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Category Archives: accompaniments

Peanut and Tomato Chutney

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I dont know how or why, but I have unwittingly eliminated fresh coconut from my pantry for the last few months. We stopped adding it to the araichavittu sambhar and the assorted poriyals. but what i miss most is to dip my idli or dosa into some nice tangy spicy chutney. there is only so much of kaaram podi / milagai podi i can eat. So a few days ago, taking advantage of the extra tomatoes at home, I made this chutney. Its delicious and worth the effort of roasting all the ingredients before grinding.

Peanut and Tomato Chutney (makes 5 generous servings)

1/2 cup peanuts, roasted without oil till the colour changes

1 cup chopped tomatoes ( i used the local variety)

3 green chillies, slit

2 tablespoon curry leaves

2 tablespoons coriander leaves

1 medium onion, roughly chopped

1/2 teaspoon cumin (whole)

a few grains of whole fenugreek seeds

a small marble of tamarind

salt to taste

1/2 cup water

2 teaspoons oil ( i used gingely oil)

for the tadka

a few curry leaves

1/2 teaspoon whole mustard seeds

1-2 dried red chillies

1/2 teaspoon urad / black gram dal

in a pan, dry roast the peanuts and set aside. heat one teaspoon of oil, add the whole cumin seeds and fenugreek seeds and fry a few seconds.  add the onions and green chillies and fry till the onions are beginning to change colour. add the tomatoes and fry till they begin to shrink. set it aside and cool it completely.

In the jar of the blender, add the peanuts, cooked onion and tomato, tamarind, curry leaves, coriander leaves, water, salt. Pulse till you get a smooth paste. remove to a serving bowl. in a small pan, heat the remaining teaspoon of oil. fry the urad/ black gram dal till it is pale golden, add the dried red chillies and wait for a few seconds till they begin to change colour. add the mustard seeds and allow them to splutter, finally add the curry leaves and turn off the heat. Pour this over the ground chutney. Mix and serve with idli or dosa. This can be stored in the fridge for upto 3 days.

Sprouted Red Lentils – Masoor ki Dal

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I love lentils in most forms. I keep buying them at the grocery store, and because we are so partial towards the ubiquitous tur dal, i often end up with red lentils or whole moong dal which i need to use in a hurry. I used sprouted whole red lentils or masoor ki dal in this one. Something about the delicate pink lentils and the fact that they cook easily and can blend into any kind of preparation makes me partial to them. Hyderabadis are generally partial towards these form of lentils and our khichdi is mostly made using masoor rather than moong dal like everyone else.

This is a dry dal and is best paired with hot rotis or parathas. It can substitute for a dry vegetable on a hurried weeknight. i used sprouted lentils to up the nutrition factor, this is optional. Its also a one pot preparation and is made completely in a pressure cooker. Use a heavy bottomed pan with a fitting lid if you dont have a pressure cooker.

Sprouted Red Lentils – Masoor ki Dal

1 cup red lentils, soaked in water for 1 hr, drained and left to sprout (about 6 hrs) alternatively, just soak the lentils for a couple of hours, drain and use.

1 medium sized onion, chopped

1-2 medium tomatoes, chopped

1 green chilli, split lengthwise

1/2 teaspoon of ginger garlic paste

1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon coriander powder

a pinch of asafetida / hing

a few curry leaves

salt to taste

2 cups of water

1 teaspoon of vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon of cumin seeds (jeera)

heat the oil in a pressure cooker and add the cumin seeds, once they splutter, add the curry leaves, onions, green chilli and saute for a minute. Add the ginger garlic paste and fry for a minute till the raw smell disappears. add the turmeric, asafetida, coriander powder, red chilli powder and saute for a minute. Add the washed, soaked and sprouted lentils, the chopped tomatoes and salt to taste. add the 2 cups of water and cook on pressure for 3 whistles. (if not using a pressure cooker, cover and cook till the lentils are soft but not mushy). once the pressure is released open the pan, stir and check the seasoning. Adjust if needed and cook without the lid till the water dries up completely. Serve hot with rotis or parathas.

Recipe for Spicy Whole Red Lentils (Masoor ki Dal)

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I am trying to eat more varieties of lentils and went searching for stuff in the supermarket aisles that i generally dont buy. i found a bag of whole red lentils (masoor ki dal) and while i love the skinned version of it, common sense told me the whole skin intact one would have a nice nutty flavour and would be more nutritious as well. so in it went into my grocery bag. once home, it was put into the pantry and promptly forgotten. One morning, hunting for coffee powder amongst the pantry supplies, i found this bag and soaked about 2/3 cup of it. i had a full 3-4 hours to decide what to do with it. having never cooked with it before, and not sure if K would eat it at all, i trawled the net to find a recipe. I saw a few, read thru and decided to do my own thing. I’d already made the mixed dal which turned out to be a hit and so i had the mind to dump everything in the cooker and cook it to submission what i would do. I added coconut milk and a tablespoon of some meat masala that was sitting in my kitchen shelf and that really made all the difference to this dal. It was finger licking good and K even woke up around midnight to eat some plain dal straight from the fridge. this is a spicy dal, goes well with rotis and plain rice.

