August 30, 2008

Molagai bajji with special monsoon chillies

In my parts of Kerala, we get a special variety of chilly during monsoon. These are very mild ones and ideal for bajjis. Locally this variety is called as "Polla Molagu" (Polla meaning hollow) I am not sure if this variety is available elsewhere. The usual long , green chillies are not very common. Hence chilli bajjis too cannot be found in any eateries here except during some exhibitions. More than the fares at the exhibition, youngsters are attracted to the bhajjis and big Mumbai papads smeared with masala powder.

When these monsoon chillies arrive, then molagai bhajji is the much sought after street food here, perfect for the rains. Even though I make this at home, the one we get from a hotel here is simply divine. I just can't recreate that taste at home. Here is how I make them

For batter

2 cups besan flour

1/2 cup idli/dosa batter

a pinch of cooking soda


1/2 tspn chilli powder


Oil for frying

For the filling

2 tblspn tamarind paste

a pinch of hing


pinch of red chilli powder

Mix all the filling ingredients in a bowl

Parboil the chillies in hot water for 10 minutes. This will soften the skin of the chillies. Usually the seed inside is not removed, since the chillies are much on the milder side. Make a 1 inch slit from the top. Carefully spoon in little of the filling.

Mix all the ingredients for the batter and add water to it. The consistency of the batter should be like the idli batter. Then only the batter will stick to the chillies.

Heat a kadai with oil. When the oil is hot, dip the chilly in the batter, carefully drop them in the oil. After few minutes, gently flip them. When it is golden brown, remove them with a slotted spoon and drain on absorbent paper.

I feel molagai bajjis need no accompaniment other than a cup of hot steaming tea/cofee

P.S. This variety of chillies are good for making thayir molagais. (Curd chillies)

August 28, 2008

Vegetable Pulao & Malai Kofta for MEC Potluck

There are many ways to prepare a vegetable pulao. I have taken an easy route here - No grinding/powdering involved. Just chop some veggies, add the whole spices and shop bought garam masala for flavor. And an yummy pulao is ready. Can things get easier than this ?

For vegetable pulao,

Basmatic rice - 1 cup
A handful of sprouted peas. You can use fresh/dried ones too.If you are using dried ones, soak them for 6 hrs.
Cubed mixed vegetables - 1 cup (Use any veggies of your choice)
onion -1

ghee/oil- 2 tblspn

crushed cloves- 3 nos

cinnamon - 1 stick

cardamom - 2 pods

turmeric - a pinch

green chilly(slit) - 3 nos

garam masala - 1 tspn


Wash and soak rice for 30 minutes in 2 cups of water.

In a microwave safe bowl, MW oil/ghee for 30 secs at high power. Add the spices - cinnamon, cloves and cardamom and MW for 2 minutes by stirring once in between.

MW for a minute after adding chopped onions. Add the peas, vegetables and rice along with the soaked water. Add a pinch of turmeric, salt and garam masala. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Stir in between.

Allow to stand for 5 minutes for it to cook completely. Adjust the cooking time according to your oven.
If you want, you can heat a teaspoon of ghee and add half teaspoon of garam masala and mix to the cooked pulao for more flavor

Malai kofta is made fully in MW. So no deep frying the koftas required.

For koftas

grated paneer - 100 gms

Big potato - 1

1/2 tspn corn flour

green chillies - 3 nos (chopped)

chopped coriander - 1 tbspn

chat masala powder - 1/2 tspn

salt and pepper to taste

For gravy

onion paste from 2 onions

tomato puree- 1 cup

ginger-garlic paste - 1 tbspn

ghee- 1 tbspn

garam masala - 1/2 tspn

cornflour - 1 tsp

salt,black pepper and red chilli powder to taste

For garnish

Fresh cream and chopped coriander leaves - 1 tbspn each

Preparing koftas

Cook the potato in MW for 5 minutes. Don't forget to prick on the potato with a fork before you cook.

Mash paneer, boiled potato and corn flour. Mix the rest of the ingredients and make a smooth dough. Form into small balls and shape them. Place in MW safe flat dish and MW at high power for 2 min. Reposition the koftas more than once.

