Saturday, December 30, 2006

Spinach Potato

Wishing you a very Happy,Prosperous and Peaceful New Year!

Having purchased a big bag of potatoes and seeing sprouts on some of them had to cook them fast. I also had a bag of fresh baby spinach and did not want to let that rot. I cook potatoes with spinach or methi leaves but usually as a dry side dish the reicpe for which I learnt from friend A. This time I wanted a little bit of gravy, so it was this recipe.

Spinach Potato

1. 6 Medium potatoes peeled and cubed
2. 2 cups chopped fresh spinach
3. 1 Red Onion chopped
4. 1 roma tomato chopped
5. 1/2 inch piece ginger
6. 2 red chillies
7. 4 garlic chopped
8. 1 tsp of garam masala (optional)
9. 1 tsp turmeric powder
10. 2 tsp oil
11. seasonings - cumin

1. In a pan heat 1/2 tsp oil, saute half the chopped onion, when it starts to brown add the red chillies and ginger and the tomatoes and cook till tomatoes are soft. Transfer to a blender and blend to a smooth paste
2. To the same pan add the rest of the oil, season with cumin and add the rest of the onion. Saute till translucent.
3. Add the Potatoes, saute add salt and cover and cook for a few minutes. When they are half cooked add the chopped spinach and saute till the spinach starts to wilt.
4. Now add the ground mixture and about a tablespoon of water, turmeric and garam masala, cover and cook till the potatoes are soft and the masala coats all of the potatoes.

Serve with Chappathis.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Kathrikkai Mor Kozhambu

Brinjal in Spicy Buttermilk Sauce
Mor Kozhambu is one of those dishes that for me evokes memories of good times. In my parents house it was always cooked at night and served with vadagams and rice. No Vegetable was added just a lot of chopped small onions. The crunchy onions gave the Mor Kozhambu a special taste. I rarely cook Mor Kozhambu with just the onions, always add a vegetable and also not just for dinner. I love the taste of brinjals in the Mor Kozhambu. The Mor Kozhambu tastes better and better as it ages, truth or just a figment of my imagination? A slightly sour curd, not too sour makes good mor kozhambu.

Mor Kozhambu

1. 4 Medium Size Purple Brinjals cut into thin slices
2. 6-8 Pearl Onions cut lengthwise (drop them in a bowl of water for a few minutes, the skin comes of easily this way)
3. Seasonings, cumin, curry leaves, mustard
4. 2 Cups of Yogurt whisked (I used curd made from Fat free milk and added no water)
5. 1/4 tsp turmeric powder

1. 1 1/2 tbsp of rice and 1 1/2 tbsp of Toor dal (soak in water)
2. 3 green chillies (or per heat requirement)
3. 1 tbsp corriander seeds
4. 2 tsp cumin seeds
5. 1/2 tsp methi seeds
6. 1 tsp pepper corns
7. 2-3 tbsp Coconut frozen or freshly grated
8. 4 cloves garlic

Heat a little bit of oil and saute the garlic (can add raw but I like roasting it a little bit before blending)
dry roast 3-6, and combine all of the above and adding water grind to a smooth paste


1. In a heavy bottomed pan add a tsp of oil add the seasonings and when the mustard starts to pop add the onions and when they are starting to turn brown add the brinjal and saute for a few minutes till the skin starts to turn color.
2. Sprinkle salt, a tbsp of water and cover the lid and cook till soft.
3. Add turmeric powder and mix.
4. Add the ground paste with about 1/4 cup of water and cook for about 5 minutes stirring occasionally.
5. Now turn the heat to real low and add the whisked curd in stirring continuously.
6. Now raise the heat a little bit but below medium and let the buttermilk heat through for 3-4 minutes.
7. Check for salt and remove the pan from the heat.

Tastes best with rice. Soak idlis (mini idlis) in the sauce. Serves as a side for chappathis too.

This will be my entry for the JFI Coconut hosted by Ashwini of Food For Thought

Saturday, December 23, 2006


I spent about three months in Egypt, Egypt being the first country I visited outside of India,tagged along when DH was there on a project. Thanks to Bollywood every Egyptian had some knowledge of India and its culture. The first question somebody would pose is "Do you know Amitabh Bachaan?". Invariably my answer was yes, the way the query was posed anything other than a yes would automatically disqualify my being an Indian.

