Thursday, March 27, 2014

Senai kilangu paruppu koottu (Suran dal)

Senai kizhangu paruppu koottu / Elephant yam subzi.
I learned this dal curry with senai kilangu through one of the nice lady I met. Packiam amma used to cook lunch and dinner in our house for quite a long time then.  My parents' kitchen is very large and I used to keep a cute little place for my study table there till I finished college. So whenever I want a relaxation or change of mood from my studies on weekends, I would help and learn in kitchen too :) That's how this dal curry entered my recipe collection from one of the sweetest cook Packiam amma.
Before that we used to make a fried senai kilangu  only, but I like this recipe also very much.

Frozen suran

Senai kilangu paruppu koottu / Suran dal curry

A simple lunch: Puli kulambu, suran dal curry, curd, pappad, rice.
Suran / elephant yam / senai kizhangu - 200 gm
oil - 2 tsp
mustard - 1  tsp
channa dal - 1 tbsp
curry leaf - 1 sprig
onion (chopped) - 2 tbsp
Tuvaram paruppu (Toor dal) - 1/2 cup
turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
hing - 1/8 tsp
salt - to taste

To grind:
Coconut - 3 tbsp
cumin - 1/2 tsp
green chilly - 4

1.Wash the dal. Add turmeric powder, hing, 2 cups water. Cook it in pressure cooker till one whistle , reduce heat and cook in medium heat for 10 minutes. Keep aside.
2. In a wok heat 2 tsp oil, add mustard seeds, channa dal and let the mustard crack. Then add chopped onion, curry leaves. Saute till onion turns soft. Cut the yam into small cubes (1 inch size) and add to wok. Pour 1/2 cup water and cook covered.
3. Grind coconut, green chilly, cumin to a coarse paste. After the yam gets cooked (10 minutes), add the masala paste, salt, cooked dal and being to a boil. If desired garnish with finely chopped cilantro and switch off.
Senai kizhangu paruppu koottu is ready!

Serving suggestion:
Serve as side dish with rice.

Other ways to cook senai kizhangu:
Senai kilangu stir fry
Pongal puli curry

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Fish fry with green masala

What will you do, when one of your vegetarian friends is in need of a fish recipe temporarily, that doesn't smell too much? I prepared this new recipe when my friend was in need to include fish diet for the first time for her husband. I showed her to process the fish and the benefits of having it as curry than deep frying. But I knew , eating fried fish is easier for the beginners. My ordinary fried fish would have more fish smell, so she wanted one with more spices and I found this recipe myself:)  On that day we made it with butterfish . Then the next weekend I made it with pompano fish for us. (Butterfish can be made as whole fish fry, by slitting few lines and stuffing it with this masala). We tried tandoori method too, but frying tasted better. Now I am glad that this has became my hubby's favorite too.

Fish marinating in green masala

Pompano fish or pomfret  (vaaval meen) - 1/2 kg (1 lb)
corn starch or rice flour - 1 tbsp

To grind:
salt - 2 tsp
green chillies - 4
turmeric powder- 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder - 2 tsp
cilantro - 2 handful
ginger - 1 inch
garlic - 4 cloves
black pepper - 1 tsp
cumin - 1 tsp

lemon - 1 (juice)

Oil (to deep fry) - 200 ml (1 cup)
(I used corn oil here).

Wash the fish and remove all the fins and scales by a knife.
Then slice it into thin slices (as shown in photo).

Apply little turmeric powder over the fish and keep aside.

Grind the items given without adding water. If needed add few tsp of lemon juice.
Then mix this with corn flour or corn starch.

Mix the ground masala with the powders and salt given above.

Gently rub the masala over the fish slices(dab some masala inside the fish too)and marinate for 30 minutes.

Heat oil in a broad based wok .Fry the fish both sides crispy.

Fish fry is ready! Sprinkle some lemon juice all over the fried fish to jazz up the taste.

