Saturday, September 22, 2007

Beetroot Palya - RCI Karnataka

I have had the delight of eating Authentic Kannadiga food prepared by loving friends and their families. Maybe that is why I was very shocked to hear a friend of mine say that she doesn't like Kannadiga food, because it is tooooo sweet esp. the sambar! I was shocked! And then I started laughing... Loud!

See, this is the friend who asks me to prepare sambar every single time she comes to my place... She has asked me the recipe for my sambar and also asks for my sambar powder often. Little did she know that my sambar powder is an authentic Karnataka sambar powder. It was given to me by a friends mom who is a Kannadiga Brahmin from Bangalore and the recipe was her family recipe! (Note: I understand that there might be another thousand authentic varieties too.) Then she realized she ate at 'ONE' restaurant in Bangalore and didn't like it. :) Anyway, to her credit, she regretted her assumptions and asked me a few Kannadiga recipes - to which I pointed out the blogs of lovely Asha and Seema. She spent the next hour and a half drooling at all those recipes. I also told her about RCI:Karnataka and she's all enthusiastic to try out the authentic kannadiga recipes.

Well, It's been ages that I've participated in any food events. Though I wanted to, something or the other cropped up and it always dawned on me after the end date. I let JFI:Jackfruit, Ginger, and Rice - all of which I so much wanted to participate, slip by... This time, I couldn't let RCI Karnataka pass by, esp. after having tasted the real goodness of that cuisine. My favorites from Karnataka are mysore butter chakli, mysore masala dosa, mysore bonda (do you see a prejudice here? All because of those luscious silk sarees from that region I guess!) neer dosa, menthittu, kojju and there's this special type of poli made using roasted channa dal powder (will post the recipe soon) and a no-oil mango pickle that is oh-sooooo-good! and ofcourse that yummy sambar made from aunty's sambar powder recipe, that made me like sambar.

I wanted to make Mysore Butter Chakli, which I relished in Pune. It was easily available in many grocery shops and was very tasty. You can finish one full packet at one go. I looked for the recipe online and asked my kannadiga friends but none knew what I was looking for. And lovely Asha came to the rescue. The recipe requires urad dal powder, which I'm out of, right now. So, I made Beetroot Palya (skipping the urad dal, ofcourse) for RCI Karnataka. I promise to make the chakli for Diwali. :)

Recipe here.
It was very tasty and very different from my usual beetroot dishes, Thanks Asha!

And before I forget, let me boast about something. I've been given an award, oops awards! heheeeee... Awards for a blogger who has become way-too-slow these days. But I'm taking it! :) LOL

The Thoughtful Blogger Award is for “those who answer blog comments, emails, and make their visitors feel at home on their blogs. For the people who take others’ feelings into consideration before speaking out and who are kind and courteous. Also for those bloggers who spend so much of their time helping other bloggers design, improve, and fix their sites. This award is for those generous bloggers who think of others.”

The Power of Schmooze Award is for bloggers who “effortlessly weave their way in and out of the blogosphere, leaving friendly trails and smiles, happily making new friends along the way. They don’t limit their visits to only the rich and successful, but spend some time to say hello to new blogs as well. They are the ones who engage others in meaningful conversations, refusing to let it end at a mere hello - all the while fostering a sense of closeness and friendship.”

Thanks Indo! I think you are so sweet to have passed it on to the slow-snail-blogger me! (hey, anybody giving me an award for being the 'slow-snail-blogger-of-the-year'?)

I can think of so many bloggers whom I can pass these 'Thoughtful blogger Award' and 'The Power of Schmooze Award' to.

Indira of Mahanandi
RP of My Workshop
Priya of Sugar and Spices (Hope everything is ok with you, dear!)
Shilpa of Aayi's Recipes
Krishna and Arjuna of Krishna and Arjuna's world
Saffron of SaffronHut (I miss you!)
Ashwini of Food For Thought
Garam Masala of Spice is Right (I miss you!)
Trupti of The Spice who loved me
Shyam of Food, In the Main

And of course, to all wonderful bloggers who have already been awarded and to all who make me smile! Thanks guys for being so thoughtful and schmoozey! :)

I'm going on a break and won't be posting much until Nov 1'rst. We're off to a much needed vacation to India, this weekend. :) Our parents are eagerly waiting to meet their granddaughter (first granddaughter on both families!)

