Sunday, 27 November 2011

Spiced Idli (Kanchipuram Idli, version 2)

Spiced Idli (Kanchipuram Idli, version 2)

A tamil channel has been telecasting a program in which Revathy Sankaran cooks traditional recipes along with her grand daughter. She says the intent is to help pass on the knowledge of those days to the future generation. She also shows some special utensils that were in use few decades back and I recall my grandmother mentioning them. So far, I must say the recipes have not been particularly new to me because all of them were cooked by my grandmother and mother. It does make me feel proud that way because I have been sticking to my intent of capturing as many traditional recipes as I have been exposed to through my previous generations. Anyway, there was one show in which she showed kanchipuram idli recipe and for all those who have read my post on this dish probably know how I have my complaint against leading chef who just add some mustard seeds, turmeric powder and curry leaves to normal idli dough and call it kanchipuram idli. So I was curious to find how she made it and most of it except one basic ingredient was the same. However, to me that difference was important because this recipe used a pulse instead of raw rice. I was obviously curious to try this recipe and found the results to be good. Honestly I was very unsure of how it would be and even thought I will bin the batter but it was a day that I thought something is better than nothing. The whole family liked the idlis. Some difference between my original kanchipuram idli and this is in the texture as the original is meant to be slightly coarse batter while this one is a fine batter. The softness and flavours are compatible. For those who like more pulses in their diet, you could try this recipe. Next time I would add some grated carrot just to get more veggies in. Here it is…

1 cup par boiled rice
½ cup urd dal
½ cup mung beans
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon gingelly oil or any oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 sprig curry leaves
½ teaspoon dry ginger powder (chukku podi)
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon channa dal
few cashews, optional

Soak the beans, urd, rice and fenugreek together overnight. Grind to fine batter and add required salt. Allow batter to ferment well

Heat some oil and temper mustard seeds and channa dal. Once seeds crackles and dal browns, add to batter. Also add coarsely crushed pepper and cumin, curry leaves, dry ginger powder and oil. Mix well

Pour into idli moulds and steam for 15 minutes (until done)

Serve hot!

Friday, 25 November 2011

Non Fried Gujia


I am not sure in which state the gujia originated in but I first saw it on I then made a mental note to make this recipe but a rather low fat version by avoiding the deep frying part. Baking being an art I am exploring, was my default option. There are some downsides of baking such dishes and the most important one is that they could go a bit dry and next is that they may not brown well if there is not enough fat so the dish may not look appealing. For this particular dish, going dry I thought should not be much of a problem because the dumplings will be allowed to sit in sugar syrup and that would change the texture of the outer layer. For the browning, I added little sugar to the dough and I chose to dab some milk on the dumplings before baking, just a few drops on either side was adequate. I believe it is typically stuffed with dry fruits, coconut, khoya and nuts. Khoya is milk that has been heated long enough so it becomes solid. This is a long drawn process and needs some attention as the milk has to be stirred often. You probably know that I try to take sensible short cuts and adopted a rather quick version of khoya and smart use of some ingredients in my pantry. I mixed little milk with milk powder to make my khoya. The same idea can be adopted for any other dish that calls for khoya (all those dishes that I just skipped from my list simply because I could not be bothered with khoya) and the texture be adjusted with the amount of milk, will write a bit more about it in a separate post. I forgot coconut so if you want add a teaspoon to two of dessicated coconut. I have avoided deep frying so you only feel guilty about the sugar. However,although the quantity of sugar seems a lot, a very small portion only sticks to each gujia. You first taste the sweet outer coating which is crunchy too, then the nuts and then the khoya leaves a lovely taste. Now for the gujia recipe

For outer dough:
1 cup all purpose flour (maida)
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons oil
2 teaspoons milk

For filling:
1 cup milk powder (I used semi skimmed milk powder)
1-2 teaspoons milk
¼ cup almonds
2 tablespoon raisins
2 teaspoons sugar
For sugar syrup:
¾ cup sugar
¼-1/2 cup water
Lime juice

Mix the flour, baking powder, sugar and required water and make a dough like that for chapatti. Take some oil in your hand and knead the dough briefly and rest

To make the khoya for the filling, first put ¾ cup milk powder in a bowl and add the milk and mix. This is likely to be quite solid so now add rest of the milk powder and make a rather powdery khoya (the photo was not timed very well as I added the reminder milk powder to make the khoya little dry)

Grind almond and raisins together (I did not bother peeling almond skins because they are good for us) and mix with the khoya and add the sugar. That’s your filling ready.

