Thursday, March 31, 2011

Avalakki Bisibela bath..

Avalakki bisibelabath is a very famous and delicious Karnataka style delicacy belonging to the bisibleabth family, but with slight variations.
The regular bisibelabath is made using thoor dhal and raw rice while this one calls for moong dhal and beaten rice.
'Avalakki' in kannada means beaten rice, 'bisi' means hot,'bela' means lentils and 'bath' means rice put together beaten rice and lentils.
This is served in most weddings and also in many temples in Karnataka.
It is a very flavorful and wholesome dish very rich in proteins.
I first came to know about this dish from my uncle and since then, this has been one of the favorites in our house and I love making this, especially on weekends for a family lunch.
Thanx Chittappa!
Here goes the recipe:

Ingredients:

 Thick Avalakki/ Beaten Rice/Poha- 2 Cups

Yellow Moong dhal/- 2 Cups

Chopped mixed veggies- 2 Cups  (Green beans, carrots,peas,lima beans) I add white  pumpkin too.

Tomatoes chopped- 2 nos.(medium)

Onions chopped- 1 no. (medium)

Capsicum/ Bell pepper chopped - 1 no.

Bisibelath powder- 3-4 tbsp (u can use homemade or MTR bisibelabath powder or paste)

Tamarind water- 1 Cup diluted

Turmeric powder- 1 Tsp

Salt to taste

For tempering:

Ghee- 2- 3 tbsp

Mustard seeds- 1 Tsp

Dry red chilly- 1

Broken cashew pieces- 2 Tbsp

Curry leaves- a sprig

Asafoetida- 1/2 Tsp

  
Roasted Peanuts- 1 Tbsp

Shredded Copra/ dry coconut scrapings- 1 Tbsp


Procedure:

1.Cook the moong dhal and veggies(except onion,tomatoes and capsicum if using) with salt and turmeric for 2 whistles in a pressure cooker or a wide mouthed pan until they are soft but not mushy.

3.Boil the tamarind water in a big wide pan and add the chopped tomatoes and let it cook for five minutes.

4.When the tomatoes are cooking, add the bisibelabath powder followed by the cooked dhal and veggies.

5.Meanwhile wash the beaten rice under running water, drain well and set aside.

6.Now add the beaten rice to the mixture, reduce the heat,stir  well and let cook for about 15-20 minutes.

7.Heat ghee in a pan and add the once hot, add the mustard seeds, dry red chilly, asafoetida, cashews, peanuts, curry leaves, onions and capsicum. Saute for a few minutes till the onions turn transparent and shiny. Switch off the heat and add the grated dry coconut.

8.Pour the tempering on top of the bisibelabath mixture and remove from the heat.

9.Let sit for a few minutes with the lid on for the flavors to lock in.

10.Serve hot (as the name says!) with potato chips, raitha, vadagams of your choice.

Note: The veggies and dhal must not be made mushy as it will spoil the whole dish.
 Likewise, care to be taken while washing the beaten rice as it will dissolve or turn mushy if soaked in water for long.
If using MTR bisibleabath paste, there is no need to add tamarind water as it already has tamarind in it. Just add the paste to the cooked rice and dhal and then the beaten rice to it. Do the seasoning in the end as usual.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Quinoa with Veggies / Quinoa Upma..

Quinoa is a type of healthy grain which is high in protein,calcium, phosphorous and it contains a combination of a greater proportion of important amino acids.
It has become very popular in the recent years and is widely being used in many cuisines, especially the Indian.
I have come across so many upma and other khichdi varieties while googling for recipes with Quinoa.
The one I'm goin to share is a simple salad cum upma types and it also includes a combination of veggies.
Here it is:


Ingredients:

Quinoa- 1 Cup

Water-2 Cups or little less

Finely chopped mixed veggies like carrots. peas, capsicum and onions- 1 Cup

Raw or roasted peanuts- a handful

Chopped cilantro- a  few to garnish

Mint leaves- a few to garnish

lemon juice- a few drops

Green chillies- 2 nos. slit lenghtwise

Oil- 1 Tbsp

Cumin seeds- 1 Tbsp

Curry Powder/Cumin coriander/ pepper powder- 1 Tbsp

Salt to taste

Procedure:

1.Cook the quinoa according to the instructions on the packet.

2.Heat oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds, green chillies and the onions.

3.Let the onions cook till they are transparent and then add the veggies, salt and curry powder.Saute for few minutes and mix in the cooked quinoa.

