Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Baby Potatoes in Spicy Gravy

It was snowing outside and the tongue felt like tasting something spicy,and this month also happens to be as per JFI, Potatoes month,so spicy Potato gravy and chappathis it was going to be. I found this recipe browsing on The Hindu some 10 years ago and dutifully printed it out to be tried. And the few times I have cooked it the results have been tongue pleasing. The reicpe called for also adding mustard seeds for the paste, and I always thought that was an oversight and left it out and used mustard seeds just for the seasoning but after reading Sandeepa's article on Mustard Seeds and how popular they were in Bengali cuisine, this time around I was smart enough to add it while making the paste.

1. 10-15 Baby Potatoes boiled (cut in half if too big)
2. 1/4 red onion chopped fine
3. 2 tbsp lemon juice
4. Curry leaves
5. 1 Cup water
6. 1 tsp turmeric powder

Masala Paste
1. Soak 1 tbsp of poppy seeds and 6-8 cashews in a little bit of water

2. 15 pearl onions and 1/4 red onion chopped roughly
3. 6 garlic cloves
4. 1 inch ginger piece
5. 2 tbsp coconut
Saute 2-4 in a little bit of oil, add coconut last after switching off the heat

Dry Roast
6. 2 tbsp corriander seeds
7. 2 tsp of cumin seeds
8. 1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
9. 3 green chillies

and add
10. 2 tsp red chilli powder
11. 1 tsp curry powder (I added Chicken masala powder)

Combine all the Masala paste ingredients (1-11)and blend to a smooth paste.

The original recipe calls for blending all the ingredients into a paste and then sauteing them beofre adding in the potatoes and a liberal dose of ghee (1/2 cup), I took the shortcut and the heathier route.

1. In a wide mouthed pan (kadai) heat a tsp of oil, saute the onion
2. Add the Curry leaves and
3. add the ground paste, turmeric powder and a cup of water(reduce water according to consistency required)
4. Add salt and the potatoes and let the gravy cook for 6-8 minutes.
5.Add the lemon juice give it a good mix and turn off the heat.

Serve with chappathis, tastes great with rice too.

This will be my entry to JFI Potatoes hosted by Vaishali of Happy Burp.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Vaangi Bhath - Kathirikkai Sadam - Brinjal Rice - Using Pressure Cooker

Can you believe this? I cannot not believe it myself, a self confessed Brinjal lover/addict could have gone all these years without trying Vaangi Bhath, this famous member of Karnataka Cuisine?

Cook Books
Everybody has their favorite cook books and depending on the time you started using them, some have a special place in your heart. Mrs S. Mallika Badrinath's series of cook books are dear to me, especially the 100 Rice Delights - Variety Rice/Mixed rice genre of rice dishes for the ease speed and defintely the taste. Simple, precise instructions no fancy pictures. The other one in Tamil "Pavaiyarkana Palsuvai Malar" published by "Tuticorin Magalir Mandram" very basic but with a lot of information from beginner cooks to experts.

I looked up recipes for Vaangi Baath and checked my trusted cook books and finally settled on this combination. All the recipes called for cooking the rice separately and adding to the spice mix but I cooked the rice in the spice mix.

Heat the oil in a pressure cooker and add the seasonings. Add the brinjals and saute till they get soft.
Saute the ingredients give under spice powder and make a powder and it to the cooking brinjals.
Add the soaking rice and saute for a few minutes. Add water and let the rice cook to about 3/4th of the way. Place the weight on the pressure cooker and cook for another 6-6 minutes.

Vaangi Bhath - Brinjal Rice
Preparation Time:15 minutes
Baking Time:25 minutes

  1. 2 long Purple Brinjals or about 8-10 small purple brinjals chopped into small pieces (any brinjal would work)
  2. 1/2 Red Onion Chopped fine
  3. 2 Green Chillies Slit
  4. Seasonings cumin, curry leaves, cinnamon 1/2 inch piece broken
  5. 2 tsp oil, 1/2 tsp ghee
  6. 2 cups Basmati Rice (washed and soaked for at least 20 minutes) (3 cups of water) (see note:)
  7. 1 tbsp of sour curd (yogurt)
  8. 2 tsp turmeric powder
  9. 6-8 broken cashews fried in a little bit of ghee for garnish (leave out for nut free and use any oil for vegan)

Spice Powder
  1. 2 tsp cumin
  2. 1 tbsp corriander seeds
  3. 2 Red Chilies
  4. 1 tsp Peppercorn
  5. few methi seeds
  6. 2 tbsp grated fresh or frozen coconut
  7. 2 tsp of Bengal gram (kadalai paruppu
  8. 2 tsp of urad dal
  9. Dry roast the above one by one in a tsp of oil other than the coconut and transfer them to the blender. Roast the coconut in a lower heat for a minute and transfer to the blender and powder it.

