June 29, 2009

Makai Palak

Restaurant menus always give me plenty of ideas. Even if I never order many of those dishes listed, I have made a note of the combinations and give them a shot when I can. At the very least, these dishes help break the monotony. And it's only uphill from there on.

I tried this very pretty combination for dinner one night. The combination with rotis was nice. Not as nice as Palak Paneer, but nice nonetheless.

1 bunch Spinach, cooked and pureed

1 cup Corn, steamed

1 Onion, ground to a fine paste

2 tbsp Tomato Puree

1 tsp Green Chilli Paste

1 tsp Ginger Paste

1 tsp Garlic Paste

1/4 tsp Turmeric Powder

1/4 tsp Chilli Powder

1 tsp Oil

Salt to taste

Heat the oil and fry the onion paste for a few minutes. Add the ginger, chilli and garlic pastes and fry for a minute. Add the tomato puree, salt, chilli and turmeric powder and fry for a couple of minutes before adding the spinach puree. Add the steamed corn. Bring the mixture to a boil. Simmer for 4-5 minutes.

While this tastes great with rotis, the leftovers can also be mixed with rice to make Spinach and Corn Rice.

June 28, 2009

Carrot Upkari

This is one dish I somehow didn't eat when I was growing up. Amma just didn't make it. So, I didn't develop a taste for this. We had carrots in just about every other form. Just never in the form of a traditional steamed side dish with rice.

I did taste something like this made by a friend. But she was just learning to cook at the time and I never was sure if the dish tasted that way because she was a novice or if carrots made this way would always taste that funny. I made it one Sunday as a side for rice and sambar. It isn't the best way to eat carrots, I have to admit. (And, OK, I wasn't comparing it to the Carrot Cake!) But this does make a nice simple side.

1/4 kg Carrot, peeled and diced
1 tsp Oil
1/4 tsp Urad Dal
1/4 tsp Chana Dal
1/4 tsp Mustard Seeds
2 Red Chillies
1/4 tsp Asafoetida
1 tbsp Coconut, scraped (optional)
7-8 Curry Leaves
Salt to taste

Heat oil in a pressure pan. Add the urad and chana dals, mustard seeds and asafoetida. When the mustard splutters, add the curry leaves and the red chillies. Fry for a minute. Add the chopped carrots and the salt along with a little water. Cover and cook for one whistle.

When done, open and cook without the lid to let the excess water evaporate. Add the coconut, if using, and mix well.

June 17, 2009

Khara Buns

This post here took me back in time. To about 11-12 years ago. I’d just enrolled in French classes and I had to figure out a way to eat breakfast before the hostel mess opened. So, every once in a while, I would get a loaf of Masala Bread from Nilgiris or Hot Breads. I had to eat Masala Bread because I couldn’t store butter in my hostel room. Eating masala bread by itself was better than eating plain bread without butter. Eventually, I started toasting the bread slices on a tava inside the room, using a little oil. That way, I could finish eating my breakfast by the time I completed my 15 minute walk to the bus stop at the University gate. (And not feel like I had a rock sitting at the base of my throat!)

I started to make bread, but S asked if I could make buns. So, I did. For about 2-3 days, this was our breakfast. Sheer bliss! Thanks Namesake, for reminding me of an era gone by.

3/4 cup Flour
3/4 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 tbsp Vital Wheat Gluten
1 1/2 tbsp Oil
1 1/2 tbsp Fresh Yeast
1 1/2 tbsp Sugar
3/4 tsp Salt
1/4 cup Boiling water
1/4 cup Milk

For the Onion Mixture
1/4 tsp Turmeric Powder
1/2 tsp Chilli Powder
2-3 Green Chillies, finely chopped
2 Onions, finely chopped1 tbsp Oil
¼ tsp Garlic, chopped
1/4 cup Coriander Leaves, chopped
1 tsp Cumin Powder
Salt to taste

Heat the tablespoon of oil in a pan. Add the onions and green chillies and fry for 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and fry for a minute. Add the turmeric powder, chilli powder and cumin powder along with the salt. Take off the flame and add the chopped coriander.

Take a huge mixing bowl and place the oil, salt and sugar in it. Add boiling water and mix until the sugar dissolves. Add the milk now to bring the mixture to room temperature. Add the yeast and mix well. Add the flours, gluten and the onion mixture and knead into a dough. Place the dough in a greased vessel and cover it with a damp muslin cloth. Allow to rise until double in size (roughly 45-50 minutes).
Knead the dough for a minute and then divide into 10 equal portions.

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Take a portion of the dough and shape it into a bun. Place the buns on a greased baking sheet or tray. Repeat with the other portions. Allow to rise for 50-60 minutes and then bake for 12-15 minutes.

These are great when eaten fresh from the oven. Even better with a little butter. And just fabulous when toasted. I know I will make variations of this very soon.