Serving suggestions:
Serve as side dish with any rice. The suitable combinations are sambar rice , rasam rice or meen kulambu rice.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Pav bhaji

Pav bhaji can be related to buttery mashed potatoes with an Indian touch. It is one of the popular dishes in North India and will come under 'chaat food' or 'street food' category. It will be typically served with a toasted bun called pav bun (looking like small burger buns).
The base for this curry is always potatoes and in some occasions raw plantain. Also it is noted for its rich butter / ghee flavor. It is one of my most favorites and my neighbor aunty would bring us this yummy gravy often. I used to make this with a readymade powder masala. But here is a recipe for this famous pav bhaji from scratch.

Pav bhajji with little ghee on top.

Pav bhaji is ready !

Tempering for bhajji

Boiled potato and vegetables.

Boiled potato - 3 or 4
cauliflower - 1 cup
carrot - 1
green peas - 1/2 cup
capsicum - 1/2
onion - 1/2
tomato - 1
ginger - 2 inch
garlic - 3 cloves
green chillies - 3
cilantro - handful
milk - 1 cup (optional)

To powder :
Fennel - 1 tbsp

ghee / butter - 3 tbsp
oil - 3 tbsp
cinnamon - small piece
bay leaf - 1
curry masala powder - 1 tbsp
red chilli powder - 1 tsp
turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
cumin powder - 1/2 tsp
salt - to taste
ghee - few tsp while serving.
lime juice - 2 tbsp

Pressure cook the potatoes for 3 whistles or in 5 minutes in simmer after 1 whistle.
Put them in cold water and peel immediately. Mash finely using hands or a masher / spatula.
Mean while chop the cauliflower, capsicum, carrot finely and put them in a large wok with 1 cup water or milk. Put green peas also and cook till tender. To this add the mashed potatoes, turmeric powder, salt, garam/ curry masala powder, cumin powder and bring to a boil. Mash with spatula again coarsely, so that all vegetables get mixed very well.
Heat oil+butter in a wok and add cinnamon, bay leaf. Then add minced onion and stir fry for  a few seconds. Then add chopped tomato. Saute till oil separates. Finely chop ginger and garlic. Pour this to the boiling vegetables mixture.

Dry roast the fennel and powder it. Add this powder to the boiling mixture. If needed add some more water , so that the curry comes to a thick gravy consistency.

Switch off and mix lime juice, cilantro.

Pav bhaji is ready !

Serving suggestion:
It is traditional to add little ghee on top of the pav bhaji while it is served hot.
Serve with toasted pav buns or any roti.
Raw sliced onion and lemon are kept along with this bhaji.
Tastes good with dosa too.

My version is a simple pav bhaji recipe  'without pav spice masala mix'. We can find this pav masala easily in any  Indian grocery store (in the masala powder aisle).
If using pav bhaji readymade masala , then  don't add fennel / Sauf powder, cumin powder, curry masala powder. Pav masala has everything together.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Spicy masala dosai

In South India, we make Masala dosai by stuffing the dosa with yellow poori masala. But the masala stuffing varies from city to city. My neighbor aunty (from Gujarat), gave me a spicy masala dosa on a  morning and I totally loved her version. Here is  her version. Enjoy this with sambar and chutney for a  delicious dinner

Potato masala:
Boiled potato - 3
red onion - 1/2
ginger garlic paste - 1 tsp
turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
red chilli powder - 1 tsp
cilantro - few leaves.
salt - to taste
garam masala / curry masala powder - 3/4 tsp
lemon juice - 1 tsp
oil - 1 tbsp
fennel - 1 tsp
Tomato ketchup - 1 tsp per dosai (optional)

Peel the boiled potatoes and mash almost finely.
Heat oil  in a wok, add fennel (sombu). As it gets red, add finely chopped onion. After the onion gets soft, add ginger garlic paste and saute till raw smell goes. Add the turmeric powder, chili powder, curry masala powder and mix for 10 seconds. Then add the mashed potatoes, salt, cilantro and cook covered with handful of water for 5 minutes.
After switching off sprinkle lemon juice and keep aside.

Dosa batter - 2 cup
sesame oil - as per need
ghee - optional

Heat a dosa tawa. Sprinkle few drops of sesame oil. Soak a clean cloth with water and wipe it off, so that the tawa is completely coated with oil.
Pour a 1/2 cup batter (for a large dosa tawa or lesser for a small tawa).  Spread it in circle to get a medium thick dosa. Drizzle some ghee on top of it. Flip as it gets mild red on one side.
After it gets cooked both sides, take the dosa and keep it on a plate as if the red side remains at bottom. Spread the tomato ketchup over the dosai. Take a scoop of potato masala and spread over it and fold. Masala dosai is ready!

