easy south indian items

Broccoli & cauliflower puttu

I love my vegetables and what I love even more is coming up with new dishes where I can happily add two or more vegetables into one dish. And one of my recent experiments to make a dish quickly with broccoli and leftover cauliflower turned out to be a lovely combination indeed.

Broccoli cauliflower puttu

One medium sized broccoli-grated

Half cauliflower -grated

Onions-1 finely chopped

Garlic-3 pods roughly chopped

Turmeric powder

Daria dal/odacha kadalai-2 big tablespoons

Dry Red chilli-2 or more depending on spice level

Salt and oil to taste

Mustard seeds & jeera to season

Pinch of hing

Heat oil in a pan, add mustard seeds, jeera and hing. Add garlic and onions, sauté till translucent.

Then add grated broccoli and cauliflower.

Add turmeric powder and sprinkle little water and cover cook in medium flame for two mins.

Meanwhile dry grind the dal and red chilli with little salt.

Now back to the pan, check the grated veggies have cooked half way through, add the ground powder and more salt if required.

Cover and do not mix for till the dal powder cooks a little bit.

After five mins, lightly mix or toss everything.

Open and cook till it dries out well and gets a little roasted or serve as it is if you like your veggies on the softer side.

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Super delicious millet based recipes!

There are enough websites and enough people around to tell you about the health benefits of millets. Besides the fact that they are healthy, I like to use them in different recipes because I can get bored easily with the same kind and colour of food. So I try and kill two birds with one stone as using different grains/seeds every week helps keep me motivated to cook from scratch and also make a healthier meal simultaneously. So here are 3 simple recipes for the entire family to enjoy ūüôā

Recipe 1

Ragi idli

For the ragi idlis, here is what you will need

Ragi flour or whole finger millet seeds- 2.5 cups

Idly rice-1.5 cups

Urad dal- 1 cup

Wash and Soak the ragi seeds and rice for a minimum of 4 hours. If using flour, soak only rice.

Soak urad dal for less than an hour.

Grind to idli batter consistency with salt and allow to ferment. Do not grind batter to a super smooth consistency. Grind till you can feel a slightly gritty feeling between your fingers so you get a nicer texture.

If adding ragi flour, mix the flour towards the end with the ground rice and grind for few minutes till it all comes together.

Once fermented make idlis as normal and serve with chutney of choice. I would normally prefer a green chutney using coriander or mint for these idlis while for a ragi dosa with the same batter I would make a red chutney with onions, garlic and red chutney.

Recipe 2

Kambu/pearl millet set dosa

Pearl millet flour- 3 cups

Idly rice-1 cup

Urad dal- 3/4th cup

Fenugreek seeds/methi seeds-1 tablespoon or a little more if you love the flavour

Red rice flakes-1/4th cup

Soak idly rice and fenugreek seeds separately for a minimum of 4 hours.

Soak urad dal and rice flakes for atleast half an hour.

Grind altogether to a nice smooth batter. Allow to ferment and make small dosas without too much pressure while you swirl them for nice set dosas. If you like a crispier version simply make as normal.

Any chutney or sambar goes well with this dosai.

Recipe 3

Methi/fenugreek leaves millet dosa

Varagu/Kodo millet- 2.5 cups

Idly rice-1.5 cups

Urad dal -1 cup

Soak rice and millets for a minimum of 4 hours. Soak urad dal for a minimum of one hour. Grind all together to a nice smooth batter. Add salt and mix well.

Allow to ferment.

Once fermented, clean and wash fresh fenugreek leaves and grind to a smooth paste. Add to freshly fermented dosa batter. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and a pinch of turmeric too.

Make dosas as normal.

If you want a variation, thinly slice shallot sor small onions, handful of peas and make a little thicker dosa than normal, add thinly sliced onions, peas and podi/powder on top and cook on a medium low flame until the onions have slightly browned. You could add ghee or sesame oil for the podi dosa.

Serve with chutney of choice. I would omit the podi for toddlers and only add onions and peas.

The joy of simple food!

