August 31, 2009

Festive Special ~ Indian Cooking Challenge

August is the month of festivals with Avani Avittom/Raksha Bandhan, Janmashtami and Vinayaka Chathurthi. Srivalli chose to bring in the celebrations to ICC too. Valli gave different prasadom recipes and we were asked to prepare two out of those which do not belong to the cuisine we usually follow. And Valli was generous enough to consider if we could do only one. Thank you Valli, else I should have missed this month's challenge. Though I wanted to try two, but has could do only one, that too the easiest of all, I didn't have many days left before I left for the vacation. I chose Nugul-untallu (Sesame Laddo0) . Valli says, this is traditionally prepared with the black seeds with the skin on. I had only white sesame with me. I proceeded with that.

Sesame seeds - 1/4 cup
Grated jaggery - 3 tblspn
Ghee - 1 tspn
(Yields - 11 nos)

Dry roast sesame seeds in a tawa and let them cool. Once they are cool, take 3tbsp of grated or powdered jaggery and run in a mixie. When it is ground together, sesame seed tend to release and oil. Adjust the quantity of jaggery such that when you make laddoos, it holds shape. I felt more than 3 tblspn of jaggery will make it more sweet and shadow the taste of sesame. So I added a teaspoon of ghee for binding. It got over with in seconds after I clicked them. You just can't stop with one...

August 17, 2009

Methi Rava Idly and Sambhar

Idly for breakfast makes work easier, since the breakfast for the entire family is made in a single batch. That's the only factor which pushes me to make idly for breakfast. Two years back, I first tried making rava idly with the MTR instant pack . Followed the instructions on the pack, rava idly turned out well was given a thumbs up by the family. I noted the ingredients on the packet. After 3 attempts, I got the right texture of the idly by making it from scratch. Since then, this recipe is a savior when in need of a quick fix for breakfast. I usually do the seasonings and roasting part the previous day and refrierate the mix. The next day all I have to do is mix in the wet ingredients and proceed with idly making. It saves lot of time.

Methi Rava Idly
(Yields - 16 nos )

Rava/Sooji - 2 cups
Buttermilk - 1 cup
Water - 1 cup
Cooking soda- 1/4 tspn
Methi leaves - handful
(Grates carrot or fresh corn etc can also be used)


Ghee/oil - 2 tblspn
Mustard seeds - 1 tspn
Chana dal - 1 tblspn
Cashews - 10 nos
Green chilly - 2 nos, finely chopped
Curry leaves - few

Heat oil/ghee in a kadai. Add the seasoning ingredients. Add the methi leaves. When the leaves wilt, add the rava and roast till you can smell the aroma of roasted rava. Cool and add salt,buttermilk and water. I have used buttermilk since it is always available in my home. Beaten curd can also be used instead. The proportion of rava and liquid is 1:1. Whisk to break the lumps. Keep it aside for 10 minutes. Mix in the cooking soda and mix gently. Scoop into greased idly moulds and steam for 7-10 minutes. Serve hot with chutney or sambhar or molagapodi. Adding methi leaves did not impart any bitter taste to the idlis.


Sambhar in Palakkad Iyer lingo is not the instant, quick fix kind. To qualify for sambhar it must have coconut and fresh roasted and ground spices. Sambhar without coconut is looked down upon and is rarely made too. Things have changed now. People have go used to making with instant sambhar powders sans coconut. And coconut if used, is very moderate quanitity. I rarely make sambhar using the sambhar powder. When ever I make coconut less version (podi potta sambhar) , I prefer fresh powder. And i do have the store bought sambhar powder in stock,ironically never used for sambhar making. the veggies used in sambhar is very versatile. Drumstick/ladies finger/ pumpkin/brinjal/raddish/pearl onion are some of the common veggies used. Each veggie on its own gives a distinct flavor and a combination of veggies also works good. Sambhar is a very forgiving recipe and has scope for many variations. I usually follow the age-old method of eye ball measurement while making sambhar. I believe that gives a distinct taste each time its made. Take the following measurement as a guideline and little more or less will not alter the taste much.

Now coming to the recipe I follow,

Radish/Mullangi - 2 nos,sliced into circles
Tuvar dal - 1/2 cup
Tamarind - lemon sized
Coconut - generous 1/2 cup

To roast and grind
Oil - 1 tblspn
Coriander seeds/Malli - 2 tblspn
Red chilly - 4 nos
Chana dal/Kadala paruppu - 1 tspn
Methi seeds/Venthayam/Uluva - 1/2 tspn
Curry leaves - 5 leaves (optional)
Hing powder - few shakes

Oil - 1 tspn
mustard seeds - 1 tspn
Curry leaves for garnish
Pressure cook tuvar dal till soft and mash able. Soak tamarind in warm water for 5 minutes or so. This will help easier extraction of the juice. Keep the vegetable sliced.

Take the tamarind extract in a vessel and a cup of water, salt and turmeric. When the tamarind water starts boiling, add the veggies. Cook till it is fork tender.

