January 31, 2009

Palakkai Kootu (Tender jack fruit gravy) for RCI:Chettinad

When RCI-Chettinad was announced, I didn't do much googling, since I knew where to head, to get some authentic Chettinad recipes. On googling, I found more of non-veg recipes. At Solai Achi's kitchen there are wonderful choices of vegetarian recipes. I tried Kathirkkai mallipachadi from there. It too, was tasty, but could not take pictures. Its the season of tender jack fruit or idichakkai as it is called, here. Normally it is cooked as stir fry at home and occasional as semi-gravy with black eyed peas called 'puzhukku'. When I saw a sambhar like recipe using jack fruit, I wanted to try it. Though the ingredients look similar to sambhar, the taste is unique, probably because of the jack fruit in it. Above all, this a one dish gravy and can be cooked in less than 20 minutes. The only pull back factor is chopping the tender jackfruit which is quite a messy job. For those of you who have the option of buying chopped, frozen packets, then this gravy can be cooked in a jiffy.

Tender jackfruit chopped into small pieces - 1 cup
tuvar dal 1/2 cup
turmeric a pinch
sambar powder - 2 tspn
Onion - 1
tomato -1
water - 2 cups
slit green chilly -1 nos


Chop onion and tomato into small pieces. Take the tender jackfruit pieces, chopped onion and tomato, green chilly,tuvar dal, turmeric powder and sambhar powder in a vessl. Add water to cover the ingredients. Pressure cook for one whistle and cook for 10 minutes on low flame.

When the pressure is fully released, take out the vessel. Stir well. Add salt. You can add some chilly powder if you want it spicier. I did not add any. Bring to a boil and simmer for few minutes. Season with mustard, cumin seeds, red chilly and urad dal. Garnish with curry leaves and coriander.

Serve with rice. It can make a good side for rotis too.

This is my entry to RCI-Chettinad Vegetarian hosted by Srimathi at Few Minute Wonders.

January 30, 2009

Puttu with kadala curry ~ Kerala Special

Puttu and kadala is an evergreen breakfast combination of Keralites. Steaming puttu and appam served with kadala curry is the popular breakfast particularly in small roadside tea stalls 'Chayakada') of Kerala. In most Kerala homes, when unexpected guests come for breakfast, puttu is the natural choice, since puttu powder will always be in stock and can be made instantly. Then the side dish may vary since black channa needs pre-soaking. Whole moong comes to the rescue. Or some simple sides like banana,sugar,roasted papad (papadam) is enough to relish the hot puttu.

But puttu was not part of the menu in my home,during my chidhood days, may be because it did not feature in the Kerala Iyer menu. We get to taste puttu from our neighbor V aunty. We had developed an instant liking to puttu. Later Amma got a puttu maker and started making it for us. But my parents never had a liking for this. Amma made it for me and my sister.Post marriage, I found my husband's love for puttu and it not making frequent appearance in the
kitchen and the story is not different from mine. My MIL had a puttu maker to be used on the cooker in place of the cooker weight. Since marriage, puttu and kadalai combo makes it to our breakfast table , almost on all Sundays.
Puttu is made is using coarsely grounded rice. Now a days, you get various types of puttu powder based on rice, corn, raagi and wheat. I normally make rice and wheat and raagi and corn make occassional appearance. My mom used to make the puttu powder at home. And there wasn't any other option too. But I never bothered to make it at home and its always store bought for me.

You need
Puttu powder - 2 cups
salt to taste
water - 1/2 cup
grated coconut - 1 cup

Mix salt in 1/2 cup of water. sprinkle handful of water on the rice powder. Mix well so it resembles bread crumbs. Again add water and crumble it well. The powder should be moist enough so that when held in your fist, it should hold the shape and not crumble. Take the puttu maker.Add a tablespoon grated coconut. Fill nearly half of it with the powder. Again add coconut and then fill the rest with rice powder and finish off with little coconut.So the order is coconut-rice powder-coconut till you fill the puttu maker. Full your cooker with 3 cups of water and close the lid. Place the puttu maker on top of the lid in place of weight/whistle. Steam cook for 10-12 minutes. Remove and gently push from the small opening behind using the skewer and log of steaming, delicious puttu comes out.

For kadala curry (Black channa masala)
Black chickpeas/channa/kadala - 2 cups
Coconut - 1/2 cup
Turmeric - a pinch

For roasting
Onion - 1 medium
Coriander seeds - 1 tblspn
Red chillies - 3 nos
Cinnamon - 1 inch piece
Cloves - 4 nos
Oil - 2 tblspn

To Season
Mustard seeds

Curry leaves to garnish
Wash and soak the channa overnight or for 6 hours. Pressure cook the channa with little turmeric till soft. Roast coriander seeds, red chillies, cinnamon and cloves till you can smell them and the coriander seeds starts browning.Remove the roasted spices and saute sliced onion in the same kadai till light brown. When cool, grind the roasted ingredients, sauteed onion and coconut to a smooth paste. Add necessary water to grind. Boil the pressure cooked channa with salt. Stir in the ground mixture and bring to a boil. Season with mustard seeds and garnish
with curry leaves.
This curry goes well with dosa and appam too apart from puttu. You can add potato/cauliflower too to this curry. If you feel there is too much of coconut, you can reduce it in the curry and grind some cooked channa and add to the gravy to thicken. Alternatively you can use a combination of grated carrots,moong sprouts and little coconut as filler in puttu, in place of using only coconut

I am sending the bowl of kadala curry to JFI :Chickpea hosted by Sometime Foodies
and the seventh helping of My Legume Love Affair hosted by Srivalli, an event started by Susan.
And since I make this specially for my husband, this goes to the Just for You event hosted by Alka of Sindhirasoi

January 28, 2009

Semiya Idli for MBP

During my growing up years, I never liked idli, which we had nicknamed as 'white tablets'. But after marriage, idly featured in my breakfast twice in a week. Since there is no elaborate preparation provided you have the batter handy and breakfast for the family is ready in one batch. Here is an idli recipe from Chitra amma's kitchen.

