Friday, July 28, 2006

Cooking From Blogs - 1

When I first started blogging about cooking it was to make the daily chore of cooking more interesting and also a chance to experiement. I had absolutely no idea about the phenomenon called Food Blogging and what I accidently discovered was a treasure trove of authentic mouth watering recipes not only from the different regions of India but all round the world.

This time around my dishes are from
1. Manpasand ... From my kitchen to yours.
2. Vineela's Cuisine
3. Sumi's Kitchen.
4. Mahanandi

Mango Ice Cream
My stock went up considerably along with the heat after I made Mango Ice Cream, thanks to Krithika's Manpasand ... From my kitchen to yours. Everybody from the youngest to oldest absolutely loved it. A great treat for the summer heat. Like she says No fuss, quick and easy and ofcourse very tasty.

Vadai Kari
Being from TamilNadu I was surprised that I have never heard of this dish, did some research and found that this a very popular dish in Chennai. When I saw the recipe on Vineela's Cuisine I had to make it. I also found a slightly different recipe on Sumi's Kitchen. I adapted the dish from both their recipes. Thanks guys this was a big hit I did not want to deep fry the vadais so steamed them but have to remember not to steam them for too long, they become hard.


Vadai Ingredients
1 1/2 cups channa dal (soaked overnight)
1 tsp jeera
1 tsp fennel seeds
2 green chillies
1/2 inch ginger
blend the above to a coarse paste and steam cook them like idlis for 4-6 minutes

Curry Ingredients
1. 1/2 red onion chopped fine
2. 2 tomatoes chopped fine
3. 2 garlic cut lengthwise
4. 1/2 cup corriander leaves chopped
5. 1 1/2 tsp chilly powder
6. 1 tsp corriander powder
7. 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
8. seasoning curry leaves, mustard seeds, cumin
9. 1 tsp oil

1. In a pan heat oil, splutter mustard seeds, add the curry leaves.
2. Add the onions and fry till translucent, add the garlic pieces and fry a little
3. Add the tomatoes and fry till soft.
4. Add all the powders and mix well.
5. Add the chopped corriander leaves, fry a little bit
5. Break the vadais and mix well.
6. Add about 3 cups of water and cover the lid and cook till the desired consistency.

I made this a little dry because I was serving this as a side dish with rice. If you are having vadai curry with idly make it a little watery.

Bottle Gourd with White and Black Channa
When I saw the recipe for Bottle Gourd in Sesame on Mahanandi I remember thinking ONLY Indira can come up with these amazing combinations. I improvised on the recipe a little because I did not have all of the ingrendients. Went to soak the black channa but did not have enough of it so I soaked a little bit of both white and black Channa. The next day when I went to make the paste I did not have dalia or sesame seeds so made a paste with a few other ingredients instead. Needless to say the curry came out well.


For the paste
1. 1/4 cup small onions (now can get these frozen, peeled and ready to go)
2. 2 tbsp of grated coconut
3. 3 red chillies
4. 1 tsp of corriander seeds
5. 1/2 tsp of cumin
6. 1/2 cup of corriander leaves
saute the above in a little bit of oil and grind to a paste.

for the curry
1. 1 1/2 cups of black and white channa soaked overnight and cooked for a whistle
2. 1 Medium sized bottle gourd peeled and cut into cubes
3. 1/4 onion diced
4. 1 cup of tamarind pulp
5. 1/2 tsp tamarind powder
6. seasoning mustard seeds, cumin and curry leaves

1. In a pan take a little bit of oil add the seasonings when the mustard starts to pop add the onion and saute till they become soft.
2. Now add the bottle gourd pieces sprinkled with a little bit of water and salt and turmeric.
3. When they are almost cooked add the cooked channa and mix it well.
4. Now add the ground paste with enough water, check for salt, cover the lid and cook for 5 minutes till desired consistency.

Tasted great with both rice and chappathis.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Meme: 10 Things I miss of my Mom's cooking

Pushpa of PuSiVa'S CuLiNarY StUdiO had tagged me for this Meme. This being my first meme did not want to let it go without answering. When I got around to seeing this meme I was on vacation and actually enjoying my mom's cooking. Now that I am back and missing her cooking thought it was perfect time. Thanks Pushpa I can now walk through memory lane and take a peek at my favorites.

1. Fish Fry and Fish Curry - actually took pictures while she was making.



2. Paal curry kuzhambu with dosai - a watery curry made with coconut milk and tastes excellent with dosai, this curry is regualar in my ammayi's (mom's mom) home also.

3. Mor Kuzhambu with vadakam

4. Mutton Keema with chappathi - Minced mutton

5. Chicken Curry - used to be a regular item on sundays when we feast on this and watch a movie

6. Puzhi Chutney - Chutney made with dal and tamarind, it is usually helps in a pinch when there are no vegetables but this is a dish I yearn for.

7. Panniyaram and Coconut chutney

8. Thakkali Rasam Tomato Rasam

9. Potato Podimas - With grated coconut Yum.

10.Idly Uppuma - made with leftover or sometimes even fresh idlis.

Most of these dishes are what we eat everyday but bring back memories and a longing for home like no other.

PS: Looks like the Indian government has lifted the 'Block on Blogs' and my mom is again able to see my blog.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Weekend Herb Blogging #42: Manathakkali (Black NightShade) Chutney

Manthakkali or Makoy or Milaguthakkali or chukkitti keerai was found growing in everybody's gardens in TamilNadu when I was growing up. We loved to picak and eat the small black berries that the plant produced and were advised to eat the green leaves to cure ulcer in the mouth and it was pretty effective. The leaves had a slightly bitter taste and was made into poriyal (stir fry) sauted with onions, red chillies and grated coconut or they could be made into chutney. The berries when green can be used in curries and they are dried to make vatthals and the Vathal Kuzhambu's are very popular.