In the meantime, roast the the ingredients to be roasted till the dal turns light brown. Remember to add the methi seeds during the last stages of roasting. When cool grind to a smooth paste along with coconut. Add water as required.
Mash the cooked dal and stir into the cooked veggies. Add the ground paste. Check the salt. Adjust the consistency by adding water. Bring to rolling boil stage. Do the seasoning with mustard seeds and add few curry leaves for garnish.

The plate of idly and sambhar is my contribution to EC's WYF -Breakfast event

August 13, 2009

Festive Lunch Menu ~ Contd from last post

This is in continuation of my previous post.
Lunch menu
Morukootan, Kootu curry, Payar thoran, thakkali (Tomato) thayir pachadi, dal (paruppu), ghee and curd


Vellarikkai, cubed - 1 1/2 cups
Grated coconut - 3/4 cup
Green chilli - 2 nos
Buttermilk/beaten curd - 1 cup

To Roast
Chana dal - 1 tblspn
Red chilli - 2 nos
Methi seeds - 1/4 tspn

Oil - 1 tspn
mustard seeds -1/2 tspn
curry leaves - few
methi seeds - 1/4 tspn
red chilly - 2 broken

Vellarikka is a kind of cucumber which is kept for Vishu kani. Wash and peel the skin of Vellarikkai. dice into 1/2 inch cubes. Cook on stove top or MW with enough water, salt and turmeric added, till fork tender.

Roast chana dal, red chilli and methi seeds in a teaspoon of oil till dal turns brown. Add methi seeds when dal starts browning else it might get burnt. Cool and grind along with grated coconut and green chillies. Add water to get a smooth paste.

Mix the ground paste in buttermilk / beaten yogurt. Stir the mix into the cooked veggies. Adjust the consistency by adding water. Check the salt and bring it a boil. Don't let it to rolling boil. Stop when it is foamy on the top. Season with mustard, red chillies, curry leaves and methi seeds.

Kootu curry

Kootu curry is yam and ash gourd cooked along with chana dal, flavored with ground coconut and spices with a seasoning garnish of roasted coconut and the usual tempering ingredients. This is one of the items served as part of the sadhya/feast.

Ash gourd/elavan chopped into cubes - 1 1/2 Cups

Yam/Chena cubed = 1/2 cup

Chana dal - 1/4 cup

chilli powder - 1/2 tspn

turmeric - a big pinch


To grind

grated coconut - 1/2 cup

cumin/jeera - 1/2 tspn


Oil preferably coconut oil - 1 tblspn

mustard seeds

Urad dal - 1 tspn

Cook the chopped ash gourd, yam and chana dal with turmeric and chilli powder added. I usually pressure cook for 2 whistles. Drain the excess water. If pressure cooked,be gentle when u mix the veggies else it will turn mushy. Add salt and cook for 5 minutes for the veggies to soak in the salt. I don't add salt while pressure cooking since yam might not get cooked properly.

Ground grated coconut and cumin seeds to a coarse paste. Don't add water. If required sprinkle few drops of water. Stir in in the ground paste and check the salt. I always add salt in two stages. Cook for few minutes, till it turns dry. Do the seasoning and fry till coconut is brown. Pour the seasoning over the curry.

Payar thoran (chowpeas stir fry)

Cowpeas - 250 gms

Turmeric - a pinch


Grated coconut -1 tblspn

Green chilly - 2nos


Oil, Mustard,Red chilly,Urad dal

Wash and trim the edges of the cowpeas. Finely chop them. Add salt and turmeric. Sprinkle some water. Microwave for 7 minutes. Alternatively, you can cook on stove top too.Coarsely grind the coconut and green chilly with out adding water. Stir in the ground coconut and cook for a minute. Season with mustard, urad dal and broken red chilly and mix into the cooked cowpeas.

Thakkali (Tomatoe) Thayir pachadi

Medium sized tomato- 1
curd - 1 cup

To grind

Grated coconut - 2 tblspn
Green chilly - 1 nos
mustard seeds - 1/2 tspn


mustard seeds
red chilly

Finely chop the tomatoes. Heat a kadai. Do the seasoning, add the chopped tomatoes. Stir fry. Grind the coconut, green chilly and mustard seeds together with little water. Mix in the fried tomatoes and ground paste into the beaten curd. Add salt just before you serve. Else salt will release water and make the pachadi thinner.

I will just outline the order in which the menu is to be served on leaf with the items I made for the day.

1) Little of Payasam/kheer is served on the bottom right.
2) the vetables are served on the upper part of the leaf, starting from the
right.Pachadi, Curry, and thoran (These are the three I have served)
3) Dal along the middle of the leaf to the right of payasam (Tuvar dhal is cooked and mashed with little salt added. )
4) Uppittu/Vadai on the left end of the leaf
5) Rice followed by ghee/clarified butter.
6) Finally morkootan.

August 6, 2009

Uppittu,Paruppu Vadai, Godhambu Pradhaman for Avani Avittom

Yesterday I posted the pictures only. I am posting the recipe in twp parts. The main menu will follow in the next post. Here are the recipes of the festive specials.

