Saturday, March 24, 2007

Paruppu Rasam (Dal Rasam)

Ah! Rasam. The feeling of warmth that this flavored water gives cannot be expressed with words. "Pepper Water" the Brits called it, no one can deny they are good at spotting good things and adopting them as their own. I hear Indian Food goes as British food these days. May be I am exaggerating a little bit.

I am a recent convert and like all recent converts I am serious about my Rasam. My mom, dad and brother all loved their rasam. I never much cared for the watery stuff. But when you are in foreign soil changes come over you that are hard to explain. So when I ventured out to make rasam, it took a while to make a really tasty rasam. I collected recipes followed them religiously but they never tasted good. So after several trial and errors and experiments I think I do make good rasam. But the Verdict has to come from the tasters themselves I guess.

1. 2-3 tbsp Toor Dal cooked soft with plenty of water
2. 1 tomato chopped rougly
3. 1 tbsp chopped onions
4. 2 garlic pods sliced and pounded
5. 2 red chillies split and seeds removed
6. Seasonings - cumin,mustard, few methi seeds, a pinch of asfoetida and curry leaves
7. 2-3 sprigs of corriander leaves
8. 1 tsp oil, 1/4 tsp ghee
9. 1 cup of tamrind pulp from 3 grape tomato sized tamrind.
10. 1 tsp of turmeric powder

1. 2 tsp cumin
2. 1 tsp corriander seeds
3. 1/2 tsp pepper (more or less depending on taste)

pound the above using a mortar and pestle or a rough powder

1. Heat the oil and ghee in a pan and when hot add the seasonings
asfoetida, cumin, curry leaves, methi seeds and the mustard seeds.
2. When the mustard starts to pop add the chillies and onion and when it starts to brown add the garlic and saute,
3. Add the tomatoes and turmeric powder and cook till the tomatoes are mushy,
4. Now add the tamrind pulp and let it come to a boil,
5. Now add the Mashed toor dal and enough water.
6. When it starts to boil add the powdered cumin-corriande-pepper powder mixture.
7. Add enough salt and the fresh corriander and switch off when white bubbles appear on the surface.

Serve with White Rice or as a soup.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Mommy Time, Daddy Time - Are we doing enough?

Two really good articles in the Washington Post

The thought of quitting my day job goes through my mind if not everyday atleast once a week. No wonder this article struck a chord.
Despite 'Mommy Guilt' Time with kids Increasing

Daddies are doing more than ever before with kids and around the house.
Fathers are no longer Glued to their Recliners

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Chicken Chettinad

I am pretty pleased with myself, 2 things India made a oh well a forgettable start to the World Cup Cricket Campaign. The giants of the subcontinent, India loses to Bangladesh(Sourav I hear you were the only one standing amid the ruins) and Pakistan loses to Ireland (did not even know they played Cricket) and finds itself out of the World Cup. No no no this is not the reason and I am pleased with myself, I resisted the urge to spend about $200 to get the Cricket Telecast on DirectTV. Spending a whole day watching a match is going to be impossible and India losing is going to make me depressed, as if the weather is not enough, so I pat myself on the back for a decision well made. The spoilt brats of Indian Cricket can do what they please.

The second reason I am pleased with myself is for trying out the Chettinad Chicken Recipe. I always make the Chettinad Fish Curry but have never tried this one. KrishnaArjuna had requested a recipe for Chicken Chettinad and it was time for me to hunt a recipe down and try it out. Thanks KA I am glad I did, this is going to be a regular from now on. I am from Kongu Nadu and not from Chettinad so this not an authentic recipe. I know the dishes from the Chettinad area are very spicy and hot, I have tweaked to keep the heat down and kid friendly.If anyone reading this is from the Chettinad region and have an authentic recipe, please free to post it in the comment section.

Recipe Source:Indian Express Cooking

1. 1 1/2 lbs Chicken Thighs (with bones) and cut into pieces
2. 1 Large Red Onion chopped
3. 2 Juicy red tomatoes chopped
4. 1 tbsp Tomato paste
5. 2 tbsp lemon juice
6. 2 tbsp Chilli powder (or to taste)
7. 1/2 tbsp turmeric powder
8. Curry leave 3-4 Sprigs
9. Seasonings - cumin, Star Anise
10. 2 tsp of oil
11. 1/4 cup chopped corriander leaves

Marinate the Chicken
Wash the chicken thoroughly with Turmeric powder, drain and marinate with 1 tbsp of chilli powder, salt and 1 tbsp of lemon juice for about an hour or so.

For the Paste
1. 2 tsp cumin
2. 1 tbsp corriander seeds
3. 1 tsp fennel seeds
4. 1 tsp of pepper
5. 3 cloves
6. 1 inch piece of cinnamon
7. 2 Red Chillies
8. 6-8 Garlic Cloves
9. 2 inch piece of ginger
10. 2 tbsp grated fresh coconut

In a pan heat a 1/4 tsp of oil and fry 1-7 and when they start to turn color add garlic and ginger and fry for a few minutes, add the coconut mix and remove from heat cool and blend to a smooth paste.

1. In a Pressure Pan/Cooker heat oil, add the cumin seeds and Star Anise and the curry leaves and saute.
2. Add the onions and saute till brown.
3. Add the chicken pieces and saute till they start to turn white
4. Now add the ground paste and mix well and let it cook for a minute or two.
5. Add the chopped Tomatoes and cook for another minute or 2.
6. Add the chilli powder, enough salt, lemon juice and enough water(1 Cup)
7. Add the tomato paste and sprinkle the corriander leaves
8a) Close the lid if using pressure cooker and cook for about 5 minutes (don't wait for the whistle) switch it off.
8b) If not using pressure cooker cover the lid and cook for 10 -12 minutes or desired consistency. (step 9 not needed)
9. When cool mix the chicken and cook for a minute or 2.

