Saturday, March 21, 2015

Cabbage chutney

Cabbage is one of the low calorie vegetables and it is a staple in South Indian cooking. Making stir fry is the most common way to cook the cabbage in our house. I never knew if I would find something good in it other than its lesser price in all seasons. While I was staying in an working women's hostel, we used to get some newer kind of chutneys like this. It was run by Catholic sisters and we were given the best of the season's food, but it would be centered around health only. Though I always appreciate all the foods provided, I couldn't realize the health benefits behind the various salads and chutneys at that age :) Myself and my friends used to think that coconut chutneys are the best. One day we started asking for sambar or someother well known chutney with breakfast,  as it seems weird to have vegetables in breakfast time....then my favorite Stella sister, (the most friendly hostel warden) explained us and told us about the goodness behind sneaking in vegetables into all our foods. She explained how they are maintaining a huge vegetable/fruit garden in their farm all by themselves and providing us and many people around at a nominal price. From that moment I started falling in love with these chutneys made of cabbage, brinjal or any veggies ,as they were introduced to me by some great people I could ever meet :)I am sure , it is by her blessings and sweet explanation I could admire healthy cooking in a graceful way.
Hope you too start including vegetables along with every meal and enjoy everyday !
Cabbage chutney with idli for breakfast or dinner.

Cabbage (shredded) -  2 cups / 100 gms
shallot onion - 5
garlic - 4 cloves
dry red chilly - 5
oil - 1 tsp
urid dal - 1 tsp
cumin - 1/2 tsp
tamarind - small gooseberry size
salt - to taste
curry leaves - few

To temper:
sesame oil - 1 tbsp
mustard - 1 tsp
urid dal - 1 tsp
hing - pinch
curry leaves - few
Heat few drops of oil in a pan. Fry dry red chillies till it smells nice. Keep aside.
In the same pan add few more drops of oil and add the curry leaves, peeled shallot, garlic and saute till shallot turns golden brown. Then add urid dal and keep stirring in low heat till it becomes mild red. Take this out and keep along with fried chillies.
In the same pan, add shredded cabbage (if needed add some oil for sauteing) and saute till the cabbage wilts. Switch off and let cool everything.
In the meantime soak the tamarind in some hot water.
Now grind together the cabbage, fried items, salt and tamarind.
Again heat the same pan with 1 tbsp sesame oil. Add mustard, urid dal. As soon as the mustard starts popping add hing and curry leaves. Pour the prepared chutney to the tempering and cook for 2-3 minutes till the raw smell vanishes.
Cabbage chutney is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Serve as side dish with idli or dosai.

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Quick version:
Sometimes I make this chutney using left over cabbage poriyal. Click and see the recipe.

cabbage poriyal (stir fry) - 2 cup
tamarind - 1 inch
tomato - 2
salt - to taste
idli podi - 2 tbsp
Tempering : (see above recipe)

Microwave the chopped tomato, tamarind with 1 cup of water and cook well.
Grind the cabbage fry, tomato, tamarind, salt, idli podi together to a fine paste with enough water.
If needed add some red chilli powder.
Do the tempering and saute the chutney again for 2-3 minutes till the raw smell vanishes.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Green fuit salad

St. Patrick's day (March 17) is associated with green as a symbol to remember the shamrock and Holy Trinity, as described by the Saint. It is a festival of the Irish. It is widely celebrated in America for  a whole week or more. Any food made in green color, wearing green color dresses, green shamrock earrings and accessories is the way we celebrate it here in USA.
I like this day very much and here is the St.Patrick's day dish I made to enjoy with friends and family.

Here is a list of Green color fruits ( I could find in stores):
Galia melon
green seedless grapes
green apple (granny smith apple)
kiwi fruit
green pear
key lime - 1/2
powdered sugar - to taste (optional)

Honeydew, kiwi, golden delicious apple, green pear, green seedless grapes.