Spicy Whole Red Lentils

2/3 cup whole masoor dal / red lentils with skin soaked for 3 hrs

1 large red onion chopped roughly

pinch of asafetida

pinch of turmeric

1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste

2 slit green chillies

1 cup water

a few curry leaves

1 tomato chopped or 2 tablespoons tomato puree

Pressure cook all of the above for 3-4 whistles and turn off the heat. allow the steam to escape and open the cooker, stir the contents well.

1/2 cup thick coconut milk

1 1/2 teaspoon everest meat masala (or any other sucyh as kitchen king masala) you can substitute this with 1/2 teaspoon garam masala, 1 teaspoon coriander powder, 1/2 teaspoon jeera powder

2 tablespoons fresh coriander leaves

salt to taste

Add the above to the pressure cooker and heat through, stirring well. Simmer for about 2-3 minutes till everything is well incorporated. check for spice and seasoning and adjust accordingly. the consistency should not be too thick or thin, rather like a thick soup.

for the tadka

1 teaspoon ghee

1-2 dry red chillies

1/2 teaspoon whole cumin / jeera

Heat the ghee in a small pan. splutter the mustard, add the dried red chillies and wait for a couple of seconds till they change colour. add this to the cooked lentils, bring to a boil.Take off from heat  and serve hot with steamed rice or rotis.

Black Pepper and Tomato Rasam Recipe

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For my Dad, rasam had to be made fresh every single day. Whatever the meal, whatever the menu and whatever the occasion, he had to have plain steamed rice and rasam to round off the meal. I know for sure it irked amma….like she would plan this elaborate menu and she’d still have to make his blessed rasam….i couldnt understand the fixation….all these years after he’s been gone too, i still dont. I am happy with either dal or a curry to go with my rice. I dont need to have a “full course” meal with dal, sambhar, rasam, curds, 2 vegetable dishes, rice, papad and a sweet dish…not that i dont enjoy a “full meal”…but i mean in this day and age, who has the time really?

When we have rice for a meal now, the “mixer” for K is always dal or some kuzhumbu. he’s not a rasam person, for he believes rasam is the poor cousin of sambhar and associates it with poverty and so he doesnt like to eat it. yeah he’s weird that way…did i tell you he also thinks capsicum is an obese chilli and he can never eat it? and that peas have no personality and that’s why they hide in a pod? and that no matter what the dish, he will pick them out and pile them onto the side of his plate? did i mention he has these weird fixations about food? no??

ok…i digress…. back to my dad and rasam… each time i simmer a pan of rasam, memories of my father come rushing back….all of them….i can almost see him mixing the rasam and rice and taking that pause before the first morsel of it was relished…its comfort food for me now….like that doll you hold onto when you are sick? i cling to the rasam my dad loved so much….While there’s a quick version that i make using powdered masalas, my father would have screwed his nose up at it, so this is his favourite tamarind based rasam….just to bring the memories alive

Chintapandu Tamata Miriyala Rasam ~ Tamarind Tomato and Pepper Soup (Makes 4 cups)

1/2 cup tamarind extract, made from a lemon sized ball of tamarind, soaked in warm water for 30 mins and pulp extracted

1 small tomato

a few curry leaves

1/2 teaspoon cumin and mustard seeds

2 tablespoons of chopped fresh coriander

2 cloves of garlic, crushed roughly

salt to taste

3 cups of water

1 teaspoon of oil

11/2 tablespoons of chopped fresh coriander leaves

For the rasam powder, roast and dry grind the following

1 teaspoon whole black pepper

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds

In a pan, mix together the tamarind pulp, water, chopped tomatoes, crushed garlic, roasted and powdered masala powder, salt and bring it to a boil. Simmer for 5-7 minutes till the tomatoes are cooked through and mushy. check for the salt and adjust, adding more water if it is too tart.add the corainder leaves.

In a seasoning pan, heat the oil, splutter the mustard and cumin, add the curry leaves and add this to the boiling rasam.  Add the coriander leaves and simmer another couple of minutes. Take off the heat, cover and let cool for about 10 -15 minutes to let the spices meld in. Serve with steaming hot rice and papad or a dry vegetable dish for a perfectly wonderful meal.