Leaving on a jet plane!
So long, dear friends! See you in November!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Toronto Living - a beautiful Temple

The Swaminarayan Temple in Toronto

We finally had a chance last weekend, to visit the new temple in Toronto - The Swaminarayan Temple. It is a very beautiful temple - full of intricately hand-carved marbles imported from India. Read more here. Using no nails and no steel, the temple is held together through the sheer force of gravity and has been assembled like a jigsaw puzzle.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Chicken Liver Fry

Many might say 'Ewwww!' or 'Blech!' but there are some serious fans out there for chicken livers. Chicken livers are excellent source of nutrition (click here) ... Just a 22 gm piece of chicken liver can give 62% of Vitamin A, 14% of Iron, 77% of Vitamin B12, 41% of Folate, 29% of Riboflavin, 22% of Selenium and 17% of Pantothenic acid, 14% of Niacin and also satisfy 9% of the protein requirements. Just a 22 gm piece of chicken liver. Wow! All the more reason to eat chicken livers, don't you think? Now, Just a word of caution.. If you have high cholesterol or have a family history of high cholesterol(like me!), you may want to stay away from chicken liver or eat it once in a rare while. Why? The 22 gm piece of chicken liver also contains 32% of cholesterol!!!

Yes, I come from a family of high cholesterolites and for sure, I have the genes to boot. But I love the taste of this dish and love all the good stuff it has to offer. So, once in a while, we do indulge. Here's a tasty dish with a boatload of nutrition (and cholesterol!) .

Chicken Liver - one packet (1 lb)
Cummin seeds - 1/2 tbsp
Ginger-Garlic paste - 3-4 tbsp or more*
Onions - 2 big ones, very very very finely chopped
Curry leaves - one or two sprigs
Pepper powder- 1-2 tbsp
Salt - 1 tsp
Oil - 1-2 tbsp
Green chillies - 2-3 slightly minced or finely chopped. (Optional, I didn't use, but this adds a lot of flavor and taste. Reduce the pepper powder if you are adding the green chillies)

Chop the chicken livers to bite sized pieces and rinse them well and allow them to drain in a colander. Chop the onions, very fine. It will look like the onions are way too much, but trust me, it will be just right.

Heat oil in a skillet, preferably cast-iron, as it adds to the flavor of this particular dish. Add the cummin seeds when the oil is hot. When it emits a nice aroma, add the onions and minced green chillies (i.e. if you are adding them) and curry leaves. Saute them till the chopped onions lose their shape (should not get charred).

The best way is to do that is to steam-saute the onions. Saute them and close the skillet with a lid. The steam helps in cooking the onions faster without much oil. Open, stir once and close again. When done, Add the ginger garlic paste and pepper powder and stir once or twice. Add the chicken liver and salt and stir once to allow the masala to mix well with the liver pieces. Sprinkle some water (about 2-3 tbsp, no more) and stir once before closing the skillet with the lid. Allow to cook for 10-12 mins. Remove the lid and let it cook on the stove, till it gets very dry. Serve it hot with rice and rasam. You can also mix the livers with rice and have it.. I love it that way. Also, a great side for the rasam rice.

This dish tastes very similar to the chicken liver fry served in Restaurants. If you try it, do tell me how you liked it.

Note: * The ginger garlic paste used here, is way more than what we usually use for nonvegetarian cooking because it helps to negate the bad effects of cholesterol. I usually add more than the recommended amount of ginger garlic paste.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A simple dal and a Salad with a zing!

Most of the times, it's simplest foods that are eaten more heartily. Be it, Dal, chawal/roti, sabji, or rice, rasam and poriyal or a salad - Very simple food; Very comforting... Is that why, whenever the complexities of life surround us and life just seems too busy to handle, we seek comfort in simple foods?