Did you know that Indians eat yoghurt/curd rice which is just rice and yoghurt mixed together? Okay, it’s more of a south Indian thing than a “Indian” thing actually. A daily affair in every south Indian’s home if I may say so. It may sound like I am over exaggerating a very simple combination or some of you may even call it a strange one. But the fact remains that there is nothing quite like finishing a meal with this “Thayir Sadham” as we all fondly call it in tamil. We sometimes have it as the only meal just so it helps the tummy to recover from all the junk we often eat.

It is mostly had during lunch but some people prefer having it for dinner too. As with many other dishes, this too can be served with variations. The most common is tempering it with mustard seeds. It shouldn’t surprise you if I now say that it appears on every wedding food menu. One, because it is loved by people of all ages and two, it is very easy to cook. On such occasions, it is a little more dressed up with fruits like grapes and vegetables like carrots and nuts too. And tempered¬†with ginger, green chillies etc etc. Infact, I know a lot of¬†people who even add butter to it to this already creamy deliciousness.

Goodness knows what a brilliant lot we are when it comes to food.(I maybe a little biased here being a south Indian myself) But dear reader, if you don’t think I was right then I suggest you first have a plate of Masala dosai or a bowl of curd rice with some potato fry and then think again.

Now, as we are all aware that eating too much white rice may increase the risk to diabetes and so on, I don’t see why we cannot switch some meals to healthier types. Especially, when we can get easy access to so many wonderful substitutes like Brown rice and Millets. I personally love millets. They are so easy to cook and tastes even better than white rice. Although I don’t compromise all the time. For e.g I like to cook white rice for a good bowl of drumstick sambar. But for a mixed yoghurt rice, I think millets are my favourite.

millet curd rice 3Here is a picture of a millet yoghurt rice tempered with mustard seeds and curry leaves we had last week.

This was heaven right there.

I have such warm memories of devouring this dish after so many trips that we have taken over the years. Every time we come back from a trip, the only thing we crave for is some curd rice so we can all drift off to sleep right away. Yes, it is such a good sleep inducer I tell you.

There is no real recipe to this dish. You can add or not add any of those extra bits I mentioned. Here are a few suggestions:

  1.  If you are a beginner and want to experiment on how rice and yoghurt might even taste, then I would suggest you try doing this with plain basmati rice first. Simply cook rice normally and mix it with plain or greek yoghurt and a pinch of salt. 
  2. If you want to go one step further, heat up some oil, throw in mustard seeds and curry leaves, finely chopped ginger and green chillies. Add all of these along with rice and yoghurt. 
  3. If you want to go over the top, then follow step 1 and 2 first. Then, add green and black grapes(of course without the seeds). Then grate some carrots and cucumber. Garnish with nuts of your choice and for that extra prettiness add a few pomegranate seeds.

Now, can you begin to imagine how good this can be really????

Karahi Tales

Parathas or Naan breads ? Curry or Biryani ? I am not even going to pretend I don’t like a¬†greasy supper now and then. Something deeply satisfying about ordering for a takeaway from your¬†regular Indian place isn’t it? Just like how each of you have your own local favourites, we have ours too. It is called Punjabi Karahi. Ever since I came to London, I have been eating here often enough with little breaks now and then. Although, we took a rather big break while I was pregnant and breastfeeding. See, before you go judging me, I am a good mother.

Punjabi Karahi is one dinky restaurant which is always overflowing with punjabi uncles sat in random tables and gobbling up parathas after parathas. So, it may not be entirely attractive to look at but the food is good. And best is to do a takeaway.

My brother visits us often in London for various reasons. Sometimes, it only appears as if he has travelled all the way only to eat from Karahi. Oh well, we are food mad like that.

I leave you with a recipe for a delicious Ragi/Finger Millet puttu which is totally non greasy and guilt free depending on the type of sugar you use.

Here’s what you need :¬†

A cup of good quality Ragi flour

Brown sugar or palm sugar to taste

Finely grated coconut

One or two pods of Cardamom

A little bit of ghee for frying nuts and raisins

Here’s how to make this:

One good tip I recently learnt is to sift the flour well for any type of puttu to avoid big lumps when it’s done.

