Friday, May 31, 2024

Red Cabbage Stir-fry

Red cabbage is more nutritious than the regular green cabbage (says the internet and I believe this).
Purple cabbage / Red cabbage is a nice alternative to the usual green cabbage we see everyday. I think I am lucky to get this in USA (as I love new veggies very much). 
Also there is a reason why I look for unique and tasty vegetables that grow locally. I cook Indian foods often (say 90%). So I have to shop at an Indian grocery store every week just like anyone. But we need some specific foods like 'fat-free milk', bread, egg, chicken etc. And the desi stores I visit don't have them. So I have to go to 2 stores every week ie., an Indian store for vegetables and one American store for milk, egg, bread, meat etc. But I found that going to 2 stores would make me buy more stuffs (if I like or not, I feel the urge to buy). So to reduce that habit and to save some money, I decided to go to one store per week. (Trust me, this is a very good way to save money and time). When I go to American store I would stock up for next week too and vice versa. I am practicing this as much as possible.
Long story short, this habit has made me explore new vegetables and I got creative to include all the local  vegetables in my Indian style food.
This is not the only story behind this red cabbage. I love this pink color so much that , I love to eat these fancy colored veggies. Ha ha ! So here goes an yummy Indianised stir-fry using this cute red cabbage.
Besides this simple stir fry , I click to see my salad and Sauerkraut using this red cabbage.

Taiwan cabbage and Red cabbage, Green cabbage in Asian grocery store - Piscataway


Purple cabbage Stir-fry

Our Lunch: Red cabbage stir fry with paruppu kulambu rice, pickle

Red Cabbage - 200 gms
Green peas - 1 cup
Red Onion - 1 
Ginger - 1 inch
Dry Red Chili - 2 
curry leaf - 1 sprig
Shredded coconut - 2 tbsp
cumin - 1 tsp
Coconut oil - 1 tbsp
Mustard seed - 1 tsp
Salt - 1 tsp

Finely chop the cabbage and keep aside.
Chop the red onion, ginger finely. Cut the dry red chili into small pieces.
Heat oil in a wok.
Add mustard seeds and let them pop.
Immediately add chopped onion, curry leaf, dry red chili , ginger and stir well til the onion gets semi cooked.
Then add the green peas (I used frozen green peas. I defrost them by rinsing the peas in water).
Stir fry the peas (2 mins).
Now add the chopped cabbage.
Stir for few seconds.
Add salt to taste (1 tsp)
Add 1/4 cup water and cook it tightly covered (5 mins).
Open the lid and let the water evaporate.
Once the water is evaporated add the cumin and shredded coconut and stir well.
Switch off.

Red Cabbage stir-fry is ready!

Serving suggestions:

The above said quantity can be served for 4 people.
Serve as side dish with sambar rice, rasam or any spicy puli kulambu.

Thursday, May 30, 2024

Pad Thai

Meaning of Pad Thai. Pad - fried, Thai - Thai 

Thai noodles cooked with tofu, veggies and a tamarind based sauce.

Pad Thai is a traditional Thai dish made with stir-fried rice noodles, eggs, tofu, beansprouts, and spices. This is one of the famous street foods in the world. It is a popular restaurant delicacy or mall food in America. Pad Thai is sweetish and has a nutty flavor. While Pad kee moa is more tangy.

Ingredients: (4 Servings)
Pad Thai noodles - 200 gm (1/2 pack)
Tofu - 200 gm (1/2 pack)
Sesame oil - 2+2 tbsp
Onion -1 
Garlic - 3 cloves
Green Bell pepper - 1/2
Red bell pepper - 1/2
Broccoli - 1 cup
Zucchini - 1/2
Spring onion - 1 bunch
Roasted peanut - 1/4 cup
Red chili flakes - 1/2 tsp

Pad Thai Sauce:
Brown Sugar - 3 tbsp
Thai Tamarind sauce - 2 tbsp
Lemon - 1/2
Fish sauce / Oyster sauce - 2 tbsp
Soy sauce - 1 tbsp
Red chili flake - 1 tsp
Salt - 1 tsp
fresh Ginger pieces - 1 tbsp

Drain water from tofu. Cut the tofu into 1 inch cubes. Place on paper towel or clean dish cloth for 15 mins to drain all water. This is essential step to avoid deep frying.
Cut the bell pepper, carrot, zucchini into long strips. Cut the broccoli to small florets.
Dry roast the peanut (in microwave for 2 mins), remove skin and crush it into coarse pieces using a mortar. 
Mix the items given under sauce and keep aside.