Preparing gravy

In a MW safe bowl, MW ghee for 30 secs. Add onion,ginger-garlic paste and MW at high power for 4 min.

Add tomato puree, garam masala, salt, black pepper and red chilli powder for 4 mins.

Mix cornflour in little water with out any lumps. Stir into the gravy. Add one cup of water. Cover and cook for 4 mins

Add kofta and MW for one min. Garnish with coriander and fresh cream

Yummy malai kofta is ready. Using non- deep fried koftas did not make much of a difference.

Vegetable pulao and malai kofta is joining the potluck at Srivalli's.

August 27, 2008

Soya Vaangi Bhath & Sprouted Horsegram Salad

Soya chunks/nuggets was all that I knew of the soya products some years back. In those days, I was not aware of the nutritious benefits of the same. Soya chunks was not cooked in my home. I was introduced to these spongy balls at my friend T's house, who is my childhood friend and am happy to say we still maintain that friendship, in the same spirit, as was years before. (Touch wood). These soya chunks/meal makers as it is also known, was cooked regularly at her home. I developed a liking towards that. So when I started cooking on my own, I tried to include them in my menu too. Also for all the health benefits attached to soya.

During the weekends (Sat/Sun), me and my sister spent the whole day at T's house playing. T has a sister too. Four of us will play, like there is no tomorrow. We were not bored of playing the same set of games, every weekend. They had a huge backyard with many trees, literally making a roof over the backyard. In one summer vacation, we even managed to build a small house using bricks and clay. That house did not have any roof. So its just small walls partitioning each room. One of T's elder cousin was also there on vacation. He helped us in digging the clay and mixing with water etc. T's mother got us small earthen vessels and we cooked rice and sambhar in the newly built house . It was real fun. Our house did not last more than a week, since it could not with stand the heavy summer downpour. It was all fun for the 12 yrs old kids at that time.

Now to the recipe

Recipe source:Mallika Badrinath

Rice - 1 cup
Soya chunks - 1 cup

Small violet brinjals - 3 nos
Onion - 1
Ginger-garlic-chilly paste - 2 tspn
Lemon - 1

For masala

Cinnamon - 1" piece
Cardamom - 3 pods
Poppy seeds/Khus Khus - 1 tspn
Dried coconut/Kopra - 2 tblspn

Dry roast the spices together. If you don't have dry coconut, fry the dessicated coconut till brown.

Soak the soya chunks in hot water for 15 minutes. By then it must have puffed up well. Squeeze and wash in cold water twice. Crumble the soaked soya granules to break them up. Don't powder it. Cut brinjals into small cubes. Pressure cook the rice and spread on a plate to cool.

Heat oil n a pan and season with mustard, urad dhal and curry leaves. Fry onion till brown. Add cut brinjals, ginger-garlic-green chilly paste. When the brinjals are tender, add the soya granules, salt and cook. You can sprinkle little water if required. Add cooked rice, the ground masala powder and mix well. Remove from fire. Stir in lemon juice. Garnish with coriander leaves

For the salad,

Sprouted horse gram/kolli/kulith - 1 cup
Shredded cabbage, grated carrot, chopped onion and tomatoes - 1 1/2 cup
2/3 slit green chillies
Hung curd - 1 tblspn
Pepper powder
Chaat masala
Olive oil - 1 tspn

Wash and soak the horse gram overnight. Drain and tie the gram in a muslin cloth and hang it near your kitchen window. Make sure moisture is maintained in the hung cloth by dripping few drops of water at regular intervals. By next day morning, it must have sprouted well. It takes longer time for the horse gram to start sprouting when compared to whole moong.

Pressure cook the sprouted gram for 2 whistles. It doesn't turn mushy on pressure cooking. Mix everything in a bowl and serve the protein rich salad with the pulao. This salad can be eaten as a meal by itself . It is very filling.

Soya Vaangi Bhath is my entry for
JFI-Soya, hosted by Sia of Monsoon Spice.