4.Simmer the heat for a few minutes and cover and cook till the flavours are absorbed.

5.Switch off the heat and then garnish with chopped cilantro, mint leaves and lemon juice.




Recreated Thavalai Adai..


Now having eaten the sweet and salt karadaiyan nonbu adais to our hearts and stomach's full, it is difficult  and boring to imagine another day of eating the same thing. So for big hand people like me, who are used to cooking in surplus, here is an interesting recipe if you have surplus uppu adai flour! This is my mom's recreated version of thavalai adai- a tiffin which I have enjoyed and drooled over as a kid and even now!!
Here is the recipe:



Ingredients:

Uppu adai flour- about 1 Cup

Sooji /Rava- 1/4 cup (even fine bread crumbs wrok great!)

Oil- to make adais

Method:

1.Bring the flour to room temperature at least half and hour before if it has been refrigerated.

2.Mix the sooji or bread crumbs to the flour and knead it well. Don't bother to knead it too much. Its just to give the adai a crunchy finish.

3.Take a sizable ball of the dough and pat in on a plastic sheet or a wax paper into a disc bigger than that of an uppu adai not forgetting to make a hole in the center.

3.Heat a griddle on medium and when it is hot, just invert the adai on it and pour a drop of oil in the middle and around the adai and close it with a lid.

4.Cook for about 5 minutes on both sides till they are nice and brown in color and crispy.



5.Enjoy hot with some ghee and ketchup or anything of your choice!

6.My lil fella just loved the recreated adai and I was in all praises for it!!

Karadaiyan Nonbu Uppu Adai & Vella Adai..

Karadaiyan Nonbu is a major TamBram festival celebrated at the time of Meena Sankramam - ending of the Tamil month of Maasi and beginning of Panguni. Also known as Savitri Vratham, Karadayan Nonbu ritual is observed by all married women for the well being of their husband and that the couples should remain together always. Unmarried women also observe Karadaiyan Nonbu and pray to Goddess Shakti to get good men as their husband. It is similar to the Karva Chaut observed by North Indians.
It is customary of the married women to observe a fast on this day, do pooja wearing the traditional nine yards saree or madisar, draw a kolam, place a small banana leaf on it with the uppu adai, vella adai and a dollop of butter, do the pooja and tie the yellow thread or 'charadu' and offer the neiveidhyam to Goddess Shakthi or Kamakshi thus seeking Her blessings. The slokam or prayer chanted at the time of tying the charadu is:
"Urukkaadha vennaiyum oraidaiyum naan notren,
Orukaalum yen kanavan piriyamal irukkanum."
I manged to do everthing except tie "the madisar" which I hope to get familiar by the next nonbu!
Now traditionally in any prasadham or neiveidhyam involving rice flour, raw rice is washed thoroughly, drained of all the water, spread on a soft muslin cloth to dry and then ground to a fine powder and seived well before it is used. But the easier way out is to use store-bought rice flour!!

On to the recipe:


Ingredients for Vella Adai or Sweet Adai:

Rice flour- 1 Cup

Water- 1& 3/4 to 2 Cups

Jaggery- 3/4 to 1 Cup (depending on the type of jaggery and your sweet tooth)

Black eyed peas or Karamani- less than 1/4 Cup

Coconut pieces- 2 Tbsp

Butter or ghee- 2 Tbsp

Jackfruit/ Palappazha cholai- 2 Tbsp Chopped into small pieces (optional)

Crushed Cardamom - 3- 4 pods

Procedure:

1.If using the conventional method, follow this- wash raw rice thoroughly, drain off all the water, spread it on a soft muslin cloth to dry, then grind to a fine powder and sieve well and then roast till it turns  brown and aromatic. For store-bought floor, just roast well skipping the rest.

2.Dry roast the black eyed peas and soak them in hot water.

3.Heat water in a wide mouth pan and dissolve the jaggery in it and strain to remove any debris or impurities.

4.Return the jaggery water to the pan and bring it to a boil.

5.Now add the ghee,rice flour, black eyed peas, coconut pieces, jackfruit pieces, and the crushed cardamom.

6.Stir well and cook for a few minutes till it forms a soft dough.

7.Cover and let sit for a few minutes.

8.Once cool, knead the flour and take small balls of it and make discs with a small hole in the center.

9.Steam the adais for about 10 minutes on an idly plate in a steamer till they get a glossy look.






10.Hot yummy adais with fresh butter ready!!!

