Thursday, February 27, 2014

Gujarathi Dhal

"A house is not a home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well as the body "- Benjamin Franklin.

Today, I'm bringing  a simple but interesting preparation of dhal to go along with rice and roti. Isn't it interesting that same ingredients but different approach can make a big impact on taste?

If you have visited your friends house or you went on a trip to new places you can  understand what I mean here.From house to house , state to state the approach and preparation changes, giving us countless recipes to enjoy.

Coming back to the recipe, here the main ingredient is our humble toor dhal but the rest of the ingredients slightly differ from usual south indian ingredients.The aroma from ginger and green chillies and nutty bite from peanuts and tanginess from lemon juice elevates the dhal to a completely next level.

Lets look at the recipe now.


Toor Dhal / pigeon pea                   1/2 cup
Turmeric powder                            1/2 tsp
Red chilli Powder                            1/2 tsp
Coriander powder                           1/8 tsp (optional)
Tomatoes                                        3 small (finely chopped)
Green chillies                                   2
Ginger                                              1 inch
Salt                                                  to taste
Lemon juice                                     1 1/2 tsp
Coriander leaves/cilantro                  few
Raw peanuts                                    2 tbsp
Jaggery                                            1/8 tsp (optional)

To temper

Ghee  / clarified butter                      1 tsp
Mustard seeds                                  1/2 tsp
Cumin                                               1/4 tsp
Cloves                                              2
Cinnamon                                         1 inch piece


  1. Soak peanuts for 5 hours and cook until tender.
  2. Pressure cook toor dhal with 1/4 tsp turmeric and enough water.
  3. Heat a deep pan with ghee and add the tempering ingredients in the listed order.
  4. Add tomatoes with turmeric(1/4 tsp), chilli powder,coriander powder and salt and saute until they turn completely pulpy.
  5. Coarsely crush ginger and green chillies and add it to tomato pulp.
  6. Add cooked and mashed toor dhal along with boiled peanuts.
  7. Let it boil for 5 to 10 minutes in a very low heat.
  8. Check the consistency and adjust salt now. If adding jaggery,add it .
  9. Turn off the heat and add lemon juice.
  10. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves.
 Enjoy this over a bed of steaming rice and some ghee or with a fresh and hot roti.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Gooseberry Pickle

We are spice lovers as I have mentioned in my space earlier. Be it rice or paratha ,our meal is not complete without  pickles.This is an easy recipe that gives you instant pickle.

My granny used to tell me that pickle aids in digestion that's why the feast platter always starts with pickle on the other side. But planning to ask her how when I meet her next.

Gooseberry is well known for its medicinal property and vitamin c and so on...Whenever I find it in market, I  will bring some and make different use of it.There is yet another pickle that my mom makes too. Sometime later I will share that too.


Gooseberry / Amla                    1 lb (1/2 kg)
Red chilli powder                      4 tsp
Salt                                           3 tsp (adjust to taste)
Asafoetida                                 1 tsp
Turmeric Powder                       1 tsp
Fenugreek seeds                        2 tsp

Mustard seeds                           1 tsp
Oil                                             4 tbsp * see note
Lemon Juice                               1 1/2 tbsp ( 1/2 lemon)


  1. Steam the gooseberrys for 10 minutes.
  2. Slit and take the pit off and make wedges.
  3. Dry roast fenugreek seeds till brown in slow flame and grind it to a fine powder .
  4. Heat oil in a kadai and add mustard seeds and let it crackle and add gooseberry wedges.
  5. Saute with salt , turmeric powder and asafoetida.
  6. When the berrys turn soft reduce the heat and add red chilli powder and saute for 5 minutes.
  7. Add fenugreek powder and turn off the heat.
  8. Squeeze juice of half a lemon.
  9. Cool and store in glass jar and refrigerate.


* I used sesame oil as it enhances the flavor and taste and also for health benefits. Replace with veg oil or canola oil if needed.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Milagu Kuzhambu| Black pepper in tamarind sauce

This is yet another delicacy from South India.Freshly ground spices will bring  lots of freshness and flavor that will pop out in your mouth and gently tickle your taste buds.My mom used to make this yummy kuzhambu during rainy days ,where you can't step out to get some fresh veggies.This takes me back to my childhood...Rainy kids making paper boats and happily smiling on seeing them float ....

The freshly ground spices will bring taste as well as color to this Kuzhambu.As pepper plays the main role, it helps to improve digestion process as it will be slow during rainy days.With simple and readily available ingredients in your pantry, here comes the yummy recipe...


