Monday, March 27, 2006
Thursday, March 23, 2006
Parboiled Rice - 2 cups (I use Parboiled Ponni rice)
Freshly grated Coconut - 1/2 to 1 cup (dried/dessicated just won't do! Sorry!)
Cardamom pods - 5 (just the seeds, not the skin)
Salt - 1/2 tbsp
Second method is the easy method - Here the rice is made into a flour and stored for later use. This flour is mixed with salted hot water to form a thick dough and the dough is pressed through small discs with tiny holes using a 'murukku maker / chakli maker'. These strings are pressed on a plate and steamed. This is the method that is predominantly followed in Kerala and Srilanka and all the restaurants. The beautiful white color comes from the rice - raw rice (Pacharisi) is used here (Not parboiled / boiled rice / ukkada chaval that we normally use for Idlis).
In the below picture, I used the frozen Idiyappam from Indian store and thawed it and microwaved it for 2 mins. This Idiyappam was prepared using the second method mentioned above. It is very easy to make this at home. My special recipe book ('Arusuvai Amudham' by Srimati P.V.Rajammal - will write about this in one of the next few posts) has a wonderful recipe for this kind of Idiyappam. Let me share it with you here.
Preparation of the flour: Soak 1 kg raw rice (Pacharisi) in water for 2 hrs and wash it very well. Dry it on a thick towel for a few hrs and then make a fine flour out of this. (Like puttu flour, but even finer than that) using an industrial grinder or a mixie for small quantities. Cover this flour in a cloth and steam it (in a idli maker or pressure cooker, without whistle) for 10 mins or so, until the flour doesn't stick to your hands, when touched. This can be done in batches because 1 kg flour will not contain in the steamer at one go. Break all the lumps in this and dry it in hot sun for an hour. Sieve it once and let it dry in hot sun for another 2 hours or so, until the flour is totoally dry. If you let it dry in hot sun, the flour will stay fresh for a long time. Store in an airtight container.
Making the Idiyappam: Take required amount of the above Idiyappam flour. Boil water in a small pan, with required amount of salt. Pour this hot salted water into the flour and mix it well using a steel ladle. Beware, it will be very hot. This should come to the consistency of the dough of murukku/chakli dough. Heat water in the Idli steamer or pressure cooker and line each idli plate with a wet cloth. These days, there are special idiyappam steamers available in the market (Sorry, don;'t have one, so, no picture!), but it's easy to make Idiyappam with idli plates. Apply ghee on the insides of the murukku maker so the dough doesn't stick to it. Use the sev maker disc (one with the tiny holes in it) for making Idiyappam. Put the dough in and press the murukku maker, go in circles on the Idli plates. Repeat the same process for all the idli plates. Steam for 8-10 mins and serve piping hot with the below Kurma. Some people also eat it with ghee, coconut and sugar. Some people eat it with sweetened coconut milk. I love it with Kurma.
Carrot - 2
Green beans - handful
Green peas - 1 cup
Onions - 1, finely chopped
Salt to taste
Olive oil - 1 tbsp
Turmeric powder - a pinch
Warm Milk - 1 cup
Yogurt - 3 tbsp
Coconut milk - 2-3 tbsp
Green chillies - 4
Salt - a pinch
Garlic - 2-3 cloves
Ginger - 1"
Cinnamon - 2 small sticks
Clove - 2
Poppy seeds/ Khus Khus - 1 tbsp (soaked in 4 tbsp water for 20 mins)
Fennel seeds - 1/2 tsp
Dhalia or roasted channa dal - 1 tsp (or cashews - 4)
Grind the ingredients for wet masala, to a fine paste.
Heat oil in a thick bottomed pan (not cast iron) and saute the onions, till they turn translucent. Add the other veggies (all cut to the same size, see picture) and saute for 2 mins. Sprinkle some water (1-2 tbsp) and let it cook covered. (Alternatively, you can cook the vegetables, in the microwave, with 2 tbsp water for 4-5 mins- The container should be tightly wrapped with a paper towel. Without paper towel, the vegetables will dry out.)