Ingredients for Uppu Adai or Salt Adai:

Rice flour-1 Cup

Water- 1 & 3/4 to 2 Cups

Oil- 2Tbsp

Mustard seeds- 1 Tsp

Urad dhal/ulutham paruppu- 1 Tsp

Black eyed peas- 1 tbsp

Asafoetida or hing- a pinch

Green chillies- 3 nos.

Curry leaves- a few finely chopped

Coconut pieces- 1 Tbsp chopped

Salt to taste

1.Dry roast the rice flour till aromatic and the black eyed peas and soak the peas in water.

2.Pulse the coconut pieces and green chillies in the mixer coarsely or you can chop them finely.

3.Heat oil on medium in the same pan and add the mustard seeds, urad dhal, black eyed peas, hing, curry leaves, coconut green chilly mixture, water and salt.

4.Let the water come to a boil and then slowly add the rice flour stirring it well so that it does not form any lumps.

5.Cook for a minute or so and switch off the heat.

6.Cover and let sit for a few minutes till it cools down.

7.Grease your palms and knead the dough, make small balls,flatten them into small discs and make a hole in the center like for the sweet adai.

8.Steam the adais on a idly plate in a steamer for about 10 minutes.

9.Let the adais cool down and enjoy them with fresh butter.





Friday, March 11, 2011

Tandoori Paneer Masala / Marinated Cottage Cheese in Spicy Tomato Gravy..

Paneer is a staple part of the North Indian cuisine and is mainly used in curries and gravies. It is also referred to as cottage cheese or Indian cheese. It is rich in protein and also addictive in taste! This recipe is one where the paneer is marinated in a spicy yogurt sauce and cooked in a rich tomato gravy to enhance its taste, thus making it a gourmet dish!
Here is how I made it: 

Ingredients for the marinade:

Paneer- 400 gms or 2 cups approximately

Yogurt- 1/4 cup

Oil- 1 tbsp

Red chilly powder- 1 tsp 

Tandoori masala- 1/2 tsp

Garam masala- 1/2 tsp

Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp

Fruit chat powder- 1/4 tsp(optnl) - I like the flavour of it

Kasoori Methi or Dried fenugreek leaves-1 tsp

Salt to taste

For the Gravy:

Tomatoes- 3 ripe ones chopped

Tomato paste- 1 Tbsp(optnl)

Bell peppers- 1 Cup ( green or mixed colors) -optional (I just added them for color!)

Green chillies- 2 nos.

Ginger- 1/2 inch piece

Broken cashews- 1 tbsp

Chopped cilantro- to garnish

Bay leaf- 1 no.

Cumin seeds- 1 tbsp

Coriander powder- 1 tbsp

Kashmiri chilly powder- 1 tsp

Garam masala- 1/2 tsp

Sugar- 1/2 tsp

Oil- 2 tbsp

Procedure:

1.Cut the paneer into small rectangular pieces of 1/8 inch thickness and the bell peppers into long strips.

2.To prepare the marinade, mix all the items and add the paneer pieces to it.

3.Toss it around well so that the pieces are evenly coated. Cover with a plastic wrap and let it marinate for 1-2 hrs in the refrigerator.

4.Meanwhile, grind the tomatoes with green chllies, ginger and cashews.

5. Heat oil in a pan and saute the bell peppers for a few minutes, remove from the pan and set it aside.

6.Next, saute the marinated paneer in the same pan till it becomes slightly brown and set it aside.

7.Now add the cumin seeds and bay leaf to the oil while it is still hot and pour the tomato puree and paste(if using) followed by all the spice powders and sugar.

8.Cook for five to seven minutes till the gravy begins to thicken and add the paneer and bell pepper pieces to it.

9.Continue to cook for five more minutes and then switch off the heat and add the chopped cilantro to garnish.

10.Serve hot with naan, roti, paratha or any fried rice of your choice.



 Note: For Tikka Paneer or Paneer Kebabs, the same marinade recipe can be followed after which the paneer and vegetables can be lined on bamboo skewers and grilled or broiled.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Vazhakkai Podimas / Grated Plantain Curry..