June 16, 2009

Tendli Bhat

Summer vegetables. Where I live, they’re usually Cucurbits. In every shape and size. From the large gourds and pumpkins to medium sized ridge gourds and smooth gourds to the tiny tindas and ivy gourds. Life can get very boring at times. We also get many varieties of beans. But you see, that’s what I like about winter – the colour. In summer, almost everything we’re able to cook is green. So, in order to make life a little interesting, I try different things with the same vegetables. This time I was mighty pleased with the result. Whipped up on a Saturday night when I really wasn’t in the mood for any heavy weight cooking. The bag of quartered ivy gourds in the fridge came in very handy.

¼ kilo Ivy Gourd, quartered lengthwise

1 cup Basmati Rice


2 tbsp Coriander Seeds

¼ cup Coconut, scraped

2-3 Cloves

2-3” stick of Cinnamon

2-3 Red Chillies

2 tbsp Tamarind Paste

Salt to taste

1 tsp Oil


1 tbsp Oil

1 tsp Mustard Seeds

¼ tsp Asafoetida

8-10 Curry Leaves

Coriander Leaves for the garnish

Heat the oil and roast the coriander seeds for 2-3 minutes. Add the chillies, cloves, cinnamon and coconut and roast for a little longer. Grind this mixture to a paste adding the tamarind paste and salt.

In a pressure pan, heat the oil for the tempering, add the mustard seeds and the asafoetida. When the mustard seeds splutter, add the curry leaves and the ivy gourd pieces. Fry for a couple of minutes. Add the ground masala and fry for 2-3 minutes. Add the rice along with the salt and turmeric powder and mix thoroughly. Fry until the masala coates the rice grains and is a little dry. Add 1 3/4 cups of hot water. Cover and cook for 1-2 whistles.

When done, separate the rice grains with a fork. Serve hot with a raita/pachadi on the side.

June 9, 2009


I have very few Indian sweets on this blog. There are a few payasams and a couple of kulfis, but that's about it. I guess it says a lot about my taste. I must admit, I am not the biggest mithai fan on this planet. When I do crave an Indian sweet, it is far simpler to get a small box from the mithai shop than to try making it at home. In fact, it is easier to go to the sweet shop and buy just one piece and eat it. (And I have done that. It satisfies the craving then and there. Plus you are not "forced" to give in to temptation later on.)

This is by far the simplest sweet dish to make. I made it one morning as it was my father-in-law's birthday. S was very surprised to see a sweet dish at the breakfast table, sitting pretty next to the upma. The quintessential Bangalore Darshini combination that makes Chow-chow Bhaat!

1 cup Cream of Wheat(Rava/Sooji/Semolina)

1 cup Sugar

1 cup Milk

1 Ripe Banana, chopped

1 cup Water

2-4 tbsp Ghee (Clarified Butter)

1 tbsp Cashews

1 tbsp Raisins

¼ tsp Cardamom Powder

Roast the semolina in 1 tbsp of ghee over a low flame till it lets out a lovely aroma and turns light brown.

In a separate vessel, heat the milk, banana, sugar and water. When the mixture comes to a boil, add the cardamom powder. Add the roasted semolina and cover and cook for 5-10 minutes.

In a frying ladle, heat 1 tbsp of ghee and fry the cashews until brown. Add the raisins and take the ladle of the heat. Add this to the cooked semolina mixture. Add the remaining ghee to the sheera and mix well. Enjoy this fresh. And if you're lucky to have leftovers, heat some in a kadhai the next day. Allow some parts to get crisp. Enjoy the same dish in a different avatar.

June 7, 2009

Katrikkai Thuvayal

Smoked brinjal. Something I really detested while growing up. Amma didn't make bharta back then, but she did make this thuvayal/thogayal every once in a while. Later, she learnt that one could steam the brinjal in the cooker and started making it that way. I could more than tolerate that as it didn't have the "smokey" flavour. I even remember her using the microwave to roast the brinjal, but she says she hasn't tried. I insist that she did. (I've lived away for so long now that at times I met my other relatives almost as often as I met my parents. So, maybe she is right after all.)

This thuvayal is a favourite of many and S tells me that this is made in Andhra Pradesh as well. So, it is one dish that is common to both households. I have, of late, started to enjoy the flavour. Maybe it is all the bharta that I get to eat at work (at home too!) or maybe my tastes have simply evolved over time.

1 Large Brinjal
4 Red Chillies
1 tsp Mustard
3 tsp Urad Dal
1/4 tsp Asafoetida
3 tsp Oil
1 tbsp Tamarind Paste
Salt to taste

Oil to brush the brinjal

Brush the brinjal with a little oil. Roast the entire brinjal on an open flame. Turn it around until the entire brinjal is roasted and the skin is evenly black and the brinjal is cooked. (You could use a skewer for this.)

Place the brinjal in a bowl of water. Cool and remove the skin.

Heat the oil in a kadhai and fry the red chillies, mustard, asafoetida and urad dal for a couple of minutes. Grind the chillies along with the tamarind paste and salt. Add the brinjal and grind again. Finally, add the fried mustard and urad dal and grind lightly.