Pinch a small lime sized ball of dough and roll to form a disc. I chose to use a mould that I had bought a while ago to shape the gujias but if you are doing by hand, you may have to make a close to perfect circle.

Place some filling in the centre, fold over and seal. Again, if doing by hand, you could use a fork or just your fingers to finish the edges to make it look nice

Place on baking tray about an inch apart and dab some drops of milk on each of them

Bake in a preheated oven at 180degC for 10 minutes, then turn over all of them and bake further 5 minutes

While baking make the sugar syrup by heating the sugar and water together, stirring, until you get one string consistency (when touched between thumb and index finger, you see a string of syrup). Add the lime juice so sugar does not crystallise

Allow the gujias to cool a bit and also the sugar syrup to cool and then pour the sugar syrup over the gujias while placed in box. Rest them for a while ensuring both sides are coated with sugar syrup. I put them in a box with some sugar syrup and kept shaking it every now and then.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Masala Capsicum Rice

Masala Capsicum Rice

It was one of those days when I had to make some lunch for myself and my husband had something else arranged. I was lying in my bed wondering what to do and mentally taking an inventory of what was in the fridge. My son loves eggplant so I have been making it quite frequently and now I would rather have something else for a change. A nice big green pepper came to mind and I recalled that the last time I tried to make masala capsicum rice, I did not quite like the results. So this time, I wanted to change the spices I was using and I must say the results were great. If you do not like hot food then you may want to reduce the chillies a wee bit but if served with raita, it should be alright. Normally they say that the correct portion size of rice for adult is ¼ cup (uncooked) and it is amazing how such rice where you mix them with vegetables, you can stick to this portion size. I have specified half cup uncooked rice so you can serve two with the mentioned quantity. You may want to make a bit more if you are very hungry though! The ingredients list looks long but trust me, it is very simple. You could make the same dish with eggplants too but I make eggplant rice differently and will post that soon. Here is the green pepper/capsicum rice…

1 tablespoon peanuts/groundnuts
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 dry red chillies
1 teaspoon white sesame seeds
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
Turmeric powder
2 green chillies, slit
½ cup rice, rinsed and soaked for 15 minutes
1 large green pepper, chopped (you could use any other color pepper too)
1 small red onion, finely chopped
Salt to taste
Curry leaves
Cooking oil
1 piece cinnamon
1 star anise
1 bay leaf
2 cloves

Roast peanuts, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, dry red chillies, sesame seeds separately, cool and grind along with some turmeric powder

Heat some oil and add the whole spices – cinnamon, bay leaf, cloves and star anise. Once they crackle, add the mustard seeds and wait for it to splutter

Add onions and fry until soft and also add the green chillies

Add the green pepper and curry leaves, required salt and cook until capsicum is done. I like them tender and not crunchy, so cooked wee bit longer

In the mean time cook the rice the way you normally would but ensure grains are separate and rice is fluffy

Once the pepper is cooked, add the ground spice powder, mix and cook for couple of minutes

Add the rice and mix well and serve!

Friday, 18 November 2011

Paneer Kaliya

Paneer Kaliya

I have noticed that for paneer dishes and potato dishes, I get a lot more likes than for other dishes. I think it is quite understandable with potatoes but with paneer it sometimes surprises me. I think what lends so much credit to paneer is its ability to blend well and absorb the flavours from what it is added to despite being bland on its own. I had mentioned in my previous post on a paneer dish (shahi paneer) that I will try semi skimmed paneer. This dish used paneer made from semi skimmed milk and because it was home made, it was a bit more crumbly than store bought. I did not shy from adding the crumbs to the dish because it is still paneer! The basic recipe is based on Sanjeev Kapoor’s recipe but I chose to add dry red chillies because I like the heat. It is optional and am sure you can appreciate the almond sauce without the chillies as well. It did turn out to be a nice dish and different from more common paneer dishes.