For avani avittom, in both our families, its customary to make parupu vadai ( Chana dal fritters), Uppittu and Pal Payasam (Milk and rice kheer). Paruppu vadai is the popular masala vadai minus the onions/garlic in it. When vadai is made as prasadam/offering, onion/garlic is not included. We don't use onions in any cooking on those days. Also if any Brahmacharis(Bachelors) are there in the house, neiyappam is also made. Sine my husband is not very fond of pal payasam (Read he will taste only a teaspoon), I decided to make some pradhaman. Since chana dal is the star ingredient in both the other dishes, I went for godhumbai(cracked wheat). I am giving the measurements that I prepared for the day.

Paruppu Vadai/Aama vadai
Yields - 20 nos

You need
Chana dal/Kadala paruppu - 1 1/4 Cup
Tuvar dal - 1/4 C
split urad dal - 1 tblspn
Red chillies - 3 nos
Green chillies - 2 nos
curry leaves
Hing - few shakes
Oil to deep fry
The measurements need not be accurate. Approximate measurements will work too. This is just an indication of the proportions of the various dals used. Also adjust the green and red chillies according to the variety used. You should not feel the heat of the chillies too much while eating it.

Wash and soak the three lentils together for 1 hour along with the red chillies. Drain and leave it in the colander for few minutes so that the water is drained fully. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the lentils. Grind the lentils in the mixer to a coarse paste. You may not require water at all, since the lentils are moist enough. Stir in the reserved lentils to the ground batter. Add finely chopped chillies,curry leaves, salt and hing powder. Mix well. Don't allow the batter to sit for long. Its recommended to make the vadas immediately else it will drink lot of oil on frying.

Take a gooseberry sized batter and make into a ball. Use banana leaf or greased zip lock cover. Place the batter on it. slightly press it down using the palm. The shape will resemble that of the tortoise hence the name aama vadai.
Heat oil in a kadai. When it is hot, slowly slide the vadai into the oil. Take care not to splash the oil while sliding. You can make 4/5 in a batch depending on the frying pan and the amount of oil used. After 3 minutes or so, gently flip them so that the other side is also cooked. I follow my mom's method while frying vadas. When the vadas are half cooked, I drain them. Continue with the second batch and drain them too when its just golden in color. Then I re-fry the the first batch till it is golden brown. The two step process ensures more crispness and the inside too will be well cooked.

Uppittu is similar to Boli. The making process is almost the same. My mom uses moong dal for the stuffing and my MIL goes for chana dal. And I followed MIL. With some planning ahead, you can make sure, you are not left with excess of the filling/outer covering dough. I divide both the dough and filling into four parts and make equal no of balls from each so that everything gets used up and adjust the size accordingly to make up for the excess. The yield numbers may vary depending on the size you make. I got 20 nos.

For the outer cover

Wheat flour - 2 1/2 Cups

Turmeric = 1/2 tspn

Salt a pinch

Ghee/Gingely Oil - 4 tblspn

Water to make the dough.

Prepare the dough with all the ingredients mentioned above. You can add more oil/ghee to make it soft.Prepare the dough at least an hour before. The longer the dough sits, the softer the uppittus be.

For the filling

Chana dal/kadala paruppu - 3/4 cup

Powdered jaggery - 1 1/2 cups

Grated coconut - 1 1/2 cup

Ghee - 2 tblspn

Pressure cook chana dal till soft. Drain the cooked dal and grind it along with powdered jaggery and finally add grated coconut and pulse for few seconds to blend everything. Heat a kadai and a tablespoon of ghee. Tip off the ground mix into the kadai. Keep stirring till it turns dry. You can add some ghee while stirring to avoid sticking to the kadai. Leave it to cool.

I use banana leaves to make the uppittu. Moist your fingers with little ghee. Take a ball of the outer covering. Pat into a small circle and keep the filling on the centre and fold the edges to cover it. Shape into a ball again with the filling inside and again pat it with your fingers to a circle. Don't make it too thin. This is slightly thicker when compared to Boli.

Heat a tawa and place the banana leaf with the uppittu on the down side. After few seconds, you can slowly,lift the leaf apart. Cook both sides. Since we had added enough ghee/oil in the dough you may not require much ghee to cook them. Remove from the pan and fold it. This can be eaten by soaking in cardamom flavored milk, though it tastes good as it is.

Godhumai/Cracked wheat pradhaman

You can find godhumbai pradhaman recipe here. This time I used fresh coconut milk from a relatively big coconut and cracked wheat. In the earlier post, I used wheat rava.

August 5, 2009

Avani Avittam

Today is Avani Avittam /Yaju Upakarma. Husband attended the thread changing ceremony followed by Homam in the nearby temple. Apart from the usual rice and vegetables, I made Uppittu, Vadai and Godhomby pradhaman for the lunch. Below is the festive lunch we had today. For now its the pics only.
My Avani avitaam & Raksha Bandan wishes to all