist and delicious.
All purpose flour - 1 3/4 cup
sugar - 2 cup
baking cocoa powder - 3/4 cup
baking soda - 1 1/2 tsp
baking powder - 1 1/2 tsp
salt - 1 tsp
egg - 2
milk - 1 cup
vegetable oil - 1/2 cup
vanilla extract - 2 tsp
boiling water - 1 cup

(I substituted baking cocoa with 2 sachet Nestle drinking chocolate powder + 1/4 cup chocolate chips + 2 tsp bru instant coffee powder. It tasted absolutely delicious)

Preheat oven to 350 deg F.
Grease and flour 2 pans of 9 inch size.
Sift flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt, (drinking cocoa, bru if any) together. Sift twice to get a fluffy porous cake. Put it in a big mixing bowl.

In a blender or mixie beat the milk, egg, sugar, vanilla, vegetable oil, (chocolate chips if any)  for a minute. Add it to the dry ingredients in the big mixing bowl.  Mix well.
Bring 1 cup water to boil. Pour in to the mixing bowl. Mix well.
Pour in to baking pans and bake for 40 - 45 mins. My cake came out by 42 minutes.
Let cool completely before slicing.
Chocolate cake is ready!

This recipe will make 2 cakes of 9x9 inch squares or two 9 inch round cakes or one 9 x13 cake.
Before baking, we may notice the cake batter to be very thin and runny. But the cake will come out perfect. Believe me:)

Serving suggestions:
I didn't do icing for this cake. (But any chocolate based icing will be perfect).
Instead I did the soaking. I pierced the top of cake. Then I made a simple sugar syrup with 1/2 cup brown sugar + 1/2 cup water and coated the top of the cake with this syrup. This plain cake tasted amazingly moist and delicious. That is the secret behind most of the moist cakes:)
Some people cover the top with chocolate syrup and it will be more delicious too.
Some pieces can be saved in freezer and used to make trifle.

Carrot cake (Veg)

Happy New year !
Let's start the New year with a sweet recipe, a carrot cake. 

Egg-less carrot cake.

Carrot - 1 (small)
Apple (small) - 1/2 fruit
All purpose flour - 2/3 cup
plain yogurt - 1/2 cup
vinegar / lime juice - 1 tsp
sugar - 2/3 cup
oil / butter - 1/3 cup + 1 tsp for greasing the pan
shredded coconut (dry) - 2 tsp
vanilla extract - 1/2 tsp
orange peel - 1 tsp
cinnamon powder - 1/4 tsp
baking soda - 2/3 tsp
baking powder - 2/3 tsp
salt - pinch
walnut - 2 tbsp (chopped)
raisin - 15

Shred the carrot. Core, peel and shred the apple.
Preheat oven to 350 deg (175 deg C) for at least 30 minutes before we start baking.
Grease and flour the cake tin. Keep aside.
Beat the yogurt, vinegar / lime juice using a fork till smooth. Then add vanilla essence, sugar, oil and beat till its smooth.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt TWICE. Sifting makes the baked products perfect.
Put it in a mixing bowl and add the liquids from mixer.
Mix well.
Add the shredded carrot, coconut, orange peel, cinnamon, coarsely chopped walnut and mix slightly.
Now the batter is ready!
Pour into the prepared baking pan and bake for 40 - 50 minutes.
Eggless carrot cake is ready!

Apple makes the cake more moist.
Coconut gives the perfect flavor for this cake.
Makes a 6 inch round cake or 12 cup cakes.
Plain yogurt can be substituted by a mix of 1/4 cup milk + 1 tbsp lime juice / vinegar.
After baking the cake, pierce the top with skewer multiple times and soak it with few tsp of sugar syrup, to get a more delicious cake.
For cream cheese frosting and butter cream icing recipes, please click here.

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...