September 7, 2004

yoghurt-rice (thairchadam)

ask any kerala-iyer about his/her favourite food that they can eat anytime in the day and they’ll say thairchadam even before you blink. also considered to be healthy for your system, thairchadam or yoghurt-rice requires the least effort on your part as far as cooking goes. all you require is some cooked rice (preferably left-over from lunch or dinner the previous night), and some curd.

here’s what you need for the seasoning:

mustard seeds – one tsp
jeera/cumin – one tsp
two finely chopped green chillies
chana dal – one tsp
urad dal – one tsp
one dry red chilly
a pinch of asafoetida or hing
few curry leaves
one-inch-piece ginger – finely chopped
one pod of garlic – finely chopped (optional)
few small madras onions – finely chopped (optional)

— mix the rice and curd well.
— add the salt
— heat a small pan with some oil and add the chana and urad dal
— add the mustard and jeera seeds and when they begin to splutter…
— add the hing, chillies and rest of the seasoning ingredients
— take the pan off the gas and pour its contents over the curd-rice.

mix well and enjoy with some lime or mango pickle 🙂

the best accompaniment for any long journey, curd or yoghurt-rice will not go stale for a long time. it might just go sour, as is the property of yoghurt. to avoid this, my mother used to add some milk along with the rice and curd. that reminds me of another tasty alternative that she often prepares…

if you want to have curd-rice in a hurry and don’t have the time to cook the rice, use flattened rice flakes, also known as poha. wash some poha well and drain all the water. leave it aside for about ten minutes, while you get rest of the ingredients ready. if you have a cucumber in your fridge, grate it until you get about quarter the quantity of the poha and keep aside. now mix the curd and poha and grated cucumber, and add the salt. add the rest of the seasoning ingredients as above and enjoy!

you can use grated cucumber even with normal rice, i like it that way. my sister also likes to add dessicated coconut with the rice. that tastes yumm too 🙂

August 25, 2004

stuffed karela (for two)

i have always hated the karela. maybe as a child i used to associate its bitterness with the powdered medicine-mixed-with-honey i had to have almost every other day. i guess for the same reason, i still dislike honey.

but these days, likes and dislikes have ceased to matter as much as they used to, and the importance of eating the right food and vitamins is what comes first. that is, unless your husband/family can resist fried stuff and buckets of humous unlike mine 😉

so i tried to make something different with bittergourd, something that i would not need to have to add jaggery to, to avoid the awful ‘uggghhh’ expression on my face while tasting it. i looked up google and found three interesting recipes i thought i would like to try, picked up ingredients and mixed them about, and here is how it turned out…

what you need:

bittergourd or karela – 2 long and thick ones
two onions, chopped coarse and roasted, along with
two tomatoes, diced
one onion chopped fine
one tbsp ginger-garlic paste
one tsp corainder and cumin seeds, ground coarsely
salt to taste

de-bitterising the gourds:

— chop the ends of the bittergourd and cut into three pieces
— scoop out the seeds and insides and keep aside (throw out the seeds, leave the coverings)
— sprinkle a little salt over the now ’empty’ karela pieces to reduce its bitterness, and also some salt over the scooped-out insides of the bittergourd.
— leave aside for an hour.

for the stuffing:

— roast and blend the onion and tomatoes to a paste
— heat oil in a kadhai and add in the ground coriander and cumin and ginger-garlic paste
— now add the onion and tomato puree and stir
— add the bittergourd ‘insides’ that you had kept aside after you squeeze out any excess water
— add salt to taste, fry this mixture for a while, until the paste becomes thicker and ‘stuffable’

finally, the recipe:

— drain the bittergourd pieces on a papertowel or press lightly so as to remove any excess water (do not squeeze them)
— fill in the pieces with the onion-tomato masala
— fry them in a flat pan with a little oil dribbled over them
— set the flame on low gas and cover with a lid for a while
— when they are half cooked (the pieces will be tender and the stuffing will be well packed within)…
— place another kadhai on the gas and heat some oil
— fry the finely chopped onions and add to it any leftover onion-tomato masala you had prepared earlier
— place the stuffed karela pieces gently with a spoon into this kadhai and cook for a while

if you exclude the de-bitterising time, the recipe should take you just about 20 to 25 minutes to make!

don’t forget to garnish with with dessicated coconut, coriander leaves and a dash of lime. enjoyed best with chapatis or plain hot dal and rice!

