Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Sauteed Broccoli snack

Broccoli is another cute looking member from cabbage family. It tastes great by itself without much seasoning. Italians brought this vegetable to USA. It can be eaten raw or cooked. Broccoli is often sold in bunches by $1.49 per lb or bunch and mostly not more than that. Also we can see it in freezer aisles as microwaveable. I like fresh ones very much as they are more crunchy. But we should rinse them in water thoroughly to remove any impurities. Cooking broccoli will take less than 2 minutes in my saute process.  I make this sauteed broccoli as snack for us whenever this vegetable comes in season. Try this and enjoy a delicious easy snack.

snack box
Broccoli - 1.5 lb (2 crowns)
butter or Extra virgin olive oil - 1 tbsp
salt - to taste ( 2 pinches)
garlic -10 cloves
black pepper powder - 1 pinch

Separate small florets from the broccoli bunch. 
Fill water in a large basin and wash the florets. Take them out, discard the water.
Wash again and do this thrice to remove any sand or impurities.
Let the water drain.

In a sauteing pan , heat butter or EVOO. Add peeled garlic and broccoli florets.
Reduce flame and cook covered for less than 2 minutes. No need to add water.
Sprinkle salt, pepper powder and mix well.
Switch off.

Sauteed broccoli is ready!

Serving suggestion:
Serve as snack.
Also can be served as side dish with baked chicken.
Ranch dip can also be used as dip for this broccoli.
The left over can be refrigerated and used for 3 days.
We can do the same process in oven too, but it will take more time.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Paasi payaru ladoo

Whole green gram (பாசி பயறு) ladoo  is similar to nei ladoo. During this long weekend we had a snow storm and I wanted to make something nice for the evening snack quickly with simple ingredients. I had a pack of whole moong flour in hand, which I wanted to make use of soon. Then it came to my mind about nei ladoo made of moong lentil. Then I tried a similar version and got this flavorful ladoos. I love this sweet very much because of the lesser time consumption and wholesome ingredients. I am glad that hubby too appreciated this very much.
Hope you all like it !
Paasi payaru laddu

Moong flour ladoo ingredients

whole green gram flour - 2 cup
brown sugar - 1 cup
(or) jaggery / white sugar
ghee - 2 tbsp or more *
ghee -  1/2 tsp (for shaping ladoo)
cardamom - 3
shredded coconut - 2 tbsp

Dry roast whole moong flour (paasi payaru mavu) till it smells good (2 - 3 minutes in medium flame).
(We can buy the moong flour in any grocery store or we can dry roast whole moong and get them powdered in a mill. But dry roasting is very important).
Melt 2 tbsp ghee and add to the flour.
In the vessel which we melt the ghee, roast the shredded coconut and add to the moong flour.
Powder the cardamom seeds and add it to the flour.
Put the brown sugar and mix well. Sprinkle little milk or water and knead gently, so that it looks wet. Don't add too much water.
*(If we are planning to make this laddoo as gift / to be consumed later, it may need more shelf life. Then avoid water and make it purely in ghee).
Apply pressure and make balls of equal size.
Let them cool and store in airtight container.
Green gram ladoo is ready!

Serving suggestion:
Serve as snack.
Makes 15 laddu.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Virudhunagar Chicken gravy