1cup cubed paneer
1/3 cup blanched almonds, ground to smooth paste
1 onion, chopped
2-3 dry red chillies
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
4 cloves
10 black peppercorns
1 small cinnamon stick
Salt to taste
Turmeric powder
Cooking oil

Powder the cloves, black pepper and cinnamon together

Heat some oil, add the powdered spices and fry the onions until it begins to change colour

Add the red chillies and coriander powder and fry until it is aromatic. Cool the onion mixture and grind to fine paste

Heat little oil, add the onion paste and turmeric powder, some water if needed and give a quick stir

Add the almond paste and required salt and mix well and allow to boil

Add the paneer cubes, add water if needed and simmer for few minutes and serve!

Saturday, 12 November 2011



Puliogare, for many would remind of the prasadam given in many perumal temples. It is a very popular iyengar dish, I say iyengar dish because I have heard many many people speaking of the iyengar version of pulihogare. Normally, the ‘puli kachal’, the basic paste made with tamarind and spices, is prepared in advance and stored in an air tight container. As and when needed, it is mixed with rice and serves. Although it is not a big deal to make the puli kachal, it takes a wee bit of time on the stove. You do not have to stand there stirring it constantly but by the time you finish making it, you may get a bit restless. Do I even have to say explicitly that the fruits of this labour is indeed brilliant. Puliogare is a popular packed lunch recipe as it has great flavours and keeps well but if you plan a trip at the last minute you may not manage to make this as puli kachal may not be ready. This recipe, although not the traditional iyengar version, is an interesting one and can be made much quicker than the traditional one. While I scramble for my photos of the traditional one, I thought I will post this for now. It tastes very similar to traditional version. Here is the recipe…

1 big lemon sized tamarind ball, soaked in warm water
5-8 dry red chillies
Cooking oil, Gingelly oil or groundnut oil are great
Turmeric powder
Salt to taste
Curry leaves
Roasted peanuts
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1 teaspoon channa dal

For the powder:
1/3 cup peanuts
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
¼ spoon asafoetida (I used some solid form as well as it is more flavourful)
2 dry red chillies

Roast the peanuts mentioned for the powder, the red chillies and also the fenugreek, cool and grind to powder along with the asafoetida

Heat a thick bottomed saucepan or wok/kadai and heat about a tablespoon oil, add the mustard seeds, channa dal and wait for seeds to splutter and add red chillies and curry leaves

Add the roasted powder and stir quickly

Add tamarind extract, required salt, turmeric powder, curry leaves and cook on low flame until all raw smell goes away and mixture thickens. You may have to add wee bit more oil to enhance the flavour and when done, the oil separates from the paste

Mix this with freshly steamed rice fluffed up and serve with vadam/papad or chips.

Potato kadhi (Rajasthani Sabji)

Potato kadhi (Rajasthani Sabji)

Rajasthani sabji, as the hostess of the TV show called it, is pretty much potato kadhi. I am quite limited on what raita I can have and prefer making raitas with cooked vegetable. That way, this kadhi recipe appealed to me and I had boiled potato in my fridge so it made it even easier. I normally keep one or two boiled potatoes in the fridge so I can make some quick dishes. This went well with the corn methi pulav I made but I think it will go well with any other more spicy rice too. I do not know if rajasthani sabji is the right name, but I thought it will be because the hostess is rajasthani. Here is how I made it…

1 large potato, boiled, cut
1 teaspoon onion seeds (kalonji)
½ teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 cinnamon piece
2 cloves
1 cup yogurt
1 tablespoon besan (chickpea flour)
Turmeric powder
1 teaspoon chilly powder
1 teapsoon dhaniya powder (coriander powder)
1 teaspoon jeera powder (cumin powder)
Salt to taste
Cooking oil

Heat some oil in a kadai and add the cinnamon, cloves and mustard seeds. Once it crackles, add the cumin seeds and onion seeds and wait for cumin to brown

In the meantime mix the besan and yogurt without lumps

Add the yogurt mixture to the kadai and simmer

Add chilly powder and turmeric powder and cook on low flame

Once it just boils, add the cumin and coriander powder, salt and allow to boil

Add the potatoes and simmer a few more minutes so they absorb the flavours. Cook the whole dish on low flame for best results