One such comfort food for us is a simple meal that comprises of green gram dal, rice and curd.. Sometimes a sabji accompanies this hearty fare.. sometimes a salad and sometimes just plain ol'e pickle and papad.

Simple green gram dal
Green gram dal (Green mung) - 1 cup, soaked for an hour
onion - 1, finely chopped
garlic - 1-2, finely chopped
red chillies - 1-2
curry leaves - one sprig
mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
cummin seeds - 1/2 tsp
asafoetida - 1/4 tsp
lemon juice - 1 tbsp
oil - 1 tbsp

Soak green mung dal for an hour and boil till soft. Season with the remaining stuff in the following order - Heat oil, add mustard, wait till it pops and then add cummin and asafoetida, then add the red chillies, curry leaves and onions. Saute till the onion turns translucent and add to the dal. Add in the lemon juice and serve hot with steamed rice or roti. (I served it with store bought masala vada and THE salad with a zing!)

Carrot Salad - the salad with a zing!
Fresh carrots - 4
coriander leaves - a handful, finely chopped
green chillies - 2
ginger - 1/2 to 1 inch,
for that zing!
lemon juice 2 tbsp
salt, to taste

Grate the carrots. If the carrots are tender, you can grate them directly, after washing. If not, wash them and slightly scrape the skin using a peeler and then grate the carrots. Grate the ginger and green chillies. Add the lemon juice and salt and finely chopped coriander leaves. Toss them using a wooden spoon. Let the flavors mingle for 1/2 hr and enjoy!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Eat hearty with bloggers!

When you are surrounded by lovely food bloggers and blog love, there's always good food around. And everybody eats heartily. Anybody arguing this?

Here's a picture from a meal I cooked, from a recipe from a Indian food blog. Any guess what the dish is and which blog this came from?

Reveal: It is Vellai Poondu Vengaaya Kulambu by Kitchenmate. The kulambu was very yummy. I have tried it with many vegetables on the side, but crispy potatoes were the best combo for this tangy dish. Thanks Kitchenmate!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Vendaikai Pulikulambu - Okra in Tangy sauce

Vendaikai Pulikulambu is very common in Kongu cuisine. Could be because of the fact that, those days, most of the people in Kongu region had their own farms and they had fresh vegetables (like okra/ lady's finger, silk squash, snake gourd, pumpkin, drumsticks, brinjals, raw plantain, tomatoes, etc, etc) coming out of their farms. The usual combination for Vendaikai Pulikulambu went like this - Rice, Vendaikai pulikulambu, Peerkangai poriyal (Silk squash on the side), rasam and curd. Where was the protein? Would the curd (yogurt) satisfy the requirement for protein? Considering the amount of curd used, well, I'd say, yes! These days, I think, addition of a boiled egg or roasted fish makes the above meal more balanced. I prefer the roasted fish over the egg though. (Indosungod, a wonderful blogger who is a thoroughbred Kongu girl and grew up surrounded by Kongu cuisine, tells me that 'Uppu Paruppu' (soft tur dal with salt/varan) is a very good combo for this pulikulambu. I guess, THAT is the protein in the meal. Thanks Indo!)

Okra - 1 lb, chopped in small rounds (I used a packed of Shana Bhindi, frozen, sliced)
Tamarind - a lemon size
Onion - 1, chopped fine
Red chillies - 2 (if it's the hot variety, 3 if you have milder red chillies)
Garlic - 4-5 pods (sliced, if big)
Fenugreek/Methi seeds - 1/4 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Cummin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Asafoetida - 1/4 tsp or lesser, say a pinch
Curry leaves - a sprig, chopped
Oil - 1 tbsp
Salt, to taste

Soak the tamarind in hot water. I put the tamarind in a microwave safe bowl and add some water to cover that and microwave for 2 mins. I let it cool and slightly mash it with my hands and extract pulp from the tamarind. A strainer can be used to filter too.

Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds. When it sputters, add cummin and methi seeds and asafoetida. When they become golden (not brown), add the red chillies, onions, garlic and curry leaves and saute well. When the onions are done, add the tamarind pulp and stir once. Add the turmeric powder and salt and let it boil. After 15-20 mins, when the tamarind sauce has thickened and there's no more raw smell of the tamarind, you can add the chopped okra slices in the curry now. Stir once and let it cook. Here's a tip from my mom. If you want to retain the green color of the okra, let this cook without covering the pan with a lid. If you aren't concerned about the color, go ahead and cover it with a lid. From this time, it should take about 5-10 mins for the okra to cook. When done, Serve hot with rice and don't forget to include yogurt as the last course. Tastes great as a side, with curd rice.

Edited to add: If it's fresh okra, I saute the slices after onion, so that the okra doesn't get very sticky. Since the above used are frozen ones, it is added at the last few minutes; else it gets overcooked.

Thanks Satish for pointing out the missing red chillies.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Thai Brinjals in Tomato sauce

Tomatoes and me go a long way. We've had a love-hate relationship all along.
  • Love - when it was Amma's tomato rice that she used to bribe me with, when she had to goto work on a Saturday when I had that day off [Could you believe it, when I say, those days, I chose 'Tomato rice' over Amma?] ; Love - when she packed her famous tomato pickle in a big glass jar for me; Love - when she made her tomato garlic curry to go with rotis or dosa; Love - when she made a simple Thakkali pachadi to go with idlis or dosas; Love - when she made a tomato Jam from home grown tomatoes; Love - when I learnt to make a yummy tomato soup for the first time (I used to hate tomato soups made at restaurants - way too sour for my taste) ; Love - when I concocted a recipe for Soya chunks in Tomato sauce, on a whim and it turned out very tasty.
  • Hate - whenever my sister offered her own concoction of tomato juice from home grown tomatoes from my Ammamma's garden. [Btw, The hate was with raw tomatoes ; not with my sweet sister]. It was always a big hit with some of my cousins, but to me, it was 'Blech!'.... I used to hate raw tomatoes with such strong feelings. Well, I've never been forced into eating raw tomatoes. Except for this one instance where I forced myself to eat it. It was one of my first few days in England. When I was checking into this B&B, the guy at the counter asked what I usually had for breakfast. I mentioned 'a toast and an omelette'. He asks the next question 'Anything you'd like, in your omelette?' I say 'Onions, Tomatoes'. He says ' Alright, I'll pick up a few tomatoes from the store, I don't think I have any'.... Well, the next day morning, at breakfast, I am shocked to see a huge omelette and a toast. The tomatoes were very beautifully chopped and sprinkled with salt and pepper and sitting NEXT to the omelette. And the guy asks me, 'So, how is it?'........ I say 'Looks wonderful' and bit into that raw tomato, cursing him under my breath. :) What else could I do? Since then, I have learnt to try raw tomatoes once in a while. And discovered that I LOVE salsa and Maratti Koshumber and a few other dishes with raw tomatoes.

So, when RP announced that she's hosting JFI-Tomatoes, I had to participate in it. What better than trying to come up with a new dish? So, here it is - 'Thai Brinjals in Tomato sauce'. A very simple dish, which brings out the flavors of Thai brinjals and ripe tomatoes without being overwhelming.

Thai Brinjals in Tomato sauce
Thai brinjals (eggplants) - 1 lb, chopped and put in water
Well ripe tomatoes - 3-4, finely chopped
Onion - 1, finely chopped
Garbanzo beans - 1/2 cup, boiled till soft or from a can
Asafoetida - a pinch
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Cummin powder - 1 tsp (* see footnote)
Curry leaves - a sprig
Cummin seeds - 1/4 tsp
salt, to taste

Heat a tbsp oil in a pan and add the cummin seeds. When they are roasted, add the asafoetida and curry leaves. Add the onions and saute them. When the onions turn translucent, add the tomatoes. Saute for a few minutes and add the brinjals. Add the chilli powder and cummin powder and salt and cover the pan with the lid. Let the brinjals cook for 5-10 mins. When done, add the garbanzo beans and let it cook for another minute. Serve hot with rice or roti.
This is my entry to JFI-Tomatoes, hosted by the lovely RP of 'My Workshop'.
*Cummin powder - I slow roast 1/2 cup of cummin seeds in a cast iron skillet, without oil, at a low heat, till the spice emits a nice aroma. I grind this powder after the spice has cooled down to room temperature. I store it in a air-tight glass jar and use it within a month.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Easy Pesaraddu - a light breakfast

