Thursday, 28 April 2011

Appalam Kuzhambu

Appalam Kuzhambu

Vatha kuzhambu is quite a popular dish especially among tamilians. however appalam kuzhambu is poplar among a narrower set of people, typically brahmins. Appalam is nothing but a variant of pappadom. The appalam used for this dish is special in a way. Typically ‘rettai appalam’ is used and it just means there are two layers of appalam stuck to each other so it is quite thick. I guess it is so because a single layer may just dissolve and disappear in the liquid while two layered appalam stays quite integral. I tried to make this recipe once when my brother and sister-in-law visited us as both of them love it. I wanted to make it exactly like mom and once I tasted it I was pleasantly surprised by how it tasted exactly like my mom’s dish. I followed her recipe afterall but it still shows how I am evolving as a cook as even if you give two people the same ingredients and same recipe, they could make dishes that taste so different. Anyway, here is the recipe...

6-8 urd appalam
1 teaspoon tamarind paste
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon channa dal
1/2 teaspoon urd dal
2-3 dry red chillies (more if you like it hot)
2-3 heaped teaspoons sambar powder
Cooking oil
Salt to taste

Fry the appalam in oil or if you prefer to microwave, do so.

Heat couple of tablespoons of oil in a skillet and mustard seeds, channa dal, urd dal, asafoetida, turmeric powder and dry red chillies

Once the mustard seeds splatter, add the sambar powder and stir quickly so it does not burn

Add 2 cups of water, tamarind paste and the fried appalam, required salt and boil until desired consistency is achieved

Serve with rice and ghee or with curd rice

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Curried Spring Greens and Saag

Curried Spring Greens and Saag

Despite spring greens being a healthy leafy green vegetable, it is not quite popular in my kitchen. I have found the lack of tenderness of the leaves to be the reason why it is not ideal for me. However as I am trying to cut costs as far as possible and one of the challenges it poses is utilisation of cheaply available nutrients, I thought I should try the spring greens again. This time I was clever in having a nice dish to inspire me and it was sarson ka saag (a dish made with mustard leaves and spinach). I came across the recipe on show me the curry and that gave me some tips like removing the rib of the leaves so the hard fibre in them do not put me off. In order to impart more flavour and make it closer to sarson ka saag I added mustard seed paste and also cooked the dish in mustard oil. I have not tasted sarson ka saag before but I can tell you that this dish came out very well. This has made spring greens a keeper in my shopping list. Here is how I made it...

2 bunches spring green, the centre rib removed and leaves torn up
2 handfuls of fresh spinach
1 cup tomato puree or 3 finely chopped tomatoes
1 onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoon mustard seed paste
1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon dhania powder
Few pinches of Punjabi garam masala or normal garam masala
2-3 green chillies finely chopped (adjust according to preference)
Salt to taste
Turmeric powder
Cooking oil

Bring together the spring greens and spinach in a saucepan and cook in about half cup water

Cool this and pulse it in food processor. If you prefer puree, then grind accordingly

Heat some oil and add the onions, fry for a couple of minutes and add ginger garlic paste and chillies and cook until onion turns soft

Add the tomato puree (use thick puree) and turmeric powder and cook until they all come together

Add the spring greens and spinach mixture, chilli powder, coriander powder, garam masala, mustard seed paste and salt. Add about half cup water and cook for about 5 minutes or until desired consistency is achieved.

To garnish, you could sauté chunky chopped onions and tomatoes, this is optional though.