  1. In a Pressure Cooker, heat the oil and ghee combination, add the cumin, mustard leaves and cinnamon pieces when they start to brown.
  2. When you are doing this put the required amount of water for the rice to boil in a separate pan/kettle.
  3. Add the onion and fry till translucent, add the slit green chillies and saute.
  4. Now add the egg plants and saute for a few minutes, add salt and saute till the skin starts to turn color.
  5. Now add the spice powder and mix well, turmeric powder add the the yogurt and mix well.
  6. Add the drained rice and fry it for 2 minutes.
  7. Add the boiling water, check for salt and let it cook and when the rice is about 3/4 cooked give a good mix, close the lid, place the weight and cook in medium low heat for 6-7 minutes. Remove from fire immediately. (OR)
  8. If not using pressure cooker, close the lid, lower the heat to below medium and let the rice cook for 6-8 minutes, check now and then to make sure the rice does stick to the bottom.

  9. Note:
  10. The amount of rice depends on the brand of rice being used. Most Basmati rice require water in the the ratio of 1 1/2 cups of water to 1 cup of rice. If soaked the amount of water can be reduced a bit.

  11. If you are using ingredients in the rice that release water then adjusting the water is important else use the full amount of water like for this rice which does not have any water releasing components.

Sprinkle the fried cashews on top and serve with onion-cucumber raita.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

'Dal' Sambhar with Beans and Radish

Pressure Cooker
I eagerly look forward to reading the Washington Post especially on Wednesdays! Why? for the Food Section ofcourse. Today's was about "Pressure Cookers" sheer coincindece just yesterday I was answering a question about it. I have always known (but not happy) that Pressure Cookers are not popular in the US but all the same surprised to read that Pressure Cooker ownership is actually going down, thought it would be other way around, going by my eye survey, Pressure Cookers are being sold in department stores compared to few years ago - the sales person would give you a blank look even if you asked for it.

The fear factor is one reason and I can understand having witnessed the contents spewed all over the ceiling when the safety valve gave out. The scence was clearly in my mind when I started using pressure cookers, glad to report besides one incident when I forgot to put the weight nothing has spewed out and I use the pressure cooker everyday and sometimes more than once . Pressure Cookers today have safety valves that are much more advanced and the kind of explosion is not common unless you put the pressure cooker on the stove, lock the door and decide to go grocery shopping.

If you are interested in the inner workings of a Pressure Cooker, here it is in pictures in the Wasington Post website.

1. Workings of a Pressure Cooker
2. Chefs and Cook book Authors - Slow Cooker Vs Pressure Cooker

Do I have to say I am a BIG pressure cooker fan and can't cook without it. Like the recipe which follows which would have taken hours if not for my trusted pressure cooker. 2 different dals to cook, no problem it is possible in one shot with the vessels they provide placed one on top of the other and put in the pressure cooker.
I was planning on stir frying the Moong beans a la Thoran but decided on the 'Dal' Sambhar to make it a one pot meal.

'Dal' Sambhar
1. Toor Dal 1/2 Cup (washed and cooked in a pressure cooker with 1 1/2 cups of water a pinch of turmeric powder and 1/4 tsp of oil)
2. 1/2 Cup Whole Green Moong Dal cooked (I drained the water but the water can also be added to the sambhar just reduce the amount of water accordingly)
2. 1/2 Red onion chopped
3. 6 small red radishes slcied in rounds
4. 10-16 Beans cut into 1 inch pieces
6. seasonings cumin, mustard, curry leaves
7. 1/4 cup of tamarind pulp
8. 1 tbsp sambhar powder
9. 1 tsp of oil

1. 1/2 tbsp corriander seeds
2. 1 tsp of cumin seeds
3. 1/2 tsp of pepper
4. 1 Red chilli
5. few fenugreek seeds (methi)
6. 1 tbsp of grated fresh coconut

Dry roast 1-5 till they are slightly browned and pleasant aroma, add the coconut and saute for a minute. Make a paste.