Introducing a brand new blogger and an easy Mixed Dal Recipe

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All those of you who’ve encouraged me, please say hello to Swati, media person, executive producer, woman of today and Weekend Epicurean. Swati and I know each other through a dear friend U, and when she expressed her desire to start a food blog, i  told her of my tryst with blogging and how much i had grown personally from this little space i share with so many of you. When i told her of the joys of writing and finding your niche in this space, of meeting people and making friends, it didnt take her long to start her own blog.

Please stop over and send her your wishes!! Goodluck Weekend Epicurean…. may you have a beautiful journey.

Now for a an easy recipe for the blazing hot summer’s when the last thing you want to do is stand in the hot kitchen…. this recipe pretty much needs no babysitting, and is full of wonderful flavour. Makes a working night dinner with some hot steamed rice. Ok, if you are feeling indulgent, then roast some papad and add some pickle… but i ain’t going to stand in the kitchen longer than i have to light the flame under the cooker!!

Mixed Dal (serves 4)

2 tablespoons each tur (split yellow pigeon peas), Chana (split husked chickpeas), Masoor (red lentils), Whole moong (green gram with skin) and skinned moong

1 medium onion chopped

1 medium tomato chopped

1/2 teaspoon ginger garlic paste, or 1 pod garlic and small knob of ginger, roughly chopped or crushed

pinch of hing (asafetida)

pinch of turmeric

1 teaspoon of dhania jeera powder (or mix half tsp of each together)

2 slit green chillies or 1 teaspoon red chilly powder

1 1/2  cups of water

Salt to taste

Take all the ingredients for the dal except the salt in a pressure cooker and add the 11/2 cups water to it. (leave out the tadka stuff). Cook it for 2-3 whistles, let the steam release, mash well with the back of a ladle or with a dal masher.

For the tadka/ popu/ seasoning:

1 tablespoon ghee (or oil but it isnt the same minus the ghee)

1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds, cumin seeds

10 curry leaves

2 dried red chillies

In a small tempering pan, heat the ghee or oil, add the cumin and mustard seeds and allow to splutter, add the dried red chillies and wait till they change colour to bright red, add the curry leaves now and take off the heat. Add this to the cooked and mashed dal. Mix well. Serve with plain steamed rice or rotis.

How to Make Idli and Araichavitta Sambar with Drumsticks (Sambar with Freshly Ground Spices)

idly and sambhar

Idlies are a staple in our home. We can eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Sometimes on the same day!! I try and make the batter on Sunday so as to see me through 3 meals. It saves precious time and energy when you would rather be doing something else than tearing you hair out over a menu option. Depending on its availability, i use regular sona masuri or boiled idly rice. The results with the idly rice are far superior as the idlies turn out real fluffy. The key to making good idlies is to have well fermented batter at room temperature. And a good robust steamer. Steaming hot idlies with sambhar, chutney or podi. Yum!

I was looking at my dal/ sambhar category, I realised I didn’t have a post with sambhar. Now, Sambhar is like biryani, everyone has their own recipe. I didn’t know what the fuss was all about. In my home, there was no Holy Grail for sambhar. Soon after we got married, K craved for his mom’s version even though I used the very fabulous MTR sambhar powder. On the next trip we made to his parents place, I got down to work and got myself the recipe. Amma makes it fresh each time, but I am a bag of lazy bones and I will have none of the roasting and grinding, especially when pressed for time. While I sometimes still use a combination of readymade dry powders, this masala can be made fresh coconut and all, stocked in the freezer to be had at a moments notice. I also add an assortment of whatever vegetables I have on hand. At K’s parents place, its one veggie at a time. So it will either be shallots, ladies finger (okra) or drumsticks but not a combination. Sambhar is best paired with hot steamed rice, idlies or as in my case, bread.


Its been raining steadily in Hyderabad over the last few weeks and i am loving the weather. Nothing like a bowl of steaming hot idlies, sambhar with a dollop of ghee to get you off to a good start. The pictures are of breakfast on a recent morning. I shot it for my photoblog, where i am hoping to capture everyday moments of my life. Read on for the recipes.

Idlies (makes 16 idlies)

½ cup skinned urad dal/ black gram

1 ½ cups of rice (i use boiled rice, sona masuri works fine too

½ teaspoon whole fenugreek seeds

Soak all of the above for atleast 6 hrs. Grind with 1-1/2 cups water to a smooth batter. Some would ask you to grind the lentils and rice separately and mix, but i cant be bothered about this and i have not had bad results to make me want to try. I grind mine in a wet grinder but a regular food processor works fine too. Again i speak from experience.

Transfer to a large vessel and leave to ferment for 5-6 hours. Add salt to taste and Mix well.