Serve with Chappathis or Rice.

Tasted great with both rice and Chappathis. It was hot but the kids (daughter's friend who is wary of spicy food) with their watering noses and all enjoyed the dish.

Monday, March 12, 2007

What's your personality? Type A or B

Picture taken by DD during our India trip

Verdict: Based on my unscientific polling Type B's have it.

Driving home from work today I was listening to WAMU 88.5 (our local NPR station) and heard this news bit Tell your boss you'll be in later on Marketplace and it sounded pretty interesting. The group called the B-Society is fighting to get "Type B" people accommodated in the workplace. If you can't read the page in the link its because it is in Danish. They feel that the world is partial to "Type A" people. Have you had early morning meetings and looked around the room? You can quickly spot the Type As from the the Type Bs. Type As are the perky attentive ones and the Type Bs are the ones struggling to keep their eyes open holding on to their fresh brewed cup of coffee like a lifeline. Have you had late evening meetings and done the same thing? It is the reverse this time it the Type As who are nursing their favorite caffeinated drink.

It is natural, everybody has a preference some perform best during the early morning hours when it is quiet and peaceful and everything is starting to come alive, some like the hustle and bustle of the late morning when the world is already into a rhythm, some like it late at night when it quiet and peaceful again but the outside world is sleeping.

I am clearly a Type A, I am an early morning person meaning I perform better before the hustle and bustle starts. This is I am guessing, wearing my pseudo psycho analyst hat on - is probably because my fore fathers were farmers. But it is a healthy mix of both types that make this world function smoothly. It also sure makes it a more interesting place to live in.

So dear readers what personality are you Type A or B?

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Simple Nutritious Lunch

March happens to be National Nutrition Month. The idea is to get back to the basics and to enjoy foods that are nutritious and healthy. The choices that we make about food daily are very important especially if we have young children - the food decisions we make today are going to stay with them lifelong.

Growing up with the right choice of food will hopefully help them make the right food choices as adults. This was not a big deal when we were growing up because the plethora of food choices available to kids these days were not available then. Foods eaten by kids these days and what we grudingly call junk foods - everybody has a love(when savoring them) hate (when they end up in our hips and other parts of the anatomy) relationship with them. But these were special treats those days when an aunt or an uncle visited once in a while, who can forget the special taste of a Five Star candy bar or a Cadbury's Milk Choclate bar? hmmmmm. I doubt if kids relish them, now they just eat them.

With obesity, diabetes and other diseases on the rise in young children and adults educating kids on the right choice food is as important as education and character. A well balanced diet which includes protein, green vegetables and carbohydrates are essential for energy as well as health.

On to our Simple Nutrtious Meal, chappathis/rice with dal and a vegetable.

Brussel Sprouts and Moongdal
1. 1/2 Cup of Split Moong Dal cooked with a pinch of salt and 1/4 tsp oil.
2. 1/2 red onion chopped
3. 4 garlic cloves chopped
4. 3 green chillies split
5. 5-6 Brussel Sprouts chopped (substitute green beans, cabbage, ridge gourd, brinjal or any vegetable you have on hand)
6. 1 tsp Sambhar
7. seasoning cumin,mustard,methi seeds,a pinch of asfoetida and curry leaves

1. In a pan, heat a tsp of oil and when hot add asfoetida, cumin, methi, curry leaves and mustard and when the mustard start to pop
2. add onions fry till translucent, add garlic and green chillies and saute for a minute add
3. the brussel sprouts saute few more minutes, add salt and when they start to sweat
add the sambhar powder and mix
4. add the mashed dal and enough water and salt.
5. let it cook for 5-6 minutes.

Kovakka(Tindoora) Fry
This is one vegetable that is easy to cook and there is not much that can go wrong with it. I have never tasted this vegetable back home. I have see the plants grow on fences and goats and cows relishing them. Well they were smart animals. But my first taste of this vegetable was at a friends house, and she had cooked it with onions and tomatoes, after some trial and error the one I have settled on is just frying kovakka with some sambhar powder till they start to turn black almost. This has become a favorite in our house now.

1. Kovakka washed and sliced into thin rounds
2. 1 tbsp sambhar powder (1/2 tsp cumin powder, 1 tsp corriander powder and 2 tsp chilli powder)
3. Salt and 1 1/2 tsp oil

1. In a pan heat oil add the kovakka and saute. They do not stick to the pan that easily and so keep moving them around every 5 minutes or so
2. When they just start to turn color add the salt and sambhar powder and saute them till you get to the desired state.

Serve with chappathis/rice and Dal.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Protest Against Plagiarism - March 5th

Picture Courtesy: Bong Mom's Cookbook

The roll call of companies plagiarizing content especially from bloggers seems to be getting longer and longer and the latest entrant to that list is Yahoo! India. You would think companies who create content and have long copyright statements to protect their content would respect content created by others. Nope Yahoo chose to hide behind their subcontractor as if that is explanation enough for plagiarized stuff appearing on their portal.

Decorum and Respect
Yahoo used to be a company I admired from it days as a start up till a fews days ago,NOT ANYMORE, after their stand on the issue at hand and certainly not after I read some pretty offensive comments made by whom I suspect are their minions. It makes them look guilty as hell.

Call made by Ginger and Mango