Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Cluster Beans in a peanut masala - Kothavaranga Peanut masala curry

Cluster Beans as the name suggests grows in clusters and makes it hard to harvest them. If you are not careful you might uproot the whole plant. I do not buy kothavaranga as they are called in Tamil that often. On a whim I decided to grow and they have been fairly productive all summer. There are not that many recipes with cluster beans that I am familiar with. The most common recipe with them is to make a paruppu usili. For those not familiar with what paruppu usli means, it is a blended, then steamed lentil mixture, roasted and mixed with vegetables. An extremely tasty and filling side dish.

Besides this I am not very familiar with many recipes. Of course like every other vegetable they can be stir fried with onions and coconut. For cluster beans cooking addition of asfoetida(perungayam) is a must. I sought my mother's help in finding some interesting recipes to try and this peanut masala curry was one she found for me. I am not exactly sure from where, either a TV show or a magazine.

The recipe can be made dry or a with a bit of moisture depending on your preference. I made it with a bit of moisture to be mixed with rice and it would have worked perfectly for roti/chapathi as well.

Dice the cluster beans, par boil them, drain and set aside. Prepare the masala ingredients.
Blend the masala to a smooth paste. Season and saute the onions, mix with the vegetables and add the blended masala paste.

Cluster Beans in a peanut masala - Kothavaranga Peanut Masala Curry
Preparation Time:10 minutes
Cooking Time:20 minutes
  1. 1 1/2 lb of cluster beans or Kothavaranga (3 cups small dices)
  2. 1/2 onion finely chopped
  3. 2 garlic cloves sliced
  4. seasonings: mustard, cumin seeds, split urad dal, curry leaves and asfoetida
  5. 1 tsp of oil
  6. salt to taste
  7. For the masala paste
  8. 1/2 tbsp of raw rice
  9. 1/4 - 1/2 cup of roasted and skin removed peanuts
  10. 5-6 red chilies (depending on the heat of the chilies)
  11. 2 tbsp of fresh or frozen grated coconut
  1. In a sauce pan, take the chopped cluster beans, sprinkle salt and turmeric powder (I did not use it) along with a tbsp of water and let cook for 6-8 minutes. Drain the water and set aside.
  2. While the beans are cooking prepare the masala paste. Heat a saute pan and in low heat roast the rice till starts to get brown. Remove to a blender. Roast the chilies for about a minute and set aside. Add the coconut and roast for another 4-5 minutes till it changes color.
  3. Add the roasted peanuts to the roasted rice, chilies and coconut and powder them. If you want a dry curry remove the powder and set aside. Since I wanted a gravy consistency I added about 3 tbsp of water and ran the blender for 1/2 minute more. Set aside.
  4. In a flat bottomed pan or kadai, heat oil and add the seasonings, urad dal first and saute till it turns brown followed by cumin seeds and then mustard seeds and when it starts to pop add the asfoetida.
  5. Add the onions and saute till they are translucent, add in the cooked beans and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the masala paste and salt and let cook for another 3-4 minutes.
    Serve with rice or roti.
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Friday, August 21, 2015

Vendakkai Kaara Kuzhambu (Okra in Spicy Sauce)

Lady Fingers or Okra as they are called are one of the favorite vegetables in our house, cooked usually as a stir fry like in this recipe here, and tend to vanish very quickly. I hesitate just a teeny weeny bit to cook them as Kuzhambus because of the slime, the longer they have been sitting in the refrigerator the slimier the Kuzhambu tends to become. If the slime can be taken dealt with, they taste excellent when cooked as Puzhi Kuzhambu or Kara Kuzhambu. To keep the slime at bay wash the okras and dry out the moisture before chopping and roast separately till they start to turn color and blackened on the edges. This Spicy Kara Kuzhambu is best eaten with rice and some dal.

Originally Posted : 6/25/07 9:53 PM

This is a recipe that I go back to every time I get some fresh okra. Like I mentioned in the first paragraph I save making this only when there are fresh okras which I seem to have plenty of these days. The recipe itself is fool proof so I won't tinker with it much. The channa dal tends to thicken the curry a little so if you want to swap it out for coconut, by all means.

Vendakkai Kaara Kuzhambu
Preparation Time:20 minutes
Cooking Time:20 minutes
1. 1/2 lb Okras cleaned and cut into ¾ inch pieces
2. 1/4 Medium Sized Red Onion Chopped
3. 3 Garlic pods chopped
4. 1/4 cup tamarind pulp (soak the tamarind in water and extract pulp)
5. seasonings - split urad dal , methi seeds, cumin seeds and mustard seeds
6. salt to taste
7. 3 tsp of oil
8. 1/2 tsp of jaggery or palm sugar

1. 1/4 Red Onion chopped roughly
2. 2 tbsp Corriander seeds
3. 2 tsp Cumin Seeds
4. 1 tsp pepper corns
5. 2 Red Chillies
6. 1 tbsp of channa dal (kadalai paruppu) [can use coconut instead]

Roast 2-6 in a little bit of oil, remove and add the onions and saute till translucent. Blend to a smooth paste.