In a large pot with a lid/ steamer/ pressure cooker without the whistle, pour 3-4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Grease the idly plates with a dab of oil, spoon out 1/3 – ¼ cup of batter or according to your mould. Stack the plates and place in the steamer. Make sure the water doesn’t come above the lowest plate. Steam for 12-15 minutes. Cool and unmould using a blunt knife. Serve hot with podi / chutney or sambhar

Drumstick / Munagakaya/ Murungakai Sambhar

1 c tur dal/ kandi pappu/ yellow pigeon peas

¼ teaspoon of asafoetida/ hing/ inguva

¼ teaspoon of turmeric/ haldi / pasupu

6-8  2 inch pieces of drumstick/ munagakaya/ murungakai

1 c tamarind extract, made from a lemon sized ball of tamarind, soaked in hot water and pulp extracted

½ c sambhar powder (recipe follows)

Salt to taste

For the tempering

1 teaspoon oil

8-10 curry leaves

2 small dried red chillies (or one long one broken into two)

½ teaspoon mustard seeds

Pressure cook the dal/ lentils with the turmeric and asafoetida and 1 c water till well cooked. After the pressure releases from the cooker, open and mash the cooked lentils with the back of a spoon till smooth. Steam the drumstick pieces in 1 c water on a stove top or microwave (about 6-7 minutes) till just cooked. Discard the, water they were cooked in. Combine the tamarind extract, sambar powder and cooked dal, drumsticks and 1-1½ cups of water and return to the stove. Bring to a boil and simmer gently for about 3-4 minutes. In a small pan, heat the oil, add the ingredients for tempering, heat through till the mustard seeds pop and add to the sambhar. Serve hot with idlies or rice and a dry vegetable dish.

Vegetables for sambhar: any vegetable that will not turn to mush can be used for sambhar. some of the more popular choices individually as in K’s home or a combination (i like a medley) are:

shallots/ sambhar onions/ pearl onions, okra/ bhindi / vendakkai/ bendakaya, radish, drumsticks, brinjal, carrots, beans, yellow pumpkin, bottle gourd, etc. tomatoes can be added in addition to the vegetables.

Sambhar powder

2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds

2 tablespoons Bengal gram / chana dal

1 teaspoon fenugreek . methi seeds

¼ teaspoon asafoetida/ hing

3-4 dried red chillies (adjust according to your spice tolerance)

½ c freshly grated coconut

1 teaspoon oil

Heat a heavy bottomed pan with the oil. Add the coriander seeds and Bengal gram and roast them for about 1 minute or till they turn golden. Make sure they do not burn or it will spoil the flavour of the sambhar. Remove to a plate. In the same pan, add the dried red chillies, fenugreek seeds and asafoetida and roast stirring all the time, about 20 seconds till golden, remove onto the same plate as the Bengal gram. To the same pan, add the scraped coconut and roast till just turning golden. Remove onto the plate with the other roasted spices. Leave it to cool.  Grind all together with ½ cup water to make a smooth and thick aromatic paste.

To store this sambhar masala: Roast and cool all the masalas and dry grind it along with the freshly grated coconut in a spice grinder. This can be stored in an airtight container or ziplock bag in the freezer for upto 2 months. Before using, remove from the freezer, add ½ cup water at room temperature and pulse for a few seconds before adding it to the cooked dal / lentils mix. I increase the ingredients proportionately about 5 times to make this in bulk.

Recipe for Homestyle Simple Tomato Dal (Andhra Style Lentils with Tomato)


What could be better than some hot dal with rice or rotis? this is comfort food at its best for most indians…. growing up, we complained that no two dals would never taste or look the same at home ….  as a child, that was something peculiar, now that would be a delight!!

On a weeknight, dal for me is an accompaniment paired with rice / roti and a vegetable side dish is really a bonus.  This is a simple dal with tomatoes, that is cooked in no time, yet flavourful and wholesome. most of the cooking is done in the pressure cooker which saves a lot of time.

Tomato Dal (Serves 3)

1 c tur dal (yellow lentils)

2 c water

a pinch of asafetida

2-3 green chillies, slit

1 c chopped tomatoes

1/2 c chopped onions

2-3 pods garlic crushed

1/2 t turmeric powder

1 t Coriander powder

salt to taste

1/2 t mustard seeds

1/2 t cumin seeds / jeera

a few curry leaves

1 t ghee

2 dry red chillies

2-3 T fresh coriander leaves

Pressure cook the dal with the onions, tomatoes, crushed garlic, green chillies, asafetida and turmeric, adding the 2 cups of water for about 4 whistles or 12-13 minutes till cooked soft.  Mash the cooked dal with the back of a ladle. add the salt and the fresh coriander leaves to the dal and mix well. in a small pan, heat the ghee, add the cumin seeds and splutter, add the dry red chillies and fry for a few seconds, add the curry leaves, add this to the cooked dal, mix well and serve hot with roti or rice. the consistency can be adjusted by adding water.

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