Cook the noodles. 
Take 1/2 of the pack of Thai noodles (take 200 gm).
Put it in a bowl. Add water to cover it. Soak the noodles for 10 mins.
Heat 4 cups water. Add noodles and cook till al dente (cooked but firm).
Rinse in normal temperature water and mix a tsp of oil.
Saute the tofu and take it out.
Saute  the veggies until crisp-tender. 
Add everything together:
Then add everything tofu, cooked noodles, sauce, green onions, peanut, pineapple chunks  and give the mixture a good toss until everything is evenly coated in the sauce.  Add crushed peanuts. Squeeze lemon (check sour taste and add lemon).

Serving suggestion:
Serve the noodles hot. Makes 3 servings.

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Thengai satham / Coconut Rice

Thengai satham / coconut rice is one of the 'variety rices' prepared in South India. This is usually made as lunch box maincourses while growing up. I too make this for my hubby often. This recipe is a very quick recipe. This recipe if enough for  2 adults. After we cook the rice (which takes 20 mins) , it takes only 10 mins to prepare this dish. So while cooking the rice I prepare the garnish and mix .  

I learned to cook these variety rices (kalantha satham / chithrannam ) when I started helping my mom when I was just 12 or 13. It came handy on many mornings as I would cook and pack all of us 3 siblings lunch boxes and would leave some 2 more lunches for amma and appa too to impress amma some days. Not only on Mother's day, almost all weekends, I used to make amma bed-coffee and would help her in kitchen during my school / college vacations.
Learning cooking at an early age is easy and important as we get more energy and lesser chores at that age. But as we grow up we get more busy and learning something like cooking becomes a humongous task.

Ingredients: (for 2 adults)
Rice (pacharisi / Basmathi) - 1 1/4 cup
Shredded coconut - 3/4 cup
Mustard - 1 tsp
Moong dal - 2 tsp
Curry leaf - 1 sprig
Dry red chilly - 2
Sesame oil - 2 tbsp

cooking the rice:
(I prefer stove top method for pulao and 'variety rices'. we can microwave also. But the pressure cooker method makes the rice mushy. Rice cooker can also be used to prepare the rice).

Wash and soak the rice for 10 minutes.
Bring to boil some 4 cups of water along with 1/4 tsp salt.
Add the soaked , drained rice and reduce heat. Cook covered till almost done.
Switch off and pour it over a colander and remove the water completely.
Keep the rice open to maintain it as separate grains. Let it cool for sometime.

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a wok and add mustard seeds. As they start to crackle, slide in the moong dhal, red chillies (cut into small pieces), curry leaf, shredded coconut , in the same order and fry till the coconut starts smelling great. (See video) .

Switch off  when coconut starts turning red. During hot weather, it is better to roast the coconut till slightly golden brown.
Add some salt to taste (1 tsp). Switch off heat.

Gently mix the rice with the prepared coconut mixture without breaking the rice grains.

Coconut rice is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Good for a quick packed lunch.
It can also be served as starter rice before serving the sambar over plain rice in an elaborate lunch.
Serve with paruppu thogaiyal (fried dhal chutbney), potato chips etc, brinjal serva, egg thokku.

Monday, May 20, 2024

Mathi meen karuvadu varuval (Dryfish fry)

 Karuvadu - dry fish. This is one of my most favorites and I am sure anyone who likes this dry fish is going to love my recipe :)

Dried fish, which is a much less expensive food in Tamilnadu, is a very expensive one in USA. We can get it in any Asian / Chinese grocery stores. That too, dried sardine is the rare commodity here and it is devoured for its unique taste.
I grew up enjoying this dry fish thokku, along with paruppu kulambu (less spicy sambar) and rice. My mom used to make this on weekday dinners, if the veggie side dish she had made got over by lunch itself :) She used to make some egg podimas (scrambled egg) also along with this karuvadu thokku, as this is the favorite of few of us only, and this karuvadu would sound like feast to me !