August 26, 2008

Eggless Sponge Cake and a Reminder for the Fundraiser

As many of you already know, Srivalli has started a fund raiser for the cause of Anita Lakshmi, 26 , who is a mother of two kids aged 6 and 3. Lakshmi is suffering from a serious heart problem which requires immediate surgery. After trying all possible sources, for some kind of monetary assistance for the surgery and not getting any favorable response, Valli has started this fundraiser. So far only 13% of the target amount of $15,000 is raised.

This is an opportunity for all of us to come together and give Lakshmi a life and to give back those two kids, their mother. So, dear readers, please chip in your donation securely through Paypal using the Chip in widget at Valli's blog. The donated amount goes directly to Laskhmi's account. Valli has also mentioned that the amount will be paid to the hospital directly and will not be given to Lakshmi or her relatives. If you wish to send your donation through cheques/DD in Indian Rupees, please mail at to get the details. I also request my readers to kindly spread the word and also to inform Valli of any charitable organisations which will be ready to contribute for Lakshmi's cause.

Now coming to the recipe, this is adapted from Tarla Dalal's.

All purpose flour/Maida - 1 1/4 cup

Baking powder - 2 tspn

Baking soda - 1/2 tspn

salt - 1/4 tspn

Milkmaid - 1/2 tin

Melted butter - 1/4 cup

Vanilla essence - 1 tspn

water/soda - 1/4 cup

Sift the dry ingredients together. Mix flour mixture, milkmaid, melted butter, vanilla essence and water/soda. Pour into a greased and dusted cake tin. Preheat the oven and bake at 180 C for 15 minutes and at 150 C for 15 minutes.

The cake is ready when it leaves the sides of the tin and is springy to touch. When ready, take out from the oven and leave for 1 minute. Invert the tin over a rack and tap sharply to remove.
The cake was very moist and fluffy.

I am sending this sponge cake to Hima, who has started the Sunday Snacks event and has selected the theme Bake It for the current edition.

Illatharasi has passed me "Just Nice Photos - Beautiful Site" & "2008 Best Blog Darts Thinker" awards. Thank you Illatharasi for your thoughtfulness.

P.S. With this post, I have hit a century. Thank you all for your support.

August 23, 2008

Sathumaavu Urundai /Multigrain Balls

In South India, health drinks are available which is a powder made from roasted multi grains and few nuts flavored with cardamon. Some brands sell the roasted grains and nuts, packed in individual packets and sold as one unit. And all we have to do is to powder them. I find the roasted ones cost effective than the powdered one. I usually buy the roasted one and get it powdered from a near by flour mill. For breakfast, we usually have the sathumavu kanji along with the tiffin.

The idea behind making the balls is from a traditional sweet - Poruvalangai, which was a common sweet in most Iyer households. Its almost a forgotten sweet now. I do make Poruvalangai once in a while. Since this powder is always in stock, it is easy to make these urundai/balls with the instant powder at hand. Once my hubby got the powder instead of the grains that we usually buy. I made this using the store bought sathu maavu. Since it has all the ingredients in it, only jaggery is required to prepare this.

Sathumaavu/Multi grain flour - 2 cups

Powdered jaggery - 1 cup

The store bought flour has cardamom added to it. So no need to add any extra flavor.

Mix jaggery in just enough water to immerse, simmer on low heat till it dissolves. Strain & boil again till it reaches the soft ball consistency. The consistency is reached when ½ teaspoon of syrup added to 1 tbsp water, can be rolled into a soft ball. Remove the syrup from fire.

To make balls, take 1 cup of powder in a wide bowl, add syrup & mix well simultaneously with a ladle. Care should be taken while adding the syrup. The quantity of syrup added, should be just enough for the whole flour to get coated and the mixture should resemble bread crumbs.

While hot, form small balls. Don’t make the balls very tight. If the syrup added is more, the balls will turn chewy. As you bite into the ball, it should be powder like. I warn you, its not easy to bite into, as in ordinary laddus. This is a bit hard kind. And the fun of eating those balls lie in that.

Note: There is a possibility for the syrup to caramelize as you finish the first batch. To keep the syrup in the same consistency, keep the syrup vessel in a double boiler on a low flame.