Tamarind                 1 tbsp tightly packed
Turmeric powder     1/2 tsp
Asafoetida               1/2 tsp
Oil                           2 tbsp *
Shallots                    1/4 cup
Garlic                       10 cloves
Salt                          to taste

To roast & grind

Pepper                    3/4 tsp
Red Chillies             3 to 4
Urad Daal               1 tsp
Channa Daal            1/2 tsp
Coriander seeds       1/4 tsp
Fenugreek seeds       4

To temper
Mustard                  1 tsp
Fenugreek seeds      3


  1. Soak tamarind in warm water for 20 minutes.
  2. Peel onion and garlic.
  3. Heat a shallow pan and dry roast the ingredients given under roast and grind in a slow flame.
  4. Turn off the heat when the ingredients are  golden brown.
  5. Grind it to a smooth paste with some water.
  6. Heat a kadai with oil and add the tempering ingredients.
  7. Add onion and garlic and saute for 30 sec.
  8. Add the freshly ground paste and give it a mix.
  9. Add the tamarind extract along with salt,turmeric and asafoetida.
  10. Let it boil for 10 minutes.
  11. You will notice that oil floats on top. Turn off the heat.

 Serve it hot with steaming rice and papad.


* Sesame oil brings lot of flavor to this kuzhambu. Replace it with vegetable oil or canola oil if needed.
* Stays well for 3 days in room temperature.
* Refrigerate and use for a month.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Noolkol Kootu | Kohlrabi with dhal

Few days back , I got fresh noolkol aka kohlrabi with greens keeping this kootu in mind.
This  kootu is very very simple to make with few ingredients but trust me the result will amaze you.

Generally this is counted as a sidedish for rice along with any kuzhambu or rasam in TamilNadu. But, as an alternate, make a spicy vegetable and make this kootu as a main dish too .Choice is yours...

In another post , I will show you how to use the Kohlrabi greens too.


Noolkol | Kohlrabi                       2 cups( Peeled and chopped)
Moong Dhal                                1/2 cup
Turmeric powder                         3/4 tsp
Coconut shredded                       1/4 cup
Dry red chilli                                2
Cumin seeds                                1/2 tsp

Asafoetida                                   1/4 tsp
Salt                                              to taste


Coconut oil                                    1 1/2 tsp ** see note
Mustard seeds                               1 tsp
Urad Dhal                                      1 tsp
Curry leaves                                  1 sprig


  • In a small pressure cooker , add moong dal first and top it up with noolkol and add turmeric.
  • Add enough water so that there is 2 inches of water above the vegetable.
  • Pressure cook for 2 whistles.
  • Meanwhile grind coconut,red chillies and cumin seeds to a smooth paste.
  • Add this ground paste to the vegetables along with salt and asafoetida.
  • Allow it to boil for 5 minutes and turn off the heat.
  • Heat a small pan with add coconut oil and add the ingredients given for tempering.
  • Once mustard crackles and urad turns golden add curry leaves and pour this tempering over the vegetable.

Enjoy this kootu with steaming rice.


Coconut oil brings a wonderful aroma to this kootu.Replace with vegetable oil,if you cannot find coconut oil.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


This is a typical  accompaniment for rice  in every south indian house.Morning if you are walking along the streets for a  morning walk or reaching to bus stop for office or for any other reason, you can smell the aroma of boiling sambar from every house you pass by.You can make quite some variations with a basic sambar  recipe.


Toor dhal                 1/3 cup
Water for dhal          1 cup
turmeric powder       1/2 tsp
Asafoetida                1/2 tsp
Sambar powder        1 1/4 tsp
Tamarind                   gooseberry size( 1 tbsp tightly packed)
Radish                       1 medium size(sliced to disks of 1/4 inch thickness)
Sesame Oil
Mustard seeds           1/2 tsp
Fenugreek seeds        1/8 tsp
Curry leaves
Coriander leaves


Pressure cook dhal with 1/4 tsp turmeric powder and a cup of water for 2 to 3 whistles.Mash and keep aside.

Soak tamarind in warm water(1/4 cup) for 15 minutes. Then extract juice from it approximately 1/4 cup.

Heat oil in a kadai and add mustard and fenugreek seeds.Once  mustard  crackles add radish slices along with 1/4 tsp turmeric,1/4 cup water, asafoetida and 1/4 tsp salt.

Cover and cook until radish is 80% cooked.

Add tamarind extract and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes until the raw smell from tamarind goes away.

In a small cup mix sambar powder with a tbsp of water to a smooth paste and add it to the tamarind mixture.

Cook for another 5 minutes.

Add mashed dhal along with curry leaves and coriander leaves and adjust salt to your taste.

Once you see bubbles forming on top turn off the heat.

