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Category Archives: andhra

{Vegan MoFo 2013} Thotakura Vepudu (Amaranth Leaves Stir Fry) ~ Andhra Style Recipe

In my maternal home, we always had a variety of greens growing in the yard. It was uncommon for us to buy any greens for the table, but for spinach which didn’t grow. We had tonnes of Amaranth, atleast 5-6 varieties of it, Malabar Spinach (three kinds), drumstick leaves, night shade spinach and some other stuff which are not commercially grown. My mother would step out, pluck enough for either a quick stir fry or a dal, step back inside and cook the greens all inside of 20 minutes. the taste of fresh greens is a treat and cannot be replicated by commercially grown greens one bit.

This dish was made from the fresh amaranth leaves I picked from my container garden. Its a glorified name for the assorted pots and old recycled buckets i have up on my terrace where I am attempting to grow a few vegetables and herbs. The bonus was this amaranth. It sprouted on its own because of the seeds present in the soil that was purchased. Each morning I go upstairs, sometimes with my dog Sage, sometimes just a cup of coffee, look around to see what seeds have sprouted, which plant is flowering or fruiting and get anxious if i see a pest or a plant wilting.

This is a very simple recipe, that gets done in no time. You can replace the amaranth leaves with spinach or any greens of your choice. Usually, we add chopped garlic to the greens to increase its flavour. this dish is a good accompaniment with steamed rice and dal / sambhar or roti.

Thotakura Vepudu

Thotakura Vepudu

Thotakura Vepudu (Andhra Style Amaranth Leaves Stir Fry – Serves 2)

Fresh Amaranth Leaves (Thotakura)               4-5 cups, tough stalks removed, washed, drained and chopped

onion                                                                          1 medium, chopped

Garlic Cloves                                                             2-3, skinned and chopped

oil                                                                                 1 teaspoon

salt                                                                               to taste

mustard seeds                                                       1 teaspoon

Whole cumin seeds                                              1 teaspoon

Green Chilli                                                              1, slit lengthwise

In a pan, heat the oil, splutter the cumin and mustard and add the chopped garlic. saute for a minute till aromatic, add the chopped onions and green chilli and fry till the onions are translucent. Add the washed, drained and chopped amaranth leaves and saute the greens a few times. the leaves will sweat and a lot of water will be released, which on a medium to low flame needs to be evaporated, stirring occasionally. Cook for about 4-5 minutes till the pan is almost dry but not sticking. Add the salt, taste and adjust. Switch off the heat and serve up with rotis or steamed rice and dal.

 

 

Dondakaya (Tindora/ Ivy gourd) Masala Rice

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Dondakaya Masala Rice

Dondakaya Masala Rice

Years ago, I ate Dondakaya Biryani at a friend’s place. It is one of those things that lingers for a long long time. Mostly because one doesn’t expect Dondakaya to be made into a biryani, while it intrigues, it also is very very well made and feels so in place! My favourite way to eat dondakaya (tendli, tindora, gilloda as it is also called) is stir fried with red chilli powder, salt and curry leaves. No tadka, masala, no fuss and goes well with rice and dal / sambhar or rotis. My mother hardly made dondakaya as we were growing up, mainly because to fry it one needs to add a lot of oil, and it used to be a very cheap vegetable, so she always felt it was not worth the time or effort involved in making it. Also, the vegetable is real small, the size of your thumb, so for a family of 5, it was a pain to top, tail and slice the damn things.

All this meant, when someone makes it in a different way, I love eating it. One of my favourite ways to make this vegetable is Gutti Dondakaya. Using Sailu’s fool proof recipe for stuffed brinjals, it always turns out great. But it was time to try making that biryani. To see if I could replicate the flavours. I didn’t ofcourse actually ‘make’ it as a biryani, rather, used my trusty pressure cooker to make a one pot masala rice of sorts. It turned out very well. We had it with raitha on the side. This is a good way to use this vegetable, make a quick one pot meal for a packed lunch or a lazy lunch on a weekend.