Dried Herring (Sardines)

Karuvadu fry

Dry fish (sardine) - 6 
Red onion - 1 big
Green chilly -3
Curry leaf - 2 sprigs
Peanut oil - 2 tbsp
Salt - 1/2 tsp
Red chilly powder - 1/2 tsp

Clean the dry fish by removing any scales or fins. Soak in water and rinse well to remove any sand or impurities. Keep aside.
Chop red onion, curry leaf, chillies finely.
Heat oil in a wok (kadai) and put the dry fish, before the oil gets hot.
Then add the chopped items, as if it covers the dry fish completely. By this way, we can cook the dry fish without letting out the strong smell.
Reduce flame and sprinkle a handful of water.  Cook covered.
After 5 minutes, the fish would have got cooked. Now mix everything in wok, add salt, chilly powder , 2 tbsp water and cook covered for 5- 10 minutes in low flame, till the fish gets cooked completely.
Karuvadu thokku is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Serve as sidedish or like pickle with sambar rice, rasam rice or curd rice.

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Aval Pazham

 If there is one easiest breakfast recipe in Indian, then it should be this one. LOL. Because all other recipes in India requires lot of ingredients and require more cooking time. So this is my first preference whenever we are returning to USA to our house after a vacation. I keep some frozen coconut handy and the aval is always in my pantry. Banana is an optional ingredient only. So this recipe (!) is a treasure for anyone who prefers homemade foods all time,

Poha / aval / beaten rice comes in many varieties - thin poha, medium poha, thick poha , red aval etc.

I use thick and red varieties. Any variety of poha can do the same. But the thin one can be eaten as soon as it is rinsed. Other thicker varieties (esp red) should be kept 10 minutes after rinsing.

For 2 servings
Thick Aval (Red Poha) - 1 1/4 cup 
Shredded coconut - 1/4 cup
Brown sugar - as per need
Banana - 2

Rinse the aval. If it is a thin aval then we can use it immediately.
If it is a red aval or a thick or medium thick aval, then after rinsing it in water for one time, add 1 tbsp water and keep it covered for 10 minutes.
Don't add anymore water.
The aval will drink the moisture and will get soft.
After 10 minutes, add shredded coconut, brown sugar and mix well.
Mash the banana and mix with aval.
(OR) To serve it with style, put the soaked aval mixture in a cereal bowl.
Slice the banana into thick rounds (1/2 inch size) and add on top.

Aval Pazham is ready!

Serving suggestion:
Serves 2 adults (generously).

Pagarkai varuval Bitter gourd fry

Bitter gourd varuval. This is a bitterless Pagarkai fry made by my amma often.

Bitter gourd -  1/2 kg
Peanut oil - 3  tbsp
Fennel - 1  tsp
Red onion - 1
chilli powder - 1/2  tsp
salt - 1.5 tsp


Carefully examine the bitter gourd while buying.
They should be dark green in color with the spikes closely packed. Discard the matured seeds.
Heat oil in a kadai.
Add 1/2 tsp mustard seeds and after they splutter add the chopped bitter gourd.Cook it with constant stirring and uncovered.
After 10 minutes add the chopped onion.
Fry really crisp.
Finally add salt , garam masala powder and chilli powder.
sprinkle a handful of water and cook it covered.
Adding a little water helps to coat the masala thoroughly.
open the lid, Saute for 2 minutes and put off stove.
crispy bitter gourd fry is ready.
Adding more oil makes it bitter-less curry:)

Serving suggestions:

This is a good combination with 'paruppu satham' (Toor dhal and rice)
It takes 25 minutes to cook 1/2 kg.

Monday, May 13, 2024

Chennai Kara Kulambu (vendakkai kara kulambu)

Okra / vendakkai  in tamarind curry.

Okra - 150 gm (20 numbers)
Onion - 1
Tomato - 1
curry leaves - 1 sprig
Garlic - 1
Tamarind - 1 lemon size
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Coriander powder - 3 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Cumin powder - 1/2 tsp
water - 3 cups
salt - 2 tsp (to taste)
To temper:
Mustard - 1 tsp
Fenugreek seeds- 1/2 tsp
Sesame oil - 2 tbsp
Asafoetida - 1 pinch

Wash the okra and wipe well using a clean kitchen towel. Let it dry in air while we prepare the other items. Remove the top and bottom of okra. Cut the okra into 2 inch pieces slantingly or in straight pieces.
Chop onion, tomato and keep separately.