Serving suggestion:
Serve with sambar and coconut chutney as dinner or any main course meal.

Note for beginners:
It would be laborious to make all these potato masala, dosa batter, sambar , chutney on a single day. I am sure , no Indian would do like that. So I generally make dosa batter ahead and keep refrigerated always.  Potato masal I have mentioned here can be prepared a day before for lunch pack along with chapati or rice. Like wise  sambar can also be saved from lunch. So if we plan ahead it would be easier for us to make this masal dosa for our loving family.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Coconut milk vegetable biriyani

Making biriyani with coconut milk is more popular in Tamilnadu and Kerala, where we get lot of coconuts easily. Even today, we can see many coconut trees surrounding houses in my hometown. In my dad's house we used to pick the coconuts by hiring a person regularly and would store them in  a small den like place near kitchen. Isn't it cool to have some coconut trees of our own, enjoying the fresh air along with tender coconuts and coconut for cooking:) So making use of coconuts is more in my tradition than ghee. Here is one biriyani I make with coconut milk.

I made this biriyani for a potluck function to celebrate one of our friend's (Emelda) birthday and another friend's (Priya) wedding anniversary. As it was a Friday, many of us were vegetarians on that day and we decided to make veg as well as non veg biriyanis.  While the birthday girl was making a super soft surprise coffee cake for Priya (and Dindigul chicken biriyani ), I surprised Emelda with a carrot cake on her birthday:) Our friend Brinda had made a very delicious cutlet and raitha, while another friend bringing drinks, icecream and chips. A big thanks to our friend Elizabeth for organizing and conducting these parties together in her pretty house. Also she had made chicken curry and pasiparuppu payasam along with arranging everything together and hosted the party. While the men were roaming around, talking and enjoying themselves, we ladies played with kids, talked a lot and not to mention we all enjoyed the foods very much.  Totally we had a wonderful party!

Coconut milk vegetable biriyani with chicken curry, raitha and boiled egg.

After dhum process

Biriyani in dhum:Dum biriyani sandwiched between  Hot dosa tawa (bottom) and hot water (top vessel).

Biriyani before dhum.

Vegetables for biriyani along with pure coconut milk.

(Carrot cake:) Birthday cake I made for my friend.

Cauli flower - 1/4 flower (chopped 1 cup) , green beans - 20 , carrot -1 , green peas - 1/2 cup , cooked double beans - 1 cup, potato -1 , green capsicum - 1/2 , soya chunks or bread crumbs - optional (see note below).

Basmathi rice / Jeeraga samba raw rice - 5 cups
medium thick coconut milk - 1.5 cup
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Red onion - 2 (medium size)
green chillis - 5 (uncut).
Lemon - 1
Tomato - 4
curry masala powder - 1 tsp
red chilli powder - 1 1/2 tsp

To temper:
Fennel - 1 tsp
bay leaves - 2
star aniseed - 1,
cinnamom stick - 2 inch
cardamom - 2
cloves - 4
ghee - 2 tbsp
Any cooking oil - 1/2 cup
cashew nuts -10
raisins- 10.
salt - to taste

Masala - 1
cilantro- 10 stems
mint leaf -1 handful.

Masala 2:
Ginger - 2 inch
Garlic - 1 (whole) peeled

wash and clean the vegetables. peel the skin of carrot and cut into long thin slices.
Cut the green beans in to long pieces.
Pluck 5 -6 florets from the cauliflower.
Defreeze the green peas.

Wash the rice and soak it for 10 minutes.

Grind all the pastes separately.

Chop onion and keep aside.


Heat oil + ghee in a biriyani vessel.
Add fennel ,star aniseed , cinnamon stick,cardamom ,cloves, bay leaf , cashew, raisin.
Then goes the chopped onion . Add 1 tbsp sugar at this point to make the briyani more flavorful and it cooks onion soon too.
Fry it till golden brown and add the ginger garlic paste and stir well till the raw smell goes.
Now add the finely chopped tomato and cook till the oil oozes out of it.  Add the cilantro paste and cook well till raw smell goes. Add all the powders given.
Now put the vegetables, green chillies and add salt. Cook for just 2 minutes. The vegetables should be tender but crisp. Pour coconut milk. Switch off.