1. In a pot heat the oil, add the seasonings, cumin, curry leaves and mustard and when the mustard starts to pop
2. add the onion and saute till brown, now add the beans and radish and saute till they start to brown.
3. Add the sambhar powder and saute for a minute or two.
4. Add the tamarind pulp and let it boil and when veggies are almost cooked
5. Add the cooked toor dal enough water for required consistency, salt and let it boil for 5-10 minutes and the veggies should be cooked.
6. Now add the cooked moong dal, the paste and cook for another 4-6 minutes.

Serve with rice or idlis or just by itself.

Pressure Cooker Pictures

Pressure Cooker and Dal utensils

Rice utensil

Monday, February 19, 2007

Content Lift - Sponsored By Yahoo

Yahoooo - Shame on You.

Content Theft happens and Yahoo hides behind the sub-contractor. What a SHAME!

Bloggers do not have fancy lawyers drawing contracts and copyrights - this does not mean content is FREE FOR LIFT AND COPY.

Power of the Pen (I mean keyboard here) is mightier than the sword.

Head on over to Ginger and Mango for details on the protest on March 5th..

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Kara Pori - Spiced Puffed Rice Snack

Light and airy snack to munch on after school. This was my paternal grandmother's speciality, my attempt at recreating the taste and flavor of her Kaara pori. A very very simple snack but very tasty and fulfilling. With a bowl of this pori and a thriller novel in one hand time just flies. The addition of the garlic makes it special, used to hunt for the tasty roasted garlic pieces. Grandma added Mor Mizhakai - Chillies in Butermilk so there was nothing to be tossed or thrown out. Here Indira has a wonderful demonstration of how to make those tasty chillies. I did not have those so added red chillies.

Kaara Pori - Spiced Puffed Rice Snack
Preparation Time:10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
1. 4 Cups of Pori (Puffed Rice)
2. 1/2 Cup of Aval (Poha or Beaten rice) - optional
3. 1/4 cup of Pottu Kadalai (Roasted Dalia)
4. 1/2 Cup of roasted peanuts
5. 2 tbsp Split Urad Dal
6. 6-8 Cloves of garlic sliced thin
7. 2 Dry Red Chillies split and deseeded
8. 1 tsp of mustard seeds + 1/2 tsp of cumin seeds
9. few sprigs of curry leaves
10. 2tsp turmeric powder
11. 1 1/2 tsp Chilli powder (or as per taste)
12. 1 tsp of salt
13. 2 tsp of oil or ghee

1. Take a Kadai or a big mouthed pan, heat oil ( I also added a little bit of ghee) and when it is hot
2. add the urad dal and fry till they start to turn brown, add the cumin seeds and mustard seeds and curry leaves, when they start to splutter
3. Add the garlic and saute for a few minutes, now add the chilli pieces
4. Add the Aval and saute for about 8-10 minutes till they are roasted and not hard to bite on, but this time the garlic should be completely roased
5. Add the dalia and peanuts and the powders + salt and saute for a few more minutes
6. Now add the Puffed rice and roast till they are crunchy and the spice powders are coated about (8-10 minutes).

There a wonderful healthy tasty snack. Store in an airtight container. Lasts for a week.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Brinjal, Brussel Sprouts and Potato Curry

Snow Days - how happy they make DD. DD who generally likes going to school and enjoys learning I hope, is thrilled when they get a snow day. The first signs of a snow flurry she starts wondering if they would have the day off and will her friends have the day off too. As luck would have it there has been a few snow days this month. What is that in the human psyche that yearns for the unexpected deviation from routine? I have to confess the snow days make me happy too, I can have a few more minutes of laziness under the warm blanket - no rush to get DD ready for school, no lunch to pack and wait till the roads are clean for other routines to proceed. The Hindi word "chutti" sums it up pretty aptly, maybe the reason it's also my favourite Hindi word.