Here are our latest roasting episodes with Tilapia! Tilapia fillets that we got from Sam's club, look like a leaf with a split in the center. I went ahead and cut the split all the way till the end. Like any frozen fish, Tilapia has to be thawed before marinating. Just immerse the fillets, in cold water (yep, with the plastic covering that comes with it) for about 20 mins. Peel the plastic cover and cut the fish fillet to your preference and marinate them. 20-30 mins time is good for the marinade to soak in and they are ready to be roasted. Unlike Salmon, Tilapia is not an oily fish, so you might want to add 1-2 tbsp oil extra in the marinade. Also, Tilapia is a very light fish when compared to Salmon.
After reading Tony's idea on using Asafoetida on Fish that asafoetida masks the smell from the fish, I decided to try it. I made a marinade of asafoetida+turmeric+chilli powder+salt+olive oil and smeared it all over the fish fillets and marinated for 30 mins. Roasting time was (At 375-400 F, baking 4 mins on each side + broiling 5 mins). There was no stinking smell involved at any stage and the fish tasted great. Thanks Tony! We had Rice, a simple rasam and roasted Tilapia and it was a very nice meal. We LOVED it.
Roasted Tilapia using store bought marinade
This time, it was a last minute meal without any planning. And I wanted to finish off all my masala powders before moving. Shaan's Tandoori Chicken Tikka BBQ powder is what I used, with no extra salt. Just the powder + 2 tbsp olive oil . Same method for roasting (At 375-400 F, 5 mins baking time + 5 mins broiling time) Oh! It tasted great, but I won't be buying anymore of this powder again because of the food colors added. I also, suspect that their might be more chemicals than what's printed on the package. I didn't have to bake on both sides, because the fish was cooked at the first 5 mins baking time. So, I just moved onto broiling mode. We had Roasted tilapia with Rice, Chayote Squash kootu and Rasam. I usually don't combine two heavy proteins together, but as I said, before the meal was unplanned and also, was a way to finish my freezer stock.
1.Use greased Al foil sheet on baking tray or lined grilling tray for roasting.
2. Baking is done at the bottom shelf of the oven and broiling at the topmost shelf (that's where the heat comes from, for each of these processes).
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
I've seen this Rasam made in almost all the families from Kongunaadu. The people from Kongunaadu were mainly landlords and farmers (in Coimbatore, Salem, Erode and around areas). These days, like any other community, they have branched into other occupations and businesses as well. Since these people have a strong rural connection, many of their recipes are like a typical rural cuisine - the importance is given for health and taste. Some of the typical Kongunaatu recipes are 'Kozhi rasam and Varuval', a dessert called 'Vazhai', 'Kadaa Paniayaram' (a sweet dish that looks like adirasam with a hole, but is prepared in a different way), etc... The above are the only ones I know remember now, I've to ask Mom for more typical KonguNaatu recipes. I'm sure there are more.
Here's one recipe that I've grown up, with. Anytime somebody catches a cold in the house, my mother makes this Kozhi Rasam. It's very spicy and hot and most often, the cold says 'Bye-bye' the very next day. Me and my sister used to make a big fuss about eating this spicy dish, when we were kids. But over the time, we've grown to LOVE it. Every time we miss mom and home, we make one of her special dishes and when we have it, we always feel 'at-home', if you know what I mean. I know, a few other cuisines from Tamilnadu, also make Chicken rasam and varuval, but the flavors are different from this one. I wanted to write about this when Indira asked me to blog about Cold-Remedies. I didn't have much time to prepare this dish, at that time. So, here's it is now, when I'm craving for mom's food.
