Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Mor Urundai Kuzhambu (Lentil dumplings in Yogurt sauce)

Mor Urundai Kuzhambu - A mor kuzhambu (yogurt sauce) with paruppu urundais (lentil dumplings) floating in it. Ahhh! I first had a taste of this yummy goodness from a friend's lunch box in my XIth Std. at School. Now, My mom makes awesome mor kozhumbu - the best I've ever tasted. And I love it. I love it to the point that I could keep it in the fridge and have it for the new two days, till it gets over. She teases me often that if she made a huge tank full of mor kuzhambu, I would be swimming in it to my heart's fill. After I told her about the mor kozhumbu with urundais in it, being the foodie that she is, she created an even better version of it. Though the name has mor (Indian style buttermilk), she really uses Ketti thayir (yogurt).

For the curry/kuzhambu
Curd/yogurt - 1 litre
Grated Coconut - 1 cup
Jeera/Cummin seeds - 1/2 tsp + 1/2 tsp
Redchillies - 3+3, can use green chillies too
Raw rice - 1 tbsp
Tur dal - 1 tbsp
Coriander seeds - 1 tbsp
Curry leaves - few
Onions - 1, finely sliced
Garlic - 4, sliced
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida - a pinch
Salt to taste
Oil - 1 tbsp

For the urundais

Kadalai paruppu - 1 cup
Onions - 1/2 cup, finely chopped for the urundais
Green chilly - 1 (not including the above chillies), finely chopped
coriander leaves - a few sprigs, finely chopped
ginger - 1/2 inch
salt - 1 tsp

For the urundais
Soak the kadalai paruppu for an hour and grind it with the ginger and salt, to very thick batter with very less water(masala vadai batter consistency) . Add the finely chopped onions, green chillies, coriander leaves and salt. Make small round balls. Steam these in an idli maker or steamer for 8-10 mins. Poke holes in this using a tooth pick.

For the curry/kuzhambu
Roast the tur dal in 1/4 tsp oil and soak it along with the raw rice for 30 mins. Grind these along with the coconut, red chillies (3), some salt, jeera(1/2 tsp) with very little water and keep it aside. Whip the yogurt with a wire-whisk and add the ground paste to this. Add salt too. Do not add water to this mixture.

Heat oil, add the mustard and remaining jeera seeds. After the mustard seeds have popped, add asafoetida, sliced onions, curry leaves, garlic remaining red chillies and saute for a few mins. Add turmeric powder. Reduce the flame/heat, stir in the yogurt + masala mixture into this. Add the steamed urundais. As soon as the first bubble comes (It will be very tiny), switch of the heat. The kuzhambu should NOT boil. If it boils over, then the yogurt will curdle. So, remember the less heat + switch off at the sign of first bubble.

Serve with hot rice and vegetables.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Hot and Spicy Shrimp

My late-mama (maternal uncle) used to brighten up a room with his presence and be the life of the party anywhere anytime. Once in a while, he used to get an urge to cook and he'd do it without any masala powder or chilli powders. And the end dish would be really good. Lip smacking, tongue tickling, 'give me more, right now!' - THAT good! Once in a while, I try to make some dish like that - without any masala powders. It can't get any fresher than that (unless ofcourse, you grow your own vegetables!). Here is one such recipe. The hot and spiciness comes from ginger, garlic and green chillies. Lots of them!

Shrimp - 1 pound, at room temperature
Onion - 1 very finely sliced
Green chillies -4-6 depending on how how hot they are
Garlic - 6 pods
Ginger - 2 inch
Curry leaves - few
Oil - 1-2 tbsp
Salt - to taste
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Lemon juice - 1 tbsp

Grind the ginger, garlic and green chillies with 1/2 tsp salt. The salt is very important to add whenever you grind green chillies. Keep this aside.

Heat oil in a thick bottomed pan and add the curry leaves. Add the onions and saute this for a few minutes, till they get soft. You can keep the lid closed and the let the onions cook till they are soft and almost mushy. Add the ground paste and saute for a few more mins. Add the prawns and keep stirring. Add the turmeric and salt after a few mins and close the pan with a lid. After 5 mins, open it and add a sprinkle of water if you need. Keep stirring till the shrimp is cooked. When it is almost dry, add the lemon juice and stir once. Remove from heat. Serve with hot rice or roti.

ETA: A friend of mine made this and said she loved it but couldn't get the same caremelised brown color. I used a cast iron skillet with a cast iron lid, which I think contributed to that rich caramelized color. Or maybe it was the onions, saute'd for a longer time.. It adds a great taste too.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Get Preppy - Curry leaves

I get very less time to cook these days. Like every other parent. Or a busy non-parent. I do double a recipe once in a while and freeze it for later, but the taste isn't really as good as freshly cooked. So, I've resorted to prepping some stuff, these day, to help me to cook faster. The fridge and the freezer help me to get my kitchen more preppy. While the obvious advantage is that it saves me a LOT of time - with washing, prepping and then, cleanup, I've noticed that it helps me use the vegetables before they get bad. I'm sharing my preppy methods here in a new series 'Get preppy'. Feel free to share your tips and techniques too in the comments section.

We get fresh curry leaves here in Toronto. Almost every Indian/Srilankan/Pakistani grocers have them. A dollar or two fetches a nice big bag of curry leaves. Fresh. After a few days in the fridge, the leaves get drier and drier. And then they go bad.

I tried freezing them and they froze beautifully. Then, a plan emerged. As soon as I come home after grocery shopping, I got down to work. I separated the leaves from the twigs and washed them well. Then used a salad spinner to get the water out of the leaves. Alternatively, You can dry the leaves on a towel too. I then packed them in a ziplock bag and squeezed as much air outside the bag as possible.

The bag went inside the freezer. As and when I need curry leaves, I open the ziplock bag and take a few leaves and close it tight shut and put it in the freezer rack. Note :: It is very important that to put the bag inside the freezer right away, because if left out, the leaves will thaw in very few minutes. And once they thaw, you cannot refreeze them.

The curry leaves stay green and fresh for a very long time. Almost 2 months.