On to the recipe, this is one of those dishes that come in handy when you are in a rush and want something quick. Goes well with rice or chappathis. Learned this wonderful dish from mom(ofcourse she did not add the brussel sprouts). Leave the potatoes out if you make this for rice and add a few more cloves of garlic. Pressure Pan/Cooker comes handy.

Brinjal Potato Curry
1. 1 Big Potato chopped to cubes
2. 4 Medium Sized Brinjals chopped fine
3. 4 Brussel Sprouts chopped
4. 2 Medium sized Yellow Onions chopped fine
5. 4-6 garlic cloves chopped
6. 1/2 tbsp sambhar powder / Chilli powder
7. 1 tsp turmeric powder
8. 1 tsp cumin powder
9. 2 tsp corriander powder
10. 1 tbsp of tamarind juice(from a cherry tomato sized tamarind) + 4 tbsp of water
11. seasonings cumin,mustard and curry leaves
12. 1 tsp of oil
13. salt to taste

1. In a pressure pan heat the oil, add the cumin, curry leaves and mustard seeds when the seeds start to pop
2. Add the onions and saute till they start to turn translucent add the chopped garlic and saute for a minute, reduce the heat to just below medium.
3. Add the powders and mix well
4. Add the cut brinjal and brussel sprouts pieces and saute for a few more minutes, add the potatoes saute, add salt, tamarind juice and sprinkle water(not too much water but enough to keep from burning)
5. Close the pressure pan, add the weight and cook for 2 sounds.
6. When it cools mash the brinjals slightly with a back of the spoon.

Curry ready to be served with rice or chappathis.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Dupont Circle Farmer's Market and Paella

It seems like only a fortnight ago we were talking about how warm this winter has been, now I have no doubts that it is Winter and it is February. We were starting to get cabin fever and was time to get out and visit some places about town - Dupont Circle Farmer's market my favorite Farmers Market seemed like a good outing, stock up on the week's groceries, get some exercise and also sample some Paella that the chefs from Jaleo were going to cook up in the giant pan. We were all glad that we went. The kids had fun running around sampling the fresh fruits - apples, cheeses,cider and ofcourse the Paella. I had fun shopping some good produce potatoes, greens, apples.

Every cusine has its version of Briyani like New Orleans Jambalaya and Spains Paella. Even with the frigid temperatures there was a crowd to watch the Paella being cooked.

Fresh Produce at the Farmers Market





Baked Goodies

Tasted some amazing Apple Strudels

Paella in the Giant Pan
This was one of the yummiest Paella we have ever tasted. It was great watching the Paella being cooked and everyone got ample to sample.




Friday, February 9, 2007

Cauliflower and Butterbeans (Lima Beans)

Cauliflower and Potato are like Made for each other, inseperable and highly functional together. There are numerous dishes made with this combination and each one tastes wonderful. But in my kitchen it was time to break them up and pair them with different suitors. In this recipe Cauliflower is partenered with Butter Beans or Lima beans as they are called here. The smoothness of the Butter beans with the crunchy cauliflower turned out to be simply delicious.


1. 1 1/2 Cups of dried Lima Beans soaked overnight and drained and rinsed
2. 1 head of a medium sized cauliflower cut into florets
3. 1 red onion + 1/2 cup small onion (frozen) (or) 1 1/2 red onion choppped
4. 1/4 cup tamrind pulp
5. seasonings mustard seed, curry leaves and cumin
6. 1 tsp of turmeric powder

1. Saute about 1/2 the red onion and small onions
2. Add 3 cloves of garlic and 1/2" piece of ginger
3. 3 Red chillies
4. 1 tbsp coconut (optional)

Blend the above to a smooth paste

1. In a Wide mouthed pan, add a tsp of oil and add the seasonings, cumin, curry leaves and mustard. When the mustard starts to pop
2. Add the rest of the onions and saute till translucent and add the turmeric
3. Now add the butter beans, add a 1/2 cup of water, cover the lid and cook till the beans are just about done
4. Add the cauliflower pieces and saute for a minute
5. Add the blended paste, tamarind juice and salt and cook for a few more minutes.
6. Cauliflower should be crunchy when the heat is turned off.