This nutrition packed flour with jaggery makes an ideal sweet for all. All our traditional sweets have taken care of the nutrient requirements and the health concerns. With out any ghee or any other fatty ingredient, an yummy sweet is ready. Jaggery is always recommended in place of the white sugar. This sathumaavu urundai is a favorite in my house, that it gets over in no time.

This guilt free healthy sweet is making to Mythrayee's Sweet Series which calls for Chikki and Laddu for the current edition.

Sunita has asked to send a dish with our favorite spice. Cardamom, the most commonly used in my kitchen, is my favorite. So this goes to the Think Spice:Think Favorite anniversary edition.

Whole grains being a good source of calcium, I am sending this to Sangeeth's Eat Healthy - Calcium Rich event.

August 22, 2008

Raisin Stuffed Apples for MBP

When Aparna announced MBP, I knew what I wanted to make. So for this month's MBP, no patroling done. Ever since Uma posted raisin stuffed apples, I wanted to make it. I tried with one apple. Even though I reduced the cooking time(3 minutes) since its only one and she had used 3, it slightly got over cooked. But it was tasty. I almost followed her recipe to T. Only change I made was, I added powdered sugar and cardamom powder in place of cinnamon. Do visit Uma's post for the detailed recipe with step-by-step pics

This goes to the MBP-Fruit Fare, hosted by Aparna, which is the brainchild of Coffee

August 20, 2008

Sesame/Ellu Chikkis

Sesame seeds/Til/Ellu comes in white and black. While googling found it comes in a tan color too,but that is not popular. Anyways, I am used to white and black only. In my house, I have seen more of black than the white. Ellu has religious significance too for Hindus. On most of the poojas, laddus or other sweets made of ellu and jaggery is offered as Neivadyam.

Amma always makes ellu urundai (sesame balls). For a change instead of making balls, I tried making chikkis of it. Either black or white can be used. I had some black sesame seeds left after being purchased for a pooja. Using black makes the cleaning process a bit messy.

Some nutrient info on Sesame seeds
Sesame seeds are a very good source of copper and a good source of magnesium and calcium. Not only are sesame seeds a very good source of manganese and copper and calcium, but they are also a good source of iron, phosphorus, vitamin B1, zinc and dietary fiber. In addition to these important nutrients, sesame seeds contain two unique substances: sesamin and sesamolin. Both of these substances belong to a group of special beneficial fibers called lignans, and have been shown to have a cholesterol-lowering effect in humans, and to prevent high blood pressure and increase vitamin E supplies in animals. Sesamin has also been found to protect the liver from oxidative damage. Rich In Beneficial Minerals.

Before you get bored and stop reading this, I shall go the recipe now.

Sesame seeds/Ellu/Til - 1 cup
Powdered jaggery - 1/2 cup

Wash and soak the seeds in water for half an hour. Drain and let it dry on a kitchen towel for 10 minutes. When using black, the skin will come out on soaking. So you will need to wash 2/3 times to discard the skin that has come off. Dry roast the sesame seeds in a kadai till you can smell the flavor. Also as it gets roasted, the seeds will start crackling. When you hear more of the crackling sound, remove from fire.

Boil with jaggery with 1/2 cup of water. Strain to remove any impurities.

Take a kadai, add the strained jaggery liquid. Jaggery syrup should be thick and it is called 'thakkali paagam'. Thakkali/tomato is used to signify the color of the syrup. To test for the consistency drop a spoon of syrup in cold water. You should be able to roll into a ball and when dropped from a height, you should be hear the sound of it hitting the surface. With the amount of jaggery mentioned, this stage will be reached quickly.

Slowly add the roasted seeds to the jaggery syrup. Mix well and cook for few minutes, till it come together. Transfer to a greased plate and press down with a spatula. When warm, mark the pieces using a knife. Dip the knife in cold water as you mark to avoid sticking. I got 12 pieces with this measurement.

When cool, it will be crunchy. Store in an airtight container.

