Monday, May 30, 2016

Channa Dal with Bottle Gourd (or pumpkin) - An Oriyan Recipe

Things have been busy around here as it is nearing the end of the school year. DD is a senior this year and will be off to college. I am not really sure how I feel. I can't believe that 17 years flew by so quickly. Just when the early teen drama years have passed and things are much more pleasant and fun, it is time for her to go off and explore the next stage of life. Who said life is fair?

While the cooking and eating won't stop we are going to miss her when we cook one of her favorites :( Is the recipe I am going to talk about one of her favorites? Not exactly but it is a tasty one. I used bottle gourd but of course you can use orange pumpkin, butternut squash, Delicata or Acorn squash.

I had some bottle gourd and wanted something different from the usual recipes and chanced upon this one with Channa Dal and Pumpkin. For once I avoided using the pressure cooker for this recipe other than for cooking the dal.

Cook the onions, ginger and garlic with the tomatoes till the tomatoes are mushy.
Add the potatoes and bottle gourd and once cooked add in the cooked dal.

Channa Dal with Bottle Gourd
Preparation Time:10 minutes
Cooking Time:25 minutes
  1. 1 1/2 cup of channa dal (kadalai paruppu)
  2. 1 medium sized bottle gourd peeled and diced into 1 inch pieces
  3. 2 potatoes peeled and diced into 1 inch pieces
  4. 1/2 cup of diced red onions
  5. 1 1/2 cup of chopped ripe tomatoes
  6. 1 inch piece of ginger grated
  7. 2 cloves of garlic grated or diced
  8. 2 tsp of turmeric powder
  9. 4 split green chilies
  10. 2 tsp of Kashmiri chili powder
  11. 1 tsp of red chili powder
  12. seasonings: cumin seeds and mustard seeds
  13. handful of coriander leaves
  14. salt to taste
  15. 2 tsp of oil
  16. couple of pinches of roasted fenugreek powder

  1. Cook the channa dal either on the stove top or in a pressure cooker. Take care not to cook it to mush.
  2. In a wide mouthed and slightly deep pot add the oil and when hot add the seasonings. When the mustard starts to pop add the onions and slit green chilies.
  3. Saute the onions till they turn translucent. Add in the ginger and garlic and saute for a minute.
  4. Add in the tomatoes and saute till they turn mushy. Add the turmeric and chili powder.
  5. Add the diced bottle gourd and potatoes, saute for 3-4 minutes. Add 1 cup of water and cook till the potatoes and bottle gourd are completely cooked. Takes about 10 minutes or so.
  6. Add in the cooked channa dal and salt. Let cook for another 4-5 minutes. Sprinkle the coriander leaves and the fenugreek powder.

Serve with rice or even with chapathis.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Karaikudi Kozhi Kulambu - Karaikudi Chicken Curry

Ever since this Chettinad style restaurant opened up near my office it has become a popular spot for all the Indians and by extension the other folks in the office as well. The kids are becoming fans of the food as well. One day we made a list for takeout and then felt lazy to drive out and decided against it, but the Karaikudi kozhi kulambu that was on the list kept coming into my head at all times. I had to put an end to the misery.

Anyway there was no drama involved when I bought home chicken to make the aforementioned Karikudi chicken kulambu. Very simple in terms of what was needed. Most were items we readily have on hand other than the spice called kalpasi in Tamil or by its English name Parmotrema perlatum or Dagad Phool in Hindi. It is a spice that is commonly used in Chettinad cuisine. I have never seen it or used it, so left that out. The other spice that I cannot imagine not having in a chettinad non-veg dish is poppy seeds or kasa kasa as it is called in Tamil, so I added that in. Otherwise I tried to follow the steps mentioned in this video I consulted for the recipe.

Without further delay shall we proceed to the recipe?

I generally use chicken thighs but anything really would work. If you are vegetarian cauliflower, potatoes or even raw banana will be fantastic in this recipe.

Roast the spices first, followed by the ginger, garlic and coconut and set it aside.
Blend the spices to a smooth paste with a few tbsp of water and set it aside. Now heat a wide mouthed pan and heat oil and add the seasonings.
Saute the onions till they start to turn brown, add in the tomatoes and let it get mushy.
Add in the chicken and give a good mix and add in the spice powders and mix it in.
Add the blended masala paste and water if required, cover with a lid and cook till it reaches the desired consistency. Check for salt.
Open the lid and cook more if required to make the curry thicker.

The curry tastes great with steamed rice or any of the India breads - chapathi, naan, paratha or naan.