This is another dish, Priya, one of my very good friends, introduced to me. It was a time, when both of us were very busy with our respective careers and didn't have much time to cook. So, easy recipes were given a special welcome. One fine day, she calls up - 'hey, I have an easy recipe from a friend - Want to try?' I say 'Ofcourse!'. So, I gave it a try and it was so easy (and very tasty), so it stayed as a staple in Kay's kitchen. We call it paruppu dosa or as my friend R says, 'that' easy dosa (as in 'Will you please, please, please make 'that' easy dosa for me?).

I've been reading that Andra's famous Pesaraddu is typically made of Whole green mung dal. This recipe has yellow mung dal (paasi paruppu), so it is very quick to cook and also very light. The whole breakfast (the pesaraddu + chutney) takes 30 minutes or lesser time (that includes the prep time, ofcourse) to make. Here's how I do.

Easy Pesaraddu
1 cup of yellow mung dal
a handful of uncooked rice grains
a small piece of ginger, say 1/2 inch
a pinch of asafoetida
one red chilli(mine is srilankan red chilli, very spicy-you can add/reduce according to your taste)

Wash and soak the dal and rice in some water for 20 mins. While the dal is soaking, prepare the chutney. Red chutney (onion and tomato chutney, recipe below) or green chutney (coriander chutney) goes very well with this dosa. Now that the chutney is done and the dal has been well soaked, it's dosa time now! Grind all of the above ingredients, with the water that the dal has been soaked. It takes only a few mins. The consistency of the batter is slightly thinner than the typical dosas.

Make very thin dosas. Now, keep in mind that this dosa will not redden like the typical dosas made with rice+urad dal batter and it takes very less time, even less than a minute to cook... Pour a ladleful of batter on a hot dosa tava and spread it like a dosa/crepe. Wait for a minute. If you can flip it, then the first side is done. Again wait for another minute and flip it. If you leave it in the tava for longer time, then you will get a rubbery dosa - if that's what you want! :) Serve hot. These pesaraddus are best when they are eaten hot.

Red chutney aka Onion+Tomato chutney: Chop one big onion and a tomato (optional). Heat a tbsp of oil in the cast iron pan (any kadai will do) and roast the onions. Add the chopped tomatoes when the onions are done. Add a red chilli, a teeny tiny piece of ginger (optional) and a tiny piece of tamarind. Stir once and remove from the stove. Let it cool and then grind this chutney with some salt. Add water while grinding, if it's necessary.

This chutney is very versatile... You can increase/decrease the amount of onions, tomatoes, add ginger if you like or leave it, add some coriander leaves, if you like... Use green chillies instead of red. Any variation will take the chutney to new dimensions. The only thing to remember here is to get the onions well roasted, so that the chutney doesn't taste raw. Say, suppose you haven't roasted it enough and the chutney is tasting pungent, no problem! Put it back on the same kadai. Add a tsp of oil and keep stirring till the chutney gets done. Sometimes I grind the whole thing first and then put it on the kadai to roast the chutney. It tastes great either way.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Rice Sevai with Vegetables

I learnt about RiceSevai - the readymade kind, from my friend Priya. At the time, Priya had justed started to cook and didn't know many 'fundoo recipes'(as she'd say!). But one spoonful of her capsicum sambar, or the lemon-rice-sevai, you'd never believe she was a beginner. And the effort she takes to give really good food for her guests tops it off. When I saw a packet of rice-sevai at the grocery store, I was reminded of Priya and so, picked up a packet.

Prepare the rice-sevai as per the pack suggests. Or you can make it like how you prepare pasta. That's how I do - Plunge it in boiling hot water, when the sevai is done(al dente), drain it in a colander and allow it to cool down.