In the mean time, in a separate vessel bring lot of water (10 cups) to boil. Add lemon juice, salt and rice. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes in rolling boil. Drain water while the rice is 75 % cooked. Now add this rice to the vegetables. (keep that hot water safe for making the dhum process...see image). In this stage add cooked double beans or butter beans.

Start heating the biriyani vessel again. Mix well now and check for salt in this stage.

Close with a tight lid and place this vessel over a hot dosa tawa (girdle / flat pan) . In a separate vessel pour the hot water which we got while cooking rice and place it above the biriyani vessel. This is a homely dhum process. Reduce the flame to minimum. After 30 - 40 minutes the biryani will be ready!

Serving suggestions:

Garnish with chopped cilantro , mint leaves and ghee fried bread crumbs.
Serve vegetable biryani hot with onion raitha .


*Instead of dhum process , we can pressure cook it also. Bring to 1 whistle, reduce flame and keep in low for 5 minutes. Switch off then.
*Double beans or butter beans or rajma can be bought in a can or in dry form. Dry double beans should be soaked for 3-4 hours and pressure cooked for 1 whistle. switch off and check if it is cooked. If not continue cooking in stove top, as it gets mushy easily after 1 whistle.
*Bread crumbs: slice one or two fresh bread slices into 1.5 inch cubes. Fry all in small batches in 1 tsp ghee in a shallow tawa. This can be replaced by soya chunks or paneers pieces. Adding some star ingredients like this will make the vegetable briyani more special.
*Don't use thick bottom vessels for making briyani, as it will retain heat differently and will make briyani mushy. I had done this before and found out now:) Regular broad vessels are only suitable for dhum briyani.
Typical biriyani aluminum vessel degchi (photo courtesy: here)...its not mine:) want one  like this...perhaps a little smaller is enough...ha ha:)

*Approx....Number of adults : 11 and kids 5. I had made this dish with 5 cups of rice (so is my friend for chicken briyani), so that we all could share some for the next day, so we ladies could be relaxed the next day.
But calculate  the ingredients as per your need.  Noting this measurement for my future reference.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Podi mini idli

If you like cute miniature foods , then this post is definitely for you:) Podi idly is a non traditional form of idly (rice cake) , created by Indian mothers to make the kids love their food. We cannot see these kind of motherly foods in restaurants, as it definitely needs some special love for the family eating it. I have made small mini idlies and prepared this simple breakfast. But my mom used to make this using regular big idli and pack this for lunch. At that time, getting a mini idly stand was not that easy for people in my town, as all the stores we got were small and would have the traditional vessels only:) After buying all types of traditional kitchenware, we women would look out for more choices and the market is full of newer equipments now:)
The specialty of this idli is, it never gets dry because of the idli powder, sesame oil mixture. So it is a better choice than regular idli for picnics and lunch boxes too.
Also check out my sambar mini idly too.
I made it for breakfast for us on a weekday, and love the way hubby dear exclaimed and enjoyed it:) So prepare this and make your sweetheart happy:)
Mini idli coated with idli-podi

For mini idly:
Idly batter - 1 cup
ghee - 2 tbsp
mini idly stand
idly cooker or a pot to steam the idly.
Idli podi - 2 tbsp
sesame oil - as per need ( 3 tbsp)

Grease the idly plates with very little ghee.
Pour the batter in the idly holes using small spoon.
Heat the pressure cooker (idly cooker if any) with 2 cups of water and place the idly stand carefully inside.
steam the idlies for 7 to 10 minutes without keeping the pressure valve.
Then let the idly loose the heat for 5 minutes and scoop out the idlies carefully using a spoon.

Mix the idly podi with sesame oil in a  bowl.
Place the required number of mini idli in the mixing bowl and  gently stir to coat all the idlies.
If needed add more sesame oil over the idlies.
(If using regular idlies, then coat each idly individually by dipping on the prepared podi and pack for lunch in an airtight container).

Serving suggestion:
Serve as breakfast or make a lunch pack.

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...