Kongunaatu Kozhi Rasam
Cinnamon - 2
Cloves - 2
Poppy seeds - 1 tsp
Saunf / Fennel seeds - 1 tsp
Cummin seeds - 1 tsp
Pepper - 1 tbsp
Coriander seeds - 1/2 to 3/4 cup (Yep!) or 3-4 tbsp Coriander powder
Dry red chillies - 2
Curry leaves - 2-3 sprigs, just the leaves
Small pearl onions - 8-10
Sesame oil - 1 tbsp (I forego olive oil, for sesame oil, for authentic dishes that need typical flavors) + 1 tbsp + 1 tbsp
Chicken - 2 pounds (We used organic chicken. Use a small chicken with bones. Boneless stuff wouldn't give the rasam, it's taste or flavor or the medicinal property needed to fight cold)
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a cast iron pan and and roast Cinnamon, Cloves, Fennel seeds, cummin seeds, Peppercorns, dry coriander seeds and Red chillies with the Curry leaves. Add the poppy seeds and roast for 2 more mins. If you are adding coriander powder instead of the seeds, now is the time to add that. Transfer this to the mixie/blender (Don't grind yet, let it cool down). In the same pan, wipe it with a paper towel and add one more tbsp oil and saute the pearl onions. Let it cool down and add to the mixie. Grind all these to a fine paste. Add water when necessary to make the paste, fine.
In a pressure cooker, heat oil and saute chicken for 10 mins till it the raw-smell leaves. Add the ground paste and five cups of water. Pressure cook upto two whistles. Use a soup strainer to filter the rasam and chicken and keep aside.
For the Rasam, add salt to the drained rasam/soup and keep it covered with a lid. You can call this a Kongu naatu chicken soup.
Varuval: Saute the chicken pieces in 1 tbsp oil, after saute'ing curry leaves, ginger garlic paste (2 tbsp), onions (1, finely chopped), little salt, freshly ground black pepper (1 tbsp), turmeric powder (1/4 tsp). Taste and add salt accordingly. Add 2 ladles full of rasam and let it get absorbed in the chicken while saute-ing. Adding the rasam, helps in blending the flavors of the spices with the chicken pieces and bring it all together. Unlike other chicken-frys, this one is very soft and goes very well with the above rasam. Alternatively, You can use green chillies or red chillies or ground black pepper or a combo of these to spice it up. Feel free to explore.
Serve these piping hot, with steamed rice. Yep, pour the rasam over hot, hot rice and enjoy it with the varuval. No fun eating it cold. Everything has to be piping hot! You'll work out a sweat!
My entry for this weekend's Tony's Currymela.
Monday, March 20, 2006
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Besan/Gram flour - 1 cup
Onion - 1 finely chopped (Lengthwise or any way, but it should be very fine)
Coriander leaves - a handful (finely chopped)
Hing/Asafoetida - a pinch (optional)
Green chilly - 1 (finely chopped, should not be identifiable)
Cummin seeds - 1/2 tsp (slightly crushed in hand, not pestle and mortar)
Salt to taste
Oil - to make cheelas (less than 1/2 tsp per cheela)
Vegetables of your choice - finely grated (I skipped, since I was in a hurry)
Take the gram flour and break any lumps (Use an egg whisk). Add water and mix it to a thick batter, using the whisk. I use the whisk for everything - from rava dosa batter, pancakes and cheelas and even during the preliminary stages of upmas (SShhhh! Don't tell!). Add in the onions, cummin seeds, hing, coriander leaves, green chillies, salt and finely grated vegetables (Carrots, Cabbage, Tomatoes, Greens, squashes etc - qualify, root vegetables don't.)
Make pancakes in a hot tava/griddle and serve piping hot, with green chutney! Red colored onion/tomato chutney tastes good with this too. (Note: The hing helps in digestion of this proteinaceous pancakes.)
This is my entry for Tony's Curry Mela for this week.
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Yes, It sprouted after soaking for 10 hrs and using this rinse & drain method for about another 8 hrs. And yes, It was delicious and didn't make the original recipe taste any different. Sprouts are a nutrition power house and that fact helped us relish the dinner even more.