This goes to Mythrayee, who is celebrating the sweet series with chikkis and laddus for the current month.

and to Sangeeth, who has called for Calcium rich food

August 18, 2008

Tomato Rice /Thakkali Sadam

There are varieties of rice which are popular in the South like the pulaos of the North. Coconut rice, lemon rice and tamarind rice/pulioyodharai are the common ones and they are served as prasadam too. In my childhood days, I am more familiar with the above said types. Later on, Amma started preparing tomato rice, which she learnt from one of aunts. Needless to say, we were hooked to it and loved it for our lunch boxes. Tomato rice with some appalam or any fritters makes an ideal choice as travel food too. There are many ways to prepare this. I follow the method where in I use all the powders readily available on the shelf.

Cooked rice - 2 cups with grains separated.
For the masala
Ripe tomatoes - 3 nos

Onion - 2 nos

Red chilly powder - 1/2 tspn

Sambhar powder - 1 tblspn

Green chilly - 2 nos

Curry leaves - few

Gingely oil/any vegetable oil - 3 tblspn

Mustard seeds - 1 tspn

Cumin seeds - 1/2 tspn

Turmeric - a pinch


garam masala - 1/2 tspn (optional)

Finely chop the onions and tomatoes and keep them separately.
Heat a kadai with 3 tablespoons of oil. Add mustard seeds. When it splutters, add the cumin seeds. When it starts to brown, add the slit green chillies, curry leaves and chopped onions. When onion turn slightly brown, add chopped tomatoes. Cook for 3 minutes or till the tomatoes turn mushy. Add the powders (turmeric,red chilly powder, sambhar powder) and salt. Keep stirring in between so that it doesn't stick to the bottom of kadai. When the oil separates from the gravy, remove from fire. If you want to add garam masala, add before taking off from the fire.

Mix with cooled rice and serve with fritters/raitha. I have served with microwaved sago(javarisi) applams.

August 13, 2008

Tomato Ketchup/Sauce

Most of the time, its store bought ketchup at home. When tomatoes are in season and when I get them at throw-away price, I make ketchup and pickle using them. Though preparing ketchup is time consuming, if you get everything ready, then it is easy to prepare. And constant attention to the recipe is not required. So this can be done along with the other cooking, so that you can oversee the progress at intervals. This recipe is from the hand-written list of my mother-in-law. So the exact recipe source is unknown.

Select ripe, juicy tomatoes with less seeds. Blanch and peel the tomatoes. Make puree of it and strain. I don't have patience to do the blanching and peeling. I totally ignore this step. Still it comes out fine. I directly wash and put the tomatoes in the mixer grinder and make puree and strain.
If you use 2 Kg of tomatoes, you will get around 10 cups of juice. I prepared with 1.5 kg and I adjusted the ingredients.

The following ingredients are for 10 cups of tomato juice.

Sugar - 1 cup
Vinegar - 1/2 cup
salt - 1 tspn
To be tied in a cheese cloth
Garlic - 2 pods
Onion - 1 medium
Jeera - 1 tspn
Cardamom - 5 nos
Cloves - 3 nos
Pepper powder - 1/4 tsp
Cinnammon - 1 inch pc
Nutmeg powder- 1/2 tspn

Powder the spices. Mix it to chopped garlic and onion. Tie this mixture in a cheese cloth.

Take the juice with 3/4 cup of the sugar. Dip the cloth pouch in to the juice and cook till you can smell the aroma of spices.

This will take around 20 minutes. Just stir 2/3 times in between. By this time, the syrup will start thickening. Remove the tied pouch.
Add salt, vinegar and the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar.
Boil the mixture, till it reduces to 1/3 of the original quantity.
Remove from fire.

To preserve them for a longer period, add a pinch of sodiumbenzoate to it.
I don't usually add the preservative. It stays good for more than 2 weeks on refrigeration.

This goes to Roma's Long Live Shelf event

and to The 'Food in Colors ' event started by Sunshinemom. Sunshinemom has kick started a new event starting this month to celebrate the colors in food. And she has chosen Red for the month of August.