Virudhunagar is a town near Madurai. Many spicy and delicious non veg dishes have originated around that area and one among them is this chicken gravy. Also this chicken curry can be seen in any roadside parotta stalls or muniyandi vilas, or in few typical native restaurants.
 If one has to travel from Tirunelveli (Nellai) to Madras (Chennai) by bus or car  (roadway), they would have the chance to taste the spiciest curries along with parotta.  Those travels would be by night time and the drivers would make a few stops for dinner, snack, tea time on the way. Whenever we used to travel  that route (our native place -  Chennai), hubby introduced me to these foods which he had enjoyed in his bachelor days. Every stop would have some specialty like Jasmine flowers in Madurai .... In almost every stop he would wake me up and would buy me something like eatables or flowers or coconut water or milk and this habit is continuing even in US too:) I think that is the basis for my knowledge on local foods.
Back to the recipe, those typical roadside motels would have a combo of parotta , salna as a standard menu and a spicy oily chicken gravy on special orders. We call it as Virudhunagar chicken gravy or ennai (oily) kozhi curry or sometimes Nellai chicken curry. This oily gravy is very common in these places, as we can get many versions of it. The serving will be on a very small bowl but will definitely make you crave :)
The specialty of this curry is the amount of sesame oil we add. Nowadays people are making it in any oil they have, but pure cold pressed sesame oil (sekku nallennai)  is good for this.  As it is a more oily gravy, I make it on special occasions only. That day I wanted to make something very spicy and truly southern for one of my friend's family. So I made this parotta stall version of chicken gravy along with chicken briyani. We all enjoyed the dinner very much and I am very glad that it turned out similar to the restaurant curry.The next day hubby happily carried it in his lunch box too:)
Spicy Virudhunagar oily chicken curry (ennai kozhi curry)
Chicken - 1/2 kg (1 lb)
sesame oil - 1/2 cup
curry leaves - 2 sprig
fennel seeds (sombu)- 1 tbsp
cinnamon (pattai) - 2 inch
bay leaf (brinji ilai) - 1
cloves - 1/2 tsp
red onion - 2 large
tomato - 2 (optional)
cilantro (malli thazhai) - a handful

To grind:
Ginger - 2 inch
garlic - 1 whole

To grind:
Coconut - 1/4 to extract milk

Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder - 3 tbsp
red chilli powder - 1 tbsp
black pepper powder - 1 tsp
cumin powder - 1/2 tsp
curry masala powder - 1 tsp
sea salt - to taste
thick curd - 1 cup

Choose chicken pieces with some skin and bone (example, thighs).
Rinse and clean the chicken.
Cut it into small pieces.
Mix curd , coriander powder, chilli powder, curry masala powder, turmeric powder and salt.
Marinate chicken in this paste for  4 - 6 hours or inside fridge overnight. The marination is necessary for more flavorful soft chicken pieces.
Heat a thick bottom wok (kadaai) along with oil. Add spices like fennel, cinnamon, bay leaf, cloves.
After the fennel gets mild red, add finely chopped onion, curry leaves. Then put the ginger garlic paste and cook till raw smell goes. Then goes the chopped tomato. Wait till oil separates. (I won't add tomato for this gravy, but some people like to add tomato to reduce the spice level). Then add the marinated chicken, stir well and cook covered in low flame for 30 minutes.
Extract milk from coconut.
Then add the coconut milk and cook covered in low flame again for 5 minutes or till oil separates. Stir in between. If needed add 1/2 cup boiling water in the end to get more gravy. I add water at the end and cook covered for 5 more minutes in medium heat.
Spicy Virudunagar chicken curry is ready!

Serving suggestion:
Serve as side dish with parotta, chapati, briyani.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Wheat uppuma

Wheat upma is one of the easiest and simplest fulfilling Indian food. I am sure many of us know how to do it. I am sharing my simple recipe, which is my hubby dear's one of the favorites.
Cracked wheat (kothumai ravai) is available in almost all Indian grocery stores nowadays. But before they show up in the store isles, we used to buy whole wheat and break them into ravai (coarse flour) and fine whole wheat flour every month. Mom used to schedule this whole process at home and would dry the whole-wheat under direct Sunlight for a day, then send it to a grinding mill , get them done, would cool them off and store the flours in airtight vessels. Nowadays the whole process is reduced to a sachet sold in a nearby stores and we all are happily buying them too:)  So lets make this simple and delicious upma quick and nice !

Plain wheat rava upma with methi leaf chutney.

