Category Archives: south indian
This is coming late, but this is a dish that can be enjoyed anytime. Without fail I make it at pongal to celebrate the earth’s bounty and be grateful for the food on our table. I believe that festivals are not about religion, mostly they are symbolic of hope and thankfulness and love and celebration. A time to be together with the people that matter and sit together as a family and enjoy the fun and festivity.So when Makar Sankranthri comes along, which is the festival of harvest, I make the sweet and savoury versions of pongal and give thanks.
I’ve posted the savoury version of pongal and the only thing that changed this time was the consistency. I made it a little softer than what I posted earlier with the addition of an extra cup of water.
I used a mix of moong dal with and without the skin. But essentially this is a quick way of making it, I don’t know if the purists will bay for my blood!! If the proof of the pudding is in its eating, then this is a winner all the way!!
There’s this nifty little kitchen utensil called the appa patra…. The jugal bandits use their’s extensively….so does my namesake….see her version of no fry pakoras… and nupur dished out this kofta curry from the same kind of pan…needless to say, this caught my fancy, so the last time amma visted….she bought me this pan…I for one am on a ‘not buying anything unless my life depends on it’ mode….so when amma said she wanted to buy me a gift, I said ok…why not buy me something I really want instead of clothes..or anything else…. That’s how I got my appa patra
Ever since I got it, I have been making some kind of stuff in it…the fact that they haven’t featured here is testimony to the fact that they didn’t make it to the photographs!! the easiest is to make use of souring idly batter, add chopped onions, green chillies, curry leaves and cumin seeds and make appey…. Instantly, some sooji / Bombay rava mixed with curd and baking soda and spices too will do the trick.
I made dahi vadas. With batter made from 2 cups of dal soaked for 4 hours, we got about 35 small vadas. Most of them we ate as is, with chutney and sauce…the rest I dunked in yogurt and added seasoning.This one is not going to cheat you of the smooth and creamy texture of the original deep fried version…its going to be your favourite if you like dahi vadas purely because the whole thing gets made in less than 4 T of oil… how great is that??
While the fried ones aren’t as crisp as they deep fried versions, this is the only compromise you will have to make. Taste wise they’re the same. this is a great way to have your favourite foods minus the extra calories ofcourse. for the original deep fried version of the same thing, look here.
Bottle gourd or Sorakaya as it is called in telugu is a vegetable I am very indifferent to. For the most part, I thought I hated it…. but as my namesake said in this post, I actually meant I don’t like it….i always thought it was an insipid vegetable and despite its size and all, had little to offer of itself in any dish. So while I would eat it in a sambhar or vegetable side dish, I won’t really miss it if I didn’t have it for months….amma on the other hand, likes it quite a bit. She does the cooking for dinner when she stays with me, and she made this a few days ago. When I unlocked the front door, the aromas that greeted me, were mouthwatering to say the least…..
The masalas are typical of what would go into making a meat dish. In Andhra, cooking mutton with vegetables is common, and sorakaya cooked with Mutton is much sought after. The flavours of the rich gravy blend very well with the vegetable and make it a great accompaniment with rotis or a mildly flavoured rice such as pulav.
Amma made this dal, so I can’t take any credit for anything other than clicking the pictures!! The way it got polished off at the table, it deserved to make its appearance here!! This is a simple yet very tasty preparation that can be had with rotis or rice. The addition of fenugreek leaves enhances the flavour so fabulously yet so subtlely. This is a dal that is guaranteed to have the most slurps you have ever heard while eating a dal dish!!
Fenugreek leaves used in this dal are the mature leaves, the ones that are dried for kasuri methi. They retain a slight bitterness but not as strong as it is in the baby dleaves. Fenugreek leaves are known to be high in iron content. When cooked with protein packed dal (lentils) it is a good source of nutrition.
A few months ago, I received a gift of ½ Kg of Goda Masala from a neighbor. She had moved into the apartment opposite us and is from Pune. I was her contact for all things hyderabadi, from finding a maid and translating for her, to directing her to the closest market ….. we had a good time getting to know each other while she got familiar with a new place. I asked her about goda masala and she very sweetly confessed that she wasn’t much of a cook, infact she was just learning to rustle up something in the kitchen post marriage, never having entered the kitchen before. She promised to ask her mom for the recipe and on her next trip, she came back with this large bag of Goda Masala. While I was touched by the gesture, I really didn’t know how to use up so much of it. I promptly shared it with a few friends and relatives and kept the rest in the fridge, to prolong its use.