We lived in a place called Mohandaseen in Cairo and the Pyramids of Giza were about 5 miles away. I did not miss Indian food for once when I was travelling outside the country. Falafel, fool, Tahini, Pita Bread, Babaghanouj, Koshary were the foods I ate regulary and rarely if ever missed Indian food. The only Indian restaurant I remember visiting is Mena House because the Brits and Americans on the project loved going there. I can't remember how the food tasted. We also visited a Chinese restaurant regularly and the only thing I remember is beer being served in Kettles as Long Island Ice Teas because it was against the law to serve beer or alcohol in restaurants without special permission. On the way to work we would stop by a restaurant called El Amda for some falafel or fool for lunch, falafel being the chickpeas patties served like sandwiches on Pita bread and fool were kidney beans served as sandwiches. But my top of the list favorite was Koshary. The combination of rice,lentils,noodles and tomato sauce made me feel right at home. Though it has been more than 10 years since my visit still miss those days and it is my dream to go back spend atleast couple of months there. Yes ofcourse we visited the Pyramids and they were breath taking for the sheer audacity of human achievement. The places we visited and the historical significance of all the places we visited would take atleast 10 more blog articles which I would not bore you with.

I should also say Shaheen, it was her Stuffed Baby Eggplant which took me down memory lane and reminded me of this dish which I had not cooked for a really long time.

So without further adieu here is the recipe for Koshary.

Recipe Source: Egyptian Cooking, A Practical Guide by Samia Abdennour

1. 1 Cup rice (I used brown rice)
2. 1 Cup of lentils (I used horsegram and Chickpeas)
3. 1/2 Cup of Thai rice noodles (the original recipe calls for macaroni)
4. 1 Onion cut into thin lengthwise strips.
5. 2 Large ripe tomatoes
6. 1/2 tbsp red chilly powder
7. 1 1/2 tsp of oil
8. 1 tsp pepper powder
9. Sal to taste.

1. Chop 1/2 a tomato into small pieces
2. Juice rest of the tomatoes in a food processor or blender.
3. In a sauce pan cook the tomatoes with salt and chilly powder.
When the raw smell goes test salt and heat and turn off the heat.

Adding chilly powder is my modification. Usually the chilly powder is sprinkled on top if required.

1. Cook the rice with the required amount of water.
2. Cook the lentils and keep aside
3. Cook the noodles or macaroni following directions on the package
4. In a pan heat the oil and saute the onion till brown with salt and pepper powder (optional). The original recipe and the ones I tasted use fried onions.
4. Remove the onions, keep aside and add the lentils and fry adding salt and chilly powder.

1. Add a layer of rice, add the lentils on top.
2. Add a handful of noodles and drizzle liberally with tomato sauce.
3. Top with the fried onions.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Vellanga Rasam

Rasam, a simple dish is a staple in most South Indian homes. Lunch or any special mid day meal is not complete without rasam. I did not have a special liking for rasam when I was growing up. It was available every meal but I don't remember ever relishing it. All of that changed ofcourse when I came here, I longed for the smell and taste of rasam, especially the Vellanga Rasam. It was always prepared at my grandparent's house and the smell was heavenly. The herbs and the pepper healed even the worst colds. Seeing Mint Rasam which won second place in the Souper Challenge on Sugar and Spice I was reminded of this rasam. My nose was running and it was time to make this awesome rasam.

This is going to be my submission for Weekend Herb Blogging hosted by Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen. This week's theme is Holiday cooking with herbs. This recipe is not a special Holiday recipe per se, but it would come in might handy when you are down with a cold or sore throat.


Herb Powder
1.thuthuvalai (solanum trilobatum)
2.musumusukai (mukiamaderaspatana)
3.chinnathalai (seerathlai, don't know botanical name)
4.vathanarayanan (delonixelata)
5.karuveppilai. (curry leaves)
All the above are dried and powdered

My mom brought this powder when she came here for a visit, the botanical names and the herb names were all supplied by her. But the above herbs can be substituted with fresh Curry Leaves and Corriander leaves.

1. 4 red pearl onions
2. 3 pods garlic
3. 2 tsp pepper (depends on how spicy)
4. 1/2 tbsp cumin
5. 1/2 tbsp corriander seeds
6. 1 tsp herb powder or 2 sprigs of curry leaves and corriander leaves
7. one small lemon sized tamarind
8. 2 pearl onions chopped and mashed, curry leaves, mustard
9. 2 tsp of ghee

grind all the above ingredients with water into a coarse paste or grind 1-6 into a paste and extract the tamarind juice

1. Heat ghee in a pan, add the mustard and curry leaves and when the mustard starts to pop add the onions and saute till translucent.
2. Reduce the flame to slighly below medium, add the ground mixture with 2 cups of water (the consistency should be watery) and enough salt.
3. Boil till small white bubbles start to appear on top.