Recipe Source: Karaikudi Kohli Curry
Karaikudi Kozhi Kulambu - Karaikudi Chicken Curry
Preparation Time:20 minutes
Cooking Time:30-40 minutes
  1. 1 1/2 lbs of chicken thighs bone in and cut into bite sized pieces
  2. 2 cups of onions in small dice
  3. 1 cup of finely diced ripe tomatoes
  4. 1/2 tbsp coriander seeds
  5. 1/2 tbsp turmeric powder
  6. 1/2 tbsp red chili powder (the masala has chilies so be careful here)
  7. seasonings: cumin seeds, fennel seeds, bay leaf and mustard seeds
  8. 2 -3 tsp oil
  9. salt to taste
  10. For the Masala
  11. 6-8 cloves of garlic chopped
  12. 2 inch piece of ginger chopped
  13. 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  14. 2 tsp cumin seeds
  15. 1 inch piece of cinnamon
  16. 2 tsp poppy seeds
  17. 6-10 cloves
  18. 1 tsp pepper corn
  19. 6-8 red chilies
  20. 1 star Anise
  21. 1 tsp kalpasi (I left this out)
  22. 3 tbsp coconut

  1. Wash the chicken and marinate with turmeric, salt and oil and let it sit till the masala and spices are ready.
  2. In a saute heat oil and roast the whole spices - coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cinnamon, cloves, pepper corn, red chilies and star anise. When they start to turn color and set them aside.
  3. Add in the ginger and garlic and let saute till it starts to brown. Now add the coconut and poppy seeds and saute for a couple of minutes more.
  4. Transfer the whole spices and the ginger,garlic and coconut and if required add a couple of tbsp of water and blend to a smooth paste and set it aside.
  5. In a wide mouthed pan (or kadai) add the rest of the oil and when hot add the seasonings - cumin, fennel, bay leaf and mustard seeds and when the mustard seeds start to pop add the onions and saute till they are nice and browned.
  6. Add in the tomatoes and saute till they are cooked well and mushy.
  7. Add the chicken pieces and saute for 5-8 minutes. Then add the coriander, turmeric and chili powder and mix it in.
  8. Now add the masala paste with about 1/2 cup of water if you require a gravy like dish else leave it out.
  9. Mix in the masala and close the lid and cook for a about 10 minutes. Add salt and continue if you want the gravy to thicken a bit more.

Serve with rice or any type of bread.

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Monday, May 2, 2016

Portobello Mushroom Pizza

Ever since the gluten free and carb free craze hit, everyone is finding alternatives to do away with those pesky carbohydrate and gluten grains. We all are winners in this. There are very creative alternatives to any number of those gluten filled foods. For people with gluten allergy what if a pizza craving hits? Not to worry.

Last week I dragged along DD2 to the grocery store. I don't risk doing that because I might end up buying half the store. As expected she walked towards the lady offering something hot out of her oven for tasting and then comes running over to me saying we got to buy some Portobello mushrooms since the pizza made with them tasted really good. Initially I thought the portobello mushrooms were added on to the pizza as topping. Nope! The broad and flat portobello mushroom was the base and then you top it. Excellent I thought especially for the girl who loves mushrooms. Helpfully she also brought me a pack of 4 portobello mushrooms.

So if you want to go gluten free on your pizza here is what you need to do. Grab some portobello mushrooms. No sticky dough to deal, no pulling and tossing to deal with. All you need is a toaster oven for a quick treat. A cast iron or a flat griddle will work as well.

I used the cool method described in this post. Make a quick stand so the mushroom does not rest in its juices and get soggy. Use aluminum foil to make a ring that the mushroom can sit on. The process is well explained in the link above.

Get the ring ready with aluminum foil. Prepare and get the mushroom ready.
Place the cheese, tomatoes and basil leaves on the mushroom.
Roast in preheated 400F oven for 20-25 minutes.

Delicious and gluten free pizza ready. Need I say DD2 was thrilled.

Portobello Mushroom Pizza
Preparation Time:15 minutes
Cooking Time:25 minutes
  1. 4 portobello mushrooms washed and stem trimmed
  2. 1 cup or more of cheese of choice (I used Pepper Jack Cheese)
  3. 2 tomatoes thinly sliced
  4. a handful of basil leaves
  5. pickled jalapeno peppers (optional)

  1. Clean, dry and trim the stems of the mushroom. Flip the mushroom so the smooth side is on the bottom.
  2. Place thinly sliced cheese on the mushroom, tomatoes and basil leaves.
  3. Add the jalapeno peppers on top.
  4. Place the foil ring and the mushroom on top and into the toaster oven heated to 400F. Bake for about 20-25 minutes till the cheese melts and the mushroom softens.
  5. Note: If using a regular oven make 4 rings and preheat the oven and place all 4 mushrooms at the same time.

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