Saturday, December 25, 2021

Thursday, October 14, 2021


Brinji is a flavored rice popular in Chennai.  It is a cousin sister of the popular ghee rice, pulav, kuska, veg briyani and tomato rice. There are many kinds of rices in India with a garam masala flavor. The south Indian Ghee rice is prepared without tomato, while kuska is cooked with some soup (if it is non veg kuska). Brinji is something like 'vegetable briyani' minus the vegetables and coconut. As far as I know , Chennai people do not use much coconut milk or ghee in their cooking. So obviously brinji should be made with simple ingredients like a pack of store bought 'whole garam masala sachet', ginger garlic, onion, tomato etc. 

In Chennai, they usually serve this with onion raitha for breakfast cum lunch or dinner. But if served in weddings, they would serve this brinji as a tiny scoop along with a kurma and potato chips before serving the white rice for sambar. I prepare it very rarely, but we love it very much.Mostly I cook rice and sambar or some non veg curry during weekends. Nowadays my hubby dear always wants different and newer variety of foods, as we are all eating 100% home cooked meals since 2020. The following recipe is for 4.

Brinji rice with tandoori chicken and onion raitha

cook soy chunks in hot water

soak rice at room temp for 10 -15 mins

whole spices getting saute`ed

onion sauteed

adding ginger garlic paste

Basmati rice - 2  1/2 cup (approx 500 gm or 1 lb)
peanut oil - 1/2 cup
Onion - 2 big (250 gm)
tomato - 2 big (300 gm)
green chili - 5
Soy chunks - 1 cup
Salt - to taste
curd - 1 cup 
cilantro , mint leaf - handful

Paste 1:
Ginger - 2 inch
garlic - 10 pearls

For tempering:
fennel - 1 tbsp
cinnamon - 2 inch , 
1 star aniseed, 
cashews - 5,
Sea weed (kalpaasi) - a small piece
a small chip of Nutmeg (jathikkai) 
1/4 of a mace (jaathi pathiri) 
raisin - 10 
bay leaf - 2 
cardamom - 4
cloves - 4.

turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
coriander powder - 2 tsp
red chili powder - 1/2 tsp 
garam masala / briyani powder - 1 tsp

Wash and soak the rice for 15 minutes.  I recommend doing this while we start chopping the onion.
Keep aside the stuffs given under tempering in a bowl.
Peel and grind ginger garlic together.
Slice the onion lengthwise.
Chop tomato into big cubes and chili to long slices.
chop mint, cilantro.
Bring 3 cups of water to boil. Add soy chunks and cook it. Drain water and keep it handy.
Heat oil in a wide vessel (heavy bottomed).
Add the tempering items. 
As the fennel gets mild red, add onion and saute' till it gets mild pink (not brown). 
Add the ginger garlic paste.
Saute for 15 seconds and add chopped tomato, chili, mint, cilantro and cook well till oil separates.
Add curd, saute for a minute.
Add turmeric powder, coriander powder, red chili powder, garam masala / briyani powder, cooked soya chunks and cook covered for a minute.
Add the soaked rice and stir well.
Add required salt (I add 1/2 tsp per cup of rice).
Pour water until it covers the rice and an inch of water stands above. Stir gently to mix everything well.
Bring to a high boil. Let it simmer in low flame and wait till all water is almost absorbed. Don't stir.
Close the vessel with a tight lid. Cook at low flame for 10 minutes. 
Open and check if the rice is cooked,
Brinji rice is ready!

Serving suggestion:
Serve as main course meal (lunch or dinner) along with raitha.
This is a non spicy rice dish. So serve this with any curry of choice.

Happy Vijaya Dasami, Dussehra 🌷🌷🌷🌷

 Wishing all my readers Happy Navaratri and prosperous Vijaya Dasami !

அனைவருக்கும் எங்கள் மனமார்ந்த இனிய நவராத்திரி , தசரா , விஜயதசமி நல்வாழ்த்துக்கள்!

                                                    வாழ்க வளமுடன் ! 🌷Viki Xavier 🌷

Friday, July 16, 2021

Ragi protein drink

 Aadi month is famous for Ragi Kool(zh). Here is my version of ragi drink with protein. 
Ragi protein drink

Ragi powder - 2 tsp
whole greengram powder - 1 tbsp
cardamom powder - a pinch
brown sugar - 2 tsp
shredded coconut - 1 tbsp
fat free milk - 1/2 cup (optional)
water - 2 1/2 cup

Dry roast the ragi, greengram powder together in a wok till it smells good (1 min).
Let cool for 5 minutes.
Add water + milk little by little and mix thoroughly.
Pour it into a saucepan (optional)
Start heating and mix to avoid sticking at bottom.
Add cardamom powder, sugar, coconut and mix well.
Serve hot as health drink.
Makes 3 cups.

In this recipe, I have added green gram powder (moong / paasi payaru). Instead we can dry roast whole urid dal or almond powder or peanut powder too. 