Serve as a soup or with steamed rice. The smell is amazing and it warms you.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Shrimp Biryani

Briyani alwasys jazzes up any special occasion. Easy and simple enough to prepare and the taste is well worth any extra effort. Briyani also happens to be a favorite of everyone in our house. This is my first attempt at Shrimp Briyani but the empty plates confirmed that it was well liked. The mint plant still has leaves on it although tiny. Winter has not been too bad,bad is the operative word here, is it Global Warming, El Nino? Those are worries for another day but now it is time to enjoy the Shrimp Briyani.

Shrimp Briyani

1. 10-15 medium sized shrimps cleaned (tails removed)
2. 2 Medium size potatoes peeled and cubed
3. 1 large red onion sliced thin
4. 1 large juicy tomato chopped fine
5. garlic 8 pods, 2inch piece ginger, 6 green chillies (according to tolerance level) minced in a food processor
6. 2 tsp lemon juice
7. 1/2 cup chopped mint
8. 1 cup chopped corriander leaves
9. Seasonings 4 cloves, 1/2 inch cinnamon stick, 1 bay leaf, 1/2 tsp fennel seeds, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 6-7 curry leaves
10. 2 tsps ghee
11. 2 tsp Oil (or as required)
12. 2 tsp turmeric powder
13. 1 tsp red chilly powder
14. 1/2 tbsp chicken masala or garam masala powder
15. 1 1/2 cup Basmati rice washed (Rice:Water ration 1 : 1 1/2)
16. Cashews, almond slivers (fried in a little bit of ghee)

1. Mix the Shrimp with a 1/4 tsp of turmeric, tsp of red chilly powder and 2 tsp of lemon juice and salt and set aside.

1. In a heavy bottomed pan or pressure cooker heat oil and 2 tsps of ghee add the seasonings and when they start to brown,
2. Add the onion and saute till they turn brown
3. Add the minced garlic,ginger, green chilly mixture and let them cook
4. Add the mint and corriander leaves and saute till wilted.
5. Add the tomatoes and let the mixture cook till the tomatoes becomes pulpy and chutney consistensy.
6. Now add the masala powder and mix well.
7. Add the Shrimp and let it cook for a minute or two. Now fish out all the Shrimp and keep it aside if a few are left behind that is ok. This helps keep the shrimp from getting overcooked and chewy.
8. Add the potatoes and mix well.
9. Add the rice and mix well and fry for a few minutes gently.
10. In a separate sauce pan bring to a boil the required amount of water for the rice.
11. When the rice is well coated add the water and test if there is enough salt.
12. Keep the heat at medium and cook till the rice is 3/4 cooked and the water is almost gone.
13. Add the shrimp mix well and sprinkle a tsp of ghee on top, if using a pressure cooker reduce the heat to below medium, cover lid put the weight on and cook for 5-6 minutes. If using a regular pan close the lid and cook for 8-10 minutes checking at regular intervals.
14. Garnish with the fried nuts and serve with Onion Raitha.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Terracotta figures and Nobel Peace Prize

Terracotta figures create by road sides artisans in India have always fascinated me. They are posh enough to fit in showcases, most houses in India have these cupboards with glass doors where each family displayed their favourite photographs and artifacts collected over time. Earthy enough to make me feel at home when I see them here. I saw them in my aunt's cupboard and I purchased a few them to bring with me and I am glad I did. My uncle gave me the Vinayagar figure.
On a recent trip to Grand Canyon and while visiting Arizona we came upon an Navajo Indian reservation and the terracotta figures were the first to attract me.

Daughter made a terracotta turkey when she was in preschool.

Nobel Peace Prize
This year's Nobel Peace Prize went to Mohammed Yunus of the Grameen Bank which gives microcredit to poor women in Bangladesh. An inspiring story. My friend came over to show me the Nobel Prize clip and the Indian dance (Bangla dance?) that was performed during the Nobel Peace prize awards ceremony. The ceremony itself was great. Wonder why the American media never shows the Nobel Awards Ceremony on prime time, while it is mostly Americans who win prizes in the Sciences, Economics most of the time. All other Nobel Prize Cermonies. She is Swedish otherwise I would have never chanced upon this. This site is in Swedish but the news clips they have here are very high quality.

Originally Published On:
12/13/06 9:25 AM Eastern Standard Time

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Rutabaga Kootu

Rutabaga or 'Swede' as it is called in England caught my attention when I first read about it in the Washington Post. Read the Rutabaga Wiki for more info. When cooked it tastes sweet and is similar to a butternut squash in texture. Rutabaga is a winter veggie or atleast I see them only during winter time in grocery stores. Last time my mother was here she made a Kootu with Kadalai paruppu (channa dal) but I did not have any Kadalai Paruppu so this is a slightly different recipe.