DSC_0001-2

Dondakaya Masala Rice (Serves 2-3)

Prep Time: 10 Minutes | Cooking Time: 15 Minutes

Rice  – 1 cup, washed and drained

Dondakaya (Coccinea) – 12-15, washed, tops and tails removed and slit lengthwise

Green Chilli – 2, slit

Onion – 1, Sliced into semi circles

Tomato – 1, chopped

Ginger garlic paste – 2 teaspoons

Coriander powder – 2 teaspoons

Garam Masala Powder – 1 teaspoon

Red Chilli Powder – 1 teaspoon

Any Ready Made Masala Powder such as kitchen king, pav bhaji or even chicken or meat masala – 1 teaspoon

Salt to taste

Oil – 1 tablespoon

Curry leaves – 6-8

Mint Leaves – ¼ cup

  1. In a pressure cooker, heat the oil and add the onions and slit green chillies. Fry for a few minutes till the onions are translucent and add the ginger garlic paste and fry for a minute.
  2. Add the curry leaves and the slit dondakaya and fry till they are beginning to wilt.
  3. Add the tomato, coriander powder, red chilli powder, garam masala, kitchen king masala powder, mint leaves and toss to coat it well. Cook this for 3-4 minutes, stirring so that the powders do not burn.
  4. Add the washed and drained rice; add salt to taste and 11/2 cup of water. Close the lid of the cooker let it cook for exactly one whistle.
  5. Turn off the flame and allow the pressure to release. Once the cooker is open, fluff with a fork, garnish with fresh coriander before packing into a lunch box or serve hot with Raitha

Carrot Raitha

Plain Curd / Yogurt – 1 cup

Salt to taste

Carrot – 1, peeled and grated

Green Chilli – 1, finely chopped

Coriander Leaves – 1 sprig

Whisk the yogurt with the salt till no lumps remain. Add the grated carrot, green chilli and coriander. Chill till served

Thanksgiving & Comfort Food ~ Palak Dal

palak dal tadka

 

Today American’s celebrate Thanksgiving. It was tough to escape this one because there were reminders all over fb, twitter and in my training room today as my client for the day is an american company with operations in India.

I have a lot to be thankful for. this year in particular….its been a very tough year for K and me workwise. We’ve had to navigate over some super volatile minefields. Am thankful for the light at the end of the tunnel, the strength of spirit and the courage and integrity of the man i share my life with. Could not have chosen better. Am thankful for closures, new beginnings and a childlike enthusiasm that can never be put down.

Today is one of those days when I would want nothing better than a bowl full of hot rice, palak dal and a dollop of ghee. comfort food at its best. I make this one pot dal as often as I can, because its ridiculously simple to make. I’ve had a 12 hour day today and am looking forward to sleeping early. Not before I finished posting here tho.

Palak dal tadka (serves 2 )

Tur dal – ½ cup (washed and soaked in water for 15 minutes)

Spinach/ Palak leaves – 1-1½ cups (washed and chopped)

Small onion (chopped – optional)

Green chilies – 2

A pinch each of asafetida and turmeric

Salt to taste

For the tadka/ seasoning

Ghee/ oil – 1 teaspoon

Whole cumin seeds/ jeera – 1 teaspoon

Dry red chilies – 2-3

Fresh curry leaves – 15

Garlic – 2-3 pods

  1. Take all the ingredients except the ones for tadka into a pressure cooker and cook for 3-4 whistles. The dal should be cooked and you should be able to mash it with the back of a ladle.
  2. When the pressure releases, add the salt and mash the dal with a spoon. Put the dal back on the heat and simmer for 5-6 minutes.
  3. In a small pan, heat the ghee/ oil and add the whole cumin. Let it splutter, add the red chilies and peeled garlic, fry it till the garlic is turning golden brown.
  4. Add the curry leaves, when they crackle, add it to the boiled, mashed dal. Serve hot with rotis or naan.

Festive Fare ~ Bobatlu (Puranpoli)

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I’d made this for sankranti when I did a festival spread for the newspaper that I write for. What i like is that you can use maida or whole wheat flour for the outer covering or a combination. I love this freshly made and piping hot off the tava with a dab of ghee… also love it with a little milk when it is sitting in the fridge!