Plantain is the raw form of banana before its ripe stage and this tropical vegetable is extensively used in the tambram cuisine. It is one vegetable where all its parts can be used to prepare some or the other dish. Like the plantain stem called as vazhathandu can be made as curry, the flower also known as vazhapoo can be used to make kootu, stir-fry or fritters. The plantain leaf or vazha elai is used in South India to spread the feast on it during festivals and other occasions.
One of the recipes I'm going to share is the grated plantain curry. This dish is served in most of the tambram weddings and other important occasions and is one of my favourites. Here it is:

Ingredients:

Plantains- 4 big ones

For tempering:

Mustard seeds- 1 Tsp

Urad dhall- 1 Tbsp

Dry red chilly- 1

Asafoetida/Hing- 1/4 tsp

Curry leaves - a few

Coconut/ Veg Oil- 1 Tbsp

Grated coconut- 1 Tbsp

Green chillies- 1 or 2 according to spice levels

Lemon juice- 1Tbsp


Step by step process of making the curry.


Procedure:

1.Steam the plantains with the skin on either in the pressure cooker or a steamer. I usually keep it on a plate above the rice in the cooker and cook it for 2 to 3 whistles. Do not overcook it.

2.Allow it to cool and peel the skin off and grate the plantains using a grater. You can also make it into small crumbles using your fingers if you want to avoid grating.

3.Pulse the green chillies and coconut pieces together a few times without any water.

4.Heat oil in and once hot add the mustard seeds. When it starts to splutter, add the urad dhall, dry red chilly, asafoetida, curry leaves and the coconut green chilly mixture.

5.Saute for a few minutes and then add the grated plantains and salt.

6.Cover and cook for a few minutes till the plantains are soft and are mixed well with the tempering.

7.Switch off the heat and add the lemon juice and mix well.

8.Serve with hot rice, rasam or any kuzhambu of your choice. I usually prefer some kind of vetha kuzhambu along with this podimas and had made karuvadam vethakuzhambu.







A typical tambram meal with paruppu, hot steaming rice, ghee , karuvadam kuzhambu and vazhakkai podimas! Krishnarpanam!

Ragi Muddhe / Kezhvaragu Urundai / Finger Millet Balls..

Ragi Muddhe or Finger Millet Balls form a very staple diet of Karnataka and Andhra. It is power packed, healthy, tasty and easy to digest that the flour from sprouted ragi seeds is even introduced as the first food for babies.
In fact my lil one grew up eating Ragi Kuzhu or Finger Millet Porridge.
The nutritional facts of finger millet are:
It is a rich source of iron,carbohydrates, sodium, phosphorous and most important is that it contains an essential amino acid called 'methionine'.
My mother often prepares this muddhe with Soppu Huli otherwise known as Keera kuzhambu or Dal palak.
It can be had with any type of sambhar or paruppu kuzhambu and tastes excellent!
Since this is in my husband's not so liked list, I had made it for myself on a weekday afternoon and happily polished off five sizable balls of it for lunch!!
There are two methods to prepare it and I'm writing down both.I have tried both the methods and was successful in getting a nice muddhe! Here they are:

Ingredients:

Ragi flour- 1 Cup (U can use homemade sprouted ragi flour or store brought ragi flour-both work fine)

Water- 2 Cups

Oil- 1/2 tbsp

Salt- 1/2 tsp

Method 1:

1.Mix the ragi flour with 3/4th cup of water to form a thick batter without any lumps.

2.Bring the remaining water to a boil with 1/2 tbsp of oil and salt.

3.Now slowly add the ragi batter to it and mix well with a wooden ladle to form a thick pliable dough without any lumps.

4.Remove from heat and greasing your hands or dipping it in cold water, take small quantity of the dough and make small balls when it is still hot.

5.Serve immediately with any sambhar/or bele huli/parippu  kuzhambu or your choice.



Method 2:

1.Bring 2 cups of water to a rolling boil with 1/2 tbsp oil and 1/2 of salt.

2.Slowly add the ragi flour to it while stirring with a wooden ladle to avoid lumps being formed.Lower the heat.

3.Remove from heat when it is a firm pliable dough which will approximately take 2-3 minutes.

4.Dip your hands in cold water and make small balls out of the dough when it is still hot.

5.Serve immediately with any sambhar or kuzahmbu of your choice.



I had made bele huli (paruppu kuzhambu)with onion, capsicum and tomato and the taste is still lingering in my mouth!!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Mixed Vegetable Upma Kids Style..