1. In a pan add a little bit of oil and add the okra pieces and saute till they start to turn slight brown/black around the edges. Set aside.
2. Add a little bit more oil, when hot add the urad dal, methi seeds, curry leaves and mustard and when the mustard seeds start to pop add
3. the onion and saute till translucent, add the garlic pieces and saute for a few minutes
4. now add the sauteed okra pieces and saute for a few more minutes.
5. Now add the blended paste, enough water, salt
6. Cook for 3-4 minutes
7. Add the tamarind pulp and cook till the required consistency is reached.
8. Add the sugar when ready to turn off the heat.

Serve with rice.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Slightly Spicy Tomato Ketchup - Recipe

Tomato Ketchup? Who doesn't have this in their fridge or pantry? We do and it is used as condiment for a lot of things. I naturally gravitate towards making some spicy and ever so delicious tomato thokku when I have excess tomatoes that have to be used. Like the linked recipes, one is done completely on the stove top and the other is using an electric rice cooker. If cooking on the stove top, it requires stirring occasionally, if using an electric rice cooker you can let it stew for about an hour, turn it off and then proceed on the stove top.

For ketchup you can use either of those methods to stew the tomatoes first and then proceed . I did the recipe completely on the stove top this time but doing it either way works because the mixture has to be blended and then strained. A hand blended will come in very handy. While a regular blender will work just as well, a bit messy that's all.

Have you tried the spicy tomato ketchup that is available these days? I prefer that to the regular old ketchup and I like the low salt ones. So making it at home I can combine both the tastes that I want and make my own! I used Jamie Oliver's recipe as a guide and did my thing. It was actually a fun recipe to try out. The vegetables I used onions, chilies, ginger and garlic, the proportion and what goes in there is totally flexible. I used about 1/2 lb of vegetables to about 5 lbs of tomatoes. I skipped the cloves, coriander and basil leaves. All of these have a tendency to take over so. If you like the smell or taste of any of these by all means use them.

While 1 1/2 hours seems like a long time, the process is very simple, occasional stirring is all that is required when the tomato pulp has been prepared.

Prepare the tomatoes. In a heavy bottomed pan, heat oil and saute the vegetables other than the tomatoes along with salt and pepper for about 4-5 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and continue to cook till the tomatoes fall apart.
When the tomatoes are completely stewed, blend with a hand blender till smooth.
Strain through a fine sieve into a clean pan, add the vinegar, sugar and let cook till the sauce has thickened to ketchup consistency.
Cool and transfer to sterilized jars.

Spicy Tomato Ketchup
Preparation Time:20 minutes
Cooking Time:1 1/2 hours
  1. 5 lbs of tomatoes washed and chopped
  2. 1/2 lb total of onion, green chilies, ginger chopped and garlic chopped (I used 1 red onion, 5 garlic cloves, 2 inch piece of ginger and about 10 green chilies)
  3. 1/3 cup sugar
  4. 1 1/4 cups of apple cider vinegar
  5. 1 tsp of salt
  6. 1 tbsp of olive oil
  7. 2 tsp of pepper powder
  1. In a heavy bottomed pan heat the olive oil and add all the vegetables excluding the tomatoes. Add the black pepper and salt. Let the vegetables saute for about 4-5 minutes.
  2. Add in the chopped tomatoes and let it cook till it disintegrates, becomes liquidy at first and then starts to thicken about 20-25 minutes.
  3. Let the cooked tomato mixture cool for a bit and blend with a hand blender.
  4. Strain the blended mixture through a fine sieve a couple of times till it is a smooth and shiny sauce.
  5. Take the sauce, vinegar and sugar in a clean thick bottomed pan and let it continue to cook till the sauce thickens and becomes the consistency of tomato ketchup. Check the taste and add more sugar, vinegar or salt if required.
  6. Let cool and pour them into sterilized bottles and refrigerate.

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Sunday, August 16, 2015

Arisi Paruppu Saatham with fresh cowpeas - Lentil Rice with fresh purple hull cow peas

Arisim Paruppu Saatham the most well known and down home recipe of the Kongu region is made at least once a week in every household that has anything to do with the region. There are as many variations to the recipe as there are lentils. The most popular lentils used are the toor dal or moong dal. Occasionally split dried cow peas or dried split val dal (mocha paruppu) are also used.

I had some fresh plumpy purple hull cow peas and wanted to give my most favorite lentil recipe a try. This recipe will be an entry for the MLLA #87 which is hosted this month by Swathi- Zesty South Indian Kitchen. This long running event was started by Susan of the Well Seasoned Cook and currently run by Lisa of Lisa's kitchen.

This recipe is as simple as it gets but there is no compromise on the taste. When you are hard pressed for time look no further, jump to this recipe and you will not be disappointed. What happens if you do not have fresh shelled cow peas? Not to worry any lentils or re-hydrated dried beans will work just fine. In a pinch you can even substitute fresh or frozen peas or corn.