As a variation to this, you could substitute the red chillies with an equal number of green chillies (more or less, depending on your taste). Back home, that's how Amma makes it.

While this is great with some rice and papads, it makes a great chutney to go with idlis and dosas. Especially, if you, like me, are trying to reduce your dependence on coconut for chutneys.

June 5, 2009

Aloo Matar

Whenever I think of aloo matar, I remember the Vanaspati advertisement which went like this:

आज मेरी बिटिया रानी क्या खायेगी? (What will my daughter eat today?)

आलू मटर और बहुत सारे मटर। (Potato-peas with loads of peas)

I can't remember if it was for Dalda or Rath, but I remember the rest of the advertisement very well. I don't make aloo matar that often. In fact this is the only time I made it. But it features very regularly on our lunch table as at least two of my lunchmates bring this at least once a week.

1/2 cup Potatoes, diced

1/2 cup Peas
1 Onion, chopped finely
1 Tomato, chopped finely
1 tsp Ginger Paste
1 tsp Chilli Powder
1/4 tsp Turmeric Powder
1/2 tsp Coriander Powder
1/4 tsp Garam Masala
1 tsp Oil
Salt to taste

Heat the oil in a pressure pan. Add the cumin seeds. When they crackle, add the onions and fry for a couple of minutes. Add the ginger paste along with the turmeric, coriander and chilli powders. Add the salt and the tomato and fry for 3-4 minutes. Add half a cup of water and bring the mixture to a boil. Add the potatoes and peas and cook for 3 whistles. Open the pressure pan when the pressure is released and add the garam masala. Mix well, cook for 1-2 minutes and serve immediately. You could, of course, garnish it with chopped coriander.

This is perfect with chapattis. If you're in the mood for some deep frying, make poories. This would have to be the ideal monsoon breakfast number.

June 3, 2009

Wheat and Green Gram Doddak

Fusion foods. I somehow always thought of them as very exotic. Like Malabar Parathas with Thai Green Curry that I once had at Cosmo Village in Bangalore. I didn't think of a fusion of two or more Indian cuisines. I made this doddak some time ago. It is only now, when I sat down to blog about it, that I figured out the fusion element in my recipe. The cross between the Andhra Pesarattu and the Konkani Gava Pittye Doddak is what became our tasty breakfast dish.

1/2 cup Wheat Flour
1/2 cup Moong Flour
2 tbsp Cream of Wheat (Rava/Sooji)
2 tbsp Coconut, scraped
1 tsp Green Chilli Paste
1/4 tsp Cumin Seeds
1/4 cup Coriander, chopped
Salt to taste
Oil for frying

For the tempering:
1 tsp Oil
1/4 tsp Mustard Seeds
1/4 tsp Asafoetida
7-8 Curry Leaves

Prepare the tempering in a small kadhai and transfer the contents to a mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients except the oil and mix well using a little water. (The batter should not be too watery, just a little thicker than
dosa batter.)

Spread the dough onto a hot griddle and pour a few drops of oil on all sides. Make a slit in the centre using the spatula and pour a few drops into this slit. (This helps the oil reach the centre
and aids in crispening that portion.)Turn over and allow the other side to crispen as well.)

Serve hot with a chutney, podi or sambar on the side. The moong powder makes this a meal by itself. So it is perfect for those weeknight dinners as well.

June 1, 2009


I'm back with an authentic konkani recipe after ages. It is the mango season here. I must admit that I haven't had my fill yet. I can't help it if peaches, apricots, cherries and litchis made their way into the market almost a month before their time. We did buy and eat some Banganpalli mangoes in April and May. I found these smaller mangoes called Gola. They instantly reminded me of the small mangoes called Gontambe which are used in the famous amchi dish called Andurli. Although the Gola mangoes are much bigger, I made the dish last week and found that this variety of mangoes is very tasty.

6 small Ripe Mangoes

1/4 cup Jaggery

1/2 tsp Pepper Powder

1 tsp Rice Flour

Salt to taste

For the tempering:

1 tsp Oil

1/4 tsp Mustard Seeds

1/4 tsp Asafoetida

7-8 Curry Leaves

3-4 Red Chillies

Peel the mangoes and keep the peel in a bowl with about 1 cup of water. Squeeze the juice from the peels and discard the peels.

Place the mangoes and the water in a pan. Add the jaggery, salt and pepper and bring the mixture to a boil. Mix the rice flour in a little water and add it to the mixture. Simmer for 10-12 minutes until the mangoes are cooked.

In a frying ladle, heat the oil and add the mustard seeds and the asafoetida. When the mustard splutters, add the curry leaves and the red chillies. Add this to the mangoes.

Serve as a side dish with rice, dali-saar, and some upkari. This particular combination of spicy and sweet is an acquired taste. Most konkani folks are initiated into this spicy-sour-sweet combination early on in life. If you don't particularly fancy a side dish with mixed tastes, have it on its own.