Sunday, August 27, 2006

This and That

I realize that my Daily Musings have become Weekend Musings. Result of changes happening at work about which I am not really sure what to think. Good or Bad? Better or Worse? One change that affects my time the most is the commute. I used to be able to work from home, making may be couple of visits to the office in a year but now I have to actually go to an office do work. Saving on the commute time gave me time to do several things like blogging... I still might have some flexibility but what can beat working from home. Why these changes? because we were bought out.

Guess the Vegetable?
I know I put the seeds for this one but I am not sure what vegetable it is? Can you guess?
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Think the vegetable is actually a fruit, it is cantaloupe, as it is growing bigger I am able to recongonize it. Daughter saved the seeds and I must have put them in the garden.


Snake Gourds
The Snake Gourds finally came...
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Kerala PrawnPepper Fry
When I saw Kerala PrawnPepper Fry on Indian Potpourri I wanted to try it out. Everyone loves shrimp so this was one easy decision. I followed her recipe as it were, think I added a lot more shallots than necessary, cut down the heat little bit I added only half the chilies and pepper powder and also added a tomato to tone down the heat for the little ones' sake. It was really wonderful and everybody thoroughly enjoyed it.

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Saturday, August 19, 2006

Kollu Paruppu (horse gram) Chutney and Rasam

Kollu Paruppu Chutney and Rasam is another recipe that is very unique to Kongu Naadu area of Tamilnadu. It is very unlikely for people outside of Kongu Naadu to have heard about Kollu Paruppu chutney or rasam, then again I may be wrong. You might not see it in the menu if you are visiting friends or attending a wedding in the area, just that it is not a "special" dish just an everyday kind of homely dish.


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uncooked and cooked horsegram dal


I have a funny incident to narrate just to reiterate how uncommon it really is. While I was in college some of my friends dropped in for lunch unexpectedly at our house. Unexpectedly is key here because if my mom had known that my friends were coming home for lunch the menu would have looked different. One of them B, was a pure vegetarian so he wanted to make sure that he did not eat any Non.Veg items just in case, my mom mentioned there was nothing to worry about since it was just Kollu chutney but to his ears it sounded like Kozhi(chicken) chutney, so when they started serving he did not want to eat the chutney and my mom was puzzled. We burst out laughing when he heard him say "I cannot eat Kozhi chutney". Mom had to explain how it was Kollu and not Kozhi, the main reason for the confusion, he had never heard of kollu chutney. Then again his query was isn't it what they feed to horses. It is but it is also nutritious and tasty and perfectly OK for humans to eat too. It is not one of those pretty looking chutneys, which on just looking you want to taste right away, it is down to earth and plain looking, but don't let looks deceive you. To this day I remember the Kozhi Chutney incident whenever I cook Kollu chutney. As luck would have it B married a girl from the Kongu Naadu area, that reminds me I should check with him to see if his wife is treating him to "Kozhi chutney".

It also has this amazing healing quality, if you having cold and if you eat kollu paruppu the next day you are definitely going to see relief.

Kollu Chutney

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Ingredients
1. 1 Cup of kollu paruppu cooked for 3 whistles. Add some extra water, so you have enough of the paruppu water for the rasam. Drain the water out into a separate
container and save. Leave a little bit of the water maybe 2-3 tbsp so the chutney is not too solidy.

2. 1/4 onion chopped roughly
3. 4 pods garlic
4. 2 red chilies
5. 1 tsp coriander seeds
6. 1/4 tsp cumin
7. 1/4" piece tamarind

Method
1. Saute 2 thru 7 in a little bit of oil, and pour it over the paruppu with salt.
2. Let it cool and blend roughly in a food processor or blender.

It should not be made into a smooth paste.

Kollu Rasam

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Ingredients
1. 1 1/2 cups of tamarind pulp
2. 1 1/2 cups of the Kollu paruppu cooked water and chutney water. (Do not clean out the blender when you are done with the chutney, wash out the sticking bits of chutney with a little bit of water)
3. 2 Red chillies split and seeds removed
4. 1 tbsp of mashed onion (substitute with cut onions)
"mom: thatti pota nalla irukkum"
5. 2 pods of garlic mashed
6. 1 tomato roughly chopped (optional)
7. seasoning, mustard cumin,curry leaves

To Powder
1. 2tsp coriander seeds
2. 1tsp cumin
3. 1/4 tsp pepper (or per taste)
4. 1/4 tsp methi seeds
dry roast the above and make it into a powder. Use a coffee grinder.

Method:
1. Heat about a tsp oil/ghee in a pan and season with mustard, cumin and curry leaves
2. Add the onions and saute followed by the garlic and red chillies.
4. Tomatoes should be added now and sauted till soft.
3. Reserve about a tsp of the powder and add the rest.
4. Now add the tamarind and paruppu water.
5. Let it boil till you see white forth and switch off heat immediately. At this stage add the tsp of reserved powder for a great aroma.

Now enjoy the chutney and rasam with white rice.