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Perfect crunchy Plantain chips in Airfryer

Plantain chips and Kerala are much associated. Anyone who visits there would buy definitely buy these chips. There they fry the plantain slices in coconut oil and the elevates the chips to a whole new level.
I usually fry the chips in peanut oil or corn oil before buying the airfryer. Click to see my fried traditional plantain chips
I tried baking the chips in cookie sheets, but it takes much time and also the quality differs. But if you want to bake it more perfectly , use a copper wire basket

I used to have another airfryer (Bella brand) and it was good too. But we could do in small batches only. Recently we bought this Ninja foodie 6 in 1 indoor grill during Thanksgiving from Kohls. After that airfrying has become more easier because of that large surface area.  We donated our previous airfyer and started using the Ninja grill regularly. 

Instead of the regular mandalin  (see below my mom's grandmas's chips kattai, which I am keeping as treasure. It's made of palakattai - jackfruit tree wood, I heard), I have used cuisinart food processor slicer attachment.  This food processor comes really handy and saves much time and it's one of my most favorites. 

I won't say that the airfried chips tastes exactly the same as fried kerala chips, but still this tastes super crunchy and delicious. Nowadays we love and prefer airfrying better than deep fried ones :) 

Perfect crunchy plantain chips in airfryer

Slightly remove the skin of plantain

Plantain chips sliced in cuisinart food processor

Amma's Achi's bajji / chips slicing mandalin


Mix salt, oil , turmeric powder

Note how I arranged them in 2 layers. 

Chips made at 330 (tastes perfect but needs more color, so we slightly rise the heat)

Increase the heat to get crunchy perfect colored chips

Perfect crunchy plantain chips in airfryer

Repeat !

Unripe plantain (long variety) - 1 or as per need
coconut oil or olive oil (any oil) - 1 tbsp
turmeric powder - 1 /2 tsp (optional)
salt - 1 tsp
(Red chilly powder - little for garninshing)

Peel the skin of plantain gently , leaving behind some thick skin on.  If using an adjustable type slicer, then set the screw to make medium thin to thick chips for plantain. Slice the plantains and keep handy.
In the mean time , preheat the airfryer . Set the temperature to 330 C and 10 minutes. 
Add salt, turmeric powder, oil to the sliced plantain and mix gently.
After the preheating is done , it will show 'ADD FOOD'. Then open the top and arrange the chips in single layer. After covering the entire tray, arrange another layer in zig zag fashion over the first layer. Never dump all chopped slices in a hurry. This may take some time, but still worth it.
Close the hood and wait till 3 minutes is left. Open and check. Toss using a tongs and increase to 345 C , to get a pretty color. 
Take out and gather the chips in a bowl (don't close it with lid).
Likewise repeat and airfry all the chips.
Put the chips in a container and sprinkle little salt and chilly powder. Shake and mix well.
Keep open to cool completely before putting the lid.
Store at room temperature.
Plantain chips is ready.

Serving suggestion:
Serve as snack or side dish with any rice.

The success of homemade chips (plantain or potato), lies in the following:
1. the thickness of the chips - For deep frying - medium thin to thick chips
                                            For Air frying - slice them thin (not wafer thin)
2. The quality of vegetable used. (fresh is the best). Yethan kaai (Plantain) is the best. Matured and little ripe is also good. We can see them at Aldi and many American grocery stores in USA.
3. Arrange the chips one by one in single layer and then arrange another layer over it. Do not crowd or dump on fryer basket (they will definitely stick with each other).  

Friday, April 30, 2021

Rava Upma in Instantpot

Upma is a basic tiffin item of Tamilnadu. While saying this, all South Indians love dosa idli better. Upma is a kind of handy dish only. Dosa maavu can never run out of our houses as if it is kept in some 'Akshaya patram'. Some people make fun of upma as it is commonly made in college hostels. But hubby and me love upma very much. This upma used to come handy during some rare occasions.  I know nowadays we are all blessed with the privilege of cereal or bread, but before this era, our moms used to trust in this humble upma. Still I love upma better than many readymade boxed breakfasts. I remember how amma used to whip out some upma , the minute we landed  after some vacation. 

I started preparing most basic dishes in instantpot in a simplified manner and am recording them for my family and friends. I have done this recipe in 3qt duo IP. You can try in any electric cooker. 

Hope this recipe comes handy !

Upma with sugar and tomato pickle

Ingredients: (for 2 adults)
Rava (semolina) - 1 1/4 cup
water - 2 1/2 cup
(water = number of cups of ravai x 2) 
salt - 1/4 tsp  
onion - 1 (small)
green chilly - 2
ginger - 1 inch
curry leaf - 1 sprig
channa dhal - 1 tbsp
mustard - 1/2 tsp
sesame oil - 3 tbsp.

Switch on the IP and choose saute mode. 
Add the rava and roast for 3 minutes. (We can skip this by pre-roasting the rava or by buying double roasted rava). 
Dry roast the rava till it smells good (not red, just white only).
Transfer it to a plate .

Chop the onion, curry leaf, ginger, green chilly finely.

Now press cancel.