Soak the tamarind in hot water and extract the juice thrice with 2-3 cups of water. 
Add the chilly powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, cumin powder, salt to the tamarind extract . Keep aside.

In a kulambu vessel, heat 2 tbsp sesame oil.
Add mustard seeds.
Once the mustard starts popping add fenugreek seeds. Once fenugreek starts turning red, add the chopped onion, curry leaves and asafoetida.

Then add the okra pieces and stir fry till they turn slightly crispy (almost cooked). Add the chopped tomato and cook till tomato is mushy.

Add the tamarind mixture, garlic and bring it to a boil. Cook for 10 mins and switch off.

Vendakkai puli kuzhambu is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Serve hot with rice, appalam, greens, vegetable side dish or omelet.
Tastes good with chapati / dosa too.

Friday, May 10, 2024

Red Rice Kulaputtu (Chemba puttu)

 Puttu - A breakfast item common in Kerala and Southern TamilNadu.
Generally rice flour is steamed with shredded cocount and served with sugar / banana / spicy kadalai curry.

Kuzha puttu - A puttu resembling a pipe.

There are many ways to steam this puttu. We can use a simple cloth over hot steam or idly making plates or this special tool 'puttu kudam' for steaming the flour.
The most authentic and tasty variety of puttu is made by using the red rice flour (rose matta arisi or sivappu samba rice).

I used the store bought ready made red rice flour (double roasted). Instead we can roast the ordinary white rice also.Some people prepare the flour from scratch by soaking and dry grinding the rice.

Puttu maker in box along with the ingredients.
 (2010 pics)

Puttu kuzhal and puttu kudam with ingredients .
Puttu maker consists of 2 main parts: The puttu kuzhal (to fill the processed rice flour) and kudam (to fill water and generate steam).

Puttu served. The white coconut is the frozen shredded coconut and the darker one is what I got from fresh coconut:)

(For 3 kuzha puttu)
Red rice flour - 1 1/2 cup
1 puttu = 1/2 cup rice flour
(If not readymade, roast it till we get a pleasant smell and the grains look very flowy)
Salt - 1/2 tsp
Shredded coconut - 1 cup
(Coconut should be almost equal to that of rice flour.We can reduce it too, but we can't get the real taste.)
Water - 1 cup ( at room temp)
Fill the puttu kudam (the broader vessel) with water to its 3/4 th. Close the top with the given lid that has the nozzle.
Start heating it.

Put the roasted rice flour in a mixing bowl.
Mix salt with the rice flour.

Slowly sprinkle the water and mix well without any lumps.
The consistency should be such that we should be able to make a solid with the flour, but the solid should be breakable in to flour when touched gently.
Totally we should get a wet flour but not any lumpy.

Take the puttu kuzhal. Fill the bottom with 2 tsp shredded coconut. Then put the prepared flour and fill half way very loosely. Again spread 2 tsp coconut and fill the pipe with prepared rice flour. Again put 3 tbsp puttu flour. Then 1.5 tbsp coconut at top.

Now check if the steam starts hushing out of the puttu kudam.

Close the puttu kuzhal .Make some holes in the filled flour using the stick given and fit it over the nozzle.

Heat till we see steam out of the top of puttu maker.
Then continue heating for 5 minutes after steam comes off the top (totally 10 mins) and switch off.

Carefully take out and serve immediately.

Kuzha puttu is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Serve hot with sugar and banana.
Other combination are channa masala (kadalai curry), green gram chundal etc.

Try to serve the puttu immediately otherwise it may turn hard. Reheating in microwave helps a bit.

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Carrot Paruppu koottu

Carrot with moong dal stir fry / carrot stir fry. 
Click to my video on making carrot paruppu koottu.