Other recipes with Horse Gram (Kollu Paruppu)
1. Stir Fry - Snake Gourd with Horse gram
2. Horse Gram chutney with Coconut
3. Idli Podi - Kollu Paruppu Podi

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Saturday, August 12, 2006

3 Weeks 3 Bitter gourd Recipes

Collecting Bitter gourd recipes has been one of my favourite pass times. Summer is an excellent time to try out new recipes as I get about 4-5 bitter gourds every week from my garden. So thanks to my blog friends are in order,

1. Vaishali of Happy Burp for her Bitter Gourd and Mango Curry. A combination I have never tried before.

2. Dear Krishna Arjuna for her Kakarakaya kaarappodi(Spicy bitter gourd powder), a preparation that is absolutely lip smacking.

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Classic Araicha Pavarkkai Kuzhambu
This is one way of cooking that is very popular in Kongu Naadu. This is a preparation I fall back on often and it was the recipe for the first week.

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egg masala, moong dal, bitter gourd kuzhambu

Ingredients
1. 3-4 medium sized bitter gourds cut into rounds.
2. 1/2 Onion chopped roughly
3. 3-4 pods of garlic (optional)
4. 2 tbsp Jaggery (or as per taste)
5. 1 red chilly split in half and seeds removed
6. 1/2 cup of tamarind pulp
7. seasoning (mustard, cumin, methi, curry leaves)


Paste
1. 1/2 cup pearl onion or 1 medium size red onion chopped roughly
2. 2 tbsp corriander seeds
3. 2 tsp cumin seeds
4. 1 tsp pepper
5. 2/3 red chillies
fry the above in a little bit of oil and blend to a smooth paste

Optional
3 tbsp of grated coconut ground to a paste or 2 tbsp of pottukadalai (dalia) powdered or 6-8 almonds powdered

Method
1. In a pan heat oil and add the seasonings followed by the red chillies.
2. Add Onion and fry till translucent. add the garlic and fry a little bit.
3. Add the bitter gourd pieces and fry till they turn soft, alternately bitter gourd pieces can be fried separately with a little oil and added here.
4. Add the ground mixture and salt and mix well and when it is boiling add the tamarind pulp close the lid and cook for 6-8 minutes
5. Add the jaggery and the optional coconut paste mixture and remove from the heat in 2-3 minutes. I did not add coconut paste or the alternatives.


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Goes well with rice and dal.

Bitter Gourd and Mango Curry
Then next week I tried Vaishali's Bitter Gourd and Mango Curry, I pretty much followed her recipe except for adding 1/2 red onion chopped just before the bitter gourd pieces.

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This was a big hit even the kids liked it because the mango pieces masked the taste of the bitter gourd and so no scowls.


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This week I tried Krishna Arjuna's Kakarakaya kaarappodi, followed here for the most part, I did not have Bengalgram dal, so substituted Toor Dal, also cut down the Red chillies to about 6 since the 4 bitter gourds were not too big. This tasted excellent with rice mixed with ghee and the podi.

Monday, August 7, 2006

Paal curry Kuzhambu

Nostalgia
Food evokes fond memories like no other. I would say there is nothing else in the world that has this innate ability to trigger happy memories time and again. I am sure everyone has a few special dishes that is linked to happiness, fun and laughter.

Paal curry Kuzhambu is one such dish for me. It brings at the same time longing and fond memories, memories of carefree childhood, fun and the sun. Every summer the normal routine was to have a hearty breakfast, heavy lunch and a fantastic dinner and the time in between would be spent on visits to the river, mango grove, swimming in the well and of course fishing in the canal. Hearty breakfasts that I remember were alwasys the ones that had Paal Curry Kuzhambu on the menu.

Dosai does not taste like dosai unless it is eaten with Paal curry Kuzhambu. Digressing a little, when I think about it I have only memories of eating the dish never having watched it being cooked. Why do you think this is so,

Americans have it right atleast in this situation, where most homes have the kitchen as the central room around which the rest of the house is designed. This is very smart considering that most of the activities happen in the kitchen and especially helpful if there are young kids, you can have an eye on them while also getting dinner ready. Compare this with kitchens in India, where it is the last room in the house or in many cases it is situated such that you would never have to see it. It almost seems like it is not cool to have your kitchen visible to the outside world.
There might have been several reasons why this was so? If only the kitchens were more accessible maybe I would have spend time more time there learning from the masters.

Now back to topic and without further adieu here is the recipe for Paal curry Kuzhambu an attempt to creating my slice of childhood happiness.


Paal Curry Kuzhambu

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Ingredients
1. 2 1/2 cups of Coconut milk (you could use readymade coconut milk but nothing beats the taste of fresh extracted coconut milk, consistency should be like that of 1% milk)
2. 1 potato boiled and cut into tiny pieces
3. 1/2 onion chopped fine
4. 2 green chillies cut into rounds
5. seasoning - mustard, curry leaves chopped
6. a fistful of chopped corriander leaves
7. 1 tsp oil

Paste
1. 1 1/2 tsp corriander seeds
2. kasakasa 1 tsp (poppy seeds)
3. 1 or 2 green chillies

the above should be made into a paste, it is tough making a paste out of poppy seeds and corriander seeds, so powder them first, it is easy to powder poppy seeds if a few grains of salt is added (thank you athai for the tip) and then blend them with the green chilly.