let me know if you liked it too! 🙂

May 26, 2004

spicy spinach dal

a surprise flavour for those who love to have dal-chawal. goes well with naan or simple pulao too.

the best part is that spinach goes well with any dal…whether its masoor dal, chana dal or tur dal, or even all the three together. what i have here is the basic recipe. you can even add some vegetables to ‘colour’ it up!
here’s what you need to have ready (basic spinach dal):

quarter cup dal (masoor/chana/tur dal)
one bunch fresh spinach leaves (or four-five cubes if frozen)
two onions, chopped
two tomatoes, chopped

for the seasoning:
two tbsps oil
few curry leaves
one tsp mustard and jeera seeds (each)
one tsp ginger-chilli-garlic paste
half tsp turmeric and red chilli powder (optional)
one tsp garam masala powder

— pressure-cook the dal along with some turmeric (and vegetables, if you want to add them – diced potatoes, green capsicum and carrots would be a fine combination)
— blend the spinach leaves into a paste and set aside.
— in a separate kadhai, heat some oil and season with mustard and cumin seeds, curry leaves and ginger-garlic paste.
— add in the garam masala powder, the chopped onion and half of the chopped tomatoes.
— add the spinach puree and salt, and stir. cover and simmer until this paste begins to boil.
— mix well with the cooked dal (and check if the salt’s okay!)
— garnish with the remaining tomato and some coriander leaves.

oh, and don’t forget to squeeze about half a lemon onto it just before you serve.

December 29, 2003

quick rava dhoklas

i didn’t use the word ‘instant’ here, because no matter how easy it is to prepare the batter for dhoklas, they taste best when cooked over a long time. these dhoklas require about a 30-minute cooking time, and they’re just about enough for you and me 🙂

half cup semolina (rava)
half cup thick curd (preferably sour. if you cannot find sour curd just squeeze a few drops of lime into the batter)
one tsp ginger-chilli-garlic paste
half tsp turmeric
a pinch of baking soda
salt to taste

— mix all the ingredients in a bowl and stir them well until you get a smooth and fluffy batter.
— grease a steel plate and pour the dhokla batter on to it.
— heat some water in a kadhai and place the plate inside when the water begins to boil. the batter now has to be steamed so take care that hot water doesn’t get into the plate. if it does, just reduce the amount of water in the kadhai carefully.
— cover the deep pan with a lid. place an heavy vessel onto the lid so the steam doesn’t escape easily.
— walk away from the kitchen so you are not tempted to peep into the pan every 10 minutes 😉
— your dhoklas should be ready in about 25 to 30 minutes. cut them into the desired shape when hot and garnish with fresh-grated coconut. season some oil with mustard seeds and slit green chillies, and pour over the dhoklas.

serve hot with some masala-adrak chai and enjoy!

August 2, 2003

bisi bele bhath

40 minutes is all you need to make this spicy and nutritious-rice dish. having browsed through three or four online recipes for the same, i worked out the easiest method and it turns better everytime!

since i’m used to making this for just praveen and me, i’ll list the ingredients below to serve two or three people.

3/4th cup – rice
1/4th cup – tur dal
two cups water
one cup vegetables sliced, long pieces as for pulau – beans, carrots, potatoes, peas or green pepper (simla mirch). the more the vegetables, the tastier the rice.
two tbsp sambar powder
two tbsp oil for seasoning (mustard and cumin seeds, dry red chillies, hing and cury leaves)
half tsp each turmeric and chilli powder
one spoon concentrated tamarind paste
salt to taste.

— wash the rice and dal together, add double the quantity of water along with turmeric, sambar and chilli powder and and pressure-cook until done.
— slice the veggies in the meantime
— heat oil in a kadhai and season with mustard and cumin seeds, one or two dry red chillies, curry leaves and hing
— add the sliced vegetables and stir-fry on high heat until they break easily. DO NOT however try breaking all of them!
— add the cooked veggies to the rice and dal in the pressure cooker and mix well. never mind if the rice gets mashed easily.
— dilute the tamarind paste in quarter-cup water and add to the mixture
— cover and cook on low heat so the tamirind is absorbed well into the rice.
serve hot with thick curd and pappadum 🙂

there are many variations to preparing this dish. in karnataka where this dish originates from, i think they also add avarekkai seeds. i don’t know what they are called in english but will find out soon enough!

anyway, i enjoy making this since it’s praveen’s favourite rice-dish. you let me know if you like it too 🙂