Bobbattu or Puranpoli (makes 6-7 medium ones)

For the filling

Chana dal/bengal gram – 1 cup (soaked in water for an hour and drained)

Sugar – 1 cup

Cardamom powder – ½ teaspoon

Salt – a pinch

For the covering

Maida – 1 1/4 cups

Oil – 3-4 tablespoons

Ghee – 1 tablespoon

Pressure cook channa dal adding a cup of water till the dal turns very soft. Grind to a fine paste.

Heat a heavy bottomed kadai, add the ground dal paste and sugar and cook till they blend and form a thick lump like paste with no moisture left. Keep stirring on slow flame.

Add cardamom powder and salt and combine. Cool and make small lemon sized balls for stuffing. Keep aside.

Combine the maida, pinch of salt, oil and enough water to make a very soft and sticky dough(softer than puri dough).

Knead well and keep aside for one or two hours.

Grease your hand with oil and pinch a small portion of dough and flatten it into a 2″ disc. Place a ball of channa dal stuffing in the centre and draw the edges of the dough from all sides to cover the stuffing completely.

Take a plastic sheet or a plantain leaf and gently flatten each ball carefully with your fingers to form a 6″ diamater flat circular roti/bobattu/poli. You can also roll gently with a rolling pin.

Heat a tawa and fry it on low flame such that its roasted on both sides till brown spots appear. Smear oil over the bobbatu while frying.
Serve warm with ghee. Store them in an air tight container or in the refrigerator. Stays fresh for a few days.

This is part of the blogging marathon… have stopped to catch my breath a bit!

Spicy Uttapam (Spicy Savoury Pancakes)

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spicy uttapam

spicy uttapam

This is a breakfast item that we love and I make it often when I have dosa or idli batter older than 3 days. The addition of the spiced powder makes it an easy to eat item and you don’t have to add any other accompaniment.

Its also a break from the plain idli and dosa that is a staple at our home.

Spicy Savoury Pancakes/ Spicy Mini Uthapam (serves 2), Time taken 15 minutes

2 cups idli batter, if you don’t have home made, its easily available in most kirana stores and supermarkets

¼ cup finely chopped onion

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds

2-3 pepper corns, roughly crushed

1 green chili, finely chopped

Finely chopped curry leaves and fresh coriander

2 tablespoons of chutney podi/ gun powder/ spice powder

2 tablespoons oil

Heat a griddle on medium heat. Put a few drops of water on it. If it sizzles, it is the right temperature. Mix all of the above ingredients except the oil and spice powder into a bowl. Add a few tablespoons of water to get a really thick pouring consistency. It should not be as runny as dosa batter.

Take a round ladle and spoon a ladleful of this batter onto the griddle. Do not spread, it will spread out a little, but it should remain thick and fluffy. Drizzle a few drops of oil on the corners and cook on medium till the edges are turning golden brown and crisp (about 1 minutes). Sprinkle a little of the spice powder onto the pancake and flip over. Cook the other side for about 30 seconds. Do not press down. Take out onto a plate. Repeat till all the batter is used up. Serve hot.

Celebrating the Monsoons ~ Vaamu (Ajwain) Aaku Bajji

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Ajwain Leaf / Vaamu Aaku Bajji

The last post was a summer salad to Beat the Heat and we’re already rejoicing the monsoons. Tells you how little I have blogged! But, my favourite season of the year is here and I am more than happy. We had a sweltering summer this year and never have I waited for the rains the way I have this time.

Celebrating the rains with Vaamu Aaku Bajji or Ajwain Leaf Pakoras. I grow two kinds of Ajwain / Vaamu at home. Both of which are edible, but until now I have only used them in salads for garnish. The bajjis that are made with these leaves are very popular in my home state of Andhra Pradesh. But if you have been reading this blog long enough, you should also know by now that I am scared of deep frying. The last time I made bajjis, I fessed up!