Serve with chappathis.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Mutton Puffs

The chips aisles were almost empty,chicken wings were mostly gone and so were pretty much most of the snackable stuff, What could the occasion be but Super Bowl Sunday. The first time I saw "American" Football I could not help but wonder "Why in the world is this game called Football, the thingy does not look like a ball and they hardly ever use their feet." The qualification because in the rest of the world 'Football' is another game altogether, ah yes! the game referred to as 'Soccer' in these parts. But I do like the cooking part that goes with Super Bowl. I can cook my favorite snack items and not feel guilty about it because only about another 300 million give or take a few million are also doing the same.

Mutton Puffs are/were my favorite. Dad used to take us when I was about 8 or so, to this cool bakery called JM & Sons English bakery in Coimbatore which sold these awesome puffs and the best cakes ever. Japanese Cakes anyone? Oh those lovely Sunday evenings. Then finish off with a cone ice cream from the new Joy Ice Cream outlet which was brand new at that time. The bakery still stands in the same building on Avinashi Road but tragedy they don't sell Mutton Puffs anymore only Chicken Puffs and for some reason I don't like those. Well the decision of what to make was easy enough. For a Vegetarian version try the filling used here

Makes about 9 Puffs

1. 1 Puff Pastry thawed rolled and cut into 9 squares
2. 1 lb of Minced Mutton
3. 1 Onion (the more onion the better) chopped fine
4. 5 garlic cloves chopped fine
5. 1 1/2" ginger grated
6. 2 tsp corriander powder
7. 1/2 tbsp chilli powder
8. 1/2 tsp cumin powder
9. 1 tsp chicken masala powder or garam masala powder
10. Salt to taste
12. 1 tsp oil

1. Wash the minced mutton, drain water completely and pressure cook for 3-4 whistles with some salt and turmeric. Drain the water and set aside.
2. Add oil to a pan and when heated add the onions and cook till almost brown
3. Add the minced garlic and grated ginger. Mix well
4. Add all the powders and cook for a minute
5. Now add the minced mutton and mix them well and let it heat through. Check taste.
6. Take a piece of the Puff pastry sheet and place about a tbsp of meat in the center and fold so over so as to form a triangle. Seal the edges with a little water or egg wash.
7.Preheat oven to 400F and bake for 25 minutes till golden brown.


Enjoy with ketchup. If there is no puff pastry sheet handy, serve the kheema with Baked Corn chips.

Something to think about:
If you work in a place like my office where there is always pizza, sandwiches, cookies,brownies fruits, bagels or something or other in the kitchen left over from a training or meeting and top of that add the free soda and juice ever available, sticking to a diet is a bit trying to say the least. I don't like carbonated drinks so keeping away from soda is easy but juice that is a totally different matter. Once debating between picking up cranberry apple or orange juice, checking the calories a 10 oz of cranberry apple was 160 calories and orange juice was 140 calories. Along side the sugary drinks also sat Vegetable juice and a bigger bottle it was 12oz and the calories only 70. Add a little bit of pepper or hot sauce and it tastes heavenly and also filling which no juice can. Now I have my choice cut out for me.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Beans in my Pantry

On Popular Demand here is the display of the beans in my pantry. Just kidding guys this one is for Inji and Sandeepa. I have always liked beans so when it comes to new varieties I am always game to try them. The Latino section in the supermarket has different colored, hued beans. The ones that I pick up at the Indian Grocery store are Chick Peas, Green Peas and Red Kidney Beans.

clockwise starting at Garbanzo (Chick Peas)
1. Black Eyed Peas,roasted (thattaipayir)
2. White Cargamanto Beans
3. White Northern Beans
4. Black Turtle Beans
5. Large Lima Beans (Butter beans)
6. Red Kidney Beans (center)

After all the beans I have been eating eating wanted to find a little more about the nutrition contents. I googled and found one which had the facts clearey listed.

1. Beans - Spillin' the Beans
but I also found out this was sponsored by a few bean Councils, companies like Bush Beans who had a vested interest in promoting beans. So I searched on and the information I found pretty much confirmed what I read in this website.

2. USDA Nutrition guidelines from How Stuff Works

3. Beans for Health

1. Soak the beans overnight if you forget, heat some water, immerse the beans in the hot water and let it sit covered for an hour or so.
2. Always rinse out the water the beans were soaked in, this water causes the gas.
3. Add ginger liberally for digestion