Serve with any Indian bread or rice

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Sesame Chutney (Ellu chutney)

Sesame Chutney (Ellu chutney)

The health benefits of sesame are plenty and I always regret not having taken much of this wonderful seed while growing up. Better late than never so I have been using more of sesame in our diet. The tomato sesame chutney posted sometime back is a regular now in our home. After that, I have gained more confidence in using this wonderful seeds. It has numerous micro-nutrients that our essential for our body. It includes copper, which has anti-inflammatory properties and said to provide relief from rheumatoid arthritis; has magnesium which is said to support vascular and respiratory health. It is also said to be a good source of calcium which can help bone health. I am not a nutritionist but I always like to know more about what I put in my mouth. I saw a sesame chutney recipe on the television program but it pretty much used sesame seeds and coconut alone. Although I certainly add coconut in our diet and do not fear its fat as I believe any fat should be taken in moderation, from that standpoint I wanted to reduce quantity of coconut. I used the roasted chickpea so the recipe was similar to regular coconut chutney. It became an Indian version of hummus where a form of chickpea is used along with sesame seeds and instead of fat from oil, it uses fat from coconut. In effect, it was a nice a different chutney. Here is the recipe...

2-3 tablespoon coconut (dessicated or freshly grated)
2-3 tablespoons sesame seeds
Handful of roasted chickpea (pottu kadalai)
1 teaspoon tamarind paste
2 green chillies
Salt to taste
Curry leaves to garnish

Roast the sesame seeds until they start to pop

Grind along with roasted chickpea, coconut, tamarind, chillies and salt

Add required water and grind to however smooth you like. Add curry leaves and serve!

If you like you can heat some oil and crackle mustard seeds in it and add to chutney

Friday, 8 April 2011

Kollu Podi (Horsegram Powder)

Kollu Podi (Horsegram Powder)

Some of you may already be familiar with ‘paruppu podi’ (lentil powder) typically made with toor dal aka pigeon peas. It is one of the recipes I grew up with and afterall these years I was happy to give another lentil an opportunity. The recipe is very similar to the traditional one I already posted however I hope to give some options here. I realised that not all the readers of this blog will enjoy rice with ghee and lentil powder but horsegram is good for health that I would want all my readers to benefit from it. Brown lentil aka horsegram is well known for its ability to help weight loss. It increases the metabolic rate of the body and hence helps burn calories. It is also said to help regularise menstrual cycles in women and also get rid of stones like in the kidney. It is also said to give one plenty of energy and some even joke that it is why it is ‘horse’ gram. If you do not like mixing the powder with rice and eating, you could add heaped spoons of this powder to soup or rasam. It also helps soup thicken and if you do not like the heat from the chillies, cut it out and roast and grind just the horsegram. You could also add the horsegram powder to boiled water to make it like porridge, something like horlicks. Here is the recipe...

½ cup horsegram
3-4 dry red chillies
¼ teaspoon asafoetida
Salt to taste
Few drops of cooking oil

Heat very little oil in a skillet and add the horsegram, chillies and asafoetida and roast. You will know you have roasted enough when the horsegram begins to change colour and also becomes smaller in size.

Cool and grind along with required amount of salt. Cool and store in an airtight box.

As I said earlier, you could roast horsegram alone, cool and grind depending on how ou intend to use it.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Savoury Potato Cake

Savoury Potato Cake

While I have a long list of recipes to be written up, I have this bad habit of making some recipes jump up the queue simply because I tried them very recently and want to share it immediately. I made this savoury potato cake today and just loved it. It is such a wonderful snack that can be enjoyed by the whole family, even my wee one loved it. I saw the recipe on a television program and tried it pretty much similar to what was told. Honestly, I was not very sure how it will turn out so I did not want to make a more healthy version using wholemeal flour or millet flours etc. Sometime in the near future I may try such varients of this recipe. I had some boiled potatoes in fridge and though it is a good way to use them up. It is a simple and tasty snack for us and great finger food for kids. My husband suggested that I could try using ajwain next time instead of cumin seeds although he said he could not fault the dish the way it was made. It really is upto you what you want to use.

2 boiled potatoes, mashed well
¾ cup all purpose flour (maida)
1½ tablespoon butter, softened
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon milk

Mix the flour with butter using your finger tips. The mixture should resemble breadcrumbs

Add mashed potatoes, required salt and mix until it looks like soft dough. Do not knead too much as you do not want to melt the butter.