August 7, 2008

Idiyappam & Kurma

Roasted rice flour - 2 cup
hot water - 2 cups

I used store bought rice flour sold specifically for idiyappam. If you have fresh rice flour at hand, slightly roast and use. Add salt to the water while boiling. Slowly add the hot water to the rice flour, mixing it using a spatula. Adjust the water to get a soft dough. Pinch a golf ball size dough and with the help of a idiyappam press, press on to idli/idiyappam moulds. Steam cook for 10 minutes.

For side, I prepared kurma following Mallika Badrinath's recipe of Kurma for Idiyappam. I haven't made much changes to the original recipe.

Big onions - 3 nos
Tomatoes - 3 nos
Mixed vegetables, diced - 2 cups (carrot/french beans/cauliflower/potatoes etc)
dhania powder - 2 tspn
chilli powder - 1 1/2 tsp
turmeric powder - 1/4 tspn
Fresh thick curds - 1 cup
milk - 1/2 cup
oil - 3 tblspn
Green chillies - 2 nos
cardamom, cinnamon,cloves - few

Grind together

Grated fresh coconut - 3 tblspn
poppy seeds - 2 tspn
cashewnuts - 10 ( I didnn't add)
Slice chillies lenghtwise, finely chop onions and tomatoes.
Steam cook /MW the vegetables.
Heat oil in a frying pan. Add the spices (cardamon,cloves and cinnamon), slit green chillies and onions.
Fry till onion turns golden brown and add chopped tomatoes. Stir till the tomatoes becomes pulpy and add dhania powder and mix well.
Add ground paste along with cooked vegetables, salt, turmeric and chilli powder
Cook till it becomes thick.
Add whipped curds and boil for a minute.
Remove from fire and stir in 1/2 cup milk.
Serve with idiyappam. This kurma can be paired with idli/dosas too.

Note: It tastes equally good if you omit the mixed vegetables. This makes a yummy side dish with only onions and tomatoes too.

My kurma goes to Srivalli's Curry Mela

The combo goes to WBB-Combi Breakfasts, hosted by Latha for the month of August.

August 6, 2008

Puli Avil and An appeal to vote for my recipe

I am so happy that my entry - Cowpeas leaves stir fry for Sangeeth's Eat Health Protien Rich contest, is shortlisted among the top 15. The final winner is decided by polls. Please do vote for my recipe, its first among the list. Go here to vote.
Thank You.

Now coming to the recipe I intended to post. Its a simple recipe, which can be prepared in a jiffy. Its quite filling too. Its commonly referred to as puli avil in my home, due to its tangy taste and to differentiate the jaggery version which is called Vella avil. For the tangy taste, either lemon juice or tamarind extract can be used. Both the versions of avil usually features in the bommakolu bakshanam menu during navarathri.

You will need

Avil/Poha/Beaten rice (thick variety) - 2 cups

Turmeric - a pinch


Grated coconut - 2 tblspn

Lemon - 1


Oil- 2 tspn

Mustard seeds - 1 tspn

Chana dal - 1 tblspn

Red chilly - 2

Green chilly - 4

Ginger - a small wedge

few curry leaves

Choose avil of thick variety, preferably rose matta avil. If it is thin, there are chances that it will crumble easily when soaked. Wash avil in water and soak in 2 cups of water for 10 minutes. Squeeze the avil to drain out the water completely. Keep it aside.

Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a kadai. Add mustard seeds. When it splutters, add chana dal, red chilly broken into two, chopped green chillies & ginger and curry leaves. When chana dal turns slightly brown, add turmeric and salt. Tip off the drained avil and mix well. Cook for 3 minutes, till the flavors are well absorbed by the avil. Stir in the grated coconut and remove from fire. Add lemon juice when it is warm. Serve with a cup of coffee/tea.
This makes an ideal evening tiffin after school/office.

If tamarind is used in place of lemon, 1 tablespoon of thick extract can be used and added after seasoning. When the raw smell of tamarind goes, add the avil and follow the same steps as above.

I am sending this to EC who is the AFAM host for this month.

Puli avil has a lovely yellow color and this is off to EC again, for her WYF: Colour in Food event.