Method
1. In a heavy bottomed pan, heat oil, add the mustard seeds when they start to pop add the curry leaves, cut green chillies and onions and saute till the onions are translucent.
2. add the potatoes and mix well.
3. Add the ground mixture with a little bit of water and salt and cook till the raw smell goes.
4. Reduce the flame, add the coconut milk keep stirring as you are adding the milk and boil till the coconut milk gets hot. Test for salt, switch off and remove from the stove.

Very Important, Do not stop stirring or raise the stove temperature to above a high low because the coconut milk will break and curdle.

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Serve hot with dosais, it tastes best when the dosai is soaked. I assure you, you will not stop eating unless you summon all your willpower and bring it to a halt. End with a big nap.

Thursday, August 3, 2006

Arisiyum (Arism) Paruppu Saatham (Dal Rice)

KonguNadu area in Tamilnadu where I hail from is known for its Kongu Tamil and each Kongu family has their very own recipe for Arisim Parupu Satham (Arisiyum Paruppum Saatham). It is a very simple dish made with ingredients that are readily available and has no complex flavors. It is a dish that we fall back on when we want a quick simple and nutritious meal but at the same time lazy to do much prep work. If I were Sherlock Holmes talking to Dr. Watson I would look at this dish and say "Elementary, Mr.Watson", learn this dish and the rest will just come - simple. This would have been my entry for Comfort Foods hosted by Revathi of En Ulagam.

If you are coming home from a long day of back breaking work, shopping, hiking or feeling just plain lazy and don't feel like eating Pizza, Chinese or going out you can easily whip up arisim paruppu saatham. When we don't get to eat Indian food for a long period of time this is what we invariably yearn for.

Arisiparup

Ingredients
1. 1 1/2 Cups of Rice
2. 3/4 cup dal (moong or toor dal)
3. 4 Red chillies (broken in half and seeds taken out)
4. 1/2 Onion roughly chopped
5. 4 pods of garilc chopped
6. seasonings - mustard, cumin, curry leaves, methi seeds
7. 1 tsp Turmeric Powder
8. 1 tsp chicken masala powder or sambhar powder(optional)
9. 1 tsp oil, 1/w tsp

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Method
1. Take a pressure cooker and heat the oil and ghee and add the seasonings, methi,cumin, mustard seeds and curry leaves.
2. When the mustard starts to pop add the red chillies and mix, add the chopped onion and fry till they turn slightly brown. Now add the garlic and saute a little bit.
3. Add turmeric powder (and the other powders) and mix.
4. Add the dal and mix for a minute or two.
5. Add the required amount of water and salt.
6. When the water starts to boil add the rice, chopped corriander
and close the lid and cook for the required time

Optional
Add chopped vegetables (carrots, beans, peas, potatooes) I usually add cut potatoes, the kids like the potatoes.

Serve with lemon pickle, vadakam and yogurt.

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

GBP 3 - Eggplant Story

The first time I cast my eyes on an Eggplant here in the US, was completely taken aback. It looked like Ben Johnson on steroids, it took a few more months before I got the guts to try it out. Now don't get me wrong it is a fine vegetable and where you need a lot of flesh like for Baingan Bartha it is absolutely essential. Thank God for Saroj's Cookbook which taught me a lot of tips and essential details of Indian Cooking, those early days when I had absolutely no idea what Indian cooking was all about. Anyway the Indian Eggplants that I got in the Grocery Stores Indian or American were never fresh, it is the case even now, when there are four Indian grocery stores where there used to be one.

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Growing Pains

So I had this intense desire to grow eggplants on my own, even if I can enjoy fresh eggplants just for few months during the summer. It took all of 3 summers before I actually got eggplants. The first year the plant was eaten by insects, the second year by the time the plants started to flower cold weather set in I got maybe 2 small eggplants. The third year I came upon this marvellous idea to grow eggplants in pots rather than put them in the ground. Voila I hit paydirt I had a sizeable harvest of eggplants and also the insects don't harm it that much when they are in pots. I have heard that in India, it is one plant that gets soaked in pesticides because it gets attacked by a lot of pests. I do not use pesticides, I occasionally spray soap, chilly powder mixture over the plants, seem to work.

This year I have 2 varieties of eggplants one long purple variety and the other the more common short purple round variety. The eggplant plant floweres are 2 kinds, one that goes on to bear fruit the other that dries up and withers. Eggplant is native to India and requires very hot climate to grow.

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Eggplant Chickpeas

I cooked Eggplant-Chickpeas from Indira's Mahanandi and ofcourse with the fresh crunchiness of the eggplant and the tender softness of the chickpeas the curry tasted great.

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