Refrigerate the leftover green fruits salad and enjoy as snack !

Peel the honeydew, melons , kiwi and chop them into small cubes. Then slice the apple (I used golden delicious as they are sweeter) without peeling. Then toss all the fruits in a wide mixing bowl and sprinkle some lime juice (yes, it is green too) (to prevent discoloration of apple).  We can add few tsp of sugar, just before serving (optional).... tada!!! a very easy and beautiful green dessert for St.Patrick's day is ready !
Read health benefits of green color fruits .
Have a happy and beautiful celebration !

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Wedding anniversary cake for my friend

Recently I prepared this wedding anniversary cake for my friend Paaru. I really appreciate her effort, love and dedication for her husband, to make this occasion a very sweet one.
We both enjoyed this whole baking and icing process like a girl's party and had so much fun. Thanks for this beautiful opportunity Paaru,
Please click the below links to see the recipes.
1. Plain vanilla cake.
2. Butter cream icing.
3. Rose icing video.
Many more happy returns of the day Paaru. May God bless you both always and may all your wishes come true. Live in love and prosper dear.

My handwritten notes for baking the cake.

Paaru did this cup cake icing for me as a sweet way to say thanks, while I was clicking the cake photos. Thanks Paaru, its the sweetest !

Happy Anniversary,
Best wishes and congrats both of you !
Viki and Xavier

Friday, March 13, 2015

Vaazhai thandu koottu (plantain tree trunk stir fry)

I have a long list of favorite veggies. One among them is the banana tree trunk (Vaalai thandu) , which we used to consume in many forms in my father's place. As we had many plantain trees and small kitchen garden in our backyard at that time,  we used to get our regular supply of few produce from our own garden :) This is a rare vegetable in anywhere other than South India, it seems.

Luckily I saw this vegetable in a nearby Indian grocery store in NJ recently and I grabbed a small piece for $1.12 . I prepared a koottu with this banana stem and we both enjoyed every scoop of this:)

Banana stem koottu in a pretty bowl presented by my precious friend. She is the one who inspires me to photograph more beautifully and I'm working on it  :) Hugs Paaru, thanks !

vaazhai thandu in  a package

After removing the loose barks.

slice the vaazhai thandu and keep immersed in buttermilk.

cook paasi paruppu separately.

Stir the chopped banana stem using a wooden stick and we will see all the fibers sticking to the stick.

Repeat for 3-4 times and remove all big size fibers.

Cook the chopped banana stem with cooked pasiparuppu for 10 minutes and do the tempering.

Vaazhai thandu koottu is ready !

Banana stem (vaazhai thandu) - 1/2 ft length.
green gram lentil (paasi paruppu) - 2 tbsp
coconut oil - 1 tbsp
shredded coconut - 2 tbsp
cumin - 1/2 tsp
mustard - 1/2 tsp
urid dal - 1/2 tsp
chopped onion - 3 tbsp
chopped green chilly - 1
curry leaf - 1 sprig
salt - as per need

How to clean vaazhai thandu ?
Peel off the loose skin of banana stick (vaazhai mattai).
Cut it into thin rounds (see picture above). Mean time, remove the fibers that spring out.
Prepare thin buttermilk by adding enough water to 2 tsp curd.
Then chop it into squares and keep them immersed in buttermilk (to prevent oxidation).
Using a skewer or curry leaf stick, stir this chopped pieces and you will notice some fibers sticking to the skewer.Remove that.
Now our banana stem is perfectly cleaned and good enough for cooking.

In a cooking pan, add 1  cup water and cook the rinsed greengram lentil until 3/4 th done.
Then add the chopped cleaned plantain stem and cook covered for 10 minutes.
Add enough salt.
Finely chop onion, green chilly, curry leaf.
Heat oil in another pan. Add mustard and urid dal.
Let mustard splutter, then add chopped onion, green chilly, curry leaf.
Fry till onion turns soft.
Pour over cooked vegetable.
Cook till the curry gets thicker. Add shredded coconut and cumin.
Mix well and switch off.
Vaazhai thandu koottu is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Serve along with sambar rice or any rice.