Roll the dough into a disc about three fourth of an inch thick and spoon some milk on top and spread it

Sprinkle the cumin seeds on top as uniformly as possible and cut the disc into eight parts

Put all the eight parts in a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake at 150degC for 25-30 minutes

Yummy savoury cake is ready to serve!

Monday, 4 April 2011

Bhindi in Mustard Sauce

Bhindi in Mustard Sauce

I have just had a set-back on something important I was trying so am utterly disappointed and gutted. No one but me is to be blamed though. Of the very few things that can make me feel better, writing about a small success I had in kitchen is I am hoping will lift me up. I watched this dish on a television program and honestly, I did not think of trying it because I thought it would be too bland. However I realised this will put some of the broken mustard seeds I had bought to good use. So gave it a shot but spiced it up a bit. This is suppose to be a Bengali dish called ‘jali’. I have not been able to find much information about it, not even the common spelling so decided to name it the way I have done it. If any reader knows more about it, please let me know and I could rename it. Anyway, this comes under one of the quick side dishes category and gets cooked while we are making the rotis. The quantity I have mentioned serves one.

8-10 okra, ends trimmed, slit and cut into long pieces
2 teaspoons mustard paste
½ teaspoon chilly powder
¼ teaspoon coriander powder
Turmeric powder
Salt to taste
Mustard oil (you can use any other cooking oil too)

Heat some oil and sauté the okra for couple of minutes

Add turmeric powder, asafoetida, stir and cook for couple of minutes.

Add mustard paste and about quarter cup water, salt and cook covered until okra is done and all water evaporates


I had this with rotis and it tasted quite good. To make the mustard paste I soaked some broken mustard seeds in water for 30 minutes and ground to paste. You could also use store bought mustard paste if you like. One interesting point about mustard oil was that I noticed the lable said for external use only. I contacted the company to find if I could cook with it and heard back saying that the erucic acid content in this oil is much higher than what EU regulations allow so they are labelled that way. So I will not use it on a regular basis but may be just when preparing Bengali dishes.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Cabbage Masala

Cabbage Masala

Masala dosa is a very popular south Indian delicacy. I just love the traditional masala dosa and do make it at home every now and then. You may have noticed that lately I have been posting few varieties dosa. One of the reasons for that is that I have been trying a few recipes since the time I managed to crack the perfect basic dosa recipe and have been working on making them even more healthier. A meal would not be complete with just dosa and chutney as it will lack some essential vegetables. For this reason, I try to make a variety of stuffing for the dosa. Usual masala has potatoes dominating but as it does not contribute to one of five a day veggies although it is important to have atleast one serving of starchy vegetable everyday, I prefer using other veggies. This one has the not so popular in my household, cabbage. I tried to make a spice mix for this and I was surprised how it turned out to be exactly how I fancied it. You could add some potatoes to this as well. My husband usually dreads cabbage but he enjoyed this one. You can use it not just with crepes, but also wrap in tortillas or rotis, use as a filling in sandwich. Here is how I made it...

2 dry red chillies
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
Little less than a teaspoon coriander seeds
3 cloves of garlic
Little less than a tablespoon grated coconut or dessicated coconut
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 tomato, finely chopped
2 cups shredded cabbage (I used frozen mixed cabbage)
½ teaspoon sambar powder (optional)
Turmeric powder
Cooking oil
Salt to taste

Roast red chillies, cumin seeds and coriander seeds until aromatic and they start to ‘dance’ in the skillet. Cool and grind this to powder with garlic and coconut

Heat a little oil and add mustard seeds. Once it splutters, add the onions and fry until soft and add the ground powder and mix.

Add tomatoes, cabbage, turmeric powder, asafoetida and salt. Cook covered in slow flame until raw smell goes.

Add the sambar powder (you could use little chilli powder instead), mix and cook until raw smell goes. Add chopped coriander and mix well.

Use this stuffing with crepe or rotis or bread.