I have heard that kids generally don't prefer upma as much when compared to the other south Indian tiffin items like dosa or idly.
But surprisingly, my little one loves this mixed veg upma which I make for his lunch box. Its the kids' friendly version, like the semiya upma, and does not have much spices in it.
Quick and easy to prepare, this mixed vegetable upma has it all! Here goes the recipe:

Ingredients:

Chiroti Sooji/Fine Rava - 1 Cup

Water- 2 Cups

Mixed veggies- 1/2 Cup (I use peas carrots)

Chopped onion-1/4 Cup

Oil- 1 Tbsp

Mustard seeds- 1 Tsp

Urad dhal- 1 Tsp

Dry red chilly- 1 or 2

Turmeric- a pinch

Asafoetida/Hing- a pinch

Curry leaves- a few

Salt to taste

Procedure:

1.Boil water in a sauce pan.

2. In a another pan, heat oil and add the mustard seeds, urad dhal, dry red chilly, turmeric and  hing once its hot.

3.Next add the curry leaves and the onions.Saute for 2 mins till they onions turn transparent.

4.Now add the veggies and salt and saute for a few minutes till become a little soft and add the rava finally.

5.Roast everything for a few minutes and then slowly add the boiling water to it with one hand and stirring the mixture with the other hand. Do not let it form lumps.Check for the salt at this stage.

6.Cover the pan with a lida nd let it cook for a few minutes on medium low flame.

7.Stir once in between and switch off the heat.

8.Fluff it up a little before packing it in the box and add a few drops of ghee and sugar on it. Trust me, not only kids but v too will love the aroma of ghee and sugar on the hot upma! It can also be eaten with sauce or tomato ketchup.



A simple yet sumptuous, colorful lunch box menu!

Thakkali Thokku / Tomato Pickle..

Thakkali thokku is one of my favourite items among the many dishes that my mother makes. It is a general practice in our house to make and store some kind of thokku, or vatha kuzhambu or pulikaachal. In fact, when it is the season for tomatoes, I remember my mother used to make a lot of tomato delicacies such as thokku, jam, jiuce etc.
This tomato thokku is a very simple one of its kind with very few ingredients.
Here is the recipe:

Ingredients:

Tomatoes- 6 large nos. (medium ripe)

Tamarind- a small lemon size ball

Gingely oil or veg Oil- 3 to 4 Tbsp

Mustard seeds- 1 Tsp

Dry red chillies-10 nos. (can adjust according to spice levels)

Red chilly powder- 1 Tsp (optnl)

Asafoetida or Hing- 1/4 tsp

Turmeric- a pinch

Jaggery- a gooseberry size ball (optnl)

Curry leaves- a few

Salt to taste

Procedure:

1.Wash the tomatoes well and blend them along with the red chillies, tamarind and salt in to a puree without adding any water.

2.Heat oil in a pan and let the mustard seeds splutter followed by the curry leaves, turmeric and hing.

3.Add the pureed tomato paste to the pan and let it cook.

4.Keep the heat on medium low and slow cook the mixture for about 30 to 45 minutes adding salt when the raw smell of the tomatoes is diffused. (approximately after 15- 20 minutes)

5.Stir the mixture once in between to avoid sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Check for salt and spice levels and adjust accordingly when it has cooked for about half an hour or more.

6.When the mixture thickens to form a paste and oil starts to ooze out from its corners, add the jaggery, give it a stir and switch off the heat.

7.Let it cool completely and store it in an airtight tight container. I usually don't refrigerate it immediately, cos I feel it becomes dry soon. But again, if you live in a hot place, it is better to refrigerate it.
Now after transferring the thokku to a container, it is customary in our houses to add cooked rice and mix it with the leftovers of the thokku in the pan. Believe me this is the best part and I still remember v as kids used to fight for that ball of thokku rice!Not only for this thokku, but for any kaara curry or stir fry vegetable!

8.The thokku tastes good with most of the south Indian tiffin items such as idli, dosa, upma, adai etc..
Y, even with hot steaming rice and a dollop of ghee or a few drops of gingely oil on it!



That was hot steaming pidi kuzhakkattai and freshly made thakkali thokku!

Note: When the mixture is boiling, it usually splashes a lot on the sides of the pan and the surrounding area which is very normal.
Slow cooking is very important ,so do not hasten the cooking process or increase the heat.
Oil is an important preservative for any kind or thokku or pickle. Do not reduce the quantity of oil.
You can also add a tablespoon of roasted and finely powdered fenugreek and mustard seeds to the thokku before switching off the heat as it gives a more authentic pickle taste. 
Please ensure to use a clean and dry spoon for the thokku. Any moisture or water in the spoon can  cause fungus formation in the pickle thus reducing its life.