Press saute. 
Heat 3 tbsp oil in the same wok.
Add mustard seed, channa dhal and let mustard crackle. Add  all the chopped ingredients along with it. Put a pinch of salt to fasten the process. Saute 3 minutes till onion starts to become transparent, 

Press cancel. 
Then change to pressure cook mode in high pressure setting for 3 minutes.
Add the water, Salt and rava.

Close the lid. Put the pressure valve.
Sometimes the pressure safety valve may not rise. Still the rava gets cooked well.
If the pressure valve is on, then wait 5 minutes and release the pressure naturally.

Open the lid , sprinkle some chopped cilantro if needed. 
Rava upma is ready !

Serving suggestions:
Serve as breakfast or dinner along with coconut chutney or sugar.
The above said quantity is for two adults.

Note: 3/4 cup rava for 1 adult. If we are adding some vegetables like carrot, peas, then reduce the rava to 1/2 cup per person.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Basic rasam

Here is a basic rasam recipe for everyday cooking. 

Tamarind - Amla size (key lime size)
tomato - 1
Turmeric powder - a pinch
water - 3 cups
sesame oil - 2 tbsp
curry leaf - 1 sprig
mustard (kaduku)- 1/2 tsp
fenugreek (venthayam) - 1/4 tsp
asafoetida (hing) - a pinch
garlic - 1 whole (small)
cumin - 1 tsp
whole black pepper - 1 tbsp
salt - to taste

Microwave tamarind + 3/4 cup water for 1 minute. Let cool. 
Extract juice from tamarind by adding 1 cup water each time and repeat thrice or till water runs almost clear.  
Add chopped tomato. (or add 2 tbsp pureed tomato).
Add turmeric powder, salt. Keep aside.

Peel garlic. Grind the garlic, pepper, curry leaf, hing and cumin coarsely without water.

Heat oil in a wok.
Add the fenugreek and mustard . After the mustard gets splutter , put the garlic pepper mixture.
Saute few seconds (30 seconds).

Now pour the tamarind extract and let it boil till the raw smell vanishes. Add chopped cilantro (optional).
Then switch off the flame  

Serving suggestions:
Makes 500 ml of clear rasam.
Let the rasam settle down first and just serve the top layer of rasam.
Serve over hot rice along with appalam or thogaiyal .
If preferred serve as a soup , but after meals.
Cooking time: 10 minutes.

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Happy Easter

 🌷🌷🌷🎂Wishing all a happy and blessed Easter 🎂🌷🌷🌷

Treats for friends.....Chicken briyani, coconut cookies, chocolate cookies, carrot cake I prepared for Easter.

My 'Rabbit Rabbit' painting, March 2021

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Millet adai

 Adai is a kind of spicy dosai (Tamil cuisine). If you want to read more please click to see my usual adai recipe, nine grain adai. I prepared a newer kind of adai this week using millet along with other ingredients. This tastes more similar to the original adai, but this feels lighter.  This is my own version of a millet adai, hope you all try this and enjoy !

Millet adai with kara kulambu and sugar
Millet Adai with karakulambu and sugar

Thinai millet 

To grind:
Idly rice / any rice - 1/2 cup
Foxtail millet (thinai) - 1 cup
Channa dhal (Kadalai paruppu) - 1/2 cup
green gram (whole) - 1/2 cup
urid dhal (Uluntham paruppu) - 1 tbsp
ginger - 1 inch
whole black pepper - 2 tbsp
cumin - 1 tsp
Dry red chilli - 5
Asafoetida powder (hing) - 1 tsp
turmeric powder - 1 tsp
salt - 2 tsp (to taste)

To add before making adai:
onion - 2 cup
cilantro - a handful
curry leaf - 1 sprig
cumin - 1 tsp

Wash and soak together everything given 'to grind'  for 4-5 hours (except ginger, salt, turmeric, hing).
I soaked it by 6 Am and prepared the batter by noon and made this adai for dinner.
(If you plan to make adai for a special breakfast, then soak all the items told and keep it inside fridge overnight.
Otherwise soak the rice overnight and soak the dhals for just 2 hours in the norning.
Because while making adai , the dals should not ferment).
Grind all soaked items together to a medium coarse dosa batter .
Finely chop the onion, cilantro , curry leaf and add this to adai dosa batter.
Heat a thick cast iron dosa pan and coat it with a little sesame oil. Drizzle water and wipe clean.
(Thick traditional dosa tawas make crispy adais than the non stick tawas)
Then pour a ladle of batter and make thick dosas.
Flip it. wait to get adai cooked on both sides.
It will take around 3 - 5 minutes for each adai to be cooked completely.
Like wise make as many as required.
If you need to prepare it faster, use two dosa tawas, as this helps better to serve a hot crispy adai.
Adai dosai is ready!
Makes nearly 15 adai.

Serving suggestion:
Serve adai hot with coconut chutney , sugar or aviyal or onion chutney.
Sometimes we enjoy this with kara kulambu too. 
Do not prepare it in batches before serving. Because adai tastes better when served hot.
So start making adai , as soon as your loving family sits in front of the dinner plate😍 

The taste will be enhanced if we add a handful of drumstick leaves to the batter before making adai.

Friday, January 1, 2021

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 ...