The first time I had this dish, I was amazed. Jayshree, a Punjabi friend and colleague had got this for lunch; But we ended up eating out that day. When we returned back, She said her mother had specially made 'Lobhia and Rotis' for lunch and she was wasting it. Ofcourse, we offered to polish it off for her and boy! we did with the 'Ooohs' and 'Aaahs' the simply deliciously dish deserved. Only later did I come to know that it was ridiculously simple to make. Punjabis refer to this beans as Lobhia, whereas Maharastrians and many others call it 'Chowli'. I don't know what it is called in other regions, would love to know. Oh, btw, Black eyed beans are traditionally eaten on New year's day/eve in US for bringing good luck.
Onion - 2, finely chopped
Tomatoes - 2, finely chopped
Cummin seeds - 1 tsp
Chilli powder - 3/4 tsp
Coriander powder - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Salt to taste
Olive Oil - 2 tsp
Add the turmeric powder, chilli powder, coriander powder and stir once. Add the soaked black eyed beans and add about 2-3 cups of water (You can more water too, it will evaporate when simmering, later). Pressure cook for about 4 whistles. When it cools down, open the cooker and add the remaining salt. Stir once and then turn on the stove to a low heat and simmer for about 10-15 mins and Serve piping hot. This goes very well with Rice or Roti.
(Apologies for no pics.. We polished it off, before I remembered to click a picture. Will add it when we make it next time!)
Note: You can add ginger-garlic paste too, but it will make the dish hot and spicy. The above dish is very mild and soft like a dal, but the blackbeans retain the shape (unlike dal).
Friday, March 10, 2006
Red chillies - 2
Curry leaves - 1 sprig
Channa dal/kadalai paruppu - 1 tbsp
Garlic cloves - 4 (chopped lengthwise)
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Asafoetida - 2 pinch
Salt to taste
Sesame oil - 1 tbsp (for pulikaachal) + 1 tbsp (for rice)
Friday, March 03, 2006
Spinach/Palak is very healthy. But, there are only so many times you can make Dal Palak. So, We try to add it to our day to day food in soups (check out Lulu's Spinach soup) or dishes like Palak Paratha, Palak Paneer, Aloo Palak, Spinach rice, Spinach raita etc. Some people add it in dosas or adais and some like me, even add it to Omelettes. When we saw paneer in Indian store and when Bee asked if I want to buy them, I decide to try my 'Palak Paneer' recipe on him.
Many of the typical Palak Paneer recipes aren't very healthy. They require us to fry the paneer in oil and add cream or a big dollop of butter to make the sauce thicker and richer. And as I mention in most of my recipes, I'm not a big fan of rich creamy food. No, I don't make a fuss at family gatherings or get-together with friends, but when given a choice, I prefer simple food. And no, I will not compromise on the taste. After a few trial and errors and also using a few tips I learnt from Shwetha (a volunteer friend of mine), I arrived at this following recipe. I've tried it on many friends and have received compliments and requests for this simple recipe. Simplicity works! I'm not a big fan of Paneer. So, Bee gets to eat extra Paneer, when I make this dish and he enjoys it. :) I love this dish (Yep, even without the Paneer part) and I hope you like it, too.
Spinach - 1 big bunch (I used half a packet of organic spinach)
Paneer - 2 oz (storebought or homemade)
Whole Green gram dal - 2-3 tbsp (soaked in water for 4-6 hrs)
Green chillies - 3
Garlic - 2 cloves
Cummin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Olive oil - 1 tbsp + 1 tbsp (former to brown the paneer cubes, later for seasoning)
Salt to taste
Heat oil and roast the cummin seeds. Add the garlic and green chillies and saute for a few mins.. Add palak and green gram and add a cup of water and pressure cook for a whistle or two. Let this cool down. Blend to a fine paste using a blender.
Heat oil in the kadai and brown the paneer pieces, till they reach a golden brown color. Add the blended paste to this and add salt. Let it cook together for a few minutes. Serve it with hot rotis, phulkas or parathas. I served mine with parathas and the dinner was well received.
1. You can add moong sprouts, instead of soaked moon, for more nutrition.
2. You can use roasted potatoes instead of paneer and call this Aloo Palak or Saagwale Aloo.