Take lukewarm water about half the amount of flour.

Gradually sprinkle over the flour until you reach the point at which you can actually gather some flour and squeeze it between your fingers and it can hold a shape but when you let it loose it has to crumble.

At this stage, steam this flour using any steaming method you like. Steam till you get a nice smell and this might take about 6-7 minutes. The flour also turns darker when cooked.

Now heat a pan, add ghee and fry any nuts of your choice. I only used raisins this time to make it safer for the little person. Switch off flame and add grated coconut to the same pan. So with the remaining heat the coconut gets lightly toasted and that gives a wonderful flavour to this dish.

By now the flour would’ve cooled a little bit and you can add any type of sugar you may want. I used powdered brown sugar.i also added the cardamom pods to the sugar before grinding to make it easier. ¬†Add the toasted nuts and coconut too. Give a good mix and serve immediately!

This can be a wonderful evening tiffin or can be a good idea for breakfast too. 

 

 

A few “Madras” things

A city that is known only for hot weather was showered with way too much rain for nearly a month. So much so that almost the entire city was under water for nearly three days this week.  And as I type, there are still some areas that are water-logged, and people stranded in streets with no water or food. Makes me want to hide my helpless face out of shame. A lot many people have come forward to do what they can. It was heartening to see this kind of attitude in a city where the newspapers often only report thefts and violence. Tough times like these are looked upon as a rather good opportunity to exploit people and rob them off completely but none of these things have happened in Chennai. That definitely says a lot about how people behave when their own lives are at risk. Yes, the flooding was so bad that almost every house was affected in some way.

Although it is hard to understand as to why such calamities happen ever so often in different parts of the world, they all teach/remind us the same old lesson i.e to not take things for granted. As cliched as it may sound, we all need to be reminded in order to better ourselves. And as a result of which, we become stronger and start to think of what can we do to protect ourselves in the long term. For someone like me, who is used to being pampered at home right from the time i wake up until bedtime, it is so easy to get carried away and simply ignore things like whether or not the motor has been switched on or if the vessels have been cleaned etc etc. But when we lost electricity last week for nearly two days, it hit me quite hard when I saw my folks struggling to keep things going for us. Every now and then when the mobile data worked, I would go online to check what everyone else was upto and people were out and about trying to help strangers and dogs.

So, feeling rather inspired to help,  I posted a status on facebook and twitter saying I can help people connect through telephones or atleast find out information locally for friends living abroad. I started to get a few phone calls after a couple of hours asking for updates on various roads and help with finding if their parents/grandparents were doing fine. Although I could not help with all the requests I got, I still managed to do one little service for a person from the middle east, who was worried about his single and aging mother who happeneed to live close to my home. We cousins personally went to her house and recorded a video of her and sent it to her son who felt rather relieved and wished us well. This is probably one of the best things I have ever done in a long time.And It felt so good. A kind of good that is hard to explain and one that fills your heart with so much warmth. So, to all those of you who are still out there and doing stuff unlike me who is only writing it all up at the comfort of a warm couch and hot coffee, I owe my respect.

After days of gloomy skies and the rains pitter-pattering on our roofs, I am leaving you with some photos that are quintessentially “Madras”¬†with a hope to brighten up your day.

 

 

Idli sambar blog

South Indian mornings

Tea Madras blog

ŗģüŗģŅ ŗģēŗģüŗĮą ŗģēŗģ§ŗĮąŗģēŗģ≥ŗĮć

Madras blog Ko 1

Koyambedu flower market Scenes

Madras blog Rain 2

When it rains….eat bajji and make paper boats

In case you are wondering, we made all these dishes despite the rains because we live to eat….Yes, I baked the biscuits too ūüėÄ

 

Families frolicking, young lovers cuddling, kids running around and flying kites and huge cans of sundal being sold only makes this Marina beach a special one…

 

Saree shopping never gets boring in Chennai…If you are a chennaite and living abroad,I am sure you are reminded of the good ol’ stores like Kumaran Silks, Nalli Silks and all those crazily crowded T Nagar shops. Some things never change isnt it????