Vermicelli – 2 cups
Beaten Curd – 1 cup
Green chillies – 3
Ginger – 1 inch wedge
Mustard seeds – ½ tsp
Oil – 2 tbsps

Heat oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds. When it splutters, add finely chopped ginger,green chillies. Add the vermicelli and roast till it turns golden. Mix the roasted ingredients in beaten curd while warm. Add salt and mix well. Leave it for 10 minutes and spoon them into greased idly moulds. The batter consistency is slightly thick. Steam cook for 10-12 minutes. Serve with any chutney of your choice.

Variations: You can add some grated carrot/capscium/fresh corn too.

We enjoyed these idlis, which was a change from the usual semiya upma. Thanks Chitra amma for this tasty recipe.

This is off to MBP hosted by EC, an event started by Coffee

January 20, 2009

Kaalan - Kerala Special

Kaalan is another signature dish of Kerala. Kaalan is equally famous like Avial. This is also a must for any Kerala sadhya (feast). Kaalan is semi sold gravy of raw plantain and yam cooked in yogurt-coconut mixture. The preparation of Kaalan will be started the previous day of the feast, since it takes longer time. We say kurukku kaalan. i.e. kaalan has to be cooked to semi solid consistency. Ingredients for kaalan and avial is almost the same but the way of cooking makes it entirely different in taste. The gravy consistency of avial can be thick or thin as is required. But when served for sadhya, it is always thick. Kaalan has a semi solid consistency. Though it is served as side, it goes very well with rice and can be used as main course. Kaalan with a simple vegetable stir fry or fried papad and hot rice is divine. I might be ready to trade anything for that comfort meal.
My grandma makes the best kaalan ever. Though my mom has inherited her culinary skills, still me amd my sister rate my paati's the best. Kaalan should be made in the right way, else it will taste like morkootan/morkuzhambu. Kaalan is distinct from all the curd/yogurt based gravies. For those of you who have not tasted it, do give a try and you will be hooked. This is one dish, where you cannot compromise on the quantity of coconut used.

You will need
Raw banana - 1 Yam(chena/chenai) - 200 gms

Black pepper powder - 1/2 tspn
Turmeric - a pinch
Sour buttermilk - 2 cups
Grated coconut - 1 1/2 cup
Green chilly - 3 nos
Gingely oil - 1 tblspn
Mustard seeds - 1 tspn
Red chilly - 2 nos
Fenugreek/methi seeds - 1/2 tspnc
Curry leaves - few.

Peel the skin of raw banana and yam. Cut them into 1 inch cubes. Wash and cook with turmeric and black pepper powder in a cup of water. I normally pressure cook them. Make sure it doesn't turn mushy. The pieces should remain firm on cooking. Take a thick bottom vessel or a kadai. Add the buttermilk to it. Bring to a boil and let it simmer till it reduces to 3/4th of the original volume. Since sour buttermilk is used, it doesn't curdle.Thick curd can also be used in place of buttermilk. Beat the curd well. It doesn't require to boil the curd, since it will curdle.

Grind coconut and green chillies to a coarse paste.Use minimum of water while grinding. The taste of pepper must be more prominent than the green chillies in kaalan.

Combine cooked vegetables, simmered buttermilk or beaten curd and ground coconut-chilly paste. Add salt. Cook on low flame till it reaches semisolid consistency.

Heat a tablespoon of gingely oil. Add mustard seeds. When it splutters, add red chillies broken into two, fenugreek/methi seeds and curry leaves. When methi seeds starts browning, pour over the cooked mixture.

Kaalan tastes best the next day and stays fresh for 2 days without refrigeration. No need to heat the kaalan before serving.

This is my entry for FIC-Yellow hosted by Sunshinemom

January 7, 2009

Aval Payasam

One day while I was discussing with my husband about what payasam to prepare for our friends who were coming for dinner. Most of the times, after this kind of discussion, I end up making semiya payasam, since that is the easiest and there is very less to mess up with. And I can concentrate on the other dishes of the menu. And hubby is all happy for semiya payasam. But I was bored of preparing it. And I decided to go for aval payasam. Its long time since I prepared it. The preparation is almost similar to semiya payasam.

Aval/Beaten rice/rice flakes (thick variety) - 1/2 cup
Water - 1 cup
Milk - 1/2 litre
Sugar - 1/2 cup (Add a heaped cup if you want it very sweet)
cardamom powder- 1/2 tspn
ghee - 1 tblspn
Yellow color - a pinch (optional)

Heat ghee in a pan. Roast cashew and raisin. Drain them and keep it aside. In the remaining ghee, roast aval till brown. If you find some bran in the aval, rinse it in water after roasting. Add a cup of boiling water to the roasted aval. When aval is fully cooked, add milk. Bring to a boil and allow it to simmer till milk reduces in volume to 3/4 of the original quantity . Add sugar. Boil till the sugar is fully dissolved and blended well the liquid mixture. Stir in the roasted cashew and raisins and half a teaspoon of cardamom powder.
Remove from fire. Serve hot/cold

Note: To get an even texture of the rice flakes, you can pulse them in the mixer for few seconds after roasting.