Serve it hot with rice and vegetable of your choice.


Replace radish with ladies finger and drumstick for variation.

Capsicum and brinjal can also be added to bring more flavour to sambar.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Chettinad paneer Korma

As  the name suggests, this recipe is from chettinad cuisine from TamilNadu.This is one of the famous cousines from India too.These recipes will have unique strong flavor coming from the freshly ground spices that has made this cousine so popular.

This korma is  generally served with "kal Dosa" which is a soft and spongy version of dosa.Soon you can find that recipe in forthcoming weeks.But this goes well with chapathi/roti and simple pulav varieties too.


Chettinad Paste

Coriander seeds                            1 tsp
Coconut  grated                            2 tsp
Oil                                                1 /2 tsp
Cloves                                          2
Cinnamon stick                             1 inch
Green cardamom                          2
Cumin seeds                                 1/2 tsp
Fennel seeds                                 1/2 tsp
Pepper corns                                 6
Black stone flower / kalpasi           1 leaf
Star anise                                      1
Ginger                                           1 inch
Garlic                                            2 cloves
Dry Red chilli                                 1
Poppy seeds                                  1 tsp
Shallots                                          2

For Gravy

Red onion                                       1 small (finely chopped)
Tomato                                           2 (finely chopped)
Red chilli powder                            1 tsp
Oil                                                  2 tsp
Paneer/cottage cheese                     1 cup(cubed)
Salt                                                  to taste
Coriander leaves/cilantro                  for garnishing


  1. Soak poppy seeds in hot water for 20 minutes.
  2. Heat oil in a pan and  roast the ingredients given for chettinad paste except coconut,ginger and garlic for about a minute.This is done to get the best aroma from the masala items.
  3. Cool and grind it to a fine paste with coconut,ginger,garlic and poppy seeds.Set aside.
  4. Heat 2 tsp oil in a pan over medium heat.
  5. Add onion and saute until translucent.
  6. Add tomatoes ,red chilli powder and salt and saute until they turn completely mushy.
  7. Add the freshly ground chettinad paste and 3/4 cup water and allow it to boil for 5 minutes.
  8. Add paneer cubes and simmer for 5 minutes.
  9. Add chopped coriander leaves and serve hot.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014


 This is one such item to be a sure hit every time in my house. Name varies from state to state but recipe is almost the same.On a rainy day evening, with a cup of hot coffee/tea ...this would be a perfect combo.

Usually these are prepared for Diwali and other such occasions in south.But do you really think you need an occasion to munch on these?


Rice flour                               2 cups

Roasted channa dal powder/pottukadalai powder/ Dalia    2 tbsp
Roasted urad dal powder       1 tbsp   *( see note)
Red chilli powder                    1  1 /2 to 2 tsp
Hing / Asafoetida                    1/2 tsp
Butter                                    1 tbsp (room temp)
Oil                                         to fry
Curry leaves                           1sprig
Channa dal                            2 tbsp (soaked in water for 15 min)


  • Keep oil in a wide pan over medium heat.
  • In a wide bowl mix rice flour,roasted channa dal powder, roasted urad powder,red chilli,hing,broken curry leaves,soaked channa dal and salt together.Add butter and hot oil( 1 tbsp) and incorporate well.
  • Now the flour mix should resemble bread crumbs.Slowly add some water and make a non sticky dough.
  • Take a plastic sheet and slightly grease with some oil.
  • Make small balls of dough , keep it on the plastic sheet with enough space around.
  • Cover the balls with another plastic sheet .
  • Press it with a flat bottom bowl/cup.Prick it with fork few times to avoid air pocket formation and fry them.

Store it in an air tight container and enjoy with coffee/ tea.


* If you cannot find urad dal powder , dry roast 2 tbsp of urad on a slow flame and grind it to a fine       powder.Thats what I did here.

*Butter and hot oil  is must . Without these , thattai will be hard to bite.

Monday, February 10, 2014


Idly is a staple breakfast item in South India.Be it a regular household or restaurant or a wedding idlis with chutney and sambar will be a top selling item . Assorted variety of chutney and piping hot sambar will accompany the pillowy soft idlis on all the occasions.   Also Idli , Pongal , Vadai is a winner combo too.Where as in households its usually milaga podi/ idli podi or any one chutney.I have lost count on how many idlis i have made / ate ...... Till date this is my absolute favorite breakfast I can vouch like any other South Indian.Trust me, often these simple breakfast is what you'll need to transport yourself to the childhood memories .