Goda Masala is a typically Maharashtrian masala made of many whole spices and coconut. this is used in vegetable stir fries and dals (aamti) and gives the dish a flavourful and aromatic edge. Like everything about cooking, this masala has many versions, and each family has their own way of making it. while a few ingredients will remain integral, there are additions and ommissions too depending on an individual taste and choice. here are some great resources for Goda Masala….it is a labour of love…..so go ahead….
While I am away at work, Amma busies herself in the kitchen to make dinner. On one of her “see what you have in the kitchen/ fridge / pantry” meddling, she found the stash of goda masala and asked me in what she could use it. I told her most vegetable fries will go well with the masala. This evening, as I unlocked the door, the aroma of Goda Masala greeted me. She used it in this simple Kakarakaya (Bittergourd) fry. If you like bittergourd, this is a must try. It is fabulous, the flavour of the coconut with the garam masalas blended with the crisply fried bittergourd. If you aren’t fond of this vegetable, try the Goda Masala with tendli, brinjal or even pumpkin.
Edited to add: This is a post i wrote over the last weekend, and put on auto publish. When this comes up, Bombay is still fighting its battle against terror even after 40 hours…..it is mind numbing….yesterday we heard that a genteel chef who shared our church bench for 4 yrs and then moved to bombay was killed at the shootout at the Taj…. it has brought this so much closer. All we can do, is pray and hope.
With me back into the workforce, there are still some changes to incorporate into my routine that will keep the home stead well oiled….its taking a while to get used to… after all, I did have a different lifestyle for 2 years….with some largescale compulsory attendance at social functions that ate into my precious weekend, Monday morning was wrought with “what’s for breakfast?” near panic……a little bit of dosa batter that was hived away for a quick snack was the centre around which breakfast was built…. I make dosa with wheat flour as the base, adding some other flours/ semolina etc…never following the same recipe….but haven’t had the courage to make it with ragi (millet) flour till now…. The sight of the food is as important as the taste at my house…. I have K to consider, and didn’t think he would be too happy about blushing pink anything on this plate!! I have to thank the fact that he was sleepy enough not to notice the colour when he took the first bite, and then it was love after that …
I used leftover and thus fermented dosa batter, a fresh mixing of flours and standing it for a bit too will do the trick with a pinch of soda bicarb to hurry things along is what I think….
Friends….. I make them quite easily…. And mostly… they stay for life…. Collected and cherished like life’s most precious experiences…..some of my closest friends are the ones I made in school….. later, in college, in the hostel and each of the firms I worked for I met some of the most wonderful people I know….. sometimes I don’t talk to them for years and months, yet they remain closest to your heart….counted as those I can call upon in my hour of need…..sometimes I talk to them and spend so much time together, that I cant make out if I picked up their habits and mannerisms or vice versa……some I love working with because they are just so damn good at their work…and there’s so much to learn…. Some I share common interests with… with some I just cant explain how or why the relationship sticks…..some with whom I shared good times and moved on…. Some I rediscover after a period of time…. Short or long…. Some I cant relate to anymore….. some I wish I still had in my life….. Sometimes friendships humble you…..Each one has taught me something…. Knowingly or otherwise….. I know I will always be grateful for this…. For what they add to my life….
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine, who shall be called B, spent the weekend with me….Someone who’s trying to find her spot under the Sun…. To be the best she can…. To better herself and all that she aspires for each day….I’ve seen her change…. Over the 6 yrs now that we’ve known each other…. Sometimes I didn’t quite understand what she was trying to do, and where she was trying to go….because in her pursuit of whatever it is she is chasing, she needed time to tame her own demons….
It’s a difficult thing to know that you may be a casualty along the way….we take ourselves far too seriously to recognize this….and sometimes in anger and sometimes to poke at her I would shoot barbs…. I came to realize, that if I put a premium on myself, I would lose her friendship…..that i should recognise what was on offer, and take it or leave it….. that not all relationships can be the same…. that not all people are the same…. and this is why we pursue them the way we do…atleast for me…. She’s one of the most giving people I have seen….. she gives of herself freely that sometimes you wonder what’s left for her…. One moment this hardnosed woman of the world, and all at once a child….if I have to put it down to one word, ENDEARING it will have to be ….