Carrot - 3 (300 gm)
Moong dal - 1/4 cup
Onion - 1
Green chili - 2
Curry leaf - few
Sesame oil - 2 tbsp
Mustard - 1 tsp
Urid dal - 1 tsp
Salt - 1 tsp (to taste)
Shredded coconut - 2 tbsp
Cumin - 1/2 tsp

Rinse the moong dal and keep it soaking for 10 mins (until we finish chopping the vegetables).
Shred the carrot (I used the big shredding side in the cuisinart food processor).
Dice the onions, slit the green chili into two (so that it can be easily found and not to eat it, we just need the spice level of chili).
In a wok add 2 tbsp sesame oil or coconut oil or any cooking oil.
Add mustard , once it starts cracking add urid dal.
Once urid dal starts getting mild red, add the onion, chili , curry leaf.
Saute a little until onion turns soft (not red).
Add the shredded carrot. Saute in low heat for 2 mins. Push some carrot in the middle aside and add the soaked moong dal. 
Saute 1 min.
Add the soaking water.
Cook covered in medium heat for 5 mins. Check if carrot is cooked well.
Heat without lid, so that the water evaporates.
Add required salt.
Mix well.
Add 2 tbsp shredded coconut , cumin and mix well.
Switch off.
Carrot paruppu koottu is ready !

Serving suggestions:
Serves 6.
Serve as side dish with any rice with curry like sambar. 
Serve as side dish with chapathi or as a filler for sandwich.

Friday, May 3, 2024

Ivy gourd fry (கோவைக்காய் வறுவல் / Tindora varuval)

கோவைக்காய் வறுவல்  / Kovaikkai varuval / Tindora fry in Andhra style / Ivy gourd fry.

Kovaikkai - 300 gm
Peanut oil - 3 tbsp
Fennel - 1 Tsp
Garlic - 2 cloves
Turmeric powder -1/2 tsp
Curry leaf - few
Table salt - 1 Tsp (to taste)
Red Chili powder - 1/2 tsp (to taste)
Coriander powder - 2 tsp
Cumin powder - 1/2 tsp 

Rinse the Ivy gourd very well (thrice). Remove the top and bottom of each. No need to remove skin. Slice them into thin coin like pieces.

Heat oil in a wok. Add fennel, once it stars getting mild red, add the sliced kovaikkai.  (Saute for 2 mins in medium heat)

Add the required salt, turmeric powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, red chili powder and stir well. Cook covered for 5 minutes in low heat. Check and cook till done.
Tindora fry is ready !

Serving suggestion:
Makes  4 servings.
Serve as side dish with sambar rice, any rice variety, chapati , roti.

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Tomato rice in Briyani Flavor

Tomato rice in home style was the first tomato rice we all used to take to school (in my childhood). Then afterwards it was jazzed up by our mothers , sisters and aunts, and became 'Thakkali briyani '. This is the first dish my hubby tasted and he learned that I made it myself (as I was helping my mom to pack lunchbox ). I made this for our Valentine's Day lunch this year to recreate our special day and I think happy foods like this make love grow stronger each day and keeps loving couples together always. Hubby gifted me a designer handbag and some 'props' for my youtube channel. 

Gifts we exchanged for Valentine's Day

Basmathi rice or any raw rice - 2 cups (400 gm)
Tomato - 5 (1/2 kg)
Red onion - 1 (medium size)
Ginger - 2 inch
Garlic - 1 
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Green chili - 6  
Garam masala / Briyani masala  - 1/2 tsp
Red chili powder - 1/2 tsp (optional)
Cilantro- 10 stems
Mint leaf -1 handful.
salt - 2 tsp (check and add)
Peanut oil - 3 tbsp

To temper:
Fennel - 1 tsp
Bay leaves - 1
star aniseed - 1,
Cinnamom stick - 2 inch
cardamom - 4
cloves - 4

Rice preparation:
Wash the rice and soak it for 10 mins. Add 1/2 tsp salt.  Cook the rice to firm stage (100% cooked , but not mushy). Strain and remove the excess water using a colander. Keep open and let it cool.

wash and clean the tomatoes. Puree them. Keep aside.

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a broad flat bottom vessel.
Add fennel ,star aniseed , cinnamon stick,cardamom ,cloves, bay leaf , cashew and saute for a few seconds.

Put the chopped onion . Fry it till golden brown and add the ginger garlic paste and stir well till the raw smell goes. Then add the chopped chillies, chopped cilantro + mint and stir well.

Now add the tomato paste along with red chilly powder and biryani masala powders.

Add salt to taste. Cook till oil oozes out.

Mix with the cooked rice without breaking the grains.

Tomato biryani is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Garnish with 2 tbsp ghee , chopped cilantro , mint leaves.
Serve with onion raitha, potato chips etc.
Serves 3 adults.

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...