While Basmati rice is considered perfect for rice dishes especially one pot rice dishes I prefer my trusted Ponni parboiled rice. Basmati is drier and hence not suitable for a dish that does not use a whole lot of oil and moreover each grain of rice being separate is not required. It is a down home rice dish so if you use extra water and it gets a bit mushy that is perfectly acceptable. You can use brown rice, quinoa or any millet for this recipe as well. Just adjust the quantity of water. The beans themselves do not need extra water for being cooked. If you are using soaked dried beans add about 1/2 cup of water extra for every cup of beans. If using Basmati rice, since it cooks very quickly it is even better to precook the beans.

Usually arisi paruppu saatham is made in the pressure cooker but there is no reason why you cannot cook it on a stove top.

Saute the onions and add the peeled fresh cow peas.
Add water and pressure cook for 3 whistles.

Arisi Paruppu Saatham with Fresh Cow Peas
Preparation Time:15 minutes
Cooking Time:20 minutes
  1. 1 1/2 cups of rice (I used Ponni parboiled rice)
  2. 2 cup of shelled fresh cow peas rinsed
  3. 1/2 cup of diced red onions or shallots
  4. 1/4 cup of chopped tomatoes
  5. 4 garlic cloves chopped
  6. 4 red chilies split and seeds removed
  7. 4 green chilies slit
  8. 1 tsp of cumin-pepper powder
  9. 2 tsp turmeric powder
  10. salt to taste
  11. 2 tsp oil
  12. seasonings: mustard seeds, cumin seeds and curry leaves
  13. handful of chopped coriander leaves

  1. Wash and soak the rice for 20 minutes at least or as long as an hour.
  2. In a pressure cooker heat oil, add cumin seeds, mustard seeds and when it starts to pop add the curry leaves followed by the chopped onions and the chilies (red and green).
  3. Saute till the onions start to turn translucent, add the chopped garlic and saute for a minute more.
  4. Add the turmeric powder and the cumin-pepper powder and give a good mix.
  5. Add tomatoes and salt and saute till the tomatoes get mushy.
  6. Add the fresh cow peas and mix it in with the onion-tomato mixture.
  7. Drain the soaked rice and add to the tomato mixture. Add chopped coriander leaves.
  8. Add the required amount of water and let it come to a boil.
  9. Check for salt and close the lid. Turn off the heat after 3 whistles. Let the heat subside, open and fluff the rice up.
Serve with some appalam, pickles and yogurt.

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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Water Chestnut and Millet Flour Vegetable Crepes or pancakes (Singhara-Bajra - Zucchini Instant Dosai)

Ask any South Indian and you will be hard pressed to find anyone who does not like dosai. The best thing about dosai is, it is versatile, lends itself to creativity in terms of what is added to it and on top of it and moreover it is crispy and tasty. Who does not like a deep fried like food but which is actually a perfect meal combined in one.

The thing is dosai does not have a good equivalent word in English. It is neither a crepe nor a pancake but the concept is the
same so I end up calling them crepe or pancake!

Dosai the classic one made with rice and lentils is I have to agree time consuming and requires fermentation. The same batter that is used for making idli is also used for making dosai in case you had any doubt.

Well the hard made batters comes to an end eventually but your tongue craves for some dosai with chutney what is one supposed to do? If you have millet flours like chestnut flour (singhara flour), bajra flour or ragi flour on hand dosai making is not that far behind. You can use any combination of these flours but since they do not have much gluten in them when you are cooking the dosai be patient and don't flip it before it is fully cooked on one side else it will fall apart. Besides that this is a piece of cake, yes!

Moreover when you had odds and ends of vegetables, any vegetable that can be shredded or grated is good for this recipe. I had an overgrown zucchini which had to be used and it was absolutely perfect here.

Add shredded zucchini to the flour along with chilies and salt adding water to make a pourable batter.
Heat the dosai pan or a griddle and pour a laddle of batter and using a circular motion spread the batter to form a circle. Drizzle oil along the edges, let cook on one side, flip and cook on the other side.
The dosai will start to turn a nice golden brown in certain spots when it is cooked.

Water Chestnut and Millet Flour Vegetable Dosai
Preparation Time:15 minutes
  1. 1 cup of singhara flour (water chestnut flour) substitute with ragi flour
  2. 1 cup bajra flour (kumbu maavu)
  3. 1 cup of grated/shredded zucchini
  4. 1 tsp of grated ginger
  5. salt to taste
  6. 1 tsp of red chili powder or crushed/grated green chilies
  7. oil to make the dosai

  1. Mix together the flours, vegetables, salt and chilies, whisk together while adding water to make a pourable batter. Let sit for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Now heat a dosai pan or griddle, use an oiled cloth or paper towel to wipe the pan. Pour a laddle of batter on to the griddle and spread it in a circular motion to make a fairly round shape.
  3. Drizzle oil around the edges. Let cook completely on one side and flip and let cook on the other side till it starts to turn brown. (do not be in a rush, it will fall apart while flipping if not completely cooked on one side)
  4. Serve with a spicy chutney of choice.

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