Friday, March 6, 2015

A homely Tamilnadu style vegetarian meals

Snow days are for enjoying nice food , movies together and happiness in family. I wanted to create some lovely platter for our lunch that would resemble a vegetarian restaurant meal. I had this beetroot dessert on hand, which we (yes, my hubby dear helped me by shredding the beets) prepared the previous night, as we wish for something sweet on weekends:) So the cooking got easier for me :)
Have a look and tell me if you enjoy my version of a simple the South Indian vegetarian meals platter I prepared for us.
Tamilnadu vegetarian meals
Valentine's day gifts from hubby: A 16 cup rice cooker with steamer basket from Aldi. I love this very much !

White Rice (I cooked using my rice cooker, which I got as Valentine's day gift from my hubby dear), mullangi sambar or Radish sambar, broccoli usili, cabbage poriyal, tomato / thakkali koottu, homemade curd, beetroot halwa, Appalam, vadagam vathal that we brought from our home town Tirunelveli (Palayamkottai market).

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Coconut truffle

I think my readers know how much I like quick versions in cooking. Truffles come under such classification. Though there are many lengthy variations, I tailored my recipe so that I can accomplish it without much effort.
Last weekend we invited our friend Raynor for lunch and I started making dessert a day ahead. While making the dessert (what dessert? I will tell you all in another post), I had some left over sugar syrup and I wanted to incorporate it in something else. Then I remembered this easy dessert I have seen in food-network TV sometime ago.
I didn't note the exact ingredients, so I made my own. Here is the recipe for  a dessert which we can prepare very quickly and effortlessly,  but I am sure it will be liked by all.

coconut and nuts in sugar syrup

everything got ready to be rolled into balls

balls to be kept refrigerated

After dipping in white chocolate.

White chocolate coconut truffles are ready !

unsweetened shredded dry coconut - 1 cup
chopped nuts (almond, cashew) - 2 tbsp each
chopped dry fruits - 1 tbsp (optional)
sugar - 1/2 cup (or) little more
salt - a pinch
cardamom - a pinch
rose essence - 2 drops'
coconut oil - 1 tbsp (I used Aldi's simply nature brand)
For dipping:
White chocolate - 3/4 cup

Put the sugar in a saucepan and add 2 tbsp water. Bring it to boil and let it thicken a little for 1 more minute (one string consistency). Switch off.
 Run the chopped nuts, dry fruits and coconut in a mixer / blender to get a semi smooth powder. (We can  use fresh or dessicated coconut. I used dried coconut).
Put this powder, salt, cardamom, coconut oil into the prepared sugar syrup. Mix well , start heating and keep in low heat. Stir continuously for 1 - 2 minutes till it gets thick. Then add rose essence and switch off.
Spread wax paper over a plate. Grease it with 2 drops of coconut oil.
Make gooseberry size small balls ( 1 inch diameter). Keep them on wax paper and chill them in fridge (not freezer) for at least 1 hour.
Before taking out, prepare the white chocolate dipping.
Put the white chocolate in microwavable bowl, heat for exactly 1 minute. Take out and mash with fork. If needed microwave for 10 seconds or another seconds more. It should be runny now.
Take one coconut ball in fork, dip it in white chocolate, roll well and take out. keep it in same wax paper. Likewise do for all the coconut balls. Immediately drizzle a few strings of dessicated coconut over all the truffles (optional). Place the truffle plate inside fridge for 1 or more hours. Coconut truffle is ready !

Serving suggestion:
Serve as snack or dessert or party favor.
Try to keep these truffles inside fridge for more crispy taste. But it holds good in room temperature for 3-4 hours.
Makes 20 truffles.

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...