1. Rutabaga peeled and diced
2. 1/2 onion chopped
3. 1/2 tomato chopped
4. 3 garlic pods chopped
5. 2 tbsp tamarind (optional)
6. 1/4 cup toor dal + 1/4 moong dal pressure cooked
7. seasoning mustard, curry leaves

1. 2 tbsp grated fresh coconut
2. 4 green chillies
3. tsp of cumin
4. 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
blend to a paste (slightly coarse is good)

1. In a pan or pressure cooker , heat oil and add the seasonings and when the mustard starts to pop add the onions and saute till brown
2. Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes.
3. Add the rutabaga and cook for a few minutes, also add the tomato pieces, let it cook for a few more mibutes
4. Add the mashed dal, salt and the coconut paste and enough water(consistensy desired), mix
5. Put the lid on the cooker and cook for about 4-5 minutes

The reason I pressure cook for a second time is to cook the rutabaga. If you were do it on a stove top leave it covered for 10 -15 minutes.

Goes with rice or chappathis.

Monday, December 4, 2006

Fish Kulambu (Kongu Naatu Style)

Occasionally I get into the "What If" thinking. I know it serves no purpose but I do it anyway. My recent What If scenario has been "What If Al Gore had been elected president in 2000?".

This Fish Kulambu recipes is from mom. It is a traditional recipe that never fails. There is not much you can do wrong here. I had Salmon on hand so used Salmon but any fish that does not fall apart easily should be good.

1. 2 Salmon Fillets cut into 3 x 3 inch pieces
2. Tamarind juice about 1 cup
3. One big Red Onion chopped fine
4. 2 Tomatoes chopped (optional)
5. 6-8 garlic gloves sliced
6. Seasoning mustard, cumin, urad dal and methi seeds about a pinch of each and curry leaves
7. 1/2 tbsp turmeric powder

Paste 1
1. 2 Tbsp Corriander seeds
2. 2 tsp Vendhayam (methi seeds)
3. 2 tsp peepercorns
4. 3-4 Red Chillies
Saute the above in a tsp of oil till the corriander seeds start to brown remove from heat and make into a paste.

Paste 2 (optional)
1. 2 tbsp of grated coconut made into a paste

1. 2 tsp of methi seeds dry roasted and powdered. (don't blacken them they taste bitter)

1. Wash the fish, mix it with turmeric powder and set aside.
2. Heat oil in a pan, add the seasonings, mustard last, when the mustard starts to splutter add the onion and saute till translucent.
3. Add the garlic pieces cook for a few minutes, add the tomatoes and cook till soft.
4. Add a tsp of turmeric powder, mix add Paste 1 and tamarind juice and enough water and let the mixture boil.
5. Add salt and when it is fully cooked and almost near the consistency you desire
add Paste 2 and cook for a minute then add the fish pieces and cook for a few more minutes. The fish pieces cook really quick so add them near the very end.
6. Add the methi powder and remove from fire.

Serve hot with rice.

Saturday, December 2, 2006

Red Kidney Beans Curry

I do love cooking but some days don't feel like spending too much time thinking or prepping but really want something spicy and not really looking foward to the lovely sambhar, I have the perfect quick recipe for exactly that kind of day. I used Red Kidney Beans but any beans will work. If you forget to soak the beans the previous night no sweat. Boil water add it to the beans cover and let sit for an hour or so. The beans are good as the overnight soaked ones.

1. 1 Cup Soaked Red Beans Cooked (for 1 whistle in the Pressure cooker, or till soft)
2. 1 Big Red Onion
3. 1 Juicy tomato
4. 4 garlic cloves
5. 1 inch piece ginger
6. 4 green chillies
7. 1/2 tbsp masala powder (1 tsp chilly powder optional)
8. 1 tsp turmeric powder
9. 2 tsp tamarind juice, 2 tsp brown sugar (jaggery, white sugar) [optional]
10. seasoning, cumin, fennel seeds, 2 cloves
11. 2-3 tbsp corriander leave chopped

1. Mince the onion in a food processor, followed by garlic,ginger and green chillies.
2. Mince and juice the tomato
3. In a pan heat oil, add the seasonings when they start to turn color, add the onions and cook till brown.
4. Add the ginger,garlic,green chillies mixture and cook till soft.
5. Add the turmeric and masala powders and mix well.
6. Add the tomato juice, enough water and when it starts to boil add the cooked beans and salt and mix.
7. Add the tamarind and sugar if doing so
8. Cover and cook till desired consistensy.
9. Add the chopped corrinader leaves, mix well and remove from heat.

There quick and easy, serve with rice also tastes great with chappathis.