Amma religiously makes idli even now .That traditional way of laying a  damp cotton liner (old dhothi of appa) over the idli mould and peeling them with a splash of cold water once done (  Aavi parakkumThatu moodi idli).Weekdays it's mostly served with molaga podi / idli podi  besides a cup of thick yogurt/ curd. Bliss is the word. As and when we are done she would bring steaming hot ones straight from  the stove. That mallipoo idli is to die for and  I bet you would eat for your hearts content. By the way, mom has an affair with her grinder that without a fresh stock of batter she can't sleep .....

 While eating , gazing over the magazines is what i always used to do and countless scoldings I've got for that reason. I never knew those scoldings would turn into golden memory later.

On holidays , there will be an array of  chutneys and sambar. After that breakfast session, the most awaited second dose of   filter kapi (coffee). That hot kapi after a spicy podi idli gives that umami effect. All you would need is an easy chair to rest yourself. Now that thatu moodi is in my agenda list.

And I must tell you, those were the days that people relied on Radio and Tape recorder( for those well to do families) for entertainment. We had an old radio that was a wedding gift for mom and dad. That is the one we used to listen to often on holidays. After the breakfast session, laying back on an easy chair and listening to Ilayaraja songs are the moments to cherish for ever.
Nan thedum sevandhi poovidhu....
senthazham poovil vandhadum thenral....
idhu oru  pon malali pozhudhu....
pani vizhuum malarvanam......
pothi vecha maliya mottu......
malaiyoram veesum katru........

and the list goes on and on. 

My love for  that simple idli drenched in milaga podi  and sesame oil / gingely oil is still continuing and  I would let it sit for a while to get that nice spicy idlis . That's what gives the best flavor ever  and that eye catching color to these humble idlis.

Every South Indian home has their recipe for soft idli. Though many of us know this recipe, some of us still find it tricky to get a spongy idlis.This post is for those people who wants to get perfect soft and spongy idlis.

The real trick for soft idli lies in a good consistency batter.This also indirectly means a good quality urad.Only a good quality urad gives good volume of batter that in turn  makes idlis so soft and fluffy.Select boiled rice | idly rice for batter and not the regular raw rice .
I strongly recommend wet grinder for the batter. The volume of batter drastically varies if you use a regular mixer grinder. Here I'm sharing both the methods.

Ingredients for wet grinder method

IdlyRice                  - 4 cups * see notes
Urad                       - 1 cup
Fenugreek seeds     -  1 tsp
Salt                         -  3 tsp (adjust to your taste)


Soak rice in a separate bowl . Soak urad and fenugreek together in a separate bowl. Make sure  that you have added enough water to cover the ingredients. It is always a good practice to have 3 inches of excess water on top. Urad would bulge and so you need enough water in a bigger bowl. If you are in a cold country ,soak for a minimum of 6 to 7 hrs.Otherwise you can soak for 4 hours.

Grind urad and fenugreek first ,by adding little water at a time.Use your spatula and keep clearing the urad accumulating on the sides to get a uniform smooth batter.Usually for a cup of urad, it takes about 20 to 25 minutes to get a good volume of batter.When you touch the batter it should feel slightly cool and light,fluffy.That's when you have got the correct consistency.Transfer it into a container.

Now start grinding rice separately .Use water accordingly to help grinding. Keep clearing the sides to get a uniform texture.Usually rice is ground to a slightly coarse consistency for idlis.This also takes about 20 to 25 minutes. Then transfer the batter into the same container.Approximately the volume of both the batter should be equal  to get a soft and spongy idlis.

Add salt and mix thoroughly. Make sure that the container is big enough for fermentation as there will be an increase in volume during this stage.Keep it in a warm place and ferment it for 5 hrs(8 hrs for cold countries).

Ingredients for Mixer| Mixie

 Idly Rice                  - 2 1/2 cups
Urad                        - 1 cup
Fenugreek seeds      - 1 tsp
salt                           - 2 tsp (adjust to your taste)


Soak urad and fenugreek together for 4 hrs.(6 to 8 hrs for cold countries).
Soak rice separately for 4 hrs.(6 to 8 hrs for cold countries).

Grind urad and rice separately  by adding required amount for water.Both the batter should be approximately equal in volume to get soft idlis.

Mix both the batter together and add salt and mix thoroughly. Make sure that the container is big enough for fermentation as there will be an increase in volume during this stage.Keep it in a warm place and ferment it for 5 hrs(8 hrs for cold countries).

Fermenting the batter
This is a crucial step to achieve the best result. If you are in a warm country , no extra efforts needed. Just cover and keep aside for 8 hrs.
If you are in a cold country, Preheat oven for a while so that oven becomes warm. Then leave the batter covered and turn on the oven light) and leave it over night , it might take 8 to 10 hrs.