I googled to find out the English name - Black Nightshade and the Botanical name is Solanium Nigrum. Of the websites that I found the ones from India had information about the good effects of Manathakkali
but most of information from the sites out of North America scared me, they had Black Nightshade as a poisonous weed. I am thinking but.... we are used to eating this regularly and certainly know of it healing properties... Is this a case of it being a poisonous Weed in the West and a herb in the East or they maybe many varieties of this and a few are poisonous or maybe I am mistaken about the English and botanical name. So please make sure you are eating the right kind.

Bottom line is I am talking about Manathakkali and am not sure of the English or Botanical name. This would be my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging Event brainchild of Kalyn's Kitchen and hosted this week by The Cooking Adventures of Chef Paz.

If you are interested in this herb/green here are some sites.
1. Is black nightshade edible? question in garden forum
2.Article By Arthur Lee Jackson Writer/Plant Expert.
3. Amma's Ask Agent

I brought these seeds along when I came and I grow them in the garden every summer and absolutely love them and my daughters take great delight in eating the berries.

Manathakkali Chutney
The chutney is easy to prepare with a very few ingredients.


1. 2 1/2 cups of Manathakkali greens (pick just the leaves and wash thoroughly)
2. 1/2 red onion diced roughly
3. 3 red chillies halved and seeds removed
4. 2 tbsp of Urad dal
5. 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
6. 1/4 tsp corriander seeds
7. 2 tbsp of grated coconut
8. a little tamarind
9. 1 tsp of oil
10. Salt to taste

1. In a pan heat the oil and fry the urad dal, when it turns brown add the cumin, corriander and red chillies fry a little bit and keep them aside.
2. Add the onion and when they start to turn brown, add the greens and toss them till they wilt.
3. Add the tamarind and coconut and mix them
4. Add the salt.

In a blender blend all the ingredients to a paste. Tastes great with rice. The slight sour taste of the leaves along with the bitter taste of the tamarind is not to be missed.


PS: Manathakkali greens can be substituted with Methi leaves, which is easy to find in Asian and Indian grocery stores in the US.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

GBP 2 - The Gourds

India Blocks Blogs
I am pretty pissed that India chose to join the infamous group which has in it some really ugly members like China, North Korea, Iran .. who think censorship is the answer to everything. Isn't there a better way than this to keep a watch over the criminals and elements who are hell bent on doing harm. I am with you blog friends in India and lets us hope the Indian government sees the futility of its exercise.

And now to my GBP 2.

GBP 2 - The Gourds
First and foremost I have to thank my friends H and V who watered my plants daily. The garden looks better than if I had taken care of it. The plants are all fruiting and ready to be picked. Pavarkai tastes great when picked fresh like this and it is not as bitter and being a big fan of puzhikuzhambus I decided to make Pavarkai Puzhikuzhambu. Not sure if tamarind is good or bad for health I mean, some say there is no harm because after all it is a fruit, others say it is not good. If anybody has thoughts on the benefits/ill effects of Tamarind would love to hear.

Podalangai - Snake Gourd Flower (no fruits yet)

Pavarkai - Bitter Gourds


The pandhal for the creepers that I am proud of

Pavarkai Puzhikuzhambu (Sweet and Sour Bitter Gourd)

The recipe I used for Pavarkai puzhikuzhambu is the same as for Kathrikkai puzhikuzhambu here replacing the kathrikkai with pavarkai. Saute the pavarkai till soft. Add 1 tbsp of jaggery or any kind of sugar towards the end. The next time I get a batch of pavarkai I am going to give KrishnaArjuna's Spicy bitter gourd powder a try.


This will be an entry for LG's Green Blog Project.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Back Again and Homesick

Coming back after a trip to India is like the after effect of watching a good thriller movie, can't believe how the time went by so quickly in a blur. India is as always full of surprises, contradictions and irritations even for someone who lived for 2 decades plus of my life there. The thing that strikes you most is how busy people always are, it is a misconception that people in the West are busy and don't have time for anything else. Prices of everything has gone up, the traffic is bursting at the seams with an array of new cars every day. People are so aware of everything that is going on around the world and it was to fun be there in the midst of Football(soccer) fever. In Cricket India after losing the one day series managed to win the Test Series in the West Indies and everyone was happy that the home team was doing good. It is palpable this happiness. The thing that scared me most was the traffic on the roads and having to travel on them though I was not the one doing the driving. Now with all the cell phones, people use them even when they are riding motor bikes in the chaotic traffic.

It was fun visiting my childhood haunts especially my maternal grandparents home. Cauvery river where we used to swim and have so much fun was dry for the past years was in all its glory again.

Cauvery River




Swimming Pool?
The well where I learnt to swim and my daughter having a great time



Tamarind Tree :

And my favorite, the tree that supplies the tamarind that I bring with me here.


Poovar Island

We visited Poovar Island in God's Own Country - Kerela. Where the backwaters meet the Ocean beautiful.





Tuesday, July 4, 2006

Happy Fourth of July

This post is to thank my lucky stars that I can claim ownership to two great countries which value Freedom of Expression. We all know of very many countries where freedom of expression is just a dream. This is my simple way of supporting those who are fighting and some even paying the ultimate price so their fellow countrymen may enjoy freedoms that we so take for granted.

Happy Fourth of July Everyone.