With a newspaper column to write twice a month, I try and cater to the changing seasons or festivities around and this time work demanded a kadai half filled with oil.

Potato, Onion, Ajwain Leaf and Paneer Pakoras for a Monsoon Evening Snack

I made four kinds of bajjis for the story of which one was this one. I must say, it was very very good. The fresh leaves have a very strong fragrance and taste and hence I’ve always used it sparingly when used uncooked. Dipped in a mildly spiced batter and deep fried though, it took on another personality and mellowed down to a beautiful warm flavour.

Try these with your evening tea/ coffee and enjoy the sight of the rain pounding the earth.

Vaamu Aaku Bajji (Ajwain Leaf Pakora)
Serves – 4
Recipe Source – Sailu’s Kitchen

Vaamu Leaves (Ajwain) – 16-18
Gram Flour / Besan Flour – ¾ cup
Rice Flour (makes the bajji very crisp) – 2 tablespoons
Red Chilli Powder – ½ teaspoon
A pinch of Soda Bi carb
Salt to taste
Oil for deep frying

1. Wash the Vaamu leaves and dry on paper tissue to remove excessive water
2. Mix the gram flour with the rice flour, salt, red chilli powder and soda bi carb
3. Add about 2/3 cup water and whisk well to make a thick batter the consistency of dosa batter.
4. Heat about 2 cups of oil in a kadhai. Test for readiness by dropping a few drops of the batter into the hot oil. If it rises immediately to the surface, the oil is hot enough to begin frying.
5. Dip a leaf into the batter and coat well on all sides. Drop this carefully into the hot oil. Repeat with about 6 or till the frying vessel is moderately full and you can still turn over each bajji with ease. Fry for a minute and turn over. Fry the bajjis till golden brown and remove from the oil. Drain on a paper towel. Repeat with all the leaves. Serve hot with tomato ketchup.

Gongura Pappu ~ Andhra Style Lentils with Sorrel Leaves

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The love of the sour Sorrel leaves or Gongura leaves in Andhra cooking is legendary. it is used as a souring agent in vegetable, dal/lentil and meat dishes and is world famous as Gongura Pachadi which is a chutney made out of it. As is normal, the preparation and the combination of foods it must be eaten with changes in every region. For instance, in the telangana area, gongura pachadi is eaten with jowar roti and sliced raw onions, in nellore i know it is eaten with hot steaming rice and a dollop of ghee and sliced raw onions. I prefer to skip the raw onions and just gorge on the pachadi with hot rice….

today’s recipe is a bachelor / singleton friendly one pot deal to make gongura pappu. this is a style of cooking i prefer the most… easy and effortless, yet the resultant dal is so full bodied and flavorful, it warrants to be put on a menu for a home style brunch.

Gongura Pappu (serves 2)

time taken – 20 minutes

serves – 2-3 persons

Tur Dal / Split pigeon peas/ arhar dal  – ½ cup (washed and soaked in water for 15 minutes)

Gongura Leaves / Sorrel  – 1-1½ cups (washed and stems removed)

Small onion (chopped – optional)

Green chilies – 2

A pinch each of asafetida and turmeric

Salt to taste

For the tadka/ seasoning

Ghee/ oil (gingely oil is preferred) – 1 teaspoon

Whole cumin seeds/ jeera – 1 teaspoon

Dry red chilies – 2-3

Fresh curry leaves – 15

Garlic – 2-3 pods

  1. Take all the ingredients except the ones for tadka into a pressure cooker, add 2 cups of water and cook for 3-4 whistles. The dal should be cooked and you should be able to mash it with the back of a ladle.
  2. When the pressure releases, add the salt and mash the dal with a spoon. Put the dal back on the heat and simmer for 5-6 minutes.
  3. In a small pan, heat the ghee/ oil and add the whole cumin. Let it splutter, add the red chilies and peeled garlic, fry it till the garlic is turning golden brown.
  4. Add the curry leaves, when they crackle, add it to the boiled, mashed dal. simmer for 2-3 minutes. Serve hot with rotis although steamed rice and ghee is preferred.
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