Making Idlis

Keep the steamer ready with just boiling water.

Mix the batter gently and pour it into greased idly plates and steam for 6  to 8 minutes.

Give it a standing time of 5 minutes.With a help of a wet spoon , take the idlis from the idly plates.

Serve it hot with idli podi , chutney and sambar.


If you are not sure about the urad , Try using 3: 1 ratio of rice to urad. If your idli looks flat , that indicates urad is more, so increase the rice a bit more 3.5 cups to 1 cup urad.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Tofu pulav

I always like to cook and enjoy food with family and friends.But, cleaning? I know... all of us have the same feeling.So, usually I prefer something light and easy,one pot meal kind of food for dinner to simplify my cleaning work.One such food is this pulav.Trust me, it is simple to cook but tastes really yum.


Tofu                                          1 cup (Extra firm)
Achari masala/pickle masala      2 tsp
Onion                                       1 big (thinly sliced)
Tomato                                     1  medium (chopped)
Bay leaf                                    1
Green cardamom                      2
Cloves                                      2
Star anise                                  1
Ghee                                         2 tbsp
Oil                                            2 tsp
Sour yogurt                              1/2 cup + 1/4 cup
Basmati rice                             1 1/2 cup
Kashmiri red chilli powder        1 tsp
Ginger garlic paste                    1 tsp
Salt                                           to taste
Mint leaves                               1/2 cup ( chopped)
Coriander leaves                      1/2 cup (chopped)
Water                                      2 1/2 cup

To roast & grind

 Cinnamon  stick      1 inch
Black pepper           1/4 tsp
cloves                      4
green cardamom       4
fennel seeds               1/4 tsp
coriander seeds         1/2 tsp
bay leaf                     2
nutmeg                      1/4
star anise                  1
mace                         2


Drain water from tofu and wrap it with paper towel / kitchen towel to absorb extra moisture.

Wash and soak rice for 15 minutes.

Take 1/4 cup yogurt in a bowl.Add pickle masala 1 tsp and salt . Mix well. Marinate tofu slices for 15 minutes.

Heat a pan and dry roast the ingredients one by one separately, given under roast and grind  .Let it cool and grind it to a fine powder.

Heat  2 tbsp ghee and 1 tsp oil  in a heay bottom pan.Add whole garam masala ingredients and wait for aroma (20 sec) and then add in the onions and saute until golden brown. Add ginger garlic paste and saute until raw flavor is gone.Add tomatoes and some salt and saute for 2 minutes.Then add a tsp of the freshly ground masala and red chilli powder and saute until tomato turns completely mushy.Add half of the chopped mint and coriander leaves.Reduce the heat completely and add 1/2 cup of whisked yogurt and give it a quick mix.(If you want , take it out from heat , add yogurt and mix thoroughly and then return to heat.)Now add water and salt and increse the heat to high.Once water comes to a rolling boil add rice. Cook it in high without coverfor 5 minutes.Then reduce the heat to simmer and cook covered until all the water is absorbed and rice is cooked perfectly(light and flaky).

While rice is cooking, heat a griddle and grill tofu slices until you see golden color.
Drain them in paper towel and cut them into cubes.Add these grilled tofu pieces to pulav .

Add the remaining coriander and mint leaves on top.Keep it covered for 15 minutes. 

Serve it hot with any raita .


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Methi Thepla

Yet another variety of Indian flat bread from Gujarat.These are simple to make but delicious to munch.For travel or lunch box or snack, this bread will come handy.Since they are loaded with green leaves, they are healthy too.

These breads are rolled out thin to avoid air pocket formation . So these breads will not become stale quickly, hence they are travel friendly too.


Whole wheat flour        - 1 cup
Fenugreek leaves          - 1/2 cup( Roughly chopped)
Turmeric powder          - 1/2 tsp
Cumin powder             - 1/2 tsp
Red Chilli powder        - 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida                   - 1/4 tsp
Yougurt                        - 2 tbsp
Water                          -  1/4 cup
Salt                             - to taste
Oil                               - 2 tbsp


In a wide bowl,add all the dry ingredients and incorporate them well.Add chopped methi/ fenugreek leaves and mix well.Then add yogurt and mix thoroughly.Now add water little at a time to make a hard dough.Apply little oil and cover it and let it rest for 15 minutes.

The methi leaves will ooze out little water when mixed with salt.So after resting time, the dough will be soft and pliable.

Divide the dough into equal sized balls. Dust and roll it into thin disks.
Heat a griddle in high heat and cook the thepla one side.Flip it and smear some oil on top.Do the same for the other side.

Enjoy with pickle and raita.