 

Golu time is one of the best times to visit Chennai. Happens around Oct/Nov every year.

Sometimes, I wonder what would this city’s people do if two wheelers didnt exist? Because this city is filled with so many of them…. The picture on the right happens to be one of my favourite…

dance blog newspaper

Besides everything else, I love the way people give importance to  carnatic music and the traditional dance called bharatnatyam here in Chennai.

wedding

This picture may not represent “Chennai” exactly but it is one of those¬†special moments in every tamil speaking girl’s wedding. And most of the weddings that happen in Chennai are Tamil style. This is from my very own wedding that also happened in chennai and I am simply sharing it because I love weddings and I love Chennai….

So, What are your favourite things about Namma Chennai?

Clay Pot Dal

While there are enough blogs to give you recipes and ideas, what am I doing here just chatting away about food( mostly) like this blog is a place for me to express all the self-indulgent stuff that we do? Well, the truth is I am only writing all this up for people who can relate to me because I know there are so many people who do not express but like to read things And feel some sort of connection with the world out there. It is always nice to know that there are people who like us and also do things similar to us no matter how ludicrous we are. And this blog is kind of helping me do that. (Not that I have found a million friends/readers already but whatever little there is makes me feel happy beyond words)

So, here is the new post on our Love for Dal.

Who doesn’t love a warming bowl of good ol’ dal? If you don’t, then I am going to assume that you belong to a different planet. Ever since I started to cook, dal is what I make often enough. One, because it is so easy to cook. Two, it is deeply satisfying. Not many foods work so well like this. It is either easy to make but not wholesome or takes a while to cook a rather delicious meal. But these little beauties blend beautifully with any meal.

Can I just take a moment to tell you a few Indian ways of consuming dal? First of all, dal is available in different forms. (Click here to read more)¬†But what appears predominantly in my kitchen is the¬†ever so adequate¬†paruppu sadam/Plain cooked Dal with rice, Or a Sambar or a kootu/curry with coconut all of these associated with south India. Next to that, is a simple North Indian style Tadka dal where we rip a large piece of roti/chapati to dunk into it. We don’t eat like birds as we are greedy ol’ pigs who try to tear and stuff. Besides these, we add dals¬†to vegetables to make stir fry curries or occasionally end up with deep frying goodies like a proper masala vadai or medhu vada on auspicious days.

Now, now I must get to the point! I was always fond of eating food made in¬†clay pots and I still do. My mother makes some scrumptious¬†lassi that¬†is stored for a while in a clay pot before drinking. If you are a beginner, try drinking water stored in clay pots¬†to start with or simply buy a¬†matka kulfi to understand better. So, Last year I decided to buy a good clay pot from India and start experimenting. The first thing I made was dal and much much goodness¬†it was. It takes longer than usual to cook in a claypot which is why I don’t use it often for now but it is certainly worth cooking if one has no attention-seeking toddlers at home. I am hoping to experiment with my claypot more next year but for now here is a picture of my first ever dal in a claypot or a Man Paanai as it is fondly called in Tamil.

Dal

So, have you ever eaten from a clay pot?

Apple Pickle and my impending antiquity!

So, how old are you? This is a question a lot of us are faced with from time to time. Some mums at the children’s centres still ask me this good ol’ question only to remind me that I am getting older and I should get my act together. Oh no no, I am not shabby when it comes to taking care of my little boy. It sure has got to do with me. What was I expecting to hear if I went with the messiest bun on my hair that¬†is obviously showing off my silver lining? And zero effort to fix my droopy eyes? The best of all is the umpteen number of yawns while I sit there and watch my offspring fix his trains and cars in a row and looks me in the eye every few minutes so I can wake up properly to praise his organisation skills. A skill at which I am being rather poor off late. However, to the least I manage to cook some good food and keep my men happy which is all that matters to me really.