Heat oil in a pan and add mustard, jeera, asafoetida. When then mustard spluters, add finely chopped onions, curry leaves, slit green/red chillies and saute for a minute. When the onions turn translucent, add some vegetables of your choice (This is optional - I usually put in two handfuls from a frozen-mixed veggie pack - usually carrots and green peas). At this time, you can add a pinch of turmeric powder, if you want to. Add salt and allow the veggies to cook, with the lid closed. When the veggies are done, add the prepared sevai and stir once. Add some lemon juice and stir once again. Adjust salt and stir again. Serve hot.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Shame on Yahoo!

Icon credits:Sandeepa of Bong Mom's cookbook(Icon credits: Sandeepa of Bong Mom's cookbook)
One of Yahoo! India's Portals has lifted content from a food blogger (Suryagayathri) and used the content word-to-word in it's portal. When Yahoo was contacted about this, they gave a lame reply. A really, really lame one. That the content was provided by Webdunia and that if we have problem with the content, we should contact Webdunia.


This is outrageous! They didn't apologize to Suryagayathri... They didn't say that this will not happen again.. nothing! Shame on Yahoo!

And those of you who say that we should take it up with Webdunia, either you don't get it or you just don't care.

Every company has a legal binding with their partners, about ownership of content or product. Yahoo is the owner of the plagiarized content. They should have apologized. What if Yahoo posted some 'lifted content' from a big shot newspaper, word by word, without giving any credit. Would the newspaper company keep quiet?Wouldn't Yahoo apologize? Wouldn't they pay big bucks in settlement? Or would they just say - 'Oh, you know, one of our freelancers did it, you can sue him; Here's his home address'!

Shame on Yahoo! Apologize!!!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Friday, January 05, 2007

Curried Fish in Coconut Sauce

I got my love for eating fish from my father. For a typical Sunday lunch, you can find my mom making fish curry and roasting fish on a tava with her trademark 'I-love-to-cook-for-my-family' look on her face. And while eating, Appa usually comments - 'This curry should be had again for dinner. By dinnertime, the taste increases two fold'. Yes, the tasty fish has to marinate in the sauce for the taste to reach its peak. When I think of fish curries, I remember my first attempt at that. I had let the fish cook for about 30 mins.. YES! I did end up with a saucepan full of fish-bhurji :) LOL. After that, it took a phone call to my mom to realize that fish takes 2-4 mins to cook in curries. A lesson, well learnt.

The above curry is not a typical one we make at home. I will post that some other time. The usual fish curry requires white fish which doesn't have any distinct taste or flavor, on it's own - something like solefish, tilapia, pollock, etc. One fine day, I was looking to experiment something in my lab (that's the kitchen, of course) and was tempted by the salmon in the freezer. Now, Salmon tastes good when roasted. I wondered how it would taste in my new kind of fish curry? It turned out delicious. Different, yes! But very delicious. I am not going to write the ingredients in exact quantities because well, I didn't measure anything.

Marinate the fish pieces with little salt, chilli powder and lemon juice for about 1/2 hr. You can leave it overnight, in the fridge too.

Heat oil and saute a few methi seeds, add some chopped onions and curry leaves and saute well. Meanwhile, Dry-roast 2 tbsp of coriander seeds with some jeera and red chillies. Powder this and keep aside. Once the onions turn translucent, add chopped tomatoes. Add the ground powder and some turmeric powder and a pinch of salt and stir well. Add some tamarind pulp and let it boil. Add about 1 heaped tbsp of coconut milk powder to half a glass of warm water and whisk using a wire whisk (which we use to whip eggs). Add this milk to the sauce cooking on the stovetop. Taste the sauce and then, adjust salt. When the sauce is done, add the fish pieces, reduce the heat and close the lid. After 4-5 mins, switch the stove off.

Serve with hot steamed rice. Since salmon is a heavy fish, you wouldn't need a separate side dish, but rasam with rice, as the next course will be wonderful. The addition of coconut milk takes the fish curry to new dimensions.

This recipe is for JFI by Ashwini, who is hosting for the month of January. I'm so behind the announced schedule. So, dear Ashwini, I'm sorry that this comes late. And I understand if you can't add it to the roundup.