Wheat rava
Ingredients: (for 2 servings)
Wheat rava (cracked wheat)- 1 cup
water - 2 1/2  cup
red onion - 1
green chilly - 3
ginger - 1 inch
salt - to taste
curry leaf - few
cilantro - few
channa dal - 1 tbsp
mustard seed - 1/2 tsp
shredded coconut - 2 tbsp (optional)
oil - 1 tbsp

Dry roast the wheat rava for a few minutes till it smells nice. Take it out and keep aside.
Heat oil in a kadai.
Add mustard and let it start cracking.
Then add channa dal and fry for a few seconds.
Put the finely chopped onion, green chilly, curry leaves, chopped ginger and saute till onion gets cooked (golden color).
Add water, salt and bring to a boil.
Put the roasted wheat ravai, reduce flame and cook covered till rava gets all the water.
Check if it is cooked and stir till the upma looses the moisture.
Add chopped cilantro, shredded coconut. Mix well and switch off.
Cracked wheat upma is ready!

Serving suggestion:
Serve as breakfast or dinner along with chutney or sugar.
It tastes great with any spicy chutney like methi leaf chutney or cilantro chutney.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Okra sambar

Okra (Vendaikkai - Tamil) is one of the popular vegetables recommended for kids and adults.  But including that in our daily meals needs more care and knowledge to cook this delicate vegetable. Beyond the regular fries (poriyal) , I make it as sambar or puli kuzhambu to make it more delicious. Okra gives a very nice flavor to sambar just like shallot for a sambar.
Here is a special meal I made recently on a weekend. The menu was vendakkai sambar, plain rice, grilled pappad, tomato koottu, keerai poriyal and curd.
Make some extra sambar on the first day and serve along with dosa or idly the next day too. I love this sambar with masal dosai very much  and that's how I plan my meals. Isn't it yummy:)

Okra sambar

Regular South Indian meal platter : Plain rice,sambar , pappad, spinach poriyal, tomato kooottu, curd.

To pressure cook:
Toor dhal/red gram lentil - 1/2 cup (100 gms)
water- 2 cups
turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
asafoetida - 1 pinch
sesame oil- 1 drop
Wash and clean the lentil. Pressure cook the dhal with the above said ingredients for a whistle. Then reduce flame and cook for 10 minutes. Let it cool. Open the lid and add some fresh cumin seeds .Mash well using a spatula. Keep aside.
(we can cook the dhal in stove top also. But we may need to soak it first for 30 minutes or more and cook for 30 minutes).

Other ingredients:
Okra (vendakkai) - 10
Shallot (sambar vengayam) - 5
Tomato - 1
Tamarind - amla (gooseberry /  nellikkai) size ball
cumin seeds- 1/2 tsp
cooking oil / ghee - 2 tbsp
(Try to use ghee, as it gives more taste to the sambar).
curry leaves- 1 sprig
cilantro/ coriander leaves (chopped)- 1 tbsp
mustard seeds-1/2 tsp
fenugreek -1/2 tsp
jaggery- 1 tsp (optional)
salt - to taste
Red chilly powder - 1 tsp
coriander powder - 2 tsp
Sambar powder - 1/2 tsp

Soak the tamarind in 2 cups of hot water and extract the juice by squeezing.
Add the red chilly powder, coriander powder, salt and bring it to a boil. Let it boil till the raw smell vanishes.

Chop the okra into long pieces and shallot into half and keep ready.
Heat oil or ghee in a separate wok. Add the mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds and let the mustard splutter. Immediately add the shallots, curry leaf and saute well. Continue frying till the shallot and okra gets cooked. Sauteing the okra is a MUST before adding anything at this stage. Then add the finely chopped tomato and saute till oil separates.

Pour this hot mixture over the boiling tamarind paste. Add the mashed dhal, sambar powder and bring it to a boil. As it starts boiling, put the crushed jaggery, chopped cilantro and switch off.

Vendakkai sambar is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Serve hot over plain cooked rice.
Reserve some sambar for dinner and serve along with paper roast dosas.

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 ...