So, this week at the play session, one very kind soul said something that made me happy beyond words. Not that I took any special effort, but in her eyes, I looked way too young and she only thought Neil was my little brother. Uh-oh! And when I told her I am the mother indeed and that I was almost 30, she was further amazed¬†because¬†she was going to be 30 soon enough. What a conversation to kick off the week! Well, well beauty is in the eye of the beholder isn’t it? I am only saying that nearing 30¬†isn’t as bad as I thought ūüėČ

Here’s a rather delicious recipe if you’ve got sour apples at home.

Apple pickle 2

Green/Red Apples-4

Green chillies- 2

Red chilli powder – According to your spice preference

A pinch of hing/Asafoetida

Saunf/Fennel seeds-1 tspn

Methi/Fenugreek Seeds-1tspn

Mustard seeds- to season

Salt-to taste

Sugar/Jaggery – 1-2 tblspns

Oil- 2tblspns

Chop up the apples roughly into small cubes. Slit the green chillies. Heat up some oil and add mustard seeds. Once it crackles, add hing, green chillies and cut apples. Lower the heat and give a good mix. Cover and cook till the apples turn soft. Meanwhile, slightly roast methi seeds and fennel seeds and grind coarsely. After about 5-8 minutes, the apples will start becoming soft and keep mixing till some of it looks like a mash. Now add salt, chilli powder, sugar and mix again. At this stage, if you want to a saucy pickle, you can add some water. Just carry on if you don’t mind a dry pickle. I added water just incase you want to know. Do a taste check and lastly add the ground methi and saunf powder. Again, give it a good mix and switch off the flame. Partially cover the pan and leave it to cool for at least 15 minutes by which time¬†the flavours must have soaked in.

I transferred the entire thing onto a bowl quickly so that I can scrap away whatever bit that was sticking at the bottom with some warm bread. Done and dusted!

Ghee Podi Idli 

Every two weeks(almost) I try to make the Idli/Dosa batter with the help of my darling boy. Yes, he loves watching the grinder run and is ever so ready to press the On/off button. So this week, I decided to make a little extra batter than the usual quantity hoping I could experiment with some new variety because I just love adding stuff to plain batters. For e.g. The other day, I added some freshly chopped methi leaves along with some onions to the Dosa batter and it was quite a hit even with my little man. Sometimes just grated cheese on a lovely roast of Dosa is good for us too. So you see, I am always adding bits and bobs to this and that.
With idlies, I haven’t tried stuffing it yet. I’m not even sure if I can do it successfully. But I love making different types of idlies. Our favourite has been my mom’s recipe for Ragi Idli which is quite delicious with any green chutney. No matter how many chutneys and sides one can make, there is nothing quite as simple as Idly and Podi. We, South Indians have a proper dabba (box) filled with this golden powder and it is usually kept at an obvious place because we want it so often. For those of you who don’t know what a Podi is, it is a very basic spice powder made of a combination of dals/lentils and dried red chillies. Today, people are experimenting with Podi by adding various seeds and nuts to make it a tad healthier. I’m sticking to the original type for now Atleast. This powder is mixed with any cooking oil just before serving.

So, here is a simple recipe using the ever so humble Podi.  And Here is what you need-

Idli batter

Podi with any oil of your choice(gingelly oil is usually the best)

Ghee – lots of it

Make idlies as you would normally do however grease the Idli plates with a little ghee before filling with the batter. Once steamed, let it cool down for few minutes. Meanwhile, take a small plate, mix enough Podi with oil to form a marinade.Take each piece of idly and smear it liberally with more ghee and then apply the Podi paste. Make sure all the idlies are coated equally on all sides with the ghee and Podi paste. That’s all there is to this recipe. You can either have it warm or leave it in a box for atleast another 30min. The longer you leave them the better it tastes.

For a change, I used the idiyappam plate to make these giant idlies just so I could cut them into neat bite size pieces.

You may now think this isn’t anything new as we all have eaten ghee idlies with Sambar, chutney and Podi etc etc. but quite often we forget that using the same old stuff in new ways can give wonderful results just like this one above.

And Needless to say, this recipe was much loved by my darling husband who even said ¬†it tasted just as good the next day. Ahem!maybe because he almost never gets a choice to say anything other than ‘awesome’ or he probably is thinking he is better off eating only half decent food than no food at all ūüėČ