Why am I writing all this?? Because I have a story to tell…. This blog isnt all about food….if you know me, you know everything comes with a story…. Some more elaborate than the other…. A couple of years earlier, at B’s home, we had this amazing tomato chutney her mother made…. hot as hell, we lapped it up as much as we reached out for the tissues to blow our noses…. It was pretty awesome…. The heat in the chutney is as much a part of it as its awesome flavour…..having tasted it once, B didn’t hear the end of it…. I hounded her for the recipe…. Two years later, her hubby landed up bearing a box full of it…. her mom was in town, and after all this time, she remembered and got her to make some for us…. It was 5 days of bliss….. idlies, dosais, rice, roti and sandwiches…. All were slathered by this drool inducing chutney….
The weekend she spent with us, she made it for me …. Surviving all the questions I threw at her…. The end product was as before…. Again it didn’t survive a photosession….. I tried my hand at it this weekend….its never easy trying to remake something that’s near perfect…. Again I was blown away with the results….
How do you explain tangy fiery marriage? A flavour so unique, that you keep dipping your finger into it and licking at it while transferring it to a storage box? That even though it spits fire on your tongue, you cant have enough of it?? I realized, this was so much like B….. No matter that you weren’t able to compartmentalize it correctly, you loved it anyway!! Thanks sweety!! I know for sure, that no matter where life takes us, there will always be things that remind me of you.
this is my entry to Suganya’s Vegan Ventures
I loved petha…the spuriously sweet spongy blocks that we loved as kids….all that I have eaten is from hyderabad, tho I hear the most famous petha is what you get in agra….imagine my horror when I discovered, that this was white pumpkin dipped in sugar syrup!! I refused to eat it for a few years after that…. Through my cognizant years many such horrors of discovery happened!!
Anyways, white pumpkin is one of the vegetables that we didn’t see much of…..we didn’t eat much of it…… occasionally the yellow one made an appearance…..but I identified white pumpkin by the fact that it was used to cast out the evil eye at festivals…..broken to smithereens, doused with turmeric and all …….this changed when my parents were diagnosed as diabetic….. several diabetic friendly changes were made to our food habits…..and I remember, the spread on the table falling into two categories…”theirs” and “ours”…. As all pig headed teens, my brother and I felt my folks were eating terribly tasteless ‘punishment’ food…..but I don’t know where, we began making inroads into this as well…..now we make it pretty often, and savour it too….what makes me smile, is that it cooks very quickly…..being delicately flavoured, the key is not to douse it in too much masala…..
White pumpkin Is an integral part of Avial, it can be added to kadhis, made into gravy curries, I’ve had a lot of white pumpkin in Chinese recipes, but i’m not quite sure if this is authentic or an invention of indo-chinese………my favourite however, is a simple stir fry….
To me cauliflower can never be disappointing….unless you massacre it and cook it to death….plus it is such a versatile vegetable, lending itself pretty well to any kind of preparation, indian, Chinese, continental and anything else you can think of making with it….fried, baked and even steamed…..there are lots of people who don’t eat this cruciferous veggie full of vital nutrients though….i have heard staunchly desi types saying it is an ‘english’ vegetable and then there are some who are suspicious of the little worms that there can be found in them at times…..then there are some who cant stand the smell of cooking cauliflower much the same as cabbage……I have nothing to offer the types who think it is an english vegetable….their loss….as for the worms, inspect the cauliflower you are buying thoroughly and check for any signs of the critters, do not buy anything that looks emaciated and sad…..or wilted for that matter….and after cutting, I always immerse it in hot water to which salt and a little of turmeric has been added for 10 minutes to get rid of anything I have missed, usually rinsing in two changes of water…..there are plenty of other fruits and vegetables like beans, peas and brinjals that regularly get attacked by pests….at this rate we should stop eating most stuff…..
Anyways, back to cauliflower….i usually make it with tomato and onions with a cumin seeds tadka….which tastes great with rotis……or poriyal style…which is better with rice and sambhar / dal….this one is the latter…..its very easy to make…which scores high marks with me…since I cant slave over the kitchen stove…..far from…..i always look for shortcuts